How dating apps were the gateway to my queerness
Moving down to London in 2017, was a fresh start. I was not a stranger to Tinder, having started my account in college after some peer pressure. Unfortunately, I had not been very lucky in my pursuits – a lot of brief conversations. College was a point of revelation for me, as I finally came to terms with my bisexuality. It had been a struggle I’d had for a long time, and I had a difficult relationship with myself. I had been raised in a very black and white environment, either you were gay or straight and there was no possibility for in between.
Before I even knew what bisexuality was, I struggled to find something that would show my attraction to both genders was normal. And, from my experience, to be a gay woman was something of disgust. In my school, identifying yourself as LGBTQIA+ was signing your death warrant, so people just hid it. I had harrowing experiences of a former friend constantly gesturing about the possibility of myself being gay and it was treated as a source of ridicule which only made me more determined to prove I was straight, even if I did not necessarily believe it myself.
Before my move, my first Tinder experience was my introduction to the dating world and, now that I look back on it, I wish I had approached it with a different mindset. Don’t get me wrong, the guy I met was very nice but long story short, it became a friend with benefits relationship that ended in a lot of tears, at least on my end. It was the first time in my life that I had received attention from a person that I found attractive, and I latched onto it, because I thought it was never going to happen again with anybody, not just men.
I haven’t had the best luck with heterosexual relationships, or at least the pursual of them. Most of the men liked were never interested in me and there was nothing I could do about it, so I just accepted it and moved on. It had never crossed my mind to try and see what a gay relationship could be like. I guess I was still scared of my gayness at that point. I only admitted my feelings to a handful of people and still have not revealed anything to my family, because I am afraid that I will not be understood or taken seriously.
It was only when I came down to London for university in 2017 that I felt comfortable changing my preferences to both men and women and finally give same-sex dating a try.
I decided that I would change my mindset and give myself that chance not to be scared anymore. “You are just seeing who’s on there, nothing serious.” I’d tell myself. I wasn’t there to find my soulmate. No one knew me, or who I had been, and I could be who I wanted to be. Moving from a relatively small city in the Northeast of England, I wanted to see who was about, not necessarily for a relationship but maybe as friends. And surprisingly, I found I received a lot more female attention than male, which was a big boost to my confidence.
As I began going through my matches, I started figuring out what my type of women was and started to come to terms with myself properly. I began to fulfil appearance desires I’d had for a long time, becoming more alternative and cutting my hair into a pixie cut. I was finally becoming the person I felt I wanted to be. When a person in my class asked me if I was bisexual, I felt a sense of pride and happiness in being recognised.
However, while I did not get the chance to go on any dates with girls, I did find a connection with my now boyfriend of three years. With him, I feel comfortable enough to be my true self with my bisexuality out in the open. Compared to my first relationship, if you could call it that, it was night and day, chalk and cheese. We have so much more in common interest wise and when I met him for the first time, I felt incredibly comfortable, unlike before where I felt I was putting on a façade. With hindsight, I find my first experience to be important as it made me realise the type of relationship I deserve.
Even so, there are times where I feel like I can’t even call myself bisexual, because of my lack of experience with same-sex dating. Even when I was exploring my preferences on Tinder, it never crossed my mind to branch out into exclusive dating apps for lesbians and bi women. I guess I was still a bit scared perhaps. I often see a lot of discourse online of the pressure placed on bi women to prove their attraction to women and how often bi women feel as though they must downplay their attraction to men, and I think I’ve felt that sometimes. However, I am starting to realise that my sexuality is mine to decide and even though I haven’t experienced same-sex dating yet doesn’t make me any less bisexual.