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Photo by Diego Duarte Cereceda on Unsplash

Recently, I was talking with a guy on Tinder whom I was very attracted to. We seemed to have a bit in common, and the conversation was flowing nicely, until he started asking about my sexual preferences. He mainly wanted to know whether I was a top or a bottom, and when I gave my answer, he decided that it wouldn’t work out between the two of us, and made it clear that the conversation was over, despite me suggesting that we could still be friends. I guess we couldn’t be friends, because he didn’t want to have sex with me.

This wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened. Another guy I was talking to was already in a relationship, and from the way his profile looked, I could tell he was possibly looking for some side dick. We seemed to have a lot in common, so I continued talking to him. We had the same geeky interests, he seemed to be invested in asking about who I was rather than just wanting to know about my sexual interests, and it felt nice that we were talking about my favorite TV shows and not what our penises look like (not that that’s wrong, though). Eventually, after a few days of conversations here and there, he started hinting that he was at home alone, and in the mood for a hook-up. I told him that I wasn’t into him, that way. I could see in his responses that he felt rejected, which is understandable, but I made sure to let him know that I still thought he was a good person. I didn’t necessarily say “we could still be friends,” but from the way he was messaging me after that, it felt like there was nothing left for us if we weren’t going to have sex.

I’ll definitely admit that I used to be a bit like this on dating apps, too. If a guy wasn’t single, I wouldn’t bother talking to him. There was no chance of me building any sort of connection. It felt a lot like they already “won” in “the game” of sex and dating, and that it was a waste of time and energy for me to talk to them. They already had a guy! What reason would he have to talk to me? However, after l realized that how one uses a gay social app is completely up to the users themselves, whether it be for more friends or using it as a tool for forming polyamorous relationships, I slowly started to realize that this may also be a great way to make friends. It seems so obvious, thinking about it now, but that just seems to be a major aspect of how character development works.

I haven’t had a lot of queer friends, in my life. I’ve had queer friends here and there, and I currently have queer friends, but the amount of queer friends I have can be counted on one, maybe two hands. And when I say “friends,” I mean people I can confide in and go to for support, not an acquaintance whom I’ve only talked to a few times. A lot the ways I interact with the world and other people have been shaped by the straight friends that I have. If I talked to any of them about issues I had regarding my queerness (which affects so much of a queer person’s life), the advice very much felt like it came from living a straight experience, which isn’t always helpful or applicable. While I love and feel supported by my straight friends, it’s nothing like the relationship with the few queer friends that I have. There is a deeper, more comfortable connection with another queer person. There is a more implicit understanding of our life and our struggles. It feels like there’s much more room to just be as I am, talk about what I’d like to talk about, and not feel pressured into being a palatable gay. I’ve been wanting to surround myself with that energy much more, lately, and it often feels like I’m trying to skip rocks that just sink upon impact.

It’s so easy to just blame “the apps” for why we can’t find these queer friendships. They’re structured in such a way that seems to be geared toward sexual encounters and casual dating, but I think the responsibility is ultimately on us to create the connections we’re looking for (or at least make those first steps). I also realize that “the apps” are far from the only way to make queer friends. In fact, there are, most likely, several better ways to make connections with other queer individuals. However, I talk about these apps often because sometimes, that can be the most convenient resource we’ve got. While I would never say that people have to use the apps any certain way, why not keep yourself open to the idea of other possibilities? So maybe that guy didn’t want to have sex with you, but if you have a lot in common, why not just keep the conversation going? Sure, that guy isn’t interested in a date with you, but why not still go have coffee and talk about the shows you both watch? Why does the conversation have to end because there’s no potential of sex or a relationship? Why do we, as queer men, have to suggest to other queer men that we’re not worthy of attention or energy if they don’t want to have sex with us?

I understand the importance placed on romantic and sexual relationships between queer people. I understand the desire for them, because I very much desire a sexually and romantically fulfilling relationship with another man. However, I think we could enrich our lives so much more if we’re open to making some friends along the way.

How lonely would it be if we only looked at other queer people under the lens of whether or not we would date and/or have sex with them? Sure, this can possibly fill the social void, but what about the relationships in our lives that just as uplifting, without the added pressure of wondering whether or not there is attraction between us? I think our sexual and romantic attractions are very important to represent, but what about our friendships? What about our chosen families?

We, as queer people, are so much more than objects of attraction. We are so much more than the love interest. We are all wonderfully crafted, incredibly dynamic people who have more to offer than we’re immediately aware of. If we can’t appreciate each other for these complexities, how can we expect to create the more intimate connections that we desire?