While our gay community is enjoying some well-deserved heightened acceptance of our identities and relationships in society nowadays, the process of coming out as a gay man to ourselves and others can still be a difficult and painful journey.
Coming to terms with our sexuality means facing the fact that we’re different from the norm and confronting fears about losing relationships with family and friends if they choose not to support us.
It’s a form of the grieving process that also involves working through feelings of shame, guilt and fear as we work to combat internalized homophobia.
But the benefits for those who dare for living a life of authenticity parallels no other. To be “out” means to be free, spontaneous, uninhibited and unafraid of judgment.
So can you imagine going through this erratic, emotional roller coaster ride, and then being demanded attention by the compelling desire to start down the long-awaited and fantasized path toward man-to-man dating?
It’s a lot to contend with, juggling that urge to date while simultaneously trying to piece together a cohesive gay identity and solid self-esteem.
With very few role models present, and certainly no socialization on how to date the same sex, many guys new to the gay dating scene have no idea what to do or how to start.
So if you happen to be in that boat yourself, here are a few pointers to steer you in the right direction so your next steps are made a little easier!
1. Get comfortable with your gayness.
This means getting educated on what it means to be gay. You can read reputable books on the subject or do some online research (just make sure the sites are credible).
Join online discussion forums or chat rooms to get in the habit of talking with other gay people to start breaking the ice for yourself.
2. Go on a field trip to your local gay-borhood.
Now you’re going to move away from the comfort of your computer screen and take a tour of your local gay neighborhood and community to see what’s out there and to feel a part of things.
“Allow yourself to evolve into the
type of gay man you want to be.”
3. Begin building a gay social support network.
Perhaps the most important prerequisite for your dating efforts is to go out there and establish connections with other LGBT folks.
This will help reduce your sense of isolation, give you a sense of affiliation and enable your ability to network, build new friendships, meet potential dating prospects or make new connections who could introduce you to possible prospects.
You can go about meeting people through getting more involved in the gay community by volunteering, attending events or even joining a coming out support group.
4. Define your personal requirements for a potential partner.
By identifying your negotiable and deal-breaker needs, you’ll be able to use this information as your compass or guidepost in making decisions about compatibility with the guys you’ll be meeting along the way.
5. Pace your sexuality.
After years of suppressing your sexual desires, you’re now giving yourself permission to explore the world of gay dating, and you’ll have to work hard to keep the floodgates on their hinges.
It’s normal to go through a period of sexual exploration during this period.
Just be sure to set boundaries with your behavior, educate yourself on what safer sex practices are with man-to-man sexuality to protect yourself and recognize that your emotions are likely to be vulnerable at this time and the power of sex can sometimes confuse things.
The key is to be knowledgeable, conscious and deliberate within the limits you’ve set for yourself.
6. Explore safely and define who you are.
As time goes on, you’ll learn the ins and outs of gay life, the various gay subcultures that exist, where you fit in, what values you subscribe to and those you don’t, etc.
Allow yourself to evolve into the type of gay man you want to be and to ensure it’s in alignment with your values.
Coming out can be an exhilarating and exasperating time.
When you feel emotionally equipped and ready to begin dating, it’s best to approach it with a game plan armed with self-knowledge, education and solid boundaries so you come out on top. Enjoy this new life that you’ve been waiting for!
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