LGBT students face struggles in dating

For Erik Rajunas, a 22-year-old from Gloucester, Mass., dating in college can be a little tricky at times.

“Sometimes you don’t even want to date people because you’re afraid that if it doesn’t go well people will talk. It’s a really small school,” he said.

There is also another challenge when it comes to dating, and it isn’t the fact that there isn’t a large population of females on campus.

“It’s a predominantly male school but that doesn’t mean everyone is available. Most people tend to identify as straight, so it’s tough because there is a small gay population here and there’s not a lot of options,” Rajunas said.

At Norwich University, students who are part of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community have different experiences trying to find someone to date.

The LBGT students explained their sexuality so that those who are heterosexual might understand it.

“I’ve always known I was attracted to men, and it’s not even sexual it’s more that I’ve always just enjoyed the company of a man and could see myself living with another guy,” Rajunas said.

Caleb Valcin, a 20-year-old sophomore nursing major from Miami, Fla., explained that being gay feels “right” to him because he “like[s] the way being around a guy in a more intimate and loving way feels. It’s hard to explain but it just feels right, “ he said.

Vera, who requested anonymity, is bisexual. She has an appreciation for both men and women but in different ways.

“To me, women are so beautiful and intellectual and a lot of times they have such a great perception on life. I get emotionally attached to them a lot more than men because I feel like women are more sensitive,” Vera said.

She continued, “I prefer to date women; I prefer to sleep with men. I’m attracted to women and I love women but vaginas scared me. I’ve slept with a lot more men than females.”

For Grant, a transgender student who requested anonymity, being transgender is more than just sexuality. It also has to do with self-perception.

“I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, meaning I feel opposite to my biological sex. I noticed I was trans not only through cross-dressing but when I would be intimate with women. I would do these male-like role things and put them in positions that a guy would and I thought I had issues,” he said.

“My mind doesn’t match the private parts I have, it makes me very insecure. I consider myself straight because I am a dude,” he said. For some members of the LGBT community, finding someone to date at Norwich can be a challenge because not everyone is open about their sexuality.

“Honestly a lot of the guys here are “down low,” meaning they’re not out of the closet so it’s difficult to be in a relationship when they haven’t come to terms and accepted their homosexuality,” Valcin said.

He continued, “Not only that but because they are down low you don’t know who is actually gay or not and you don’t want to overstep boundaries.”

Rajunas agreed, explaining that “some people are the last person you’d expect to be gay, then you get the total opposite and they come off as gay, but they are very straight.”

Grant also finds dating at Norwich “difficult” because is isn’t easy to know if someone is attracted to someone that is transgender.

“It’s difficult knowing whether someone is attracted to the same thing. I’m not the type of person that is going to go out there and just try to come on to you and say ‘are you or are you not into these types of things?’” Grant said.

For this reason, Grant doesn’t date at Norwich and has a steady girlfriend back home.

“I’d rather just go with dating someone from back home where it’s a small community and you know people and what they’re about,” he said.

For Vera, being bisexual doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to date. In fact, her options are limited, especially when it comes to women.

“I haven’t dated any girls here, they’re really picky. I think it’s a lot harder to date the same sex. Have I slept with girls here? Yes, but as far as dating goes you are either part of their circle or not,” she said.

Vera continued, “It’s much easier to be with guys because there is a higher population of them so it’s easier to get with them. I’m not looking to date any more after some bad situations and bad breakups, so it’s primarily me just sleeping around, but I’m just really picky,” she said.

Although some students find it hard to date, there are some outliers. Leandra Flores-Nieves, a 21-year-old from Rainier Wash., didn’t have any “trouble” finding the girl of her dreams. She met her now fiancé when she was a sophomore.

“I didn’t have trouble, but some people’s expectations are different in college, because a lot of people are either looking for a fling or something stable, and I was looking for something stable. I got lucky because Nicole was looking for that too,” the senior mechanical engineering major said.

Her fiancé Nicole Wenthe, a senior criminal justice major, agreed. “I think here at Norwich University we have a larger gay-lesbian population than people think, so it’s actually easier,” the 24-year-old from Anacoco, La., said.

“I think it’s pretty obvious with some people, with others it’s a little harder but you just have to start the conversation and get to know the person before you just go ‘oh what’s your sexuality and what do you like?’” said Bailee Grabowski, a 19-year-old freshman undeclared major from Woodbridge, N.J.

“You can get vibes. I believe there are vibes and you can tell when a guy is flirting with you so it’s not that different in a lesbian relationship,” Grabowski said.

“I can tell if someone is interested or not. I have friends that always ask me ‘how do you know if a girl likes you?’ It’s how you know if a guy likes you, they give you that same look,” Flores-Nieves said.

For LGBT students at Norwich, there are certain ways of putting themselves out there when seeking a relationship. For the future newlyweds, it’s all about networking and being social. “I think it’s just about being out there, going to social events, being a friendly face. I met Leandra on a blind date, it just so happened that a friend knew her. It was a friend of a friend kind of thing,” Wenthe said.

For LGBT students that can’t find someone to date at Norwich, they turn to social media and dating apps such as Tinder and Grinder.

“I use Tinder ever now and then and I’ll check Grinder occasionally. I’m not very active on them but do use them,” Rajunas said.

“The way I explain it to my straight friends that have never heard of Grinder is, instead of going to a restaurant, like you do with Tinder and you pick out what you want and then if you match it’s better, well Grinder is like a buffet. Everyone is out there,” Rajunas said.

Rajunas doesn’t frequent on Grinder, and for a good reason. From his experience, people tend to be “overtly sexual and send unsolicited nude pictures.”

For Valcin, being a nursing major and Army cadet doesn’t leave him much time for Grinder, but he has used it before. He explained that Grinder not only reveals who is openly gay but also who isn’t.

“Grinder is where you can find out who on campus is not out. When you go on the app it has a bunch of squares with pictures and most people would put a picture of themselves. Around here what I’m noticing is that people just put a blank screen or a picture of just a place,” Valcin said.

He continued, “They won’t identify themselves or include their name and when you ask them they won’t want to tell you because they don’t know if they can trust you or not.”

Vera actively uses Tinder to connect with other females. When she used it to connect with a male she didn’t have the best experience.

“I only hooked up with one guy from Tinder and it didn’t go well. The sex was just super bad. I’m into specific things, I like explorative sex, and guys talk a big game,” Vera said.

If Grant uses social media for connecting with others in the LGBT community, it’s through Instagram. “Instagram is very out there back home. You’ll always have these LGBT chains where it says ‘oh add this person, they are interested in this,’ so you go based off of that and chat with them,” he said. Grant added, “It has helped a bit but not with my current relationship.”

Grabowski said he thinks that social media prevents people from actually being social when it comes to relationships. “Most people won’t just go out and talk to people which is kind of sad these days,” she said.

For LGBT students that are struggling to find a partner at Norwich, it isn’t impossible, but it might take some time.

“If you can’t find anyone to date, then there is no one on this campus that’s worth dating for you. I truly believe that when you find that person it’s because they came to you at the right time. You shouldn’t be looking for love; you should be waiting for the right love to come,” Wenthe said.

Valcin thinks it’s better not to look. “I don’t know if actively trying to seek relationships is really effective. Coming here and searching for a relationship, you’ll give yourself a headache.”

He continued, “If you can’t find anyone, reassess your priorities. We all do get lonely, I have my moments where I wish I had someone to start a relationship with, but then again I think about it and I’m like, at this time, that’s not a priority.”

Rajunas agreed and explained that the best relationships come when least expected. “It sounds cliché, but good relationships just kind of happen. I found that I met someone once when I wasn’t even looking, it just happened. The universe works like that sometimes,” he said.

He finally added, “Instead of trying to find Mr. Right, focus on you and what makes you a better person. Don’t ever rely on someone else to define your happiness and fulfillment.”

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