The five stages of queer dating in Cambridge

Gays, glitterbomb and gelato – welcome to the world of Queer Cambridge…

This was going to be gender-neutral but I don’t want to tar everyone with mens’ flaws. So, without further ado, here are the five stages of grief key experiences you may have while doing the whole dating thing, from the perspective of an absolutely not embittered queer gay man (me).

Stage One: The Encounter

You met him at Glitterbomb, and it was like the stars had come out for the first time. He was wearing one of those denim jackets, with rainbows painted on his face, something gay-looking so you knew you were in with a shot.

You move towards him as elegantly as possible, which isn’t very elegantly at all, because you’re gracelessly shoving people out of the way with your elbows.

“Hey,” you say, flicking your hair and trying to look queer and available.

“I’m straight,” he responds instantly.

Stage Two: Arranging the date

“Hey,” you text. “Wanna hang out?”

You wait five hours, hopeful. Maybe he’s in a supo. Maybe he actually enjoys his course and is working diligently. You try not to check Snapmaps. Why do people leave that on anyway?

You check his Instagram story. He’s in Fitzbillies making peace signs in front of a Chelsea bun. Oh well, you tell yourself. Maybe he needs all that sugar after that long essay he must have been writing while he ignored me.

He responds, just as you were about to start your essay.

(You’ll notice there’s a humanities bias here. It’s just a preference.)

“Hey. Hyd?”

You wait, for almost two minutes, before responding. Don’t want to seem desperate.

“Oh, I’m fantastic.”

Half an hour passes. You double text.


He responds. “Sure.”

“When’s good?” If it was possible to scream over text, you’d be screaming.

He writes back with a time but not a place. Another three hours have passed. You know it’ll be at least a day before you get both location and time.

You don’t want to text first again to confirm. You wait. Nothing. The arranged time passes without a whisper.

You pass him the next day in the Mainsbury’s alcohol aisle and ignore each other. “Goodbye, mon amour,” you whisper to yourself. He looks round to check if you’re okay.

Stage Three: The Date

You meet in that smelly cafe on King’s Parade. You buy your own coffee. Acidic.

He’s on his phone. You’re fighting for your life in there. Please look up. Please. He finally looks up. Your eyes meet. He’s so cute. Your mouth goes dry and while you’re lost for words he goes back to his phone.

Sh*t. He doesn’t like me. This is a disaster.

You make your excuses and leave. You walk onto Orgasm Bridge and gaze out over the water, then look up into the Trinity Hall library, where a sleep-deprived student is currently entering their 13th consecutive hour hunched over their laptop. “At least I’m not her,” you say.

You check your phone that evening. He’s texted. “You’re so hot, I was so nervous. I’m so sorry for being on my phone.”

Maybe this wasn’t such a disaster after all.

Stage Four: The Hookup

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s thiccest (Image Credits: Ted Bruce)

F*ck dating. Start f*cking.

Hookups are so fun, and not dehumanising at all. In fact, I’m practically breaking down new barriers in sex positivity.

He seems to really like you. He actually appears almost affectionate at times. At least you aren’t just another bag of meat to him. “I bet you don’t act like that with every hookup,” you say hopefully.

“Actually I do.”

You try very hard to show you’re not getting attached, but you do want it to become regular so you don’t have to go back to the drawing board – or in this case, the Grindr meat market.

“Maybe we could cuddle a bit? Watch a movie even?”

“Sorry, my parents are visiting. I’ve got to show them King’s College chapel.”

His parents? Is he just saying that because there’s another guy booked in for ten minutes after I leave? Does he have a timetable? ESSAY-MAN-SUPERVISION-MAN.

Never let it be said that Cambridge men are disorganised.

Stage Five: The Relationship

One of the gayest and most Cambridgiest photos on my phone. Ice cream and King’s College. (Image Credits: Ted Bruce)

You’ve done it at last. You’re a couple. The priority now is to outlast the other gay couple you see occasionally in Hall.

“They’re so fake,” you snark to each other as they ostentatiously full-body hug in front of the fellows during a formal. “But our love is real.”

You can see them whispering to each other and glancing at you. They’re saying the same thing.

You go as a couple to Jack’s Gelato because there’s nothing gayer than ice cream. “I love you so much babe,” you say, as you feed him some flavour combo you’ve never heard of.

“That’ll be £17.50 guys,” says the cashier softly.

One night you want to go out with friends, but realise you must do everything as a couple now. You revise together. You go to formals together. When I hang out with anyone else, he sends me 30 missed calls.

Oh wait. These are supposed to be things that happen to normal people. Never mind.

In reality, you grow closer and closer. You maintain a healthy distance but remain emotionally close. You go to Glitterbomb as a couple. You’re dancing together, looking even hotter than that other gay couple. A boy with painted nails comes up to you both.

“You guys look so cute together!”

“Aww, you too!”

“I’m straight,” he says and retreats in a huff.

Featured Image Credits: Motacilla via Creative Commons

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