How do I overcome the feeling of not fitting in when it comes to race and queer dating?

I’ve had a lot of shame about feeling like I don't fit in or fit certain standards or stereotypes. And then I had to do a lot of work to be like,

‘No, you're gorgeous. You're beautiful, you're smart, you're worthy’ – and even though no one was telling me those things, doesn't mean that it's not true.
You don't have to wait for the validation. You can actually find it in spaces where people are going to lift you up and embrace you for just who you are; not because you bring value, just because you are just being.

So seek out avenues where you’re able to understand that and have that reflected back to you. That is so important at any age or stage in your dating life.

I wished I had some sort of mentorship around desire and dating, especially as a person of color. In some spaces, you look around and see a sea of very quintessential, beautiful, hot, muscular, cis white people, and you're kind of like, ‘Where do I fit into this?’

Don't be afraid to find different avenues to connect with people who are having those similar experiences and feelings around race and dating. And when you do seek out those people, don't be afraid to be honest about what experiences you're having. Leaning into community groups based on your interests, and finding people I could have these intimate conversations with – and I don't just mean romantic or sexual, really just relating to people intimately in general – helped me push through that feeling of shame about feeling like I didn’t fit in.

Oof. This question hit me hard. From day one, every single one of us gets these messages from the larger society about who we are supposed to be in order to be found desirable, valuable, and worthy of love. As a Black Trans Masc person, I’ve had my share of desirable boxes I don’t check and held a seat in many spaces where I never felt like I belonged.

What helped me on my journey is the realization that while the larger culture may try to hand down certain standards, I do not have to uphold them. The moment that I rejected those standards and cultivated new ones, that’s the moment I entered into a new agreement with myself about honoring my own vision of what is beautiful and meaningful. In that new agreement, I honor my authenticity instead of trying to be like anyone else.

So I’ll say this to you with the love of a friend. Friend, your love is too big and your dreams are too full to fit inside of society’s tiny boxes. You’re not meant to be like anyone else, and the love you seek will find you. You can help by ensuring that love can see you, all of you.

This is the truth that I’ve found, sitting at the intersection of many often marginalized identities:

Unless we allow people to know us authentically, they can’t love us unconditionally. That means we must allow ourselves to be seen for our uniqueness, our weirdness, our ick, our strangeness, and our differences.

That’s the only way people with the same differences as us can find us.

Every day, as a black kid growing up on the south side of Chicago, my mom would send me out the door with an affirmation because she wanted me to be proud of who I am. Those affirmations stuck with me, and I’ve started to do this with my child. I say “Shine your light!” I tell them this every day because I don’t know what they may encounter in a world that might see them and think they're weird for having queer parents. Every day, they return from school smiling, bouncing, and eager to tell me, “I shined my light!!”

Today, I am telling you to shine your light so you may be seen by all the souls who are seeking the exact gifts, energy, love, and beauty you’re offering the world. Shine your light! I wish you well.

More on

Arrow Pointin Down Right

Explore all questions, or read more about navigating the holidays

NFAQ is an educational guide for Not-So-Frequently-Asked questions, submit a question to expand this discussion.



NFAQ is an educational guide for Not-So-Frequently-Asked questions, submit a question to expand this discussion.

An Arrow Icon.LGBTQIA+datingresource

NFAQ (Not-so Frequently Asked Questions) is a growing collection of questions not talked about enough—the questions 80% of LGBTQIA+ daters on Hinge struggle finding answers to. With each NFAQ, inspiring voices share their perspectives on how to navigate relationships, self-discovery, gender, and sexuality.

Part of NFAQ is supporting LGBTQIA+ community centers across the country connecting people to resources and support.

Read more in our press release