Note: The below article is from Pipe Dream’s 2014 sex issue.
hard to deny how prominent hook-up culture is on campus. People come to college assuming relationships or quick flings will come easy. Yet for LGBT students, the task is not so simple. With such a small LGBT population, it seems as if it’s becoming increasingly difficult to date within the community.
Perhaps the most pressing problem is just numbers alone. With a smaller group to choose from, it’s not surprising that finding someone can be hard.
“The biggest difficulty is the lack of other gay people,” Joshua Levine, an undeclared sophomore, wrote in an email. “It’s definitely hard to find someone you’re attracted to, get along with, have common interests with, and all the other normal dating criteria when probably less than 5% of the school’s population is even compatible with your sexual orientation.”
The second problem is the Downtown scene; there just aren’t many areas in Binghamton conducive to hooking up.
“I can’t just walk into a normal bar and pick up a girl,” Kacie Kalies, a junior double-majoring in history and biology, wrote in an email. “One night stands are a difficult thing to do.”
In the past few years, a wave of apps and websites has sprung up, providing new ways for people in the LGBT community to meet each other. Grindr, an app specifically for gay men, is one of the most popular. It allows guys to see who else with the app is in the area, and offers a way to communicate with them. But some students, like Donald Lodge, a senior majoring in political science and the president of the Rainbow Pride Union, find Grindr problematic.
“It doesn’t work well, and on top of that it promotes hooking up,” Lodge wrote in an email. “But I do find internet dating in general to be beneficial for the LGBT community because it brings people together and helps people realize that they are not alone.”
“For a lot of gay guys, Grindr is kind of a necessary evil,” Levine wrote.
Problems unique to the LGBT community sometimes make both dating and hooking up require more discretion than they would for straight people.
“There is always an issue meeting people and not knowing how ‘out’ they are to friends and family,” Joseph Dibenedetto, an undeclared freshman, wrote in an email.
Understandably, it becomes difficult to discuss when one’s sexuality is such a private and personal issue.
The LGBT community on campus offers many students a sense of comfort and solidarity, but that closeness can also cause problems. If a straight girl hooks up with a guy, she can assume his immediate friend group will know (or vice versa). But some LGBT students feel like that rumor mill is much more active for them.
“If I hook up with or date a guy, then half of the other gay guys in Binghamton will instantaneously know because half the other gay guys in Binghamton are friends with him,” Levine wrote.
LGBT students also face the difficulty of dealing with the ignorance of non-LGBT peers about hooking up, and combatting harmful stereotypes.
“I feel like there is a misconception out there that LGBT people and especially gay men are promiscuous and just sleep around,” Lodge wrote.
Lesbian women also have to deal with their own stereotypes. The phrase “U-haul” refers to the belief that lesbian women become serious about their relationships more quickly — that they are ready to move in right away.
“Not all lesbians U-haul on the second date; they’re capable of simply hooking up with someone and then moving on,” Alexandra Grzebyk, a sophomore majoring in political science, wrote in an email.
Despite these difficulties, the campus community still provides a way for students interested in both friendly and romantic relationships to meet face to face. Students are hopeful that the LGBT scene on campus can offer a kind of communication that isn’t replicated through apps or websites. Having a tight-knit community has its downfalls, but it has its benefits as well. Besides an incredible support system, it can encourage more people to be open about their sexuality and open to hooking up.