It’s Pride Month – a time for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to celebrate and to generate awareness about rights for folks in LGBTQ community. Of course this means there will be lots of gathering, lots of close contact… and maybe even the potential to meet more matches. But, while you’re out there doing your thing, it’s crucial to remember to stay safe.
To help you do just that, friend of the show Dr. James Simmons (a.k.a. Ask the NP) is here to give us an update on where we are in the pandemic dating season and bring us into Pride Month. No matter your sexual orientation or gender identity, there’s a lot to learn in today’s episode. Buckle up!
DATING DISH (2:08)
Straight women are dating in unexpected places, but is it working?:
A recent article from Buzzfeed dove into a cultural movement that has been making waves in the LGBTQ community the past couple of years – straight women joining the gay/queer dating app Grindr. To its own testament, Grindr calls itself the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people. But the reality is that women have been trying to “get it on by getting on Grindr” since it launched in 2009. The push from cis women to make space on Grindr was so extreme, that Grindr’s founder Joel Simkhai eventually obliged, creating a straight version of the app called Blendr in 2011. (Never heard of Blendr? That’s probably because the app bombed after it’s launch, synchronizing with the launch of Tinder in 2012.)
Now cisgender women have actually been allowed on Grindr since 2017. But over the last year, Grindr users have been complaining about the influx of cis women seeking hookups with bisexual male partners. For cishet (cisgender and heterosexual) women, the hope is to explore relationships with men who present alternatives to traditional masculinity, and make connections with bisexual men who maybe aren’t comfortable being out as bisexual on some of the traditional dating apps. But if that’s the case, then Grindr is actually acting as the safe space for a lot of bisexual men. Nowadays, there are more people identifying as bisexual than ever before. According to the article, 3% of US adults identified as bi in 2018, compared to just 1% ten years earlier. Additionally, nearly 12% of Gen Z folks state that they’re bisexual, compared with only 5% of millennials.
So what is Damona’s take on this article? Well, it’s one that you might have heard on the podcast before. “You’ve heard me talk before on this podcast about trying to dictate what an app is used for, like when people ask me ‘is Tinder the hookup app?’ We don’t get to decide how the app is used… But at the same time, it’s creating an environment where the people who are there because they don’t feel safe on the other apps, or have a hard time connecting with people who share their goals, their values, and their gender or sexual identity – they now feel like the place that was their safe space is no longer theirs.” Damona also wants female, cishet Grindr users to be mindful of their attraction to bisexual men, and the possible fetishization that comes with it. “Because unless you’re looking for a thruple where you are having sex with two men, I’m not sure that that person’s bisexuality is relevant in your dating search. What is probably going on is that there’s something else that you’re connecting to among those bisexual men. Maybe it’s the safety and security, maybe there’s something that’s going on internally and rejecting traditional masculine traits. It’s something to be aware of.”
Who needs Grindr for more matches, when you can get Damona’s Profile Starter Kit! She’ll give you the best tips to revamp your profile. Download yours for free HERE!
JAMES SIMMONS (10:25)
Damona is here with our good friend Dr. James Simmons. Dr. James is a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, frontline healthcare provider during the Covid-19 pandemic, and passionate on-air medical contributor. He has appeared on NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, KTLA, Loveline, and more!
(11:14) The covid in the room:
With Hot Girl Summer Vol. 2 approaching and IRL dating coming back into play, it’s easy to forget that covid is most definitely still a thing. But how big of a risk is it? Dr. James says that “it really depends on who you are in terms of risk. So interestingly, some data just came out about Omicron. Remember that everyone was saying ‘Oh, it’s just like a bad cold. Don’t worry about it. No big deal.’ And in some instances, that’s true. But for seniors, so anybody 65 and older,, Omicron actually ended up being more deadly than Delta… We’re in a different world now since the last time we had to talk about this. So hopefully you are at least doubly vaccinated, if not boosted once, and boosted four times if you’re eligible. So if you are not immunocompromised, if you don’t live with someone who’s immunocompromised or has high risk, and you’re vaccinated, I think you can do IRL dating.”
Dr. James adds that it’s probably a good idea to feel out where your date is in terms of vaccination status before meeting up in person. “So let’s say you match on OKCupid, you’re like chatting, you say ‘let’s meet in real life.’ And they’re like, ‘Well, I’m not vaccinated. I don’t believe in it. I don’t want to get tested.’ Okay, maybe you’re gonna think twice about going on a date with that person. But if you’re like, ‘you know what, the government’s given us 12 free home tests. Why don’t you take one of those home tests real quick, and I’ll do the same thing. And if we’re both negative, let’s meet tonight for dinner.’ I think that’s totally fine.”
(14:34) Monkeypox isn’t a “gay disease”:
A recent outbreak of monkeypox in the LGBTQ community has people kind of freaked out, but Dr. James says this isn’t something to panic about. “Monkeypox is in the same category as smallpox and chickenpox. It’s like a cousin virus… It was first discovered in 1958 in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it probably jumped from rodents to humans. And here’s the thing, it’s really, really hard to catch… You probably shouldn’t get it because, a) we only have about 550 confirmed cases in the world as of the recording of this podcast. And b) it has a very obvious rash, just Google ‘monkeypox rash.’ If anyone has this rash, like don’t touch him, don’t sleep with them. Don’t share anything with them.”
Damona wants to clarify that just because this outbreak started in the gay community doesn’t make it a “gay disease.” Dr. James says this has only become an outbreak because the origin has been tied to two really big raves. One of them was a rave generally for gay men, i.e. a lot of people were shirtless and dancing against each other. So someone in that rave had monkeypox and touched a bunch of people. Then someone probably went from that one rave to another rave the next night, not knowing they were carrying monkeypox, and touched a bunch of people. Some people at this rave probably also left to have sex with each other. All in all, monkeypox generally needs prolonged touching to catch it. The only thing is that generally monkeypox is most contagious when you have the rash, and the rash is active. So keep that Google search on hand, just in case you need to check your partners for the rash.
(20:36) Ecstasy & fentanyl:
On the topic of raves, Damona brings up how she’s seen a lot of stories lately about certain drugs being laced with fentanyl. Dr. James weighs in: “I’m really glad you brought this up. What we’re seeing, particularly on the hospital side, is that people are ingesting or smoking or whatever drug they’re doing, and not knowing that there are high levels of fentanyl in that drug… Fentanyl is incredibly strong. It’s 100 times stronger than morphine and it’s very hyper concentrated. So it’s not necessarily that fentanyl as an opioid is more dangerous than other opioids, it’s just much stronger and more concentrated.” Another big problem is, as the consumer, you don’t know where along that drug supply chain the fentanyl is being added. When these drugs are cut with fentanyl, it’s way down the illicit drug pipeline. And this is done on purpose to make the drug more addictive so that you come back and buy more of it because fentanyl is highly addictive. “There are tons of places that give out Narcan which is the thing that will reverse fentanyl. So if you overdose on fentanyl, the person can literally just smell Narcan and it will reverse it for them.”
Damona asks Dr. James to cover the signs to look out for in case of an overdose:
- They stop breathing or their pulse lowers/stops.
- They are vomiting uncontrollably.
- They have a hard time speaking or are not able to talk at all.
- They’re grabbing their chest.
- If you shake them pretty vigorously, they won’t move or they won’t stir.
- If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away. And remember that the police will not be called if they are responding to an overdose. “They’re not also going to bring with them the police and lock you guys up for doing the drugs right then and there.”
(25:33) Times are a-changing:
Damona brings us some OkCupid stats, sharing that 97% of OKCupid daters care are now sharing that they care about LGBTQ plus issues, and 7/10 said it matters if their match does. So what are Dr. James’ thoughts on these shifting times? “I think about how people received me coming out in the 90s in the Midwest, versus now. I recently lost my father, and so I was going back and forth from LA to Nebraska a lot like every other week. But not one person batted an eye in the grocery store, in the hospital, or at the funeral home at any of these places. When I talked about my husband, not one person batted an eye.”
“Now, unfortunately, what comes with that is that we are still trending towards the highest rate of black trans women being murdered this year… So, while we generally talk about the LGBTQ plus community as a whole, I do think it is really important when we have these conversations to sort of separate folks out. So while I’ll say we’ve come a really long way, particularly I think for cisgender gay men and lesbians, we still have a really long way to go when it comes to the people fully understanding and accepting what it means to be trans.”
(29:25) Bisexual vs pansexual:
Dr. James drops how he has recently been identifying as pansexual, and Damona brings up some more stats. According to OkCupid, since last year there has been nearly a 10% increase in users identifying as pansexual. There’s also been a 250% increase in users identifying as bisexual, and a 29% increase in users identifying as non binary.
Damona asks Dr. James for some insight on how he came to find “pansexual” a better fit for his sexual orientation. “You know, I think semantics and words matter. So just so people understand, pansexual is sort of a sexual attractiveness to anyone, but not necessarily in the same degree. I always like to joke that, let’s say you put Idris Elba and Priyanka Chopra in front of me. Like, I’m always gonna pick Idris Elba. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t think Priyanka Chopra is also really attractive, right? And so there’s rather than bi being ‘I am attracted to cisgender men and cisgender women,’ pan includes our trans brothers and sisters.”
National HIV Testing Day is coming up on June 27! Understanding your HIV status starts with testing, so be sure to get your test this month. Dr. James says you can even Google ‘free at home HIV test kit’ or ‘free HIV testing near me.’
DEAR DAMONA (35:28)
- IG Message from S – Hi Damona! I love your podcast and have a couple questions regarding a great guy I’m talking to on a dating app who lives in diff state. I’m 36 and he’s 38 and we’re both ready for something serious. We instantly clicked and progressively started talking daily, FaceTiming, and now he’s flying into town to meet for the first time after 5 weeks of talking. We’re both excited! However, I’m scared about the long-distance due to my need for communication. We try to make time for each other even if it’s a quick phone call before bed, however I have self-worth issues and certain fears are resurfacing from my failed engagement 1.5 yrs ago that are causing anxiety, fear, and my need to control the outcome. He’s talked about long distance not being a big deal and referred to future dates/occasions if this weekend goes well. How do I set realistic expectations for long-distance when I’m anxious, a type-A planner, and a little insecure, and he’s go-with-the-flow, never been in a long-term relationship, and has an ‘anything is possible’ mentality? Also, any recommendations on important topics of conversation or must-do things which will help us decide if we should pursue a relationship? Thanks so much for all your advice!
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