Recently, I've been getting a lot of private Facebook messages from baby lesbians who are freshly out of the closet and asking me all kinds of questions:
"How do I date girls?" "Where do I go to meet girls?" "How can I tell if the girl I like is gay too?"
My heart melts every time. Oh, sweet girls, I SO get it. It wasn't so long ago that I was a wide-eyed young gay hungry for the answers to a slew of my pressing questions about lesbian dating. It's hard out there for a new lez.
We are taught the rules of the boy-girl dating game at an early age. Unfortunately for us, when we decide we prefer riding the queer train and hop off at station "Girl-On-Girl," there is no tour guide to greet us and lead the way (which is particularly sad, seeing as lesbians make for excellent tour guides). It can feel wildly intimidating to be a little, vulnerable kitten tossed into a teeming cesspool of seasoned dykes.
I will never forget how terrified I was when I first realized I wanted to exclusively swim in the girl pond. I had experience with boys, but boys were easy. I exerted zero effort into attracting boy creatures, but I learned quickly that I didn't really need to. Maybe it was my aloofness that drew in the dudes (straight girls take note), but damn, dudes were easy like ~Sunday morning~.
All you have to do is bat a lash, act entirely disinterested, cold and bitchy, and boys will fall at your feet.
But girls are an entirely different kind of animal. Women aren't a simple stroll in the park; women are an uphill climb in dangerous weather conditions. We are Mount F*cking Everest.
Also, lesbian culture, by nature, is extremely elusive.
We aren't like gay men who shamelessly advertise incessant fabulous gay parties all over the Internet. (Please, dear god, make me a gay man in my next life). Unless you want to be thrown into a haphazard mix of other lesbian newbies at a bi-monthly girl party at a massive nightclub, you have to know people to find out where the experienced lesbians gather.
We're women. We don't like things that are too easily available, and the dating scene is no different. Our culture is like a secret designer sample sale advertised only to an exclusive group of people "in the know." (Oh, but once you get inside, you discover it was worth waiting on that pesky long lesbian line).
Everything I learned about girl-on-girl dating was through trial and error. Lucky for you, I've made every rookie mistake in the book, and I'm here today to share my wealth of screw-ups.
Some lesbians liked to be tight-lipped (no pun intended) about the gay underworld. I'm (clearly) not one of those lesbians.
I see it like this: It's hard enough to be gay in this cruel, cold, heteronormative world. We don't need to make it even harder on the young bloods by keeping our world so secretive.
So here it is, kids: Zara's official dating tips for the newly out LEZ. I have pulled all these questions directly from messages that YOU guys have sent me in the past month.
Where the f*ck do I MEET GIRLS?
Like I said, lesbians are elusive and hard to seek out, especially if you live in a small town. But don't fret. We ARE out there, no matter where you live.
My number one tip in meeting like-minded girls is to seek out another lesbian to be your wingwoman. Lesbians are usually nice and friendly to fresh meat and are more than happy to welcome you into the fold (a little too happy sometimes).
So where does one find this coveted mentor?
Let's brainstorm: Is there a lesbian at work who you've never spoken to before? Is there a lesbian who tends a bar you frequent? Is your cool older brother friends with a cool older lesbian? Maybe your plumber is a lesbian (for real, though).
Well girl, don't be shy. Go and talk to her! Tell her you're part of the tribe and, most likely, she will invite you to her next night out with the ladies. If she's a cold bitch to you, well, shame on her. Send her my way, and I will set that mean lesbian straight. Karma will surely bite her in the ass, and she will die, sexless and surrounded by aging cats.
Seek out another, nicer lesbian mentor. And if you can't find a lesbian mentor, don't worry. Mama's got a backup plan...
Go to the lesbian bar alone. If you don't have a lesbian bar in your town, get online and research a lesbian night somewhere in the surrounding area. I promise there will be one.
Who doesn't love a mystery woman who is sitting solo at the girl bar? I always talk to the girl by herself. I think independence is sexy. At the end of the day, we are a community. And lesbians are so incestuous that we've all dated each other by now. We're perpetually thirsty for fresh gay blood, so being new on the scene actually works in your favor.
Also, if you don't like bars, you're totally fine! Go to Meetup.com. There is always a lesbian art walk, or book club, or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. You're not f*cked, I promise.
Can I meet girls at a non-gay bar?
Well yes, duhhh, you can meet girls anywhere. However, I don't recommend girlfriend-hunting at a straight bar in those fragile early days of your gayness.
I used to troll the straight bars when I was a new lez, and almost all the girls I thought were gay weren't. I made a huge ass hat out of myself.
Or I just sat back and watched my straight girlfriends make out with fratty-looking boys, and I would just grow increasingly bitter and irritated and end up overdrinking and waking up depressed and hopeless and hungover. It's no way to spend your youth.
In the early days, bite the bullet and GO TO THE GAY BAR (before they shut down). It's safe to assume the people at the gay bar are gay. If they aren't, that's fine. They will let you know. But they have NO right to be offended by you hitting on them when in lesbian land. Remember, the homo bar is your territory, and you should feel empowered on your turf.
Pro tip: Out yourself as much as possible. No one is going to know you're gay just by looking at you (everyone rocks short hair and flannel these days), so make sure everywhere you go, you slip in your sexual identity. Sprinkle in an "Oh, my ex-girlfriend did this..." or a "So and so is a hot girl. I want to date her..." into conversation every now and then.
Gay news travels fast. Before you know it, word will be out on the street, and straight friends will set you up with their gay friends. A friend setup is always the best way to meet cool people. Also, other gays, gays at the office, gays in the family, gays at the gym, gays everywhere will come flying out of the woodwork.
What about the whole Tinder/online thing? How do I handle THAT?
If you're new to being gay, online dating is your best friend. Don't give me the prim "I don't like dating apps" garble. This is not a time in your life to be smug. I don't love dating apps either, but sh*t, it's hard to meet someone in real life.
And sadly, lesbian bars are being shut down at an alarming rate. With the great lack of queer spaces, if you want to get laid, you need to swallow your pride and swipe left and right.
Make sure you put in your bio what you're looking for. There are so many "straight" girls on Tinder who are just seeking out threesomes with their boyfriends. This has made lesbians understandably cynical and bitter, so anyone who lands on the femme spectrum might be met with suspicion.
Annoying, I know, but girl, I had to do it, too. I'm very outwardly girly (but inside, I'm a total fiery TOP), and I would come to find that all the girls I thought were cute initially assumed I was a straight girl seeking a threesome, or a bicurious entity looking to experiment. I didn't match with anyone for a while, until ...
I put in my profile: Totally gay, seeking the same.
That's when I started matching with the girls I liked. Total game changer.
Who pays the bill?
I think this was one of the biggest points of stress I faced when I first started dating girls. Who the f*ck pays the bill?
Here is what I learned after years and years of relentless bill anxiety: You can, of course, split the check. But ugh. Check-splitting isn't sexy. It's wildly unromantic. And I don't know about you, but I crave r-o-m-a-n-c-e.
I would rather foot the entire bill (and I'm not a rich power lesbian, YET) over going dutch any day of the week. The lines can already get easily blurred between friendship and love in lesbian land, so I think it's important to draw distinct lines. Keep your friends friendly and your dates datey.
If you're racked with fear about the whole bill thing, I have a simple solution: Offer to pay the bill. Be prepared to pay the bill.
However, if the girl you're on a date with is vehement about paying the bill, let her pay, babes. It's OK to be treated. Straight girls get treated all the time. You're not robbed of being romantically indulged just because you're a lesbian. Don't feel guilty because it's a girl. Get over that. I know it's new to you, but a date is a date is a date, and if she wants to pay, let the bitch pay. Or you can be the bitch that pays. You can even be bill-paying fluid if you like.
Some old school lesbians, who fiercely subscribe to butch/femme roles, might feel that the more masculine energy should pay the bill (which is fine -- whatever works for you), but that's a little bit of an antiquated mentality in modern gay culture.
You can be a fully femme lipstick lez and also enjoy taking a girl out for a night on the town. You can be a top and a bottom, both in sex and money, honey. I'm living proof.
And don't stress about it too much. You and the chick you're dating will figure out a rhythm that works for you.
What the f*ck do I wear?
Go as yourself. Women are drawn to authenticity. If you're comfortable in jeans and a button-down, rock it, girl. If you want to wear mega heels and shocking pink lipstick, rock it, girl.
Don't feel like now that you're gay you have to cut your hair off and exclusively wear blazers. If you like that look, wear all the blazers your heart desires. But if that's not your jam, don't feel the pressure to play the part. There's something out there for everyone, trust me.
What about SEX?!
One of the best parts about the girl-on-girl dynamic is that there isn't really any slut-shaming (as far as my experience goes) in our culture. If you're comfortable, and the chemistry is there, and you're feeling the heat -- go for it, sister.
The average woman isn't going to ghost you because you slept with her on the first date. I mean, it takes two to mother f*cking tango. What's she going to do, tell her friends how "easy" you are? I mean, it's kind of hypocritical...
Do whatever feels right. One of the best parts about your new gay life is now that you're finally out of that repressive closet and are embracing your sexual identity, a whole new world inside of you will come to life.
Coming out is like opening up Pandora's box. Sexuality is at the core of who you are. When you celebrate the core of who you are, all the formerly displaced pieces will fall into place. Especially your intuition. Being true to yourself gets you tapped into your instincts on a whole other level.
So trust yourself. Listen to your gut. You're safe now.