While the Supreme Court decided to read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code recently, giving equal status to consensual sex of all kinds between adults, there remains a long way to go in terms of getting rid of the stigma associated with the LGBTQ community. This stigma plays a pivotal role in developing popular notions about “LGBT people” and has shocking results. For example, a person might be confronted with surprisingly weird questions that can turn any situation really awkward. And like all other spheres of life, the online dating scene is not free from these preconceived notions. Several remarks are equally disrespectful and annoying for any member of the LGBTQ community, and we get them on a regular basis.
Given are the list of certain things that the LGBTQ people will want the users of online dating apps to know (and change!)
“But you don’t look gay!” is a comment that every conventionally masculine gay man or apparently feminine lesbian woman must have heard at least once in their lifetime. If you (a straight cisgender person) have come across a profile on a dating app of a person who “looks” straight but the term “gay” or “lesbian” in the description has broken your heart, you don’t have to prove how heteronormative you are by asking the same question in a personal chat. Rather, you need to understand that being lesbian or gay has nothing to do with the ‘look’ or behaviour of the person concerned.
Yes. You don’t need to hack off your penis or surgically construct one in order to be a woman or a man, respectively. Many trans men and trans women DO NOT go for sex-reassignment surgery for various reasons. It could be lack of funds, fear of surgery, or simply (and most importantly) their choice. And that must be respected! Many choose hormone replacement therapy only, and do not bother to undergo surgeries at all. There are numerous ways in which (and degrees to which) a person might choose to transition. And none of these ways makes a person less of a woman or a man because gender does not lie between your thighs. Genitals may be considered markers of your biological sex, not of the gender you identify as.
You heard me right. A person born with the female genitalia and identifying as a man need not necessarily be attracted towards women. The same goes for a trans woman. You might have come to terms, by now, with the idea of a person having sex with someone of the same gender. But a transgender woman dating a cisgender woman might still take you by surprise. But there’s actually nothing to be surprised about. Gender and sexuality are two different concepts, and independent of each other. Gender is who you are, and sexuality is whom you are sexually attracted to. The way a cisgender person need not follow the heteronormative framework of dating someone from the “opposite” gender, a transgender person can be gay too.
If you are not aware of what the “A” in “LGBTQIA+” (yes, it’s not just LGBT) stands for, listen up. It means “asexual”, and you need to know that asexuality is as natural and real as heterosexuality or homosexuality. Asexuality is the lack or absence of sexual attraction to persons of any gender, in general. But that doesn’t mean an asexual person may never feel aroused or never have sex in their lifetime. They may just not relate to sexual acts. It is not celibacy or abstinence from the act, but just another sexual orientation. It does not prevent an asexual person from being emotionally attached to another person (of any gender or orientation). So, don’t be surprised if you come across one on a dating site. It’s not like an alien playing cricket in Eden Gardens!
A friend of mine who is bisexual was asked by one of her cis-male admirers, “Why are you dating a woman and not me when I was the one who asked you out before?”
Was it some kind of a joke? No, it wasn’t. Later my friend got to know that the guy could not come to terms with the idea that she, being bi, preferred a woman over a man. Well, maybe that’s how heteronormativity works. At the end of the day, a-man-and-a-woman-dating-each-other is what soothes the eyes of the crowd and anything which seems to deviate from this framework looks weird and unacceptable. Even if a bi person has never dated anyone belonging to the opposite gender, they don’t cease to be bi. Bi people can also choose to be in a monogamous relationship framework with either of the two popularly perceived genders (and others!). To cut it short, trying to fit any sexuality or gender in a conventional framework can be utter failure.
If you are polyamorous, it means you can or do relate to multiple persons at emotional and/or physical levels, and at the same time. But that’s not like signing a contract that you would have to have multiple partners at the same time. A polyamorous person may be in a long term relationship with one person and get involved with others sexually and emotionally; they can be in a relationship with multiple persons at a time; they can even be in a relationship with only one person and not date others. There could be ‘n’ number of possibilities. And in all these possibilities consent plays a very important role. Polyamorous people do have preferences, and are not sex toys, if that’s what you thought of them.
Of all the things that LGBTQ people want online dating app users to know, the most important is this. There is a search engine called Google which might not have the answers to all the nuances of life, this universe, and everything, but it does have everything that you need to know about us! Confused with the terms “cisgender”, “bigender”, “transgender”, “gender-fluid”, “non-binary”, “queer”, “asexual”, “pansexual”, “intersex” and all the others in the gender-sexuality spectrum? You just need to spend 15-20 minutes on the internet and there will be thousands of articles at your service. A little bit of research on your part will not only end the numerous misconceptions which society has burdened you with but will also spare the LGBTQ people from being misunderstood and offended.