I've been gay all of my life, and until just now, I've learned to accept it. I've told all my friends that I am gay. Some of them didn't like that, and now they're not my friends. None of my other friends are gay, which was a disappointment because I had a crush on one of them. Now I don't know what to do because not only do I not know who else is gay, but I don't have the courage to ask someone out. I'm afraid that if I can't ask someone out by the time I'm out of college, I'll never be able to have a relationship. I don't want to have to resort to online dating either. I want to know how I can overcome my fear.— Gay and proud
Dear Gay and proud,
Give yourself a big round of applause for accomplishing an important first step on the road to Gay Date-Land: coming out. It can be scary and hard to come out, especially when not everyone responds with enthusiasm. It sounds like you've mastered this important step, and sorted your true allies from those who are less supportive.
You say you've "learned to accept" your sexuality. What about developing some enthusiasm about it? (This could actually be useful to dating and something that you might consider revisiting.) Sure, there are some challenges to being gay, especially those related to dealing with homophobia. But in spite of the difficulties, your sexuality is a natural and healthy part of who you are, and as your signature suggests, something that can bring you happiness and pride. Being gay means you don't have to conform to the social norms of heterosexuality, giving you the freedom to define your own sexuality and relationships. It can also connect you to a strong community of activists working to make schools and communities safer and more welcoming for everyone. There are great things!
On to another step: figuring out who else is gay. This is important not just as a precursor to asking someone out, but also because being the only out gay person can be lonely. And, having other folks with whom you can share experiences could help you overcome your fears about relationships. Others could give you dating tips or creative pick-up lines or commiserate about crushes on straight friends. Beyond the obvious rainbow flag wavers, finding other gay people can be tough because homophobia can keep many people from coming out.
Is there a gay-straight alliance or LGBT group at your school? A queer youth group in your community? Maybe you could meet other LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning) people that way.
You're unimpressed with the online dating options, but maybe you could find information online about organizations or events in your area where you might be able to make friends. A lot of people on the internet are like you; they're having a hard time finding other gay people and are looking for meaningful relationships (friendly or romantic). If you live in an area without an established LGBTQ community, connections you make on the internet might especially help you feel less isolated. Check out Looking for love online for information about online dating.
And now, the big leap: asking someone out. The same skills apply as in hetero-dating: communication, confidence, and resilience. Once you've identified a possible date-ee, you're ready to ask that person out. This can be divided into two parts: (1) getting someone to spend time with you so you can learn more about each other, and (2) expressing your romantic interest in them. The first part could be practiced with friends. "Hey, wanna go see a movie on Friday?" "Have you been to the new coffee shop? Maybe we could check it out after school." For more pointers on how to ask someone out, check out the Related Q&As below.
If you're comfortable making plans with your friends, you could think of dating as the same sort of process. It might feel less intimidating if you think of it as a chance to get to know each other as friends, rather than a formal date. Start small! If you seem to both enjoy spending time together, you could move to the second part, where you express your romantic interest. Getting to know the person will hopefully give you a sense of whether they share your interest. Then, when you say something like "I really enjoy spending time with you. Would you want to be my boyfriend?" it won't feel like such a huge leap.
Asking someone out is scary for almost everyone, so it's good to take small steps, keep a positive attitude, and try to relax. Many people who don't date in high school go on to have happy, successful relationships later in life. You're ahead of the curve in having come out so young. As you get older, your pool of potential partners will probably grow, as more of your peers develop the courage to come out as well. If you practice initiating friendly activities and friendships, and spend time getting to know people, hopefully something will develop comfortably into something more. For more inspiration, check out the It Gets Better Project, a movement to provide inspiration to young LGBT people (like you!).Alice!