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Looking at Love From Both Sides

Looking at Love From Both Sides
Freshman Richard Ponce makes each minute count at gender neutral speed dating.

“You’re not allowed to say no,” Richard Fletcher announced to a group of students in the lobby of Century apartments. “Anyone who comes up to you, you must talk to.”

Fletcher, a senior cinema-television critical studies major and associate director of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Assembly (GLBTA), was kicking off a night of gender-neutral speed dating, the first event of its kind at USC.

Part of the assembly’s “Five Days of Going Both Ways,” a week catering to the bisexual community, the event offered students an alternative to traditional speed dating, in which participants only meet the opposite sex.

“Our assembly is about the diversity of sexuality and gender,” Fletcher said. “We wanted to explore that fluidity.”

Addressing the crowd, Fletcher explained how the speed dating would work. Participants would approach someone new — regardless of gender — every three minutes. At the close of the evening, everyone would write down the names of three people they want to meet again. Hopefuls whose interest was reciprocated would then receive an e-mail from Fletcher containing their matches.

Before the dating began, participants picked up a piece of paper with suggested points of conversation, in case they ran out of things to say. Topics ranged from the casual to the serious, including questions like “Why did you choose your major?” and “Where do you stand politically?”

Riss, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, found the prompts helpful. She joked, “There are some awkward people in this world. The questions on the paper were a good idea!”

However, once the speed dating began, it seemed that no one was at a loss for things to say. Many of the participants already knew each other through the assembly, but there were also plenty of fresh faces added to the mix. While some were eager to meet new romantic interests, others simply wanted to build community and catch up with old friends.

“I thought it would be fun to hang out and talk to people,” said Kim Ho, a freshman majoring in international relations. “I wasn’t really looking to meet a date, but it’s a GLBTA event, so I came to show my support.”

Fletcher considered the large turnout and friendly atmosphere to be important and beneficial to the assembly.

“GLBTA is a very community-centered assembly,” he said. “There were a lot of new people here, people we had never seen before, straight people who usually don’t come to our events. It was pretty successful.”

And if the stars aligned, maybe someone found true love at record speed.

Looking at Love From Both Sides

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