The Single Files: Gay girl crushes and Grindr guys
“Then, of course, Grindr facilitates sex as well. Some people use it for just sex; some people say in their profiles that they’re not interested in that and just want to go on dates. I have a good friend who celebrated a year together with his boyfriend recently, and they met on Grindr.”
A Grindr for lesbians never caught on. Victoria Curtis, a single 31-year-old gay woman, points to the more collective social behaviour of lesbians. That too has changed over the past decade. “I came out 10 years ago and I was single for a long time; there were absolutely no prospects. It was all dark corners in Kiss [a long-running lesbian night at the Tivoli on Francis Street in Dublin]; you’d have to get really drunk to get a score. You might go on a GaydarGirls date and that would be kind of weird, and you wouldn’t tell your friends. Ten years later, everything is out in the open. Even if you’re in a straight bar, there’s no stigma attached to it.”
Curtis says the rigid lesbian social groups have also broken down, “There’s not that butch/femme divide. Ten years ago bull dykes [butch lesbians] stuck together in the corner of The George and the femmes [‘feminine’ lesbians] hung out in the Front Lounge. Now, everyone is approachable.”
“It’s not really easy to be single,” says Tracey McDonagh (28). “A lot of my friends are in relationships. You’re constantly looking for something. I think people say there are a lot of crazy single lesbians, and there are lots of them on dating websites. I think that there are a lot of women on online dating sites who are bisexual, especially on PlentyofFish. They find it easier to hide behind a computer and are looking to find someone to have an intimate encounter with. I think they have higher rates of anxiety because they’re not only single, but they also haven’t expressed aspects of their sexuality, so they’re dipping their foot in the water without fully getting in. In other words, they might not be willing to get into a relationship.”
Byrne believes the stereotypes bandied around about gay men are more about being male than being gay. “Traditionally the man is the active one, the pursuer. And when you have two pursuers, it doesn’t take long before something happens. For lesbian women, historically they’re more predisposed to having an emotional connection and relationships.”
Curtis says there is less loneliness attached to being single and gay because people are so approachable. “A straight girl won’t go up to a guy unless she’s got balls, because that means she’s coming on to someone, and straight people seem to freak out about that . . . there’s that weirdness and fear of rejection. That’s not a thing with gay people, because there’s a community feeling. You can say hi to anyone.”
Maybe because the single gay life is tapped into a community, there’s a feeling of positivity. “I think being single in Dublin is great fun. It’s what you make of it. Go out, chat to people. I’ve no problem talking to random strangers. Irish people are good like that anyway, gay or straight,” says Sullivan. “I hope I’m not single in 10 years’ time, but honestly, it doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t bother my everyday life in any way whatsoever. I’m very happy being single. That said, if Will Young proposes tomorrow, I’ll consider it.”
As part of The Single Files series, Jason Kennedy and Joanne Hunt take a look at life as a single traveller, a gay person and a doctor:
Being single and ...
. . . a Traveller
“There is a belief that I should be married now, not just in a relationship, but I’ll get there when I’m ready and I want to do it,” says Martina Hutchinson, a 22-year-old member of the Travelling community who has recently moved into a rented apartment on Limerick City’s Dock Road.
Though in her early 20s, Hutchinson feels pressured to conform to beliefs associated with her community. Plenty of her friends are in relationships or have married, which she says can lead to uncomfortable situations. “We often go to the cinema or out for a drink and sometimes I just sit down and feel like a spare tyre,” she says.
Hutchinson says she is giving herself “between five to 10 years to get married and have children”.
She says she would have no problem striking up a conversation with men on a night out and says Traveller stereotypes don’t hold her back.
“It can be harder to strike up a conversation with the image that sometimes surrounds the community, but I’ve dated people from the community and people outside the community and it’s all the same to me.”
. . . gay
Stephen Spillane, a 27-year-old who uses the dating apps Gaydar, OkCupid and Grindr, says that the majority of people who use those apps are there for one reason only, and it’s nothing to do with relationships.
“It’s very hard to meet people who want what I want, as I’m not looking for sex when I log on. I just want to meet people for a coffee and meet new people. It can be a very poor reflection on the people who use the apps. You’d get a message saying ‘I’m horny’ and I normally just send a message back saying ‘good for you’,” Spillane says.
The Grindr app, aimed at gay men, shows people in goegraphical proximity to you who are also using the service. The app has more than one million users worldwide. “I’ve been using online dating since I came out around eight years ago and have made friends off those apps and websites more than dates, even though I am talking to a nice guy from Limerick now,” Spillane says.
. . . a doctor
Medical consultant Aoife (39), who wants to remain anonymous because of her work, says her late 20s and 30s were taken up with study and work. “The option of trying to meet someone wasn’t there because my priorities were often just about getting enough sleep, eating and getting my laundry done,” she says. “When I went out, it was to meet my friends, to unwind.”
She says the medical career in Ireland doesn’t help, particularly for those wanting a family. “They push you to meet milestones much quicker here than in some other countries,” she says. “Do I resent my job or the skills that I have? No. But I do resent that I have to achieve it all to the beat of someone else’s drum.”
Now qualified, she says her level of responsibility can also be an impediment to meeting someone. “When I’m not physically at work, I’m on call every third night so I have my telephone with me . . . ”
Meeting someone is still very much a possibility for Aoife. “It’s not the end of my life. It’s very much the middle of my life and my life romantically may work out fantastically. But I don’t know that now. I can only speak for the moment and at the moment, I would like to be with someone.”