Navigating Your First Gay Relationship
When it comes to being in a queer relationship, a lot of novices are entirely lost. To say that straight relationships won’t prepare you for your first gay relationship is an understatement at best.
The truth is that nothing prepares you for the LGBTQ challenges that come with being in a gay relationship. Sure, some things are the same — there are usually two people who love and respect each other. But depending on where you live, even small things, like holding hands in public, can be different when you’re not a heterosexual couple.
First Things First — Coming Out
Once you gather the enormous amount of necessary courage to come out, you’ll probably be eager to embark on your first journey into queer relationships. But “coming out” is a massive hurdle that not all people can quickly jump over.
Just because you aren’t out doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship. Sure, it will demand a lot of patience and compromise, primarily from your partner.
However, the beauty of queer relationships is that both partners usually have similar experiences. Both had to come out of the closet (or are yet to do it), which means they can show understanding and compassion other people (straight people, primarily) simply can’t.
The essential thing is to communicate your feelings, needs, and state of mind to your partner. If you aren’t ready to come out, tell them that.
Coming out is no easy task, and you should do it whenever you feel ready for it. However, stringing someone along is just as bad as lying to them. So don’t do that.
Know the Differences (and Similarities)
Gay people, particularly gold star gay women, can’t tell the differences and similarities between dating women and men. They have no point of reference. So if you’re someone who has been in hetero relationships thus far and are just now entering your first queer relationship, they won’t have many words of wisdom for you (at least when it comes to specific differences).
In reality, sex, relationships, and general demeanor are different for straight and gay couples. There is no societal pressure on either of the partners and no traditional gender roles you “need” to conform to.
However, that doesn’t mean that queer couples don’t “suffer” from the same predicament as straight couples. There’s still an apparent battle for dominance (even if it’s oh-so-subtle). You just don’t know who’s going to come up on top, so to speak.
Generally speaking, gay couples have more stumbling stones than straight ones. They are judged more viciously by others, and they compare themselves to their partners more.
Furthermore, queer people face some obstacles that straight couples don’t even think about.
For example, planning a future looks entirely different when you’re dating outside the cookie-cutter straight dating pool.
Want to get married? Better find a venue, minister, and a bakery that’s “willing” to cater to non-straight people. Do you want kids? Well, that will take a year or two of careful planning.
And so on, and so on. Of course, that isn’t something you need to deal with a few dates into a queer relationship. However, it is something that every queer person has in the back of their mind.
Defining the Relationship
Defining a relationship is challenging, no matter who you’re dating. Given that the sexual revolution took us far away from the clear-cut rules of dating, people often seem confused about their relationship status.
Are we friends with benefits? A casual couple who isn’t exclusive? Or are we in a devoted, monogamous partnership? Who knows?
Well, you and your partner do. Defining the relationship requires frank and straightforward communication. There’s a stereotype about queer people that they aren’t willing to commit (as well as one that they are too eager to commit). Instead of believing that, communicate your needs and desires to your partner and see if theirs match yours.
The Small (Terrifying) Matter of Sex
Here’s the thing — no amount of sex education will prepare you for how wildly different queer sex is.
When it comes to vanilla sex, people in heterosexual relationships generally know what they are supposed to do. Sure, some do it better than others, but the general instinct is still there. Penis goes into the vagina, there’s some pumping, and a big finale. That’s it!
But what about queer sex? How do you pleasure a woman without a penis? How do you even start navigating anal sex? Do you even have to have anal sex? Is porn a valid educational tool?
See Anal Sex Guide in this Cosmopolitan article.
Let’s go right ahead and say that porn isn’t something that will give you a clear picture of how any type of sex should look. Stereotypes also aren’t a reliable source of knowledge, so try not to fall down that rabbit hole.
Your first gay relationship will teach you that sex (and your relationship to it) is ever-changing. If you’re inexperienced, don’t worry — your partner will show you the ropes, or you’ll learn them together. Don’t feel pressured to decide if you’re a top or a bottom or to like something just because “you’re supposed to.” Instead, explore all avenues of sex that you feel comfortable with and communicate with your partner.
Deciding on Being Public
Just because someone is out doesn’t mean they want to proclaim their relationship status to the entire world. You and your partner need to have a serious talk about how public you want your relationship to be.
That will depend on both of you — whether you are out, privately and professionally, for starters. Most queer couples, especially younger people, aren’t necessarily on the same “level of outness,” which can be a considerable problem if partners don’t communicate.
The vital thing is that the compromises the partner who is entirely out makes don’t shove them back into the closet.
Supporting the Community
In the end, your first gay relationship is an excellent opportunity to get more involved with the LGBTQ community. If your partner is out and you aren’t, they’ll probably introduce you to their close friends who are also members of the community. That will give you not just more allies and potential teachers but also more avenues for participating in communal events.
Navigating your first gay relationship will be a daunting task. However, navigating any relationship is no walk in the park either. Therefore, don’t let your fears hold you back. You’ll figure it out — it might take some trial and error, but you will!