PhillyGayPhilter: Online dating through OkCupid hasn't been working out well for me, but I'm not quite sure how else to do it now that I'm out of college. How do I meet other young-ish gay men in Philadelphia, in either meat-space or alternative digital pastures? Anxieties, personal details, and candy within!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
(No candy, sorry.)
Me: Young (early 20s) openly queer male college-graduate, living in Philadelphia and working in an awesome scientific research position. Since moving to the city after college, I've enjoyed a wonderfully rich social life and truly fantastic friends whom I am very close with and whom I have appreciated dearly. The only hitch to this is that I've been single. It's not particularly uncommon for me to be single—I'm not a serial monogamist and, as an introvert who likes people a lot, do appreciate my alone time—but nevertheless I have had the urge to "have someone," as it were. However, the one method by which I have seriously pursued this—OkCupid—has over the course of the year been rather a bust for me.
My previous relationships (read: previous 1 and 1/2) have all been with friends of mine with whom I felt a mutual, growing intimacy over time that evolved into romantic feelings and stirrings. This is in some ways my ideal relationship pattern: friends first, then lovers. At least so far on OkCupid, I have felt like my dates have been rushing toward sex on the first few or even first dates, to which I have not reciprocated. This is a major turn-off for me, as I am a shy person despite being personable and social. (And, perhaps, if I was feeling a "real attraction" maybe I would also feel this sexual urge, so I should trust myself?). I don't know if this is an OkCupid thing or what, as I'm rather upfront about not looking for no-strings-attached sex and that I'm wont to "take it slow." I also have a defensive tendency to—largely unconsciously—expertly socially-mirror people and provide them exactly what they want to see when I am first meeting them, a habit which disappears over time as I feel safer in a relationship. It does get me a lot of second dates, but I think I end up feeling emotionally uninvolved and experientially detached as I'm usually not in the slightest providing any resistance or going with what I really want. I've noticed this, am working on it professionally and with some heartening success so far. I do think that it would help to know people I am potentially dating in a less charged context first, though.
So, really, I'd like to know ways in which I can meet other gay guys—to the teleological ends of possible dates—as it doesn't seem to be happening organically in my life. I could also maybe do with some alternative online ways to meet folks.
For some things to rule out:
(1) Though I am not out of shape, I'm pretty unathletic (I have all the natural grace of a drunk brontosaurus), so have mostly ruled out gay sports leagues et al.
(2) I also don't play any musical instruments or have any particular vocal talent, thus nixing gay music societies.
(3) Unfortunately, my great social network hasn't been a help so far in providing first-connections and "new blood." (I am friends-and-only-friends with all of my queer male folks, and they generally have the same friends I do.) I am ever-vigilant though.
For some things to, uh, rule in?:
(1) I tend to be attracted to one of two types: sweet, super-dorky (kempt or unkempt) but intellectually-passionate nerds... and comedic/awkward or "mysterious and elusive" hipsters, but neither are rules. Passionate people really are the shit, yo, either way.
(2) If I may presume the existence of a bear-twink spectrum, I am rarely attracted to people on the twink-end of that spectrum. My sweet range is probably from three-quarters in bear-territory to about a quarter into twink territory, or people who don't really fit this crude qualification at all. I tend to be more attracted to people with average-and-larger body builds? Facial hair is, generally, hot.
(3) I feel that, to some degree, I have some minor anxieties about more "traditional" queer social meccas (i.e., clubs) due to feeling a bit orthogonal to dominant "gay culture" (whatever that is; obviously gay culture is not monolithic). If anything I am a bit bearish and people who are attracted to me tend to be attracted to that aesthetic generally. While I like going out to gay dance-clubs to be silly and dance with friends, pick-up-hook-up culture as a whole doesn't appeal to me. I'm not sure what else can happen in a place like that; I've never quite understood intuitively how a club "works," except as a removed social observer. I also feel like I'm a bit of a stranger-in-a-strange land in some queer spaces due to not being pretty or fashionable. I actually rather like the local lesbian bar (Sisters) for the reason that it's a lot more casual and also a place for queer socializing, dancing et al. for both men and women. Maybe I could do with knowing how to navigate gay bars/clubs better?
(4) For whatever reason, I don't particularly "come off" as queer despite being very much open and out even at work, so much so that it sometimes feels like I accidentally get put back in the closet by casual relations as I don't have a significant other to talk about. (E.g., the bros at my lab amusingly tend to involve me in any heteronormative bro-discussion of girl issues and attractive women in our research network. "Oh, you're working with Patricia. Oh, wow... are you going to steal her away from me?" "Uh, guys, uh. Remember, I'm gay?" "Oh, oh, right!" Lolwhut!) I wonder if this makes it harder to meet queer people in day-to-day life, though. I also imagine it's harder to meet people "naturally" as there are simply a lot fewer gay people around than straight people, alas.
So: Are there any interesting organizations, social clubs, meet-ups, volunteer opportunities, etc. for young-ish gay men in Philadelphia that you might be able to recommend? Are there any other sites that people have successfully used? Or maybe tips on how to make something like a gay-bar-chat-up something less repellent or anxious for someone like me? Any advice or remarks would be welcome, really. Merci beaucoup, MetaFilter. Thanks for reading!