(The images in this article depict real messages I have received online: it includes foul and sexist language – please be warned)
I’m not going to claim that I am one of those fierce, independent women who chose singledom. I respect these women greatly and believe their desires and choices are valid, but that’s certainly not my case. I can’t even claim that I am awaiting “The One” as I have many times settled for less than perfect and yet remain unmarried. The painful truth is that, try as I have to find a partner, I have had my hopes and dreams shattered by circumstances.
I am an unconventional woman seeking a conventional family unit.
The intersectionalities of being a queer-spawned/gay rights activist, a feminist, a Muslim and a hijabi combined with the desire for a heterosexual, monogamous, love marriage, as well as desiring biological children raised in a feminist, Muslim environment, have proven too much for the majority of heterosexual males.
So dating, as fun and exciting as it can be, is a pain to me. I’m not going to find a husband through my parents: while I love them to pieces, their social network – the gay community and the Catholic Church – are not conducive to the type of relationship I am seeking. I’m also not going to find a husband through orthodox Muslim mosques where the sole mention of my gay father makes most imams shudder. Reaching out to my own social network has proven useless – the Progressive Muslim community is seriously lacking straight cis-males in proximity.
My search has, like many, lead me online.
It is not my first foray into online dating; in fact, I have had three 1+year relationships begin online and, eventually, they all failed. Like any repeated experiences, I have learned from each relationships. Most importantly: when dating online, put those deal-breakers at the forefront and don’t settle.
I know what scares men off: my dad’s homosexuality and my visibility as a Muslim woman (hijab). With that said, I have no interest in moving forward with any relationship that might find issues with either of those ingrained traits.
Knowing full well that dating websites usually involve high-volume searches with short attention spans, I created a profile with a few photos and 3 lines:
“I am the daughter/step-daughter of agnostic/atheist gay dad/step-dad and a Catholic straight mom. French Acadian raised in northern New Brunswick, now bilingual (French–English) living in Ottawa. Well-educated, feminist Muslim convert who wears hijab, looking for long-term relationship leading to marriage and children.”
Many men who messaged me seemed not to have read my profile me and were shocked when I asked them if they would be okay in LGBT-affirming Muslim household. Interestingly, many of those who had read my profile did not message me out of interest but rather to spew hateful messages like these ones:
It would be tempting to blame the Muslims community, but not all of the men who reached out with hate-filled comments were Muslims or even Eastern. The reality is that connecting with me via the internet allowed a number of men to remain unaccountable for their actions or comments. If I had been presented to these men through friends, family, work or community; they would never have dared to interact with me in such a vile manner.
I am no longer connecting with anyone online and I am taking a personal break from connecting with anyone at all. I am still single and will remain so as long as it takes to find a dependable, intelligent man – with whom I have chemistry – who wants to eventually get married and raise feminist, LGBT-affirming children. I have discovered that lowering my standards for sub-par men has lead to tragic or, at the very least painful, ends to relationships.
I’m finally ready to wait, whatever that means.