“Wait, Is This a Date?” Podcast Special Episode: Mailbag Minisode #1

Without our A+ members, there would be no Autostraddle. And without Autostraddle, there would be no Wait, Is This a Date? So this week on the podcast, we’re answering questions sent in by the A+ members who allow us to do what we do!

Questions range from how to have a first lesbian experience to how to be horny and demisexual. We give our best advice and if you’re thinking hmm these queers seem to know what they’re talking about then go ahead and send in your own question! We’ll be doing more mailbag minisodes and if you’re an A+ member, you can submit right here.

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+ The TIFF Bell Lightbox has been my second home in Toronto. Currently they’re doing a series on Satyajit Ray and another of contemporary Korean cinema.

+ I don’t know why Christina referenced this song but alas she did.

+ To illustrate how subtle my flirting was with my now girlfriend, for the first year that we followed each other on Instagram, this is as spicy as it got.

Screenshot from Instagram DM. March 8, 2021. You replied to their story: Wow swoon, response: Groucho Marx emoji

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Drew: Hi, I’m Drew.

Christina: I’m Christina.

[special mailbag theme song plays]

Drew: And welcome to, Wait, Is This a Date? A Special Mailbag Minisode! Well, I feel like if you’re listening to this, you probably know what Wait, Is This a Date? is, and you know who we are, but real quick: Wait, Is This a Date?, Autostraddle podcast, we talk about sex and dating in queer spaces. My name is Drew Gregory, I’m a queer trans woman and a writer for Autostraddle and a filmmaker.

Christina: Gorgeous, gorgeous. I’m Christina Tucker, I’m also a writer for Autostraddle and podcaster all over the internet places. I am a gay Black woman. We have joined together in this union to bring you answers to questions that you have sent us, which is gorgeous. And I think we’re really excited because, I don’t know, I love an advice moment.

Drew: Me too. Sometimes I feel like I’m more qualified to receive advice than to give it and sometimes I feel really ready and geared up to give advice. And right now I’m feeling ready to give advice. What’s fun about this Mailbag episode is that all the people who sent in questions are A+ members. If you don’t know what that means, A+ is Autostraddle’s membership program because so much of what we do is free, but we’re an independent queer media publication, which there aren’t many of left and we heavily rely on our A+ members. We’re so grateful to them.

Christina: Yeah, here’s the thing team. We don’t have a lot of indie queer media, as Drew said. In being an A+ member, you get to support indie queer media and you also get the added benefit of being able to ask us questions and we will answer them live on the air for you. So I’m just looking at the strategy here and I’m thinking like, there’s no lose, it’s a win-win across the board.

Drew: It’s as cheap as $4 a month so that’s like—

Christina: It’s 400 pennies, that’s nothing.

Drew: Wow. I mean, that makes it sound like a lot more than it is. I want to just say that 400 pennies is not—

Christina: But what is a penny?

Drew: Sure. It’s just not the best way I think to describe $4 as far as trying to like pitch it as not that much, because I’m just picturing a lot of pennies right now.

Christina: Okay. I didn’t know that you loved pennies so much, but now I know that about you and that’s really helpful.

Drew: Should we answer some of these questions?

Christina: Yeah, let’s answer some questions.

Drew: Okay. We have two that were written out and one that’s a voice memo. So let’s start with one of the written out ones, do a little voice memo sandwich. Yeah, it would be because the bread is the reading.

Christina: Yeah, the bread is us reading.

Drew: Cool. And this is from Kat, who is an A+ member. “I burned out and basically had a mental breakdown in 2020. #relatable I quit my job in a big city and moved halfway across the country to move back in with my parents. I haven’t really seen or talked to many people in my hometown since my high school days and I kind of burnt some friend bridges when I left my previous city. Also, I intentionally didn’t date anyone for a few years pre-pandemic. I was working on my ‘mental health,'” that’s in quotes so I don’t know how that changes it. “I was working on my ‘mental health,’ although obviously that didn’t work out,” upside down face. “So now I don’t really have any local friends and have been single for several years and I don’t even know how to start changing this. I would love to make some pals and maybe put my mouth on another person’s mouth or put my butt on another person’s butt!!! Or even just get out of my parents’ house sometimes, honestly, but also COVID is unfortunately still a thing and I’m socially anxious at the best of times. So what do I do? How do I do it? Thank you!!!” many exclamation points.

Christina: This is hard. Making friends as an adult is hard, making friends in the hometown in which you grew up as an adult, I can imagine, is an extra level of difficulty on top of that. I’m trying to think about what I would do if I moved back to my parents’ house and how I would find people and friends. And I honestly feel like I would just be very vocal on the internet about like where I was located, contacting people who I knew lived around there or even had friends that lived around there. I would be really reaching out in my communities to be like… We’re a small community, right? The gays, we know people everywhere. So who knows people? Where are they located? Can I find people in my space? Because that’s really what it’s all about. It’s just like, you got to ask for it because sometimes it’s not going to come to you.

Drew: Yeah, that’s really good advice because I can think of dating apps obviously being a great place to both meet people to have sex with and also friends —that’s mostly what I’ve gotten out of dating apps is new friendships. I can also think of suggesting finding activities to do, which I get it’s tricky in the pandemic, but there are maybe some things you could feel comfortable with depending on your boundaries with that. But I think, Christina, that’s a really good point that so often the way we make connections is by seeking them out and being like… When you went to high school, was there someone who was cool and is still around in your hometown that you never really got to know, but you just vaguely know? That could be someone you reach out to.

I don’t know how queer your hometown is, I don’t know enough about what your hometown looks like to know how likely it is that there’s random queer people who you vaguely know, but they’re there. So even if the person you reach out to is straight, maybe they know someone and it’s just about being like, who do you want to see? I’m in Toronto for the summer and very much was thinking about like, who do I know who lives here? Who’s just social media friends, who’s whatever who can I like meet up with? Which is sometimes a vulnerable thing to reach out and it sometimes can be even harder than with dating, but what’s the worst that can happen? Someone says no or someone says, “Yeah, sure. But I’m really busy, maybe soon,” and then ghosts you. These things aren’t fun but I do think ultimately the more of a social life you can have in general, the more likely it will lead to the dating aspect of that because you just meet people through people.

Christina: Yeah. And I think, especially thinking about trying to find friends and find people who are interested in the stuff you’re interested in, what are you interested in? What are your interests? What of your hobbies are happening in your hometown? Is there a hiking group? I don’t know. I’m just literally thinking about my hometown, there would be some sort of queer women hiking group that I would not go on, but one could. Is there something like that you can get involved in and meet people out in the world and out in space and who you already know share a hobby of yours? That’s a fun way to meet people.

Drew: I would also add to extend a certain amount of kindness towards yourself as you do these things, because it’s hard in general, but I do think the pandemic makes it even harder. I’ve spent so many hours since getting to Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, which is a cool theater here. And I was just thinking about how if it wasn’t a pandemic, I absolutely would’ve chatted with people sitting next to me, maybe met people there. We’re seeing the same thing, that’s an activity or an interest that I have. But because we have masks on and interacting with strangers is still a bit fraught, I haven’t really talked to anyone there. And so it is harder now, that’s absolutely real.

And so if you go to something or try to meet up with someone and you’re trying to make these things happen for yourself, I think a really great way to not lose hope and to not feel bad is to understand that it will take time. And that’s not to make it be intimidating or to feel daunting, but it’s okay that—

Christina: It’s hard.

Drew: It might take some time, but it is very possible and will happen for you.

Christina: Yeah, and it’s not a reflection on who you are as a person. It is just a reality of the life that we’re living. And that is hard and you are allowed to sit with that feeling and be like, “This kind of sucks,” because like, yeah, it’s going to suck sometimes. And that is hard, but doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or that you’re destined to be friendless and destined to not put your butt on another person’s butt for the rest of your life.

Drew: Ready to move on?

Christina: Crushed it. Perfect advice givers. No notes, 10/10.

Drew: This is a voice memo from anonymous.

Anonymous: Hey, Drew and Christina. So I need your help because I am a pandemic lesbian and very much like a pandemic dog that you adopt, I missed some really key socialization during my formative years and I’m trying really hard to make up for it now. However, between COVID variants and chronic pain, I have not really gotten out with friends or on dates nearly as much as I’d like to, but now I have some treatment options for my pain so I am looking forward to kicking off my slutty gay puberty. But I also want to shit bricks, honestly, when I think about it because I’ve been celibate for the past three years now. And prior to that, I was only with cis men, which means I’ve never had a sexual experience that I wanted to have. And that’s its own little lowercase trauma for me to discuss with my therapist, but I’ve gotten comfortable with desire by myself, but I always talk myself out of it when it’s time to engage with that side of myself in the wild.

So I was wondering if you have any advice for a lesbian Daphne Bridgerton who’s trying to get to the wildest dreams instrumental sex scene, but make it gay part. Thank you.

Christina: Wow, that’s really gorgeous. That is beautiful.

Drew: First of all, congrats. As overwhelmed as you may feel and as anxious as you may feel, congrats, because you have so much excitement and pleasure in your future. That alone should help ease some of the anxieties that you obviously have because we’ve all had them at different parts— Or maybe not all of us, but at least I can speak for myself. Yeah, it’s stressful to be out for the first time, out and dating for the first time. And it’s also exciting and I think that’s my first piece of advice is if you can hold onto the excitement more, I think it will both motivate you to take the risks you need to take and also I think will make it all a bit more fun. And that’s really important because I think dating should be fun, especially this kind of dating, especially this kind of exploring. It’s the best.

Christina: Yeah. And I know it might feel like, I don’t know, uncool or nerdy or something to be very clear about this being your kind of queer puberty, but you’re certainly not alone in this, right? I think we’ve seen in all of our social medias, all of the people who have taken this time to explore sexuality and gender during the pandemic and you getting to have this moment of being like, “I got to discover some really cool shit about myself and now I want to share that with other people,” I do not think that will be rejected by the community as a whole. I think you’ll be welcomed with open arms, very Creed with arms wide open energy, except not religious because that’s awful. And I think if you just on your dating profiles or when you’re talking to people, just say like, “Yeah, this is a new experience for me, one I’m really excited about.” Again, it’s all just about communicating your desires and expectations for other people so they understand how to approach you in a space.

Drew: Yeah. I don’t know about you Christina, but I’ve definitely had sex with people who either had no experiences with people who weren’t cis men or had very few. And I do think the biggest difference between the positive experiences and the less positive experiences were the people who were very ready and very sure of themselves which it sounds like she seems very sure of her identity as a lesbian and that to me, there would be no question about having an experience with that person. I wouldn’t care. It’s like, oh, that person is here and ready to do this thing. And the only times I think that people get frustrated or there’s a bad reputation for people who are exploring or whatever, I think that’s so much more connected to people who want things to stay secret and aren’t quite ready. And even that I have compassion towards, but this doesn’t feel like that at all.

And so it’s just exciting. I don’t think the vast majority of people would have any issue with it and would just sort of like meet you where you’re at. And there could be something fun about it too. I don’t know. I definitely enjoyed some of my experiences that were like that a lot, just from the place of it’s a real trust that someone’s giving you to get to be there with them as they sort of explore these things and experience these things for the first time. It’s just like, it’s just really fun.

And as far as making it happen in tangible ways, I do think a lot of it is just to push past the anxiety that you’re feeling and do the things that we’re going to say. Like, yeah, get on a dating app if you want to get on a dating app, go to queer nights, events, yeah, it’s a pandemic still so that is challenging but there’s lots of different scales of those things. There’s things that are outside, find a place that you feel comfortable with. And if you don’t then yeah, maybe it is going on solo dates with people that you meet on dating apps or people who you meet on like Instagram, Twitter, take those thirst traps, TikTok. The internet is one big dating app.

Christina: Gorgeous.

Drew: And just be thirsty.

Christina: First of all, gorgeous advice. Just Be Thirsty. Drew Gregory 2022. And also if you are not a person who is particularly on social media or invested social media in the way that Drew and I’s deeply online brains are, if you have friends who are queer and you’re like, “Do you guys have anybody to set me up with?” This is the resource that I think we should be tapping into. If you’re a person who’s like, “I don’t want to do dating apps,” I get it, I hear you. But just ask your friends, like, “Who can I go out with?” I guarantee you, your friends have at least one or two people that they’re like, “Actually now that you mention it,” because that’s how friends’ brains work. And that’s what friendship is really, entrusting your desires with a pal to be like, “Yeah, I can find somebody who you’re going to at least have a good time with.”

Drew: And like I was saying in the previous question, if the first date you go on doesn’t go well, if the first sexual experience you have doesn’t go well, just don’t let that stop you from continuing to throw yourself into this wonderful world. Not everything’s going to be perfect. There might be some growing pains, but the more that you can just sort of take it all as part of the experience and enjoy it, I think the better. Honestly knowing our community, I don’t know you at all and I’m like a year from now, you’re going to be in a relationship.

Christina: Absolutely, a year is so generous. I was like, “Baby, in six months, you’re going to be in a relationship,” it’s cool. And if you are anything like me, when I came out and started dating, I think the thing for me that was the most shocking was I was like, “Oh, this is fun,” because I’m doing the dating that I want to be doing and not feeling awful or annoyed by it. I was just like, “Oh, this is so much easier. This is where I should have been from jump.” So now you get to experience that. And I think you’re just going to have a good time and I’m really looking forward to it. Please update us in six months, I want to know who’s your girlfriend and when are you guys moving in?

Alright, this is from anonymous. So anonymous A+ member, God bless you. “Historically, I have found the people I date in person where we slow burn for a while before anything started. This hasn’t been working right now and I’m trying dating apps, but I’m demisexual and it’s a disaster. I have said I’m demisexual in said apps, but still anytime people flirt with me over text, my knee jerk reaction is, ‘Ew, you don’t know me,’ and I end up ghosting. Should I just give up on dating apps? Do I try to meet in person ASAP and tell the people I’m looking for the slow burn dynamic of a romantic drama that takes three seasons for them to kiss? What did I do in a past life to make me so horny but so, so demisexual?”

This is my favorite. I love this. Just asking, “What did I do in a past life?” Is really beautiful. I think it is important to note nor Drew or I are demisexual, though Drew, I feel like you have some demisexual energies happening.

Drew: Yeah, that’s fair. I do think that I can have casual sex, but I definitely enjoy it more when it’s in the context of like a different kind of… it’s not the three season romantic drama, but it’s the one night magic romantic drama, which I guess that’s its own version of that. And yeah, I mean, I also have never really had much luck with dating apps maybe for similar reasons. And I don’t think you need to give up on dating apps, right? I think it’s a good thing to recognize that it’s maybe not the space that works best for you. It’s tricky because you said that you’re communicating, but maybe people who you communicate to that you’re demisexual don’t fully know what that means. So maybe it would be more effective to both say you’re demisexual and in your bio say the funny, charming thing you said to us, that you’re looking for someone to have a three season slow burn romance with. That communicates so much.

And as someone who, even if I might be slower to hook up, I might still like flirting with strangers. If I saw that on an app and what I was looking for was to flirt with someone that night or to meet up with them and hook up soon or whatever, I would be like, “Oh, this person isn’t for me.” And if I was looking for something more serious, I’d be like, “Oh cool. This is what I’m looking for.” I think that would maybe communicate more to me than demisexual because that can mean slightly different things to different people. So I think really being clear about what it is that you are looking for.

Christina: Yeah. I was going to say quite literally the same thing, because I think that little anecdote you included is so charming and says so much about your familiarity with pop culture and the way that TV shows and books and the trope of slow burn generally, that says so much to me about who you are as a person that I feel like it is a perfect dating app little anecdote to slide in there.

And I think also just reminding yourself that, yes, if a stranger texts me, I might knee jerk be like, “Nope, I don’t want to speak to you,” knowing that about yourself is super helpful and reminding yourself that this is just a knee jerk reaction, it does not mean yay or nay on this person immediately. You can sit with that tension and work through it by yourself. But I think also you’re very right in maybe moving to in person conversation before way too long of the texting and the messaging, that might be the better choice for you. I think it’s the better choice for everybody, frankly. I think just as quick as you can move to an in person interaction is for the better, but you know that, so do what you can with that information.

Drew: You also can communicate… I mean, I don’t know what you mean by flirting, but if I want to date someone more seriously, I don’t really like to sext before we meet. And I know a lot of people, we’ve talked about this in our sexting episode, that some people are very different than that, but I’ve definitely cut off flirting and managed to do it in ways that didn’t offend the other person, didn’t break the energy or the banter that we were building up and just was sort of like, “Oh, we’ve reached my boundary, maybe later.” I think there’s just ways to do it where you make sure the person doesn’t feel like they did something wrong but you’re just being very clear and communicating that a boundary of yours has been reached. And if you don’t want to be that direct, I also think that you can theoretically reroute the conversation and the tone.

And I also think that something to know is that the kind of slow burn you’re describing often isn’t quite conducive to dating apps and where it is super conducive to is my good friend Instagram. And Instagram is the best place to… That’s my current relationship is just a year of we follow each other and we occasionally respond to each other’s stories and we were flirting, but not in a sexual way really. It was real, pretty mild in the beginning there. More like responding to things and chatting and getting to know each other and occasionally maybe responding to a thirst trap or whatever, but not that often. So Instagram is great and that’s why I do love it because it does allow me to have my little slow burns. Most of the time, my suggestion is like, “Look for hot people on Instagram.”

Christina: I do love that about you, that you’re just a steady and faithful servant of the Instagram flirting and bonding. And if you know that you find the people that you date in person, tap into those in person networks, who do you know that’s like mutual friends and their mutual friends? Look around your networks to find who you can find because you already know what works for you so tap into those resources.

Drew: I would also say a big piece of advice that I believe in is, and I’ve maybe even said this on the podcast before, but when you are swiping on dating apps, swiping right does not mean, “I am horny and someday I would like to have sex with this person.” Swiping right means if this person messages me tomorrow, I won’t groan. And I think that’s such a good thing to remember because as someone who’s also in the horny community, I think I can sometimes be swiping and be like, “Yeah, I mean, I would have sex with this person. I would have sex with this person maybe if we really hit it off.” And it’s like, okay, but maybe in that moment late at night, the next day when that person sends you like a, “Hey,” how are you going to feel? How are you going to feel?

And I do think that’s something that can help. I mean, you don’t get the same validation and that can be hard. And maybe you want to meet people romantically in person, but you just want to use dating apps for validation and for passing the time. And that’s also fine. So if you want to have that match and be like, “Oh, this person matched with me and oh, they’re flirting, I don’t want to talk to them,” and ghost, you can do that, that’s fine. But just then be aware of what you’re using it for and don’t feel upset if they’re not your perfect match.

Christina: Yeah. I think that’s a really good way to think about dating apps.

Drew: Well, we did it.

Christina: We crushed it as ever.

Drew: If you have a question, we’re going to be doing more of these and so either if you are an A+ member, we love you, send us your questions. If you’re not an A+ member, become an A+ member and send us questions.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 566 articles for us.

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