Companionship is something we all look for. We find it in romantic and sexual partners, sure, but most importantly, we find it in friends. We often fall into friendships with people we see at school or work. But in adult life, opportunities to meet new people, especially new queer people, can be few and far between. So how do we best arm ourselves to make friends, and where do we look for them when we want to make new connections? We asked the team at ACON and those in our network for their friend-finding tips and tricks, and we’ve put it all together in the guide below.
Tips for finding queer friends
In this article, when it comes to taking on tips and advice, please approach it with an open mind! To meet new people, we’ll often have to go outside of our comfort zone. At the same time, if taking some of this advice makes you feel unsafe, listen to your instincts. Not all tips will suit everyone’s circumstances.
Be yourself at work or play
Being your authentic self in your workplace or a social setting can often lead to new connections. When you’re able to share things about your life, including what gay/bi/queer/trans activities you’ve been up to lately, it can often lead to people also sharing their authentic selves with you.
That could be queer TV shows, a woodworking project, dance parties, or even a trip to see Sydney’s gay penguins (👋 Sphen and Magic)! You name it. The more you share about yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have to connect with someone about an interest they might share.
Not every workplace or social situation will feel comfortable, especially if you’re coming out to a new crowd, so you’ll need to pick your battles. The good news is that the clues as to who might be LGBTQ+ or an ally are in the mundane. Ask if they’ve seen the latest season of Drag Race, bring up a queer celebrity or drop the name of a gay club you visited over the weekend and see how they respond.
What happens if you aren’t yet doing a lot of these activities? No problem: we may have your answers below.
Go to queer events
This may seem like a no-brainer, but one of the best ways to meet new queer people is to attend queer events.
A lot of the time, this will mean heading to a gay bar or queer dance event. And while this won’t be everyone’s scene immediately, sometimes you might be surprised about where you’ll find friends.
Waiting in line to enter a club or a toilet might be the perfect opportunity to compliment a stranger’s outfit. You might like to ask about their plans for the night and see if you can join their party. If you tell people that you are there alone, you’ll often quickly be adopted into the group. You may even be lucky enough to exchange Instagrams before heading home for the night.
If that sounds too intimidating, you might want to take a buddy (who doesn’t have to be queer) that can keep you company while helping introduce you to new people. If that’s still not your speed, consider heading to Drag Queen bingo at a pub.
During pride seasons in Australia (in Sydney, it would be Mardi Gras), there is a large offering of non-clubbing related queer events. This could be book readings, theatre productions, queer swim meets, or Fair Day, to name a few. Keep an eye out for the pride festival guides, as they’ll list all the major events on their websites or share about them on social media.
Finally, think about queer adjacent events; ask yourself the question, what are things that queer people like? Could it be a Rocky Horror screening at a cinema, a Taylor Swift concert or even something as fab as an annual large-scale outdoors group performance of Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush? (BYO red dress)
Find a shared interest or skill
Another excellent option for finding new friends is developing a new skill or joining an interest/hobby group. The next step is to dig deep and ask yourself, what do I like to do?
Could it be a cooking class, sewing lessons or a writing group? Dance classes are a classic way to meet people. They also tend to enforce proximity. So you’ll be able to ~leap~ over the icebreaker stage and get to know each other quickly. Even better is a queer dance class!
Some regions have gay camping groups, who might book out public campgrounds and spend the weekend together. Perhaps there is a monthly book club you’d like to attend or a gaming group looking for a new member.
Online message boards like Meetup or Facebook groups can be a great way to find advertised openings in games and other interest groups. Sometimes you’ll be able to find groups listed as ‘queer friendly’, which is also a great signal for finding new queer people!
Get physical with sports or group fitness
Sports and group fitness, just like Dance, have the added benefit of getting people together and quickly sharing experiences.
Many lifelong friendships have been found on the field, and there seem to be heaps of queer sporting societies, teams or other fitness groups out there.
Pride In Sport has created an incredible LGBTQ sports club directory where you can look up queer sporting clubs around Australia! Many of these clubs will host a mix of competition, training and purely social events throughout the year – so reach out, and usually, they’ll be able to get you involved pretty quickly.
Events like the Mardi Gras Fair Day can be an excellent opportunity to go and see what sporting clubs are around, with each group having a stall looking for new bright-eyed members (that could be you!).
Find an LGBTQ+ group or volunteer for a cause
Sometimes, the best way to find LGBTQ+ people is at an organisation or group specifically intended to bring them together for support or connection.
Young LGBTQ+ people can check out organisations like Twenty10 and YCollab, which offer drop-in social spaces for young people. For people over 18, ACON also hosts a series of sexual health-based or LGBTQ+ workshops throughout the year, and joining one of these could be the perfect opportunity to expand your understanding of the community while meeting other queer folk!
For LGBTQ+ people from multicultural or migrant backgrounds who are looking to connect with other people who share and understand their lived experiences, they can check out Rainbow Cultures, which is a directory of LGBTQIA+ multicultural community groups and services in NSW.
Otherwise, you might like to spend your time volunteering for one of these organisations or at large queer festival events like Queer Screen (an LGBTQ+ film festival organisation) or the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
ACON also frequently have volunteering opportunities, many of which involve working with other queer people to support community events, raise awareness about LGBTQ+ health and even fundraise to help fight HIV. Find out more about different volunteering opportunities at ACON here.
Find your tribe online
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, and Twitter all bring very different experiences with many different subcultures, so if you’re in a larger pond like these, seek out a community or interest that appeals to you. It could be Drag Race meme-posting group, an Instagram Britney stan account, a monthly tarot reading group, or a gay life advice subreddit. Online gaymers often congregate in spaces like Twitch stream chats and Discord channels, sometimes offering chances to play games together!
Be intentional about the time you spend on the site and gravitate to places that uplift you. If you find yourself constantly swiping through reams of content, take a break and go for a stroll outside. Stay positive; sooner or later, you’ll find a niche and, hopefully, a community that shares those interests.
Finally, online spaces are available to people indiscriminately, so everyone you meet in these spaces might not have your best interests at heart. Because of this, it’s important to be careful with what information you share with strangers on the internet and learn how best to protect yourself with advice from the e-safety commission.
Be open-minded when on the dating apps
Whether it’s a fling, a long-winded romance, or a weekend fuckbuddy, within queer communities, the lines often blur when it comes to sexual, romantic and platonic desires. You can be forgiven for thinking a person is just looking for one of these things, especially on dating or hook-up apps, as the intent is usually baked in when you download it.
Often, we’re also expected to be upfront with it in our profiles to help grease the wheels and find out if you are compatible, e.g.:
🔝 looking for casual, no strings attached.
Setting expectations is a great way to enter these environments. But being a human can often be messier. Sometimes you might get dinner after a hookup, and THEN you learn you are both MarioKart pros, and several matches later, you have a new gaming buddy. The hook-ups may fade, but MarioKart is for life.
Likewise, short or long-lived romantic relationships may come to a conclusion. Still, with some time and distance, it is possible to return to the platonic parts of your relationship. Maybe it’s a weekend walk to get a coffee and chat. Who knows. For some people, the feelings of past relationships are too difficult to untangle, and that’s understandable. But try to be open to expanding your friendship circle via the people you know.
We hope this article has led to some insights about how you might go about finding some new queer friends!