• I'm a man and I matched with a woman. Any tips for when/if I share I'm bisexual?

    Grant Knoche|he/him
    Putting everything on the table means I’m connecting with someone who truly understands, and wants to be with, all of me. It’s also a great way to build trust at the beginning of your relationship, which is super important.
  • Will I ever feel like I can stop coming out?

    King Princess, aka Mikaela Straus, is staring at the camera with a soft but serious expression. They're wearing a green and white striped sweater, standing with one arm bent up toward their head.
    King Princess |she/they
    No, I don’t think you ever stop coming out, but isn’t that kind of beautiful?
  • I've matched with someone who identifies as straight...and am feeling a little hesitant. Advice?

    Bay Davis|she/her
    I can’t stress enough the prioritization of trans joy and safety/survival, and that starts with us being willing to take up/make that space for ourselves and accept nothing less.
  • How do I talk about the importance of my faith with someone who might not be on the same page?

    A portrait of Phillip leaning up against a wall. He's smiling with his arms crossed.
    Phillip Picardi|he/him
    You have the power to allow your faith to act as a bridge and not a barrier.
  • Ericka Hart|she/they
    Ericka Hart

    This is a great question! As a sex educator, people often come to me thinking that sex is the ultimate goal. People are right to assume that the foundation of my work is centered around sex, but a big misinterpretation is that does not mean the act of sex is centered. There are a plethora of topics under the sex education umbrella and one of them is intimacy. The media has derailed the true meaning of intimacy by linking it to a means to have sex. One of the first discussions in my classrooms is that intimacy never has to be sexual. Intimacy is the act of sharing time, space and connection with one other person or group of people.

    This means there are so many forms of intimacy that are not sexual. One that I think is often overlooked is getting to know someone. In order to get to know someone on a deeper level, trust is required. Intimacy and trust go hand in hand because if someone does not feel safe enough to share their life, they will not share and intimacy will not be established.

    Being let into someone else’s world inevitably will bring you closer to that person or people.

    Generally speaking, people will take their time to open up and share aspects of their lives, but when they do it opens the door to a deeper connection. When you know more about a person, you can express care, love and thoughtfulness based on how they want to receive intimacy rather than what you think is best. There are a few things you can do to spark conversation and connection ranging from least to most physical:

    • Make a meal together: Cooking provides an opportunity for collaboration and connection. Cooking together can make you feel connected by sharing likes and dislikes with food, an opportunity to make each other laugh and work together towards a common goal. Cooking also takes patience and is great practice for decision making, as you have to figure out what you will make and where it will happen.
    • Share an activity: Inviting your friend or partner to share in an activity that you enjoy is another great way to establish intimacy. Sharing something you love to do with another person requires vulnerability as they are going to witness you participating in the sport/hobby/activity. You will likely have to explain the rules or how things work if they have never participated and also work with them to understand how it works. For example, if you love knitting, you can share why you love knitting and explain how to make a certain stitch. Seeing someone take interest in your interests is a lovely way to feel closer to someone.
    • Go for a walk: Being outside is already great for your mental and emotional health, doing so with a partner(s) or a friend will only increase serotonin levels. If you are both comfortable, try holding hands (maybe not the whole time as palms get sweaty lol). This is a great way to be out in nature while also talking about whatever topic under the sun.
    • Cuddle: Another activity is cuddling, cuddling is also linked with being a form of foreplay but it doesn't have to be that at all. Cuddling is a great way to address skin hunger, a longing sensation typical for so many people to experience when they have not been touched in a very long time. You can set a literal timer, cuddle for the duration of a movie or just until someone has other plans.

    Sexual intimacy isn’t a prerequisite for a meaningful relationship because its not foundational to what is necessary to have a meaningful relationship. What creates a meaningful relationship is trust, vulnerability and connection, these principles can be present in any relationship, not just sexual relationships.

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  • Moe Ari Brown|they/he
    A shoulder-up portrait of Moe Ari Brown, wearing a light denim washed button up. They have a dazzling smile up against a marble background.

    I resonate with this question so deeply. The beauty of exploration is that we get to be intentional about what feels aligned with not only who we’ve been, but who we are now and are soon to become.

    When my partner and I began dating eight years ago, many of the traditional narratives and structures for relationships didn't include us. While that was sometimes challenging, it presented me with an opportunity to reimagine what my relationships could be like outside of traditional boxes. It gave me the space to evaluate how I wanted to love and be loved vs how I felt I should. This was liberating. There are many ways to explore and structure a polyamorous relationship.

    I invite you to think of polyamorous and non-monogamous as identities and/or ways of structuring relationships⏤not "lifestyles".

    This shift in thinking can help you explore if you desire intimate romantic and/or sexual partnerships with more than one person. If the idea resonates with you, it's confirmation that you have an interest in relationships beyond monogamy.

    I encourage you to learn more about the ways other people are already navigating non-monogamy. Some choose to maintain a primary relationship with multiple secondary connections. Others may form a “polycule”—multiple relationships at once that may or may not overlap. Some are even self-partnered! See which relationship structures feel aligned with your vision for your life.

    Then, talk to potential dates openly about your desires. Try asking a question like, “I want to openly explore non-monogamous relationships with the people I date. Do you have any experience or interest in non-monogamy?”  You might find that others are also figuring it out or have something helpful to offer from their experiences.

    Lastly, just like with monogamous relationships, you’ll make adjustments to how you manage relationship boundaries by putting all of your new knowledge into practice. This could look like laying out communication expectations about new partners or dates, or setting up times to check in about how things are going.

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  • Bay Davis|she/her
    A close-up portrait of Bay Davis.

    This question feels like something of a trans legend or folklore—“a tale as old as time.” At least it does for me, whose first experience and proximity to the trans community was mostly from behind a screen. I’ve been enthralled and greatly shaped by the dolls on TV, movies, and a myriad of ballroom clips and docs. That is to say, I feel like we all grew up on these stories until we knew the experience for ourselves. And for many of us, “hesitant” is only the beginning.

    Like on that sweet summer night I danced with a man till the last drink was served, and all at once, the lights were bright enough for me to have the conversation. He drew the words from my mouth like they were never mine to begin with.

    Or the time a man found himself under every one of my selfies and in my dms, and just as quickly found his exit once he clocked tea.

    The way I’ve held my breath every time a man has got at me in public.

    The minefield a grocery store or bank can be is almost comical.

    Far too often we fall experiment and or detriment to our straight and hetero counterparts. I’ve spent a lot of time being afraid and hesitant for so many extremely valid reasons, but that same hesitance stagnated a lot of my growth and happiness. That’s why my biggest advice to a trans woman who has matched with someone who identifies as straight and is hesitant or scared, online or in person, is to remain strategic, level headed, and autonomous.

    I can’t stress enough the prioritization of trans joy and safety/survival, and that starts with us being willing to take up/make that space for ourselves and accept nothing less.

    I promise the most sexiest thing you could ever be is confident. So, no matter how fish or brick you are, walk into every room like you own it, know what you know your worth is, and you dismiss anything less. Be unwavering in what you deserve. Know that you are in control of the conversation.

    As a trans woman, there will always be straight men who want to talk to you. When they do, remember you owe no one (romantic or platonic) an explanation, justification, or general education about your gender sexuality or body. And you, like the rarest,baddest b**ch in the room. Period.

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  • Ericka Hart|she/they
    Ericka Hart

    First, I'd ask, what is a late bloomer to you? There is this assumption that we are all experiencing our sexuality at the same time or that everyone else is much further along, but the reality is that there is no such thing as a late bloomer. It doesn’t matter if you experience/name your queerness at six or sixty, you can’t be late or behind if there is no start time.

    In a world that assumes we are all cisgender and heterosexual first, its better to lead with the understanding that we are all in various places with our queerness navigating to the best of our ability.

    As you start to date, get to know people based on who they are, and try not to compare what you haven't done to what they may have. You don't need to be shy or even hide where you are in your journey as where you are is perfect and should never be judged by anyone, including you! :)


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    Moe Ari Brown|they/he
    A portrait of Moe Ari Brown. They're sitting on a hammock, looking just above eye-level of camera with a placid smile.

    Congratulations on taking such an exciting leap in your journey! Don’t diminish it thinking you’re late to the party. There’s no right or wrong time to come out—your pace is the only one that matters here.

    Each person is unique and has lived experiences that are special to them, as do you. Doesn’t that mean everytime you date a new person, it’s a new experience? Doesn’t that mean we’re all “inexperienced” then? I invite you to lean into the novelty of your romantic connection and allow yourself to enjoy learning more about yourself and others through the dating process.


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  • Moe Ari Brown|they/he
    A portrait of Moe Ari-Brown. They're sitting on a hammock, looking just above eye-level of camera with a placid smile.

    Visualize feeling love and belonging while being the most open version of yourself. Allow the power of that vision to give you the courage to share that part of yourself with your friends and family. Regardless of how they respond, you’ll know you’ve overcome fear and honored the most authentic vision you have for your life. I love that for you!

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  • Annika Hansteen-Izora|they/she/he
    A portrait of Annika Hansteen-Izora. Eye-level with camera, head slightly tilted left with a graceful smile.

    To start, I’d like to congratulate you for taking on the mystery of queer flirting! Forreal though, I honestly believe flirting is one of the most vulnerable things someone can do. Flirting involves a lot of brave shit: naming your desires head on! Facing the possibilities of rejection! Telling insecurities that may arise to chill tf out! So cheers to you for wanting to up your flirting game.

    Jokes aside, I don’t believe queer dating, or femme flirting, is particularly mysterious. I think queer flirting feels illusive because it rejects the hetero and cis normatively entangled in dominant cultural ideas about dating. This is a recipe for stirring insecurity and fear in naming our flirtatious desires.

    For example the common belief that femme people should wait around for someone else to approach us. Yawn 🍅. When I first entered the world of queer dating, I had to give some serious attention to unlearning the gender norms making my flirting game so passive and dusty. I was also nervous to flirt because I didn’t want to reproduce the creepy or unwanted flirting I’d experienced in the past with cis straight men.

    Herein lies the joyous potential of queerness: to create new ways of  dating, romancing, and flirting devoid of the tired scripts.

    This brings me to my three tips to being a clear flirter: ground your confidence, be direct, and be yourself.

    #1 Ground your confidence

    Confidence is when we’re grounded with our sense of self, including our ability to name desires and needs, while being able to be present and empathetic with others. Confidence is embodied, meaning we can literally make the energy of confidence physically present through non-verbal cues, like our body language, gaze, or the way we say things. We can root into confidence before flirting by asking ourselves some simple questions:

    • What does confidence feel like in my body? (Example: Do I stand taller? Is my gaze more direct? Is my breath slow?)
    • What does my voice sound like when I’m confident? (Example: Do I speak more slowly?
    • What experiences help me access confidence? (Example: positive affirmations, meditation)

    #2 Be direct

    Let’s get one thing clear, directness is sexy. Directness is a green flag to others that you know what you want, and that you’re grounded enough to name it. When done through a place of confidence, it also means that if you’re rejected, your sense of self will remain intact, and you’ll end on on a neutral or positive note. Making your flirting direct can be as simple as making subtle language adjustments, like making “I” statements or taking initiative with planning dates. For example:

    • Do you want to hang out? → I’d love to take you out.
    • You’re so pretty → I think you’re so pretty. Can I take you on a date?
    • You’re so cool → I think you’re so cool, I’d love to get to know you more, can I take you out?
    • Literally saying “I’m flirting with you.” (Example, I have def texted someone “(flirtatiously asks) What’s your favorite song?”)

    #3 Be yourself

    I know I know, this is one of the most cliché lines in the dating book. But listen, it’s the truth! It doesn’t matter if your flirting style is goofy, nerdy, sultry, corny, soulful, or endless other styles, as long as it's YOURS. Remember, the point of dating is to find someone that aligns with your values, needs, and desires. My flirting style is sultry, but it’s also a little silly, because it’s important to me that I can laugh with the people I date. If someone isn’t into my flirting, that’s incredibly useful info that maybe we’re not for one another, and that’s ok!

    Clear flirting is transformative because it can pull into reality the dating experiences we desire. It might take some practice, and a willingness to perhaps at times feel insecure, awkward, or silly. But on the other side is a sense of being in touch with our desires, which is one of the bravest and most magical things we can do.

    Follow Annika here:

    Bay Davis|she/her
    A portrait of Bay Davis, looking directly into camera, in a calm and collected pose wearing a denim jacket.

    I actually laughed trying to answer this to myself. My homegirls and I are still trying to figure this out. Being queer is so complicated and kind of annoying. But, I think that’s what makes it fun.

    I’m not sure if I have a legitimate answer for how to make it clear that you're flirting other than being clear and concise. I do, however, want to encourage folks to play.

    Maybe it's my libra rising, but all I ever want to do is play. Forget whether or not the person knows you’re flirting.

    Do you feel good? Are you having fun? Are you enjoying the banter? Make a joke, compliment them directly, find a reason to ask for their help with something, don’t be afraid to look silly.

    Once you relieve yourself of the weight of having to be perceived a certain way or identify/name whatever your exchange is or isn’t, flirting gets so much easier. Don’t overthink it. If you’re enjoying yourself and you both leave the conversation feeling good, you’ve done a great job, babe.

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  • Annika Hansteen-Izora|they/she/he
    A profile portrait of Annika Hansteen-Izora against a red brick background. Their head is turned towards the camera with a coy smile.

    The short answer is: no! Assuming pronouns without consent risks a lot of harmful impacts for a number of reasons. Some people don’t use pronouns. Other people choose to only share their pronouns with those they’ve gotten to know more closely.

    Everyone is different, which is why it’s best practice to wait till you’ve talked to the person about their particular relationship with pronouns.

    If someone doesn’t have pronouns listed on their profile, use their name. If you’d like to know their pronouns, ask them directly.


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  • Grant Knoche|he/him
    A close up selfie of Grant Knoche. They're looking at the camera in a soft blue polo.

    Since there are so many misconceptions about what it means to bisexual, I’ve wondered about the same exact thing. While not everyone thinks this way, so many people’s first thoughts are something like, “Does that mean you could be with a man and woman at the same time?” Or, “Are you sure you’re not just confused?” Even casual questions like which girl I think is the hottest on a show remind me being bisexual isn’t something everyone “gets” right away.

    I totally understand those who decide to keep their bisexuality private until they feel comfortable enough to share. If you’re someone who's decided to wait, I’d maybe bring it up within the first couple dates. In some situations, waiting a long time only puts more pressure on you and the person you’re telling, turning what could be a moment of deeper connection into something else.

    I prefer to be upfront. I spent a good portion of my life feeling shame and guilt around the topic of sexuality and I don’t want to let that affect my choices while dating in the future. Having my sexuality “visible” on my profile helps me and my dates avoid confusion. And while that kind of openness is hard at times,

    putting everything on the table means I’m connecting with someone who truly understands, and wants to be with, all of me. It’s also a great way to build trust at the beginning of your relationship, which is super important.

    I’m still fairly new to dating, and I’m still figuring things out. But one thing I do know? Everyone has their own journey and knows what works best for them. Trust your gut!

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  • King Princess |she/they
    King Princess, aka Mikaela Straus, is staring at the camera with a soft but serious expression. They're wearing a green and white striped sweater, standing with one arm wrapped around their stomach. .

    No.

    Honestly, I’ve had a loooooot of time to think about this question. It hits me when I’m on stage and I see so many wonderful, young, queer people in the audience. Especially when someone in the crowd comes out during the show (which has actually happened before).

    These moments remind me that I’m endlessly coming out and my gender is ever-changing.

    There are some days where I’m like, “Let’s get these curves out to play,” There are other days where I’d prefer if there were no parts on my body at all. Just blank.

    So, no, I don’t think you ever stop coming out, but isn’t that kind of beautiful? Maybe you’re like me and your gender is fluid. Maybe you’ve gotten older and realized something about yourself. Or, maybe the only thing that’s new is terminology that you didn’t have as a kid and you’re thinking, “Wait a second, that feels like me! I didn’t have that word, or phrase, or community, but now I do.” The trick is to be gentle with ourselves about all these changes.

    P.S: Isn’t coming out just also….so weird? You’re basically saying, “Hey, family and friends, I wanna be intimate with this type of person.” Straight people don’t have to do that, it’s just implied. Gender also makes it even crazier.

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    Grant Knoche|he/him
    A selfie portrait of Grant Knoche. They're looking straight into the camera, with his right arm behind his head in a soft blue polo.

    Love this question. Even though I’m already out, I still “come out” pretty often. I love sharing that side of my life—just not all the time.

    I first came out because I didn’t want to always have to worry. I was a dancer in school—jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, everything. All it took was for someone to hear “ballet” to assume I was gay. I walked on eggshells trying to avoid giving them another reason to think it or say it. So, for me, I just had to come out to live my fullest life. As I mention in my song, FIRST HELLO, it was a new beginning. I was finally able to experience joys that only existed in a world where I was out.

    These days, it’s more of a want to keep coming out. Every time I do, it gives someone else the chance to, just like another artist did for me. But does that mean I want to come out to every stranger that asks if my date is my friend?

    Do I always have the energy to unpack other people’s assumptions of my life? Yeah, that might be my friend, but why would you assume that?

    You may never feel like you can stop coming out, and that can be a blessing in disguise. Your pride can inspire the same in others. But remember— it’s a privilege to see that side of you and it’s okay to protect your energy.

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  • Tara Raani|they/she/he
    Tara's selfie. They're wearing headphones and confidently holding up their ponytail above their head and looking into camera.

    Coming out gets a lot of overemphasis in today’s discourse. I don’t believe coming out to your family/society/community should be a requirement. It’s often the first question people ask when you mention you’re queer. “Do your parents know???” Absolutely not!!!

    It’s a privilege to know me, and not everyone has earned the right to know the deepest parts of me.

    Especially for those of us from certain cultural backgrounds – coming out can have massive and potentially dangerous consequences. Those consequences can impact us forever. For many of us, we have to prioritize our physical safety, financial security, and housing before we can share our sexuality.

    I wasn’t out to the world for the majority of my life, and even now while in a serious three-year relationship, I’m not out to most of my family, including my parents. For me, it was more important to be seen in other ways by my loved ones before coming out. That said, having a partner and not being out has been an exercise in communicating boundaries. My partner is totally okay with me not being out to my family and not introducing her to my family at this moment because she understands the relationship I have with them and how I’d like to grow with them before coming out.

    Dating if you’re not out is totally okay!!! Just make sure to communicate to your partner(s) what your feelings are around coming out and boundaries you have with different people in your life.

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    Masami Hosono|they/them
    A portrait of Masami sitting, looking straight into to camera. With a soft smile and their head slightly upturned, they express an inviting confidence.

    I think it’s a struggle for many people. So, if this is on your mind, know that you aren’t alone. I grew up in a society that was not open to queer people. I knew in my mind I was queer, but I spent years not knowing if I was ready to come out. Through that journey,

    I learned coming out is a process and you shouldn’t feel the pressure from anyone to rush it.

    However, there are things you can do to test the waters without fully diving in.

    I think that if you’re ready to date, but aren’t ready to put yourself out there online, you can always make new friendships and relationships “IRL.” Go to queer-focused, local spaces: bars, the beach, queer-owned shops, queer author book signings, whatever feels comfortable. Introduce yourself to someone, make a connection, and see where it goes. Who knows, they might be able to match you up with someone! Personally, I met people through in-person events and work spaces!

    If you’re still figuring things out and not ready to date, just make sure you nurture yourself with good people around you so you feel comfortable when the time is right. The more like-minded people you surround yourself with, the more your confidence will grow.

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    Moe Ari Brown|they/he
    A shoulder-up portrait of Moe Ari Brown, wearing a light denim washed button up. They have a dazzling smile up against a marble background.

    Even if you’re not out or don’t know exactly how you identify concerning gender or sexual orientation, you can still start to figure out who you’re attracted to. In fact, the dating process can help us to understand ourselves more deeply if we pay attention to how we respond, what we are feeling, and what we are learning about ourselves along the way.

    Try telling your matches, “I really don't know where I stand on the spectrum/ I’m not out yet, but I know that I'm queer, and I'm sure about my desire to date you." This kind of vulnerability invites more intentionality and clarity from both parties from the beginning.

    Ultimately, who you date and when you date is your choice. The primary person you have to be out to is yourself. So as long as you’re clear about who you are, it’s okay to bring people into that process.


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    Darien Sutton|he/him
    Darien Sutton

    Society often makes us believe that we have to fit into a specific category to live our lives, but this isn’t true. Exploration of one’s sexuality is a journey that is different for each and every person. It’s completely ok if you’re not ready to “come out.”

    I personally think it’s probably better if you avoid labeling exactly who you are prematurely because it may block you from experiencing things you enjoy and achieving a full understanding of who you are.

    Simply be honest with your journey with whomever you’re interested in. Some may not agree, and that’s ok, just remember to prioritize yourself and your journey of exploration. You’ll know when you’re ready.

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  • Tara Raani|they/she/he
    A selfie of Tara looking down into the camera. Their head is slightly tilted and their expression is confident.

    I share this hesitation, but I’m very open! The same way I would be hesitant to date someone with little sexual experience or relationship experience, or someone much younger than me,

    I would definitely want to move with extra intention.

    This is not to take away from the person’s sexuality, but more so to protect my own heart and the success of the relationship. I personally went through a lot of shame and volatility during my first queer experience, and supporting another partner through that could be hard. It really just depends on the specific person. I’d want us to get to know each other well and understand each other’s perspectives, experiences, and intentions.

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    Phillip Picardi|he/him
    A portrait of Phillip leaning up against a wall. He's smiling with his arms crossed.

    In a word: Yes! I was actually my partner’s first-ever boyfriend, and I had a lot of insecurities about it—all of which I placed right on his lap. It took a year until a friend intervened with some wisdom: Just because you’re insecure about something doesn’t mean it’s true. I was projecting so much onto him that I never really took him at his word—even when he was brave enough to say “I love you.” Boundaries are boundaries, so I respect yours.

    But I guess I’d say we shouldn’t let insecurities get in the way of receiving a good thing when it’s standing right in front of us.

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  • King Princess |she/they
    King Princess, aka Mikaela Straus, is staring at the camera with a soft but serious expression. They're wearing a green and white striped sweater, standing with one arm bent up toward their head.

    This question makes me think about who I was growing up—how I acted, how I moved. I didn’t know how to present myself through clothing, so I often felt restricted in my expression. Not knowing how to dress made trips to the mall hard. Standing between sections at stores felt like I was literally being asked to decide—to choose who I wanted to be. I didn’t know how to (or want to) handle that. By the time I got to high school, my masc side manifested itself in this like, almost “agro” way of walking and talking.

    When I moved away for college and started meeting people and dating, there was kind of this moment when I started really seeking out who I wanted to be, clothing wise, instead of just doing what I thought I was supposed to.

    Picking what I wanted to wear became a daily ceremony. “What am I going to put on this body to make myself feel okay?”

    As I started to accept that I could present as masculine, my femininity emerged. And that had entirely to do with being more playful through clothing. My friends and I would get together and play dress up, putting on whatever felt right. It showed me that dressing like a boy doesn’t mean you have to act like a fool. I’ve been very lucky to have a community of like, straight and queer people who get that.

    The tea is that this world is hard, and we’re all just trying to figure things out. When it comes to gender and dating, it gets even harder. Clothes can be your armor. So, If you’re someone who’s stuck between aisles hoping they don’t get it wrong: embrace play within companionship. Find people who don’t judge you for not knowing who you are yet and ask them to play dress up—literally! For me, dressing up counteracted that toxic masculinity that all butch non-binary, and trans people have to fight against. Besides, isn’t this presentation thing all dress up and drag, anyway.

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  • Shahem Mclaurin|they/them
    A portrait of Shahem leaning in and looking directly into camera. Their face feels serious but intentional.

    Whether you’re demisexual, asexual, or wanting to explore celibacy, having conversations about sexual intimacy can be tough. How would I go about this? Boundary setting!

    Boundaries are a great indication of healthy relationships with others. We often view setting boundaries as placing walls up between us and the people we love, know, or want to know. But, reality couldn’t be further from that.

    Boundaries are bridges, not fences. In setting these expectations, you create opportunities for you and your potential partners to better understand each other’s emotional needs, desires, and limitations.

    These conversations can also spark other ideas of nonsexual intimacy.

    My advice in setting these boundaries? Just think GLAD PASS, an acronym I often share with all my clients as a therapist.

    Give yourself permission to set boundaries.

    Lean with love while doing it. It is a loving gesture to want to better connect with someone, after all.

    Advocate for your needs in advance, avoiding reactionary boundary setting.

    Directly communicate what you need for you to feel good in the relationship.

    Prioritize yourself. Your needs and your boundaries should be all about you!

    Assess why you’re setting these expectations.

    Seek out support that will help you remember you have people who will love you with all of your boundaries.

    Stay firm in your personal desires!

    Being demisexual, asexual, or choosing to be celibate doesn't mean you can't connect with others. Acts of nonsexual intimacy can be powerful in any relationship, and boundaries help us do that in meaningful and healthy ways. Boundaries operate like a compass, guiding you towards folk who will love and support you without trying to own or control. Don’t forget to give yourself some grace through this process. No one was born knowing how to ride a bike—boundaries are no different. You got this!

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    Moe Ari Brown|they/he
    A portrait of Moe Ari Brown. They're sitting on a hammock, looking just above eye-level of camera with a placid smile.

    Many demisexual, asexual, and celibate people enjoy a dating life full of romantic attractions and relationships that do not culminate in sex. As it does in any relationship, it all comes down to communication.

    It’s essential to be direct from the beginning of any new connection about intimacy and what it currently means to you.

    I recommend you have a conversation early on about your boundaries. It’s also okay to say that you’re still figuring out what dating might look like, and that while you’re open to exploring and evolving, it doesn’t involve physical intimacy right now or ever. This can alleviate any misunderstandings about the possibility of sex and can help you focus on building up other facets of the relationship.

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  • Darien Sutton|he/him
    Darien Sutton

    We are all allowed to set our personal boundaries around substance use. In every relationship, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about each other's feelings around the topic. To avoid sounding judgemental, you should first evaluate your feelings around substance use and why these feelings exist. Take time to understand what associations you draw with substance use and where these associations come from. Substance use is often stigmatized, as many draw an unfounded association to low moral standards.

    You have to remember that everyone’s story is different and the reasons behind substance use are often multifaceted and nuanced.

    When having the discussion with a prospective partner, you should be sure to practice active listening and continuously remind yourself that you have not lived in this person’s shoes and be fully open to understanding their story.

    It’s perfectly acceptable to want to choose a partner that shares your boundaries around substance use. You should be able to articulate that your boundaries don’t come from a place of judgment—but from a place of wanting to share a life and a lifestyle together. It’s good to be honest without having to resort to being hurtful.

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    Shahem Mclaurin|they/them
    A portrait of Shahem with the sky behind them. They're mid laugh, looking down into the camera.

    When it comes to sensitive topics like drugs or alcohol, it’s easy for people on either side to walk away from conversations feeling judged or shamed.

    My rule of thumb is to have a solid understanding of why you feel the way you do about sobriety and communicating that.

    Is it personal? Health reasons? As long as your boundaries are about you, your emotional safety, and what you need—as opposed to your preconceived judgments about people who drink or do drugs—they can go a long way in helping people understand, and ultimately respect, your choice.

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  • Masami Hosono|they/them
    A portrait of Masami looking into the camera, They're expression and posture almost as if they're listening you talk.

    Hmm this is an interesting question! I think it really depends on the situation and relationship you have with your ex. Let’s say you’re both on very good terms. You’re the type of friends that talk once a week. If that’s the case, I would immediately go to them and say something like:

    "Hey, I matched with someone and think they’re cute. But, they’re your ex. How would you feel about me going on a date with them?"

    Asking my ex how they feel keeps things open and friendly for all interpretations! However, if you and your ex are friendly but not necessarily super close, I would probably say:

    "Hey, just wanted to let you to know, I matched with your ex and I’m going on a date with them."

    So, when it comes to going on a date with your ex’s ex, I think the trick to avoiding any awkwardness is just being super transparent.

    Because, WHO KNOWS! You might really get on with your ex’s ex and want to be partners in the future.

    No matter the situation, keeping it light, honest, and clear with all parties involved is the way to go.

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  • Phillip Picardi|he/him
    A portrait of Phillip leaning up against a wall. He's smiling with his arms crossed.

    If faith is important to you, I think it’s crucial to have perspective on a couple things. First and foremost, we all know that religion has been wielded in societies to hurt people (and, oftentimes, queer people bear the worst of that hurt). If you start a conversation about religion with a relative stranger, you should be prepared to be open—and not defensive—about their personal experiences with their faith, and why they may have set boundaries around it. I know that most faith traditions teach us to lead with compassion when people have been wrongfully marginalized. So do your best to let your faith guide you appropriately in that scenario.

    Second, even in moments like these, you have the power to allow your faith to act as a bridge and not a barrier.

    When we distill our religious customs, beliefs, traditions, and stories down to their purest essence, we’re mostly left with a profound sense of how to live and accomplish justice in this world. Someone does not necessarily need to be a person of your exact faith to share those same values with you. If you talk about your faith from this vantage point, you might actually excite a potential partner who’s thrilled you’re being open and vulnerable with them. Who knows? That kind of conversation might ignite an unexpected bond. My faith tells me that leading with vulnerability instead of fear will reap a reward of love. Try it, and maybe you’ll find the same is true for you.

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  • Mimi Zhu|they/them
    A close up portrait of Mimi. They're looking straight at the camera with a subtle, soft smile.

    Total transparency in the early stages of dating has allowed me to feel affirmed in my gender and its many dimensions. My pronouns are they/them, and I’ve had to exercise the muscle that asks me to be transparent from the very start with my lovers. I usually tell people on the first date how I don’t identify as a cis woman, how “they/them” makes me feel euphoric and seen, and how every day I feel different about how I wish to present.

    This felt like a scary thing to do, because there were moments where I felt unsafe revealing that truth, especially with cis men I was attracted to. For a long time, I allowed myself to be misgendered, even though it made me feel physically uncomfortable to be called a woman, lady, or girl.

    I am transparent on the first date because the person’s reaction usually allows me to discern the trajectory of our connection. While nerve-wracking, it allows me to feel empowered in my agency in pursuing meaningful intimacy. I wear an outfit that makes me feel the most gender euphoric of the day, and I put myself before the assumed desires of another. If somebody is uncomfortable with my truth, then it reveals more about them than it does about me. I prefer to get this done early, because I know how precious my time is, and how uncompromising I am about my need to be respected in my fullness.

    Even though transparency in dating feels simple and foundational, it is surprising how difficult it can be in action.

    While I unlearn many harmful standards of desirability, I have learned what I know for sure: I want to do whatever I wish with my gender, and I want to share my life intimately with somebody who wholly supports me in that. If they cannot provide that, then I cannot be with them.

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  • Mimi Zhu|they/them
    A close up portrait of Mimi. They're looking straight at the camera with a subtle, soft smile.

    I have accidentally misgendered lovers before, and I know that it is my responsibility to unlearn those conditions in my brain. Because it is my responsibility, I find it incredibly important to honour that and

    take accountability immediately, instead of pretending it didn’t happen

    because I feel uncomfortable. I also do not like to make a spectacle of my mistake, because that might make the person I am talking to more uncomfortable, or even obliged to comfort me.

    Instead, I quickly apologise and correct myself, using the pronouns that make them feel the most seen and heard. If I do not know the person’s pronouns, then I ask them what they prefer and tell them that I will use those pronouns from then onwards. The beauty of intimacy is feeling safe and free in each other’s fullness, and I always want the people I like to feel completely free in their gender fluidity with me.

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