I recently ended a relationship with my first female partner after we dated for a year, and I finally feel ready to get back into the dating scene; the catch is that I’m crippled with insecurity. I’m femme and identify as queer. I dated men as a teenager because I didn’t think there was another option, and I feel like any “bi” tendencies I still have are me struggling to shake off this reflexive patriarchal validation I get from men finding me attractive. I want to date girls, but I also like to wear dresses, wear my hair long, and be coy to flirt with people, which means I present as very “straight.” And my history makes it complicated too – my straight friends think that my ex was just an experiment and are always try to set me up with men, and the advice my gay friends give me – acting more aggressive towards women, hiding the fact that I’ve dated men before, dressing differently – I know is well-intentioned, but doesn’t feel honest to me. I want to be able to just be myself and still attract women, even to be friends with me, but I feel like I receive a lot of skepticism from both sides, and it’s making me feel like trying to date at all is kind of pointless right now. Is it?
I need help! I am in my late 20s and just realized I’m queer. Totally hype to be joining the club but I’m having a sex appeal crisis! I am a fat person, which added an extra dimension of horrible to my pre-queer dating life in re: fatphobia . Now I’m wondering, will it be the same with women?? Are queer women into fat queer women? Are they into fat queer women with no experience?? Should I stop wondering if it’s gonna be horrible and just try it anyway? Are these stupid questions??! Ahhhh!!!
It might not seem it right away, but these two questions actually share most of the same answers! They’re both from people who are entering the queer dating scene, but are nervous that who they are will stop other queer women from wanting to date them. They’re both from people who seem like they’re cool and genuine people who would be great people to flirt with. So I’m going to answer these together.
First I want to say to question asker #1 congratulations on deciding to get back into dating! That takes a lot of bravery and is one of the hardest steps in finding a partner. To question asker #2 I say: these aren’t stupid questions! This makes a ton of sense and I remember having these exact fears just a couple of years ago.
On one hand, the biggest piece of advice I’m going to give you is to stay yourself. The cool thing about being a part of the queer community is that we all get to be our most authentic selves. It sucks that your friends are telling you that you need to change who you are in order to please potential partners and that you’re afraid being fat will make it so you can’t find someone, but I think in reality you’ll find that most queer women will appreciate you being genuine and real about who you are. Queer people are generally a lot better than straight people at challenging traditional beauty standards and not falling into the traps and pitfalls of those standards (although of course not perfect). We’re a community that often bonds around being different and feeling judged for who we are, so I find that most people are more understanding. I think you’ll have a much better time dating women than dating men.
This might be wishful thinking, but I’d like to believe that biphobia is on the decline. Not only does it feel like more and more people happy to have their bisexual siblings in the queer family, but I think more and more people are identifying as bi or queer. Despite what your friends have said, I think you’ll find friends and partners who have the same history of dating men that you do; it’s not uncommon or shameful. You can even commiserate over it together! I think the same goes for fatphobia. Body positivity movements are popular in queer circles, and you can definitely date a fellow fat person and talk about your shared experiences with fatphobia. Also, believe me, there are a significant number of queer women who are looking for femme women and fat women to date! People are into all sorts of people and you’ll find plenty of people who will initiate flirting with you.
Question asker #1, It seems like you’re pretty comfortable with your flirting style, which honestly puts you miles ahead of most queer women in that department. You can keep using it! Believe me, girls will blush if you do any kind of flirting with them no matter how coy. Instead of changing who you are to fit in, think about things you like that can help signify queerness and an eagerness to date. If you’re interested, there are lots of feminine looks that are also very visibly queer. A nice ringer tee paired with a skirt and a dad hat is a look that definitely reads queer; same thing goes for bomber jackets over a dress and adding a bandana around the neck with any dress or outfit. Dying your hair a fun blue, purple or pink or getting a nose ring or tattoo can also help. What about a small and cute rainbow tattoo somewhere? It’s sometimes helpful to see these little signs to help you figure out which girls you can flirt with, so if any of these sound like they’d be keeping with who you are and how you want to present, you could try them.
Person #2, I’m a fat person too! And believe me I get that fatphobia and self doubt. I came out as trans when I was 25 and then didn’t kiss my first girl until I was 30. That was largely because I didn’t have much experience and I was afraid people wouldn’t like me because I’m fat. But you know what, in real life, most people are really, really unsure of what they’re doing no matter how much experience they have. They’re scared too. People are weird and feelings are weird and sex is weird. Also, not gonna lie, just a lot of queer women don’t start dating and don’t get experience sleeping with other women until later in life. Homophobia and heteronormativity make it so that lots of people don’t come out until their twenties, so you’re far from the only person in your boat. A friend of mine told me, “things will happen when the time is right. There’s no standard on what that timing should be,” and I’ve found that to be exceedingly true. People come out when they come out, and they get experience when they get experience.
I’ve been where both of you are! I’ve given myself an undercut hoping it would make me look more queer. I’ve worried that I’d have to lose weight to get a girlfriend. But you know what? I’m more femme and more fat and more bi than I’ve ever been and I’m in a super happy relationship. There are people out there for you, I promise. You might not find them right away, but believe me, there are queers of all sizes, histories and types, and there are queers who like all sizes, histories and types.