Virtually everyone experiences rejection at some point or another, but a large number of LGBT people have to deal with the possibility of falling in love with someone only to be rejected based on sexual orientation. In fact, many younger members of the LGBT community experience this before they become comfortable identifying eligible members of the community. If you’re not looking on a dating site or in a gay club, you’ll have to rely on your instincts to guess if the person you’re interested in is also a member of the LGBT community.
If you identify yourself as gay or bi early on, you open the door for the other person to identify themselves the same way. Don’t be discouraged if the person doesn’t respond openly—it doesn’t mean they aren’t on your spectrum—but if they reply positively from the start, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and guessing. You might also simply ask if the person is single to see if they’re on the market at all. If they say yes, take advantage of the opportunity to segue into your own dating history and sexual preference. Gauge the person’s response to determine whether or not you’ve got the green light to flirt.
Watch for Signs of Positive Reception
Your crush’s sexual orientation is completely irrelevant if they’re just not into you. The good news is there are ways to figure out if someone is enjoying a little flirtation; gay, bi or straight, these signs will tell you if the person is feeling an attraction:
- Frequent laughter and smiling
- Welcoming body language (e.g. leaning in toward you instead of subconsciously pulling back)
- Casual touch (e.g. fingers brushing, frequently bumping against you, etc.)
- Slight waver in the voice (some people get noticeably nervous when around their crush)
- Asking you out for casual get-togethers (even if they don’t say the word “date”)
Don’t immediately ask someone out; in doing so, you might risk losing what good friendship or relationship you might be forming. Instead, ask your crush out for coffee or a drink and let them ask you whether or not it’s a date. Be honest and let them know that you’d like to get to know him/her better before jumping into something more. If your crush doesn’t ask whether or not it’s a date, you’ll still be left wondering where you stand. Find a moment during the get-together to spill your single status into the conversation and see where things go. Reveal information slowly and provide your crush with plenty of opportunities to jump in and discuss his/her sexual orientation and relationship status.
Although you take a risk when you fall in love with someone outside the open LGBT community, take comfort in knowing that falling in love is risky for everyone. If you gauge the person’s interest, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not to confess your feelings. It’s better to have taken the risk than to always regret never knowing how the person would have responded.