Where are the queer women on Penn's campus who want to get cuffed? Actually—where are they? Did they get caught in traffic on the way here? Maybe they're lost. We should probably put up a lighthouse or something. I'm sick of emotionless hookups and really just want to care about someone. I have a big heart, but nowhere to direct it because I also have a horrible gaydar and don't want to come on too strong to anyone. –Female, 2020, bisexual
Note from the submitter: I'm a relatively femme bisexual who's not really fiending on men lately. I really want to be in a relationship with a woman.
We’re happy you asked this question, because we have been wondering it too. I’ve consulted some queer women–identifying buddies, to help inform the insights below. Though it's not as simple as the whole population having gotten lost driving, we appreciate the potential meme reference, and we'll still try to give you our best road map for the situation.
First, let's analyze the main issue: Penn can feel like a desert for queer women*—not in that there are no queer women, but in that Penn lacks the proper social organizations to foster a fun and accessible environment. Though Penn does have groups like QSA and the Carriage Senior Society, which are both centralized and established Queer spaces, they don't quite fit the bill. My friends have heard many of their queer friends complain that QSA doesn’t offer consistent and fun social events, and John, a former member of Carriage, believes that it doesn’t make sense for people to rely on an exclusive senior–only society as a means of community building—it means the community itself is inaccessible to 75% of the interested population. Unfortunately a lot of these groups are overly preprofessional, too, and reportedly can feel overrun by gay men. Plus, that’s only two groups, which is simply not enough to account for the sheer amount of interested people, with countless different attitudes and identities. All of this is to say: we see you, we hear you, it’s tough.
Our first suggestion is to take to dating apps—it’ll open your options up in multiple ways. First, there’s a plethora of young people in the area: Drexel, Temple, UArts, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr students totally surround us. Apps will not only cast a wider net city–wide, but will also illuminate just how many queer women actually are at Penn. This can also help eliminate some of the anxiety you have around misidentifying women you’re interested in—you’ve both swiped right.
Though the tech industry has yet to be disrupted by a great queer woman app (“Her” sucks), we’ve found that Tinder, even more so than Bumble, has been the best app for meeting people (we know, we're shocked, too). While swiping and having clever comebacks and openers can be exhausting, finding people does take time and effort, so be ready. If you allot a certain amount of time to it per day, you are bound to find someone with common goals. If you need that extra push to actually meet up with new people after the initial messaging, we can help you with that.
Second, we know you’re afraid of coming on too strong, and situations like parties can be aggressive environments, but if you’re mindful and respectful about how you approach people, then you will be good. Sometimes all it takes is some self–awareness and confidence to attract others who can sense that you two want the same thing. Oftentimes, when you are simply being your most honest and comfortable self, the things you want most can come more easily. Though this isn't a foolproof method for getting a girlfriend, we encourage this lifestyle regardless of relationship status.
Finally, we want to clarify that you should not compromise on who you settle down with. Just because the pool might seem small, it doesn’t mean you should be with the first person who wants to be with you. If you do that, then you might grow to resent them or end up hurting them, or sometimes even both. Being in a relationship for the sake of being in one usually bites people in the ass. Don’t be afraid to seek out something more than a hookup. Be confident with your intentions when you like somebody, ask people to hang out, get their numbers, and be yourself—but don't sell yourself short just to quell loneliness.
We feel you on having a big heart. It is okay to be a softy who craves genuine companionship, and more people than you could possibly know feel this way, too. You're just brave enough and smart enough to admit it. Though we didn't start nor finish this article with one definitive answer, we hope it helped. We personally think a queer women's Banana Leaf BYO would absolutely be rad.
Best of luck,
Hannah (John was busy at a Charlie XCX afterparty)
Got a sexy q? Ask away!