Ending any relationship can be hard but it becomes especially difficult if it is a beautiful and long-term relationship. I was 22 when I started dating my ex and by the time we broke up and moved out of our shared housing, I was 27. After the initial adjustment period, my friends encouraged me to jump onto the dating bandwagon and that is when all the drama in my life exploded. It had been five years since I last went on a date. Making a Tinder profile was definitely an interesting start. However, I soon realized that while I can meet wonderful people on dating apps or make great friends out of dates, not all dates led to potential long-term relationships. Also, it was important to keep in mind that it was not my responsibility to make a relationship out of every date.
Looking back at my dating profile in the last three years, here are few things that I learned, faced, struggled with and laughed at being a “feminine” brown gay immigrant navigating the dating scene in the USA.
‘IT IS ONLY MY PREFERENCE’ – or is it? One thing I learned pretty early on dating apps is the clear discrimination that people can perpetuate. While they call it “preference,” people blindly or consciously remove a vast majority of people based on race, masculine/feminine behavior, physical attributes, career choices from the coveted list of “eligible singles.”
‘YOU DO NOT LIKE SEX ON FIRST DATES, IS IT A CULTURAL THING?’ No, it is a comfort thing.
There is definitely a pressure of whether to engage in sex on first dates or not. If you do have sex on first dates, you are too loose; if you do not have sex on first dates, you are too closeminded. As a survivor of multiple childhood molestation, my body takes time to adjust to a new person being intimate with me. A lot of the conversations on dating apps came down to whether my “culture” of being from a “close-minded” country like Bangladesh impacts my decision not to have sex more openly. What will it take for people to understand that being nude and having sex can make people feel vulnerable and giving people the time and safety to organically be engaged in it has less to do with the culture and country of upbringing?
‘YOU ARE BANGLADESHI, IS IT LIKE IN INDIA?’ UMM, NO! It is not expected that one knows every country in the world but if you meet someone for a date, a simple Google search can tell you a lot about the country your date mentioned in your chat that he/she/they are from. This small information not only makes you seem a little more informed but also understanding and respectful on your date.
‘YOU MUST LOVE SPICY FOOD, RIGHT?’ Just because I am brown and from Southeast Asia, does not mean that I love spicy food. Assumptions based on stereotypes are not sexy and have no place on a good date. Ask your date what they enjoy eating without imposing what you think that they might enjoy eating.
‘SO, WHAT IS YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS?’ It’s just liked my financial status, non-existent. Not every person is after your American citizenship. Just imagine how making an assumption that an immigrant is on a date with an American citizen just to get a spousal immigration visa makes you look. Definitely rude, discriminatory and ignorant.
‘I REALLY LIKE YOU, BUT YOU ARE TOO VOCAL ABOUT POLITICAL ISSUES.’ Telling a person of color/immigrant/queer person that he/she/they is too politically vocal is the biggest sign of unchecked privilege. A lot of times people forget that a lot of things that they enjoy or take for granted are issues and privileges that minority groups have fought for and yet continuously get discriminated against today.
Tausif Sanzum is a queer advocate, writer and a communication and journalism student at the University of Maine.