Why do so many gay couples open up their relationships?
Many of us are on autopilot, but we can build more meaningful connections
As gay men, we’ve been through a lot.
For so many years we were deep in the closet, fearful of being arrested, and threatened with pseudo-medical cures.
Then came the Stonewall uprising, the declassification of homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder, and the defeat of sodomy laws. And finally, the legalization of gay marriage.
Now—at least in some parts of the world — we’re free to live our lives exactly like everyone else. No one gets to tell us how to live, whom to love, or what we can or can’t do in the bedroom. We alone call the shots.
Then again, maybe we’re not as free as we think. Ever wonder why so many of us open our relationships? Are we always really deciding for ourselves how we want to live?
Or are we sometimes on autopilot, blithely following expectations and norms of which we aren’t even aware, oblivious to the possible consequences?
Spring, 1987: Although I didn’t know it at the time, my own introduction to the world of gay relationships was following a script that countless gay men have lived.
Growing up in that era, there were no visible gay relationships, no role models. Astoundingly, a gay porn theater/bathhouse did advertise in the Washington Post, my hometown paper, when I was a kid. While this was titillating, I dreamed of something more traditional and soulful for my future than the anonymous encounters and orgies at which those ads hinted.
So when hunky, adorable Justin* asked me out after a meeting of the campus gay group and we started dating, I was over the moon. That is, until my friends Ben and Tom, an older gay couple, shot me right back down to earth when, one evening over dinner, they asked if Justin and I were “exclusive.”
Huh? What a question!
“Just wait,” Tom said knowingly, “Gay men never stay monogamous for long.”
More than 30 years have passed, and the world of gay male relationships remains pretty much the same. Working as a psychologist for the past 25 years, I’ve listened to hundreds of gay clients share their own versions of my long-ago dinner with Ben and Tom. “We just assumed we’d be monogamous, but then this older gay couple told us, ‘yeah, let’s see how long that lasts.’ So we decided to open up our relationship and start playing around.”
New generations have the possibility of proudly visible relationships and recently, marriage. And still, for many of us, open relationships are seen as the default choice in one form or another: “Monogamish.” Only when one partner is out-of-town. Never the same person twice. Only when both partners are present. No kissing. No intercourse. No falling in love. Never in the couple’s home. Never in the couple’s bed. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Disclose everything. Anything goes.
Examining our affinity for non-monogamy can be seen as judgmental or anti-gay, “sex-negative,” tantamount to suggesting that gay men should mimic a heterosexual model that is patriarchal, misogynist, oppressive — and maybe not even really workable for straight people. Questioning our penchant for casual sex while we are coupled is also seen as a challenge to the inspirational (to some) narrative that gay men, free of the constraints of history and tradition, are constructing a fresh, vibrant model of relationships that decouples the unnecessary, pesky, and troublesome bond between emotional fidelity and sexual exclusivity.
But we do not honor our diversity if we expect that any of us should choose (or not choose) any particular role or path. After all, gay men are just as multidimensional, complex, and unique as other men.
And while an open relationship may be the best relationship for some couples to have, successfully being in one requires capabilities that many of us do not possess. Simply being a gay man certainly does not automatically provide skills such as:
The solidity of self to be trusting and generous
The ability to sense how far boundaries can be pushed without doing too much damage
The capacity to transcend feelings of jealousy and pain
The strength of character not to objectify or idealize outside sex partners.
Yes, open relationships can be as close, loving, and committed as monogamous relationships, which of course have their own difficulties. But even when conducted with thought, caution, and care, they can easily result in hurt and feelings of betrayal.
Moreover, open relationships are often designed to keep important experiences secret or unspoken between partners. Clients will tell me they do not want to know exactly what their partner is doing with other men, preferring to maintain a fantasy (or delusion) that certain lines will not be crossed. As a result, the ways in which we structure our open relationships can easily interfere with intimacy—knowing, and being known by our partners.
Consequently, we gay men often struggle to form solid, mutually respectful attachments that include both emotional and physical connection. Might any of these scenarios be familiar to you?
Jim and Rob came in to see me after a disastrous cruise with eight of their friends. Although it had not been their plan, between them they had ended up separately having sex with all eight. This had broken several of their “rules,” although as Jim pointed out, the rules were unclear because they often made them up to suit whatever they wanted to do, or not allow each other to do. Each partner’s ongoing anger over how his partner was hurting him by ignoring admittedly ad-hoc sexual boundaries meant that Jim and Rob hadn’t had sex with each other in two years.
Another couple I work with, Frank and Scott, have had an open relationship from the start. When they met, Frank felt strongly that monogamy had no relevance to him as a gay man. Though Scott wanted a sexually exclusive relationship, he somewhat reluctantly went along with Frank’s wishes because he wanted to be with Frank. In recent years the two have become near-constant users of hookup apps, and recently Scott met a younger man on Scruff with whom he has “great chemistry.” Now, to Frank’s dismay, Scott is dating Todd.
Carlos and Greg came to see me after Carlos discovered that Greg was hooking up numerous times a month. Although they had a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” agreement and both assumed the other was occasionally having sex with other men, Greg’s behavior was far more frequent than Carlos had imagined or wanted to accept in his marriage. Greg was steadfast in his conviction that because he was following their rules, his hookups could not be negatively impacting his relationship with Carlos.
Beyond the hurt, enmity, reduced commitment, lack of connection, and distance they experience, men in these situations often tell me that their relationships and their lives have become overwhelmed by their pursuit of sex.
Another potential drawback to an open relationship: Yes, multiple partners are an easy (and fun) fix for sexual boredom. But when hot times can be easily found with others, we may feel little incentive to put sustained energy into keeping sex with our partners interesting. My educated guess: This is why many gay couples in open relationships have little or no sex with each other, just as a twosome.
Finally, it is troubling how easily, in our open relationship/hookup culture, we objectify those we have sex with and see other men as disposable, replaceable bodies. Treating others and being treated in this manner does not advance our respectfully relating to each other, nor does it benefit our self-esteem as men and as gay men.
What is influencing these behaviors?
Gay men lean toward non-monogamy for many interconnected reasons.
Men (stereotype acknowledged) often enjoy pursuing and having no-strings sex, so gay men readily find willing partners. Open relationships, seemingly fun and unconstrained, offering a stream of new partners to reduce the monotony of an ongoing relationship, can be intrinsically alluring. Gay men’s sexual connections have historically not been governed by societal rules, so we’ve been able to do pretty much whatever we want, as long as we’ve flown way under the radar.
And, open relationships are what we predominantly see around us as the relationship model for gay men, for the reasons noted above and also in large part due to the influence of gay history and gay culture.
For a deeper understanding of this last point, let’s take a whirlwind tour though gay male history in the Western world (much of which overlaps with lesbian herstory). Ancient, recent, forgotten, familiar, all of it is impacting our lives today.
Since at least the fourth century C.E., as Christianity gained influence, homosexual behavior was illegal in Europe, often punishable by death, and European settlers brought these laws with them to what became the United States. Some periods were relatively more tolerant, others less so. France became the first Western nation to decriminalize homosexuality after the 1791 Revolution, but harsh laws remained and were enforced throughout the Western world well into the 20th century. (And at present, 78 countries still have laws prohibiting homosexual behavior; punishments in some include the death penalty.)
Following World War II, America’s McCarthy “Red Scare” of the 1950s was accompanied by a campaign against the “Lavender Menace,” resulting in hundreds of homosexual government employees being fired. The anti-gay environment in the United States, similar to that in other Western countries, included FBI tracking of suspected homosexuals; the postal service monitoring mail for “obscene” materials including mailings from early gay rights organizations; prison terms for homosexual acts between consenting adults; and nightmarish “treatments” for homosexuality including chemical castration. Obviously, under conditions such as these, gay men had a difficult time congregating openly, meeting each other, or forming relationships. Many gay men lived fearful lives of isolation and furtive sexual encounters.
To get a chilling sense of what it was like to live as a gay man in this era, view William E. Jones’s “Tearoom” on the Internet. The film presents actual surveillance footage from a police sting operation of men meeting for sex in an Ohio restroom in 1962. The men’s fear is palpable, and the absence of affection or connection between them is heartbreaking.
While in 1967 parts of the United Kingdom decriminalized homosexuality, 1969 is known as the start of the modern gay rights movement because in June of that year, patrons of the Stonewall Bar in New York City fiercely fought back against a routine police raid. Following Stonewall, we began to congregate and organize openly, to throw off the cloak of shame, and to fight against third-class status. (In 29 of the United States it remained legal to fire someone simply for being gay until the June Supreme Court ruling in the Bostock case. The scope of that ruling is still being debated.)
During the 1970s, with sexual liberation coming on the heels of the civil rights era, the gay rights movement gained momentum. The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. We became more visible, and gay culture—bookstores, bars, political organizations, and sex clubs—flourished as gay men rejected living in fear and openly celebrated their sexuality.
But by the late 1970s, HIV was silently making its way into the gay community. As men began to fall sick and die in staggering numbers early in the 1980s, anti-gay sentiment again exploded, and we began to equate our own sexuality with death. Yet the AIDS epidemic ultimately led our community to coalesce and strengthen, organizing to care for our ill and to fight for effective treatment, leading to greater visibility and acceptance, and providing some of the organizational groundwork for the equal rights battles that continue today.
History influences culture, and both our history and culture influence who we become, and how we lead our erotic and intimate lives. Modern gay culture developed in an environment of justified fear.
Often, the only possibility for us to meet for any sort of intimate encounter was through hookups and anonymous encounters. When connecting, we had to keep one eye over our shoulders, scanning for danger (this can literally be seen in Tearoom). Can such connections really be termed intimate?
For most of us, the days of outright surveillance are over. But the patterns of interacting that developed over many years have been passed down through the generations and still influence us in the present, even those of us who don’t face losing our jobs, family support, freedom, or lives if our sexual orientation is discovered. The longstanding need to hide, scan, and be vigilant has helped shape a culture of gay male interaction that— even when we are partnered — often centers on brief encounters, putting greater emphasis on sexual connection than on knowing and being known as multidimensional physical and emotional beings.
At the opposite end of the spectrum: The era of exuberant sexual liberation that followed Stonewall. In part as a reaction to our identity having been badly stigmatized and gay sex having been literally forbidden, both pre-Stonewall and to some degree in the era of AIDS and safer-sex campaigns, gay male culture has leaned toward placing strong emphasis on sex and hooking up. As a result, we often get the message that to be a successful gay man, we should be sexually desirable, open to sex, and have frequent conquests.
Other related factors that can contribute to our so easily leaning away from monogamy and toward multiple partners include:
The stigma around being gay denies many of us opportunities to date and romance early in life. Instead, the experiences of growing up gay, having to hide, and having difficulty discerning who might be a willing partner often lead us to have our first experiences in anonymity and shame, learning how to be sexual apart from and before we learn how to be close. As a result, we’re likely to have a hard time connecting sex and emotional intimacy. Moreover, our early experiences can set our arousal templates to be most aroused by secrecy, risk, anonymity, and being a sexual outlaw.
Internalized homo-negativity from growing up in a culture that has stigmatized homosexuality and gay relationships may lead us to absorb the idea that our relationships, and gay men generally, are “less than.” Consequently, we may think that we, our significant others, our relationships, and our sex partners are unworthy of honor and respect; and we may easily behave in ways that reflect these beliefs, pursuing pleasure without considering the possible costs to what we say we hold dear. And we may not even realize we hold these beliefs.
As gay men, we are likely to have grown up feeling defective and hiding our true selves from our closest family and friends, fearing rejection. When children and young people don’t get a sense that they are loved for whom they really are, and instead grow up seeing themselves as damaged, it’s difficult to develop a positive sense of self-worth. Many of us are still seeking to heal this wound through our ongoing pursuit of sex and the companion feeling of being desired by another man, unaware of what is driving this pursuit.
Alcohol and other substance abuse are entrenched in gay culture, in great part as a means of soothing the isolation, distress, anxiety, and depression that many of us experience from living in an often-hostile world. Clients routinely tell me they are in a chemically altered state when they make decisions to engage in extracurricular sexual interactions that threaten or damage their primary relationships.
One more key factor, true for all relationships: While closeness can feel good, being close also means being vulnerable, which is scary. Open relationships can be a way for us to keep some distance from each other in an attempt to keep ourselves safer.
I became a psychologist at a time when gay relationships weren’t getting much societal support, with the goal of helping gay couples thrive despite a deck stacked heavily against us. Over the years, I’ve learned that some of the most important work I can do with gay male clients is to help them be more thoughtful about their choices, so that they can better develop stronger, more nurturing, more loving relationships.
We gay men often keep our eyes closed to the ways that we may be damaging our relationships through some of our most commonplace, accepted, and ingrained behaviors. Obviously, it can be painful to acknowledge that we may be harming ourselves through seemingly fun, innocuous choices, or to acknowledge the possible downsides of our ubiquitous open relationships.
Nevertheless, there is great value for each of us in figuring out, as individuals, what it means to live in a way that we respect; in holding our behavior up to our own standards, and only our own standards; and in clarifying how we want to live life even when there is pressure, from the outside world and from other gay men, to live differently.
Pressure from other gay men? That’s right.
On first thought one might think that we gay men would have no trouble standing up to others’ expectations. Certainly it’s true that openly acknowledging we are gay despite societal judgment and pressure to “be” heterosexual demonstrates a strong ability to be true to ourselves, and to manage our anxiety in the face of tough challenges.
But beyond the expectations of society-at-large are the expectations of gay culture about what it means to be a successful gay man. Here is where many of us can get wobbly.
Not finding complete acceptance in the larger world, we have the hope that by coming out, we will finally feel a sense of really belonging somewhere. If this means behaving in the ways that peers do, taking on what we perceive to be the values of our community in order to fit in, many of us are willing to ignore our own feelings, and possibly our souls, so as to not feel excluded yet again.
Jim and Rob, the couple who had sex with all their friends on their cruise, are sitting in my office, with my dog Aviv snoozing at their feet. After some consideration, they had decided to stop having sex with other men for a while, to see if this would help them to feel closer and re-start their sex life with each other. The rancor had decreased and they reported enjoying having sex together again.
Their news: Jim has decided to enroll in a graduate program on the other side of the country, and they are discussing how this will affect their sex life.
“Of course we’re going to have to make some allowances for this,” Jim says.
I look at him quizzically.
“I mean, we might not see each other for a month or two at a time. So we need to have an agreement that we’ll have sex with other guys.”
Rob nods in agreement.
I ask them how they each anticipate the impact of both again having sex with others. They respond with shrugs.
“You know, our friends Bill and Dave—Bill has been working in Argentina for the last two years and they only see each other every three or four months. They’re definitely hooking up with other guys,” Jim notes.
“I mean, what else would we do?” adds Rob. “Not have sex for eight weeks?”
If I didn’t regularly have similar conversations with other coupled gay clients, I would be stunned that neither man is stopping to consider his own feelings about what it would mean to resume an open relationship. Both are focusing solely on their perceived need to have sex regularly, and on the notion that this is simply how gay couples should operate.
So much of gay history, culture, and relational development are shaping this moment.
When working with a couple like Jim and Rob, I do my best not to accept much as “simply a given.” Here are the questions that I wonder about with them: What have your hopes been for couplehood, and how is reality lining up with those hopes? How have you made your choices? How is your relationship working for you? What is most important to you?
As with Jim and Rob, I often find that clients haven’t considered these questions much. “It’s what our friends do” is the most frequent answer for how they have made the choice to have an open relationship. Many times it seems to me as if there’s a fog around these men’s thinking about their relationships.
I don’t want to contribute to the fog by colluding with them to believe that the particular heartbreaks that can come with carelessly conducted open relationships are unavoidable; that our relationships are not in fact fragile; or that we gay men must establish our relationships along certain lines simply because that is how it is “usually done.”
And when I challenge these clients to go deeper than stating that they are just doing what everyone else does? “Yes, it’s a struggle” is the answer I usually get. “It is painful when my husband doesn’t come home till the next morning.” And then: “But isn’t this how gay men have relationships? It’s what everyone around me is doing.”
These are the poignant and troubling words I hear again and again, echoing what I was told by my friends back in 1987.
Given the numerous interrelated factors that shape our choices in the realm of sex, it is difficult to envision gay men making significant changes in how we operate, especially as committed relationships are—at present—becoming less popular among younger people of all sexual orientations.
But when we look at the arc of gay existence over the past 50 years, from the shadows to the margins of tolerance to marriage equality, it is clear that surprising and dramatic shifts are possible.
So I am hopeful that we gay men can get off autopilot and become more aware of the factors contributing to how we construct and manage our relationships. And I am hopeful that this awareness can go a long way toward our making ever more thoughtful choices, respectful of ourselves and our partners, that help us to build stronger, closer, and more rewarding relationships.
(All names and identifying information changed in this article.)
A rainbow shield
Parasol Patrol protects children from protesters at LGBTQ, BIPOC events
In the wake of LGBTQ events like drag queen story hours being the target of far-right protesters across the country, a national nonprofit is aiming to protect children from hate.
Founded in March 2019 by Pasha Ripley and Eli Bazan in Denver, Parasol Patrol now has grown to 14 official chapters, including in the D.C. area, Idaho, Illinois, and Rhode Island. The goal of the nonprofit is to protect children and young people from protesters at LGBTQ and BIPOC-centered events.
Volunteers with the nonprofit use umbrellas, rainbow or otherwise, as shields to block kids and families from hateful signs and pass out noise-canceling headphones to protect attendees from abhorrent language. Sometimes volunteers will also escort families into the venue to keep them safe.
“We just started this way of creating a turtle shell around families,” Ripley said. “We envelop that family as best we can and get them through, or past, protesters.”
The mission of Parasol Patrol is twofold, Ripley said. One part of it is to keep kids safe, and the other is to show that there is community support.
“Showing them that we love them. We support them. Not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are,” Ripley said. “We’ve helped the venue create a safer space for them to be themselves.”
Originally raised in rural Oklahoma, Ripley, who is queer, said Parasol Patrol provides a security that she and many others didn’t necessarily have coming of age.
“We want to be those adults that we wish we had had growing up,” she said. “And we’re not trying to turn kids gay. We’re trying to keep the gay kids alive.”
Ripley stressed volunteers with Parasol Patrol are not counter-protesters or security. The mission is nonviolent, and volunteers are encouraged to not engage with protesters.
John Zittrauer, a local volunteer with Parasol Patrol since the early summer of 2022, said volunteers serve as a “welcoming committee” for families attending these events.
“That’s where the umbrellas come in. To create not only a beautiful hallway of people but also to shield little kids from things that might get thrown their way,” Zittrauer said. “We are this wall of positivity, just welcoming families and making sure that everybody comes in and leaves with a smile on their face.”
But sometimes, these events can get hectic.
For example, in late February, the far-right group Proud Boys targeted a drag queen story hour in Silver Spring, Md., the Washington Blade previously reported. About 40 volunteers with Parasol Patrol came out to protect the event, including Zittrauer.
While shielding families from the protesters, Zittrauer was hit in the face on the bridge of his nose. In the melee, he doesn’t know if it was an elbow or a signpost that hit him. He didn’t realize he was bleeding until he turned around to check in with other volunteers, and the look on their faces signaled to him that something was wrong.
Zittrauer still carried on protecting the event from protesters. But he still says volunteering at that event was a positive experience because the families watching the drag story hour did not know too much of what was going on.
This is exactly what Ripley hopes for — that at the end of the day, the events are fun and inspiring for everyone involved, she said.
“For the most part, we stayed happy and upbeat, and unfazed,” Zittrauer said. “It was, all in all, a good day,” he said.
Golden Girls return to D.C.
‘The Laughs Continue’ to run at Warner Theatre from Feb. 23-26
Miami’s sassiest seniors will take D.C. by storm when they take the stage at the Warner Theatre from Feb. 23-26.
Robert Leleux — whose previous work includes “The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy” and “The Living End” — wrote “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue.” It documents the lives of the four cheesecake-loving older women in “The Golden Girls.”
Sophia (Christopher Kamm) is out on bail after the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested her for running a drug ring for older adults. Blanche (Vince Kelley) and Rose (Adam Graber) created CreakN, a “sex app for seniors.” And the relationship-challenged Dorothy is with a much younger man (Jason Bowen) on the aforementioned app.
Bowen also plays Dorothy’s ex-husband Stanley.
Eric Swanson, co-founder of the Detroit Actors’ Theatre Company, directs “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” and Murray and Peter Present produced the play. A version of it showed at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre in July 2022.
“You will feel like you have watched sort of this hour and a half sort of special on a TV and it should feel just like you’re hitting play or whatever it is on your streaming service and here it is,” Swanson told the Washington Blade during a recent Zoom interview from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “The set looks like the set and we utilize the cheesecake — there’s so much cheesecake in this play. You can’t do Golden Girls without cheesecake.”
Swanson said he and Leloux binge watched “every episode” of the original show in four days.
“We wanted to create new content, that was our number one goal,” Swanson told the Blade. “We didn’t want to parody anything. We wanted to completely attack new material and new ways of thinking for women and aging adults in this generation.”
Blanche ‘weaponizes what God has given her’
Kelley told the Blade from Michigan during a telephone interview that Blanche is “very free and my brand of sassy.”
“I love the sensuality of Blanche and that she weaponizes what God has given her to her advantage.”
The scene in season two’s “The Actor” episode in which Blanche’s inflatable breasts deflate when she is hugging an actor during an audition to be his love interest is among Kelley’s favorite from the original show. Kelley also noted CreakN is difficult for Blanche to use because “she doesn’t identify as a senior.”
Blanche in season seven’s “The Case of the Libertine Bell” episode that takes place during a murder mystery weekend points out “flirting is part of my heritage” because she is “from the South.” Rose asked Blanche what she meant, and Dorothy told her that Blanche’s mother was “a slut too.”
“There’s a few of those zingers in this one too,” Swanson told the Blade. “Sometimes they just lay it down.”
‘Ahead of their time’ on LGBTQ issues
“The Golden Girls” premiered on NBC on Sept. 14, 1985.
The series ran for seven seasons until it ended on May 9, 1992. “The Golden Palace” in which Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty starred after Bea Arthur left “The Golden Girls” ran for one season.
“The Golden Girls” is one of the first primetime shows that discussed AIDS, marriage equality, and other LGBTQ issues.
Blanche’s brother Clayton, for example, comes out to his sister as gay in season four’s “Scared Straight” after he claimed he slept with Rose. Clayton and his boyfriend Doug during season six’s “Sister of the Bride” episode tell Blanche, Dorothy, and Sofia that they want to get married.
Dorothy’s brother Phil was a crossdresser, and her friend Jean is a lesbian who falls in love with Rose during season two’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” episode. Rose in season five’s “72 Hours” episode tests HIV-negative after she fears a blood transfusion she had exposed her to the virus.
“They were so ahead of their time in the things that they were tackling: AIDS and all that kind of stuff, and LGBTQ rights and discrimination against Jewish people. All things we’re still dealing with today, which is unfortunate, but it’s nice to turn to them and see how your good friends Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia are dealing with the same problems that you’re dealing with today,” said Kelley.
“I love the progressiveness that they had, especially when you look at the time and the era and what was going on, not just politically, but regarding feminism and sexuality and all of that. it was just incredibly brave,” Swanson told the Blade.
He further noted “The Golden Girls” also addressed interracial marriage and aging.
“They were addressing these things about what it’s like to age,” he said. “Whether you are a conservative, you’re a liberal, you are gay, you are straight, the one thing we all have is age. We can all relate to age and they led that narrative on what is it like to age and feel left out and have to fight again.”
Swanson and Kelley both teased bits of the play.
Kelley notes it is Dorothy’s “day in the sun” when she mets her younger man on CreakN. He also told the Blade that Sophia “had to do another small stint in Shady Pines due to another slip and fall.”
“While there she decided, how can I make a quick buck,” said Kelley. “I’m going to turn into Walter White and monetize that.”
Kelly noted the play is “all new material.”
“You’ll get a whole new fun story that even if you seen every episode twice, you’re gonna get something new. But we definitely have all your favorite lines, all the catchphrases, all the tropes and scenarios that you would expect,” he said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the Golden Girls, we’re just trying to add on to them.”
“We wanted to create something in their honor,” Swanson told the Blade.
“Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” will be at the Warner Theatre (1299 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) from Feb. 23-26. Tickets start at $30. A VIP experience that includes a meet and greet with the cast after the show is $99. Tickets are available at warnerthreatredc.com.
D.C.’s most eligible LGBTQ singles
Meet your match in our annual survey just in time for Valentine’s Day
Each year, the Blade seeks our readers’ help in identifying the most eligible local LGBTQ singles. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we present this year’s list.
How do you identify?: Gay
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone accomplished, compassionate, and with a compatible sense of humor and set of values.
Biggest turn off: Green text messages
Biggest turn on: Someone who knows their way around the kitchen
Hobbies: Entertaining friends, singing in the car, and playing my guitar.
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Finally take my mom on that trip to Paris.
Pets, kids, or neither?: I plead the fifth
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Within reason
Celebrity crush: Chris Hemsworth
Name one obscure fact about yourself: Will moonwalk after a few drinks.
Occupation: Nonprofit professional
How do you identify?: As a Black queer cis-woman
What are you looking for in a mate? I enjoy being around people who are funny and curious. I connect best with folks who have a shared sense of humour and can hold a conversation with just about anyone. I also prefer those who have some level of experience with nonmonogamy.
Biggest turn off: Fatphobia and hot breath
Biggest turn on: Kindness, banter, eye contact, and being fine
Hobbies: I spend my non-work time doing beer education, making elaborate meals for myself, gardening, and spending time with friends.
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: To start running my own beer education experiences, and to fold my laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer.
Pets, kids, or neither?: Neither
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Absolutely the fuck not.
Celebrity crush: Raven Saunders, the very fine track and field Olympian. Somebody set me up.
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I like to hunt. I’m new to the sport and would love to find folks in the area to go out with.
Occupation: Bar manager/bartender
How do you identify?: She/her
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally intelligent, adventurous, ambitious, spiritual, and wants to grow together (in every aspect).
Biggest turn off: Immaturity
Biggest turn on: A submissive dom
Hobbies: Pilates, traveling, reading, writing poetry, and anything in nature!
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Travel back home to Argentina to see my family
Pets, kids, or neither?: A cat my son names Bruno
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Depends
Celebrity crush: Kehlani
Occupation: Non-profit executive director
How do you identify?: Gay
What are you looking for in a mate? An active advocate for social, political and economic progress.
Biggest turn off: Lack of engagement with community issues
Biggest turn on: Commitment to community progress
Hobbies: Community volunteerism and playing bridge
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Helping to end violence and statehood for DC
Pets, kids, or neither?: Neither
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Highly improbable but not impossible
Celebrity crush: I cannot have a crush on someone I have not personally met
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I watch Fox News
How do you identify?: Gay
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is independent, spontaneous, low drama and an open and honest communicator with a sense of humor.
Biggest turn off: Selfishness, pretentious, disrespectful of others, takes things they shouldn’t too seriously
Biggest turn on: Collaborative, inclusive, cares about others as much as they care about themselves, solid communication skills, not required but bonus points if you appreciate Coke Zero over Diet Coke and love Chipotle as well!
Hobbies: I love to travel and have a long list of places in the world I want to go, and would want someone willing to come on that adventure with me, even if that means hopping on a plane spontaneously tomorrow at the last minute. Enjoy exploring DC (theater, concerts, special events etc.), weekend brunching with friends, and playing social LGBTQIA+ kickball.
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Continue to live life to the fullest both personally and professionally while surrounding myself with good, positive people.
Pets, kids, or neither?: I love dogs (had a dog for 13 years who passed a few years ago), open to considering another one (or two!) someday.
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Yes, up to a point
Celebrity crush: Jay Hernandez, Chris Evans, Patrick Mahomes
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve lived in 18 different apartments/homes in my ~21 years living in the DC metro area – as you can tell, I’m definitely not afraid of moving.
Occupation: Recruiting leader
How do you identify?: Queer
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is creative, has a dark sense of humor, is grounded, leads with an authentic heart, and appreciates the little moments in life.
Biggest turn off: Lack of empathy, curiosity, adventurous spirit
Biggest turn on: Someone who lives their life out loud and takes risks with their dreams. Is confident and passionate in a relationship. Can hang with witty and weird jokes. Oh, and if they can cook!
Hobbies: I’m a writer at heart. Obsessed with resell, thrift, and consignment objects. Have always loved trying new, creative projects to include crocheting, DIY miniature kits, painting, publishing my own memoir. Always up for exploring and can walk around a city or trail for hours absorbing the experience.
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Honestly, to be super present with the people I care about and love. It’s been a rough few years and it’s made me truly appreciate how precious our time is together.
Pets, kids, or neither?: No kids. No pets right now — but you’ll hear me talk about my pup who was so sassy & funny (miss my lil guy). Right now, I live vicariously through my friends’ pets.
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: No, that’s just too loaded these days. Could be friends and have respectful conversations, but I don’t have the space for debate in my deeper relationships.
Celebrity crush: Winona Ryder was my first, and still is my biggest crush.
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I was a finalist for the “Tila Tequila” show. Don’t judge me — just knew I was auditioning for a queer reality dating show. *smacks forehead*
Occupation: Non-profit executive director
How do you identify?: Queer
What are you looking for in a mate? I like to laugh, process the world from the big to the tiny, and collaborate. I want someone who wants to join me in that.
Biggest turn off: Being rude to service workers
Biggest turn on: Direct communication, expression of desires, confidence, playfulness. Know your value and tell me about mine.
Hobbies: Biking around town, illegally swimming in the Potomac, listening to too many podcasts, the Libby app, planting perennials, starting a garden then forgetting to water it, baking when I have the patience to clean the kitchen after, coordinating my friends to plan meals together
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Living with patience (see next question)
Pets, kids, or neither?: I have a one-and-a-half year-old kiddo I’m raising on my own. I also live with a cat, but the cat is my roommate’s.
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: There’s a wide spectrum of what this means, but I wouldn’t date someone who I fundamentally didn’t share agreement about the problems with white supremacy, capitalism, and the impacts of gentrification in DC. TL;DR probably no.
Celebrity crush: Janelle Monae, Mae Martin, E.R Fightmaster, Sara Ramirez
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I grew up on a dairy farm
Occupation: Community Manager at TPSS Co-op
How do you identify?: Bisexual/queer woman
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is intensely smart, non-secular, building/involved in community, confident, and humble, very sexy, good dancer, curious about the world, a futurist, tall, a defined sense of personal style, and very funny.
Biggest turn off: Using Siri or Alexa (ever), drinking alcohol (I’m Muslim), being cynical or pessimistic, not talkative, being stingy, lacking imagination and refusing to dance!
Biggest turn on: A person who is totally in love with the world, for the good and the bad. Also, beautiful hands.
Hobbies: Reading critical theory and science fiction, yoga, watching and learning about film, writing, reading tarot, praying, learning rock climbing, going to museums, cooking excellent food
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Create intentional Black and Brown community. Be amazed by the goodness of life, daily.
Pets, kids, or neither?: I have neither, but I want 3 daughters and 2 dogs. Ready to get started creating my semi-big family whenever
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Yeah! As long as you have an inherent distrust of the state, we’re good to go.
Celebrity crush: Kehlani. Real ones know.
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’m secretly very bashful.
Occupation: Bartender, produce slinger, sandwich artisan
How do you identify?: Dyke
What are you looking for in a mate? A genuinely nice and kind person. That answer seems simple, but you’d be surprised.
Biggest turn off: Bad tippers, rude customers, people who eat dry sandwiches.
Biggest turn on: Kind eyes, a nice smile, thoughtfulness, direct communication.
Hobbies: Thrifting, going to shows, making art, organizing in the community, getting tattoos
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: I have some big plans and that’s all I can really say!
Pets, kids, or neither?: A dog named Gravy
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: That doesn’t seem smart
Celebrity crush: Alive: Charli XCX and Yseult Onguenet, Not Alive: Selena and Aaliyah
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I have two baby teeth!
Occupation: Research specialist
How do you identify?: Queer trans man
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally mature, willing to be spontaneous and willing to venture into the world together, but also able to enjoy a quiet day inside watching our favorite cartoon with our pets cuddled next to us on the couch.
Biggest turn off: Being out of touch with the local community and disrespecting physical and emotional boundaries.
Biggest turn on: Taking initiative and being comfortable acting silly and goofy!
Hobbies: Dancing like I am lip-syncing for my life, playing Nintendo and classic arcade games, cocktail making, and spending time with my loved ones.
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: I am beginning my fitness journey by going to the gym more often and becoming more active. I also started learning Spanish this year, so I am hoping to improve my Spanish speaking and listening skills throughout the year.
Pets, kids, or neither?: I have a dog named Dana Scully and my roommate Siena has a kitten named Fox Mulder, just like the characters from the X-Files.
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: No
Celebrity crush: Patrick Dempsey and Rina Sawayama
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I am double-jointed and I can do a jump split (give me some time to stretch though, it’s been a while)
How do you identify?: Transsexual woman
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who wants commitment and understands what it means to build a foundation and grow. Has emotional intelligence and is in therapy. Wants the most out of life. And it doesn’t hurt if you are a cutie too!
Biggest turn off: Willful ignorance, blatant disrespect, and judgmental people
Biggest turn on: Intelligence emotional and mental! I love nerds being one myself. Knows how to love and treat Black women.
Hobbies: Video games, anime, reading books, making music, watching movies/shows, traveling, hanging with friends and family, napping, going out to eat, and museums
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: To release my new music and perform, travel, and increase my income.
Pets, kids, or neither?: I have one cat, no biological kids but open to having some but I do have five “queer” kids, lol.
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: I would be open to it, but it just depends on what particular views because politics are not just one vacuum from normal having history with working on the Hill, there are layers.
Celebrity crush: Michael B. Jordan and Tyler James Williams
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I really have a thing for archery
Occupation: Higher education administration/bartending
How do you identify?: Gay
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is authentic, witty, driven, empathetic, intelligent, and adventurous. I’m looking for someone who understands the importance of self-care, and also knows how to both work and play hard.
Biggest turn off: My biggest turn off is unwanted pressure. The quickest way to make me no longer interested is to try to constantly pressure me to do something. The moment that I feel that type of pressure I start to feel smothered and I lose all interest.
Biggest turn on: Confidence, decisiveness, and a drive to enjoy life. A great smile and being a good kisser doesn’t hurt either!
Hobbies: My interests are really varied, and range from enjoying a day visiting local wineries to catching a movie with friends. Bartending (formerly at Cobalt and now at JR.’s) also takes up a lot of my weekend time, and is, for me, less of a job and more of a hobby.
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: My biggest goal for 2023 is to strive for balance and be intentional about how I use my time. I want to make sure that I am focusing on the right things for the right reasons. For me, that means making sure that I’m connecting with my family and friends (and potential love interests), focusing on my career, and making sure I still have enough time for self-care.
Pets, kids, or neither?: I don’t have a pet now, but I’m open both dogs and cats (I grew up with cats and have lived with dogs). Kids are not in my future.
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: An interesting question, and I really think it is more about one’s fundamental values than political affiliation. Would I date someone who disagrees with me about specific policies? Sure! But would I date someone who denies things like climate science, vaccines, or the fundamental rights of others? Definitely not.
Celebrity crush: Zac Efron (back off, he’s mine!)
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve never, in my life, eaten Taco Bell (and I don’t plan to)
Javen Marquise Kostrzewa
Occupation: JD/MBA student at Georgetown
How do you identify?: Bisexual
What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally intelligent, career driven and wants to have a family and get married. If you can make me laugh that is the key to my heart.
Biggest turn off: Being rude to service staff; surface-level interactions, and fear of commitment.
Biggest turn on: Ambition, sense of humor and dedication to pursuit of life balance (mental, physical, and emotional health)
Hobbies: I love to work out and am that weird person who enjoys cardio. Outside of work and the gym I like playing video games, watching anime, and binging TV series (financial crime docs are my favorite).
What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Finish law school strong, but make more time for social activities.
Pets, kids, or neither?: Both! I absolutely love dogs (allergic to cats) especially big dogs (Great Dane is my dream dog). I love kids — my nieces and nephews are bright lights in my life. I want to eventually adopt (I grew up in foster care and was adopted.)
Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: It depends on where they differ. If we differ on civil rights and equality, that’s non-negotiable.
Celebrity crush: Michael B. Jordan
Name one obscure fact about yourself: I sang a tribute for Bill Withers as part of the Songwriters Hall of Fame project. (Bill was hilarious!)
UN Security Council urged to focus on LGBTQ, intersex rights
Office of National AIDS Policy Director Phillips: Congress must increase funding
Pope Francis: Gender ideology is ‘one of the most dangerous colonizations’ in the world
Md. House of Delegates approves transgender rights bill
PHOTOS: Freddie’s Follies 20th
UN Security Council meeting to focus on LGBTQ, intersex rights
Chasten Buttigieg speaks out against Pence’s homophobic remarks
Mich. governor signs statewide LGBTQ rights law
Miami hotel liquor license may be revoked over a drag show
Man charged with ‘groomer’ vandalism arrested in child porn case
Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast
United Nations4 days ago
UN Security Council meeting to focus on LGBTQ, intersex rights
Politics2 days ago
Chasten Buttigieg speaks out against Pence’s homophobic remarks
Michigan4 days ago
Mich. governor signs statewide LGBTQ rights law
Florida3 days ago
Miami hotel liquor license may be revoked over a drag show
Maryland4 days ago
Man charged with ‘groomer’ vandalism arrested in child porn case
Photos3 days ago
PHOTOS: The Little Gay Pub opening night
Virginia3 days ago
Former Log Cabin Republicans executive director named to Va. LGBTQ+ Advisory Board
Theater5 days ago
New play explores bringing a partner home to meet traditional Indian parents