25 September 2012

Gay Dating Is a Shit Show

An acquaintance of mine said gay dating is a 'shit show', and I agree. I pondered for a while why the situation has proven to be so dismal, and I have several ideas, but unfortunately no solutions.

First of all, gay dating is a relatively new phenomenon, and everyone is still trying to figure out how to do it. For most of gay history, we didn't date. We hooked up, and that was it. Most went on to marry women, and still hook up on the side from time to time. A few formed stable, life-long partnerships with other gay males, but even those partnerships were initiated by a hook up, not dating. We simply do not have a long history of dating in our community. A mere 10 years ago, there was a program in DC trying to teach gay people how to date, because the concept of dating (as opposed to serial hooking up, which might eventually lead to a relationship) was still so novel among us.

Because of the relative newness of gay dating, we've resorted to trying to import the dating model from straight people. But the world of dating among straight people is in flux, and I don't think they even know how dating should be done. For most of history, straight people didn't date either. The families negotiated a marriage, and it was an economic deal. Then as individuals asserted more independence, courtship came into play (even though the marriage deal was still largely economic). Only in the last century, and only in the "Western World", has heterosexual dating arisen, and as women in our society gain more power, the dynamics of dating remain in flux. Who asks out whom? When and how is sexual activity initiated? Etc. Furthermore, there are new studies suggesting that straight women are adopting more of a hook-up paradigm. As if instead of gays learning from straights, they're learning from us.

Finally, because gay communities tend to be more insular, I think there is a tendency for one to have his reputation destroyed before he even gets a chance to prove himself to other people. Gay men gossip, and viciously so. I've been on the receiving end of the gossip, and to my eternal and deep shame I've done my share of spreading the gossip. I know of people who've left town because they needed to start over. And often, the bit of gossip in no way represents the real character of the person. One bad night of acting out, and suddenly you're known as the world's biggest asshole.

People change, and some people actually mature, learn from their mistakes and grow to become better persons. But with decades old gossip following that person, he often doesn't get the opportunity to show the world he's changed.

The only hope I can offer is simply this: learn what you are in control of, take responsibility for those things, and leave the rest to others. In other words, keep trying, keep putting yourself out there, keep offering to prove yourself, and give others the benefit of a doubt. There are seven billion people on the planet. Chances are at least one of those persons would be worth dating.

1 comment:

  1. Gay dating is something that is done through the internet. There are chat sites that you could go to so that you can find gay men to date.