Growing up gay in a Catholic boarding school wasn’t exactly the dream choice of a childhood. Apart from the almost daily ritual of hearing that what was going on in my head was wrong or different and might pave the way to hell if I acted upon them, school wasn’t actually that bad and formed a lot of the person that I am today. There weren’t other gay guys around, so I hid what I was thinking, probably not as well as I thought I was doing judging on my friends’ reactions since having openly come out. But the prospect of having a boyfriend or even dating was off the table.
I met my ex at a Halloween flat party whilst I was at university in Edinburgh. We clicked pretty quickly that evening and after a number of logistical problems trying to get out of our costumes- apple bobbing and Liz Hurley in ‘that safety pin dress’ in case you were wondering- we slept together. The next morning, we got up and went out for breakfast, he paid, but it didn’t feel like a date. All the barriers and awkwardness had been broken down the night before, so it was relaxed and easy. We were together for about two years on and off, breaking up when I made the decision to move to London and come to Chelsea. It was the right choice for us and we are still good friends. After about four/five months in London I felt like I was potentially ready to start dating again, however, it dawned on my that I’d never really done the whole dating thing properly and it terrified me.
I decided to go about it in the same way that most of my single friends did, apps. I downloaded Tinder to start with, set up my profile and got swiping. It felt quite strange to start with, attempting to find someone I could potentially have a relationship with by looking at a couple of photos and a small bit of potentially useless information. But the more you do it and the more matches you get, the more addictive it becomes. I also ended up downloading Chappy- a supposedly classier version of Tinder aimed mainly at gay/bi men that allows you to swipe people based on what sort of mood you are in, Mr. Right, Mr. Who Knows, and Mr. Right Now. I started to quite enjoy it and you get a of where you stand on these apps and which guys are likely to swipe right on you and which aren’t. Even with this it still didn’t feel that real and I hadn’t overcome my first-date-fear. Maybe time will tell but for now my love life remained digital.