Isn’t it Queer?: How to Date Online in the Age of Tinder Queers

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In terms of Okcupid dates, my worst first date stories almost always take the cake, for the simple reason that I date A LOT. I’ve made it a point to take dating seriously, not just because I’d like to invite authentic, healthy connection into my life, but also because it’s like participating in a sociological study. At age 20, I was working in social-justice-arts-collectives, participating as an ally in WOC circles and applying for environmental non-profit jobs and managed to find myself on a first date with an ex-member of the Aryan Brotherhood. The things people leave out of their dating profiles are astounding. Despite my abject horror, my anthropologist heart found the whole fifteen minutes fascinating; he was livid because he had been kicked out of the monstrous gathering when they found out that he was an eighth Honduran. The universe has a brilliant talent for ironic humor. It was my first EVER Okcupid date and he said he was “cuddly,” so I was like, “sure! cuddles are dope.” After six minutes of him railing on “the gays,” “mouthy women,” and “chinks who were too lazy to learn English,” I spent the next nine minutes trying to execute a clean escape without losing any crucial limbs.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1Gf7Ze4}

Thank Gay Baby Jesus that since my incident with my bald, bigoted friend, my ability to screen people for dates has improved substantially, but I still maintain that the best approach to dating, online or otherwise, is with a wide-eyed sense of curiosity about people. Genuinely enjoying the process of dating, regardless of the outcome, allows me enough optimism to be open to the right people. Because the reality is, dating is a shit show, especially when you are looking for queer, pronoun savvy poly folks–but good people are out there. In my quest to build my poly army, I have found dozens of amazing queer identifying poly kinksters, but I know that to continue finding these people I have to play a numbers game. In a homophobic, heteronormative, sexist, racist culture, one has to approach dating with tenacity and a steel plated heart. With that said, I hear endless excuses for why my friends do not pursue dating. “It’s too much work having to read through all those profiles,”  “how am I supposed to find a person who isn’t going to be freaked out that I work at a dungeon,” “I don’t think there is anyone remotely not-racist on this fucking site,” “I’m queerer than the light of day but all I get is douchey comments about my ass from cis-straight men.”{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1DhWSU3}

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1DhWSU3}

Yeah. I hear ya. It’s not simple or easy by any means. It’s not untrue that the internet and local bar are abundant with fuck-heads but in order to surpass fuck-headery to genuine connection, you have to meet with a fuck-head or two. If you think about it statistically, if you are a trans, polyamorous, kinky, person of color and you’ve tried Okcupid or Tinder, that means other beautiful humans such as yourself have too and despite what you may think, there are so many others out there! It’s just a matter of putting yourself out there so you can find them.

I attribute my success in finding good people to several things: improving my screening process, going on excessive amounts of dates, having a brutally honest depiction of myself on my profile, and having a library of knowledge about people’s red flags and how to respond when you see those bad boys flying. Going on dates frequently isn’t about the way you look or how much money you have (although in Los Angeles I acknowledge fully that it’s a factor), if you are an authentic queer (poly/trans/kinky/poc/non-binary) human, you are inherently valuable to some other authentic queer (poly/trans/kinky/poc/non-binary) human, swiping daily will help you find that other authentic human. So send that first message!!! Grow some ovaries or kidneys or something and tell them what you like about them. Sending the first message is more important than eating a healthy breakfast…I guess…if you value your sex life before your health, which you shouldn’t, but I’ve become side-tracked. Anyway… queer dating and shit. I should also mention that freaking out about people not responding to your messages is extremely counter-productive. It’s not really your business why they didn’t respond to you. Maybe they just had their heart broken and your gorgeous fro-hawk reminds them of their ex, or they think your bro hat is stupid, or they think The Shining is a stupid favorite movie. Hold out for the people that see your profile and light up like a glow worm. The more profiles you read and the more messages you send, the more people you will find who respond in just that way. Also, it really helps to have good pictures of yourself. Blurry, grainy pictures–even if you’re literally on the eiffel tower–don’t sell yourself well. At the wrong angle, everyone has a double chin. MySpace the shit out of your Tinder and find your good angles. Tyra Banks actually has some decent advice on that but I can’t stand her, so you are welcome to check that out if you think you can handle it.

In terms of finding red flags, that really comes down to knowing what you are looking for, what kind of people you surround yourself with and why. If it is absolutely a deal breaker for you that a person is a smoker, don’t be afraid to put it in your profile. Why waste time on dates with people you know you won’t be able to tolerate? If you’re a fierce advocate for marginalized communities, ignore messages from people who don’t make any mention of their participation in community activism in their profile.{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1N2tLre}

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1N2tLre}

I have a friend at the dungeon who is KBR, or kinky beyond recognition, and she complained to me that she liked the woman she went on a date with, but she was,“so boring and vanilla.” At which point I asked her, “Did she mention being kinky in her profile? So why did you go on a date with her?” She confessed to fearing that she would never find a partner who not only liked her for who she was, but who had similar interests. So she felt she had to settle in order to find connection or sex.  I think at a certain point we all sell ourselves short because we are afraid that our people are not out there. I’m not suggesting that every one of your hook-ups has to be into the same meditation practices as you or that you can only fuck other vegans. You do you boo. But it is important to remember that your people are out there and they will love you for you who are, kinks and knots and bruises included. The more voraciously you pursue finding your people, the quicker you will. If my ungodly amount of awkward, joyful, inspiring, fear inducing and straight up weird dates has taught me anything, it’s that every single kind of human imaginable exists and they are all looking for love and intimacy.

A bit of healthy introspection goes a long way in these situations. What personality traits do you value in other people? What are your biggest pet peeves? If it absolutely destroys you when people mess up your pronouns, maybe it can be your rule not to message people that don’t mention having an understanding of gender identity in their profile. How do you show love and what kind of love-showing do you respond well to? Then put that shit up for review, tell people exactly who you are and what you are looking for and only respond to people that are looking for things that align with your values.

These things of course, all come with practice. Real talk: I use dating apps on my phone as a way to procrastinate from doing other things I really should be doing. It’s productive in a sick sort of way but it certainly guarantees a more interesting selection of humans to spend my time with. The amazing part of being the unique human that you’ve become, is that you learned everything you know by experience. If you want to cultivate a healthy sex life, jump in gender neutral genitals first. Online dating and/or picking up other humans with the hope of real conversation and possible connection at bars is absolutely a shit show, but if nothing else, it’ll give you great stories.

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

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Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and aims to lead by example through bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” -Audre Lorde

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

 

On Armor, Self-Creation, and Accessing Our Inner Worlds

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Part of the great power and mystery of dreaming is that, in dreams, you find yourself in relationship with the rest of you: who you are when you’re not performing your daytime, waking-world persona; who you wish you could be, or hope you’re not. In dreams we can come into contact with disowned and discarded elements and aspects of ourselves – as well as new, emergent parts of us that we’ve never met yet. Dreams also present us with the forgotten or repressed facts of our living connections to each other – and to the animals and plants we share the living world with, to our shared histories and futures, to dreaming Gaia Herself.

Dreamwork creates reflective time for us to be with these mysteries and unfold ourselves into new awareness about ourselves and our world.

Dreams ask us to take an attitude to them that can be very uncomfortable. Waking, we are always discerning the boundaries of our conscious identity: this is me, that’s not me, that’s has nothing to do with me. Dreams ask us to become more porous and curious in our thinking, and become concerned not with what something is or isn’t but with how we relate to it (and how it relates to us).

Dreamwork asks us to practice a faith in our deeper selves by honoring that whatever comes up to the surface – the dream itself, our reactions to it, our associations to it – has its reason, has something to do with us, even if we don’t know how to recognize it yet.

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Art by Geninne: blogdelanine.blogspot.com

This can be a powerful release and relief, for the conscious mind to accept that it’s not in control of everything that goes on inside us, nor does it have to be.

This can also be a balancing practice for many of us whose minds have had very good reason to become protective and stay in control.

Every day, we are bombarded by images, values, policies, and judgments that don’t represent us and that do us harm. In the dominant racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist and capitalist culture, strength and survival can mean adopting an attitude of crafting and defining and valuing our identities on our own terms. That attitude of revolutionary self-creation serves us well in the waking world – but, when it becomes a habitual armor, it can cut us off from the deeper dreaming wellspring of ourselves, our connections to one another, our healing, and our inner guidance.

Our roots go so much deeper down...
Our roots go so much deeper down…

This is not even to really get into how the same dominant culture in general cuts us off from our inner selves, and teaches us not to ask questions, not to draw connections, not to identify empathically with an other. These thought patterns belong to this culture and its legacies of violence, and it’s impossible not to internalize them to some degree. For those (most!) of us who inhabit marginalized identities and have to work hard to claim our value, this can be a double-whammy of a cut-off.

If you find yourself saying things about your dreams like, “That was meaningless,” “That was a stupid dream,” “I wish I could just forget that dream,” “That has nothing to do with me,” or “Phew! Woke up and escaped, now I never have to think about that again!” – then the armor of your waking mind is protecting you from something in your own inner world that wants your attention.

Here’s a small way to begin practicing a balancing attitude in your dreamwork:

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  1. Make a quiet space for yourself – half an hour on the couch, some quiet tea time curled up on your bed, a blanket in the park, a walk on the beach, whatever you got to work with.
  1. Actively imagine yourself taking off a piece of armor and setting in on the ground beside you. A helmet or a chest-plate would do nicely. Tell yourself something like I am taking off my armor in order to be with myself, or In this quiet space, I am free to relax and get curious, or even just I am safe here or I come in peace. Take a breath and feel your body adjust to this attitude.
  1. Get your dream journal and either write down a fresh dream or turn to one you wrote down fairly recently. Pick one element of it that challenges, confuses, or bewilders you and name it, write it down.
  1. Give yourself permission to free associate – this means that, without having to understand or interpret anything, you get to brainstorm any and all images, feelings, or memories that come up as you contemplate your chosen dream element. Associations can be very personal but they don’t have to be – they can be old stories, characters from tv shows, current events in other parts of the world, etc. Let it all just blurt into your journal – notice if you feel hesitation or embarrassment, but remember that you are safe here, no one will see but you, and your only job is to take note of what comes up.
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Dream journalling gets wild… Art by Christian Schloe.
  1. Reflect on what you’ve journalled – allow yourself to ask questions without needing to answer them right away. The point here is to practice being curious and holding the possibility that you are connected to the images and feelings that came to you.
  1. Pick a few elements of your associations to remember and carry with you during your day – not as a problem to solve, but as something to carry lightly in your mind. As you go about your day, notice when events or feelings arise that remind you of your dream elements. Meaning or insight may or may not come to you in this process, and that’s fine – the point is to practice staying in connection to the inner world, and noticing when something in the waking world resonates with your inner dreaming world.
  1. Thank yourself for making time to connect with your own dream life!

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Want to learn more? Check out my Dreamwork for Survivors course, coming this Spring with Califia Collective!

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.