I went to prom with my first serious girlfriend during my junior year of high school. I remember after getting there, we both realized we were the only visibly queer relationship at prom.
We actively didn’t let it bother us; we danced the night away together, but we later talked about feeling “othered” when we realized we were the only visibly queer couple.
Since then, the two of us have amicably broken up, which led me to download dating apps earlier this year. That was when I started thinking about what it means to date as a queer person.
Dating while queer may just seem like dating as a person in the LGBTQIAP+ community, but because of preconceived societal “norms,” there is a lot more to it.
Queer kids don’t learn queer sex ed in school, and many are closeted during their first relationships, along with other specifically queer experiences.
While there are many flaws in the sex-ed taught in schools, one particular issue is that queer sex ed is left out of the equation completely. Many queer people are unaware of the proper forms of protection they should use during sex — just because a couple cannot get pregnant doesn’t mean they can’t spread STDs — and therefore do not use any.
Any information queer people do get about safe, consensual sex often comes from the internet, which obviously is not the most ideal or reliable source. Then, because so many queer people are closeted for a lot of their lives, they cannot easily talk to their doctor about the right options for them and their sex life.
If a teen in a same-gender relationship is struggling in their relationship with their partner — for whatever reason — and they do not have a support system, that can be deeply impactful for them emotionally.
[Read More: Who Cares About My Sexuality?]
That does not even begin to cover the intersectionalities that impact these experiences.
Trans people are often disregarded as romantic interests because of their gender identity. Bisexual and pansexual people’s identities are often not seen as valid depending on the gender of their partner.
Dating as a queer person often brings a whole host of struggles and considerations that one would not think they’d have to consider — and I didn’t until recently. I realized I’d have to figure out how to maneuver my gender identity as a genderqueer person and a lesbian before entering a new relationship.
Luckily, I was able to, but it definitely caused me a lot of unneeded stress for months. Until society sees queer people as equal to cis straight people, there will always be specific struggles to dating while queer.