The annual Mardi Gras Parade is undoubtedly a time for the LGBTQIA+ and their allies to celebrate their sexuality, indulge in delicious food and drink, and have a hell of a lot of fun.

Fortunately for Sydney siders, this year’s WorldPride is held in the NSW city, which means revelers get the chance to keep the good times rolling until March 5th.

With parties, parades, and live music, it’s common for attendees to meet a new love interest along the way. However, for those who are new to the scene, dating can sometimes be intimidating, particularly if it’s your first time exploring your sexuality since coming out.

In light of this, we’ve chatted to LMFT and Hinge’s Love and Connection Expert, Moe Ari Brown (they/he) who’s jotted down some tips for first-timers dating at WorldPride, which you can check out below.

Be kind to yourself and practice some self-love

Almost a third (31%) of LGBTQIA+ Hinge daters have never had a queer dating experience because they’re still becoming comfortable with their identity. Coming out can be challenging for some people as reactions to sharing your authenticity might not always be affirming or celebratory. Negative experiences can raise anxiety about continuing to put yourself out there and how you communicate with new people. For this reason, I invite you to practice affirming and celebrating yourself entirely. Before you hit the streets this WorldPride, stand in front of a mirror and say words of affirmation like “I am worthy of love”; “I am loved”; “wherever I go, love follows”, to help you feel celebrated and centered in self-love.

Don’t be afraid to let others know it’s your first time

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You might feel nervous to share it’s your first time exploring your sexuality since coming out, but you can be safe in the knowledge that a majority (80%) of LGBTQIA+ Hinge daters are open to being someone’s first queer experience. I like to think of dating a new person as a new experience. Each person is unique and has lived experiences that are special to them. In this way, we are all inexperienced when dating a new person. Lean into the novelty of your romantic connection and allow yourself to enjoy learning more about yourself and others through the dating process.

Make engaging conversation your priority

Focusing on having a good conversation over physical intimacy is really important to LGBTQIA+ folk. A majority (89%) of LGBTQIA+ Hinge daters say a date is successful if they had good conversation. Show you care about your potential date and that you want to understand them by practicing active listening. Being present and curious with your dates helps build connections. Some common active listening skills include eye contact, open body language, removing distractions, and reflecting on what your date is saying by summarising their statements.

Be upfront and honest about what you want from a relationship

Sometimes, openly communicating what you want from a relationship can feel difficult or awkward — in fact, 57% of LGBTQIA+ Hinge daters say that lack of communication was the biggest obstacle in their dating life in 2022. Remember that successful relationships nurture positive communication habits from the very beginning. Before you head out to meet new people this WorldPride, have a think about the type of relationship you’re looking for, and if you do meet someone, make sure you have an “expectation check” with them before the first date so you’re both on the same page.

Embrace your individuality, and don’t compare yourself to others

Many new to the LGBTQIA+ community say they don’t feel “queer enough”, and worry about how other daters will receive their gender presentation or sexual orientation. Particularly for cisgender and bisexual members of the community, this conversation comes about more frequently. Regardless of identity, reduce comparison as much as possible. There are many identities, presentations, and expressions within the LGBTQIA+ rainbow, and you only have to hold one to be a part of the community. There is no one way to be queer, and those who have more letters associated with their identities are not more or less queer than anyone else.

Relax and have fun!

Remember, you get to enjoy this. You have done the hard work of claiming your authentic identity and sharing it with others. Now, it’s time to enjoy your first WorldPride! It can be a euphoric and rewarding experience to show up authentically in the world and connect with others who can relate to your experience as a queer person.

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