Podcast host James O’Hagan opens up about queer dating and the pitfalls surrounding LGBT+ dating apps ahead of his appearance on tonight’s episode of RTÉ 2’s First Dates.
Alongside the wonderful co-host Stephen Hacket, O’Hagan produces the ‘Big Gay Bucket List’, where “two Irish bears chat about the things that make them tick with modern gay life.” His hilarious style is always a fun listen as he seamlessly navigates a variety of topics ranging from heartbreaks, life-defining moments, and what’s happening with gay subcultures. The open and humourous approach to sharing personal stories which James O’Hagan shows in the podcast is set to translate nicely into a great episode of First Dates.
— big gay bucketlist (@BucketlistBig) January 9, 2019
Since September 2019, O’Hagan has been sipping T with guests about all things Drag Race-related in his new podcast ‘Sissy that Pod’. Radio host and writer, Conor Behan, brought his immense pop knowledge to the show in a very fun episode. GCN’s Katie Donohoe, and Stefano Pappalardo, have also guest-starred to share their thoughts on the Drag Race competition.
During tonight’s episode of RTÉ 2’s First Dates, James O’Hagan will be taking his place at the dining table. With his amazing comedic talent and genuine approach, this is promising to be a great episode. Before then, he catches us up on his thoughts about queer dating, his excitement for taking part in this show, and what he thinks about LGBT+ dating apps.
What was it like appearing on First Dates?
I hadn’t really thought about the reality of it actually being on television at any stage during the application process, or during the date itself. It has all been just a little surreal – especially since the ads started appearing and I’ve gotten messages from aunts, old school friends and work colleagues… and even the odd message on Grindr!
But I actually loved it, it was just such a fun experience everyone I interacted with was so sincere and excited to be part of the show. You can tell that there is an enormous amount of effort put into finding you someone right.
I could not recommend it highly enough to people, in fact, I have been hounding several of my single friends to get their application in for next season!
What message do you hope people take away from your appearance on the show?
I think that one of the nicest things about First Dates as a show is that regardless of the specifics of a date it highlights how much people have in common, and how we are all really just looking for the same thing.
When it comes to dating, people are often encouraged to play their cards close to their chest and told that vulnerability or honesty about who you are and what you are looking for is a sign of weakness – when in reality it’s the exact opposite of that.
As for what people might take away from my appearance, my date and I had a very broad conversation in the restaurant, and I can’t be sure what areas the show will focus on – but I hope people just see two people being honest with each other.
Also, of course… I hope they take away that I’m really funny and they should subscribe to my podcast!
— COCO Content (@COCOcontentie) February 20, 2020
How have you found the LGBT+ dating scene in Dublin?
I enjoy going on dates – I love meeting new people and finding a connection with them. In my experience, the vast majority of dates I’ve been on, even where there was no romantic spark, have been fun and entertaining. To be completely honest even the really bad dates give you a fun new story to tell.
However, getting to the point where you are actually going on a date can be frustrating. There can be a whole obstacle course of issues between matching on an app, or meeting in a bar and actually making it to a date.
Do you think you can find love on apps like Grindr and Scruff?
I’m a hopeless romantic and I allow every Scruff woof or Grindr tap the opportunity to be something special even though in my experience you’re more likely to end up with a course of antibiotics from GMHS than a second date. I know couples who met on Scruff and Grindr and are in very happy relationships now -but I think that they are definitely the exception and not the rule.
I feel like the more hook-up focused apps create an idea of endless options and opportunity that can make interactions feel disposable. You’re invested in them while the timing is right, but the second something distracts you, by and large, the moment passes.
I also think that the apps are so mixed up with casual sex that it can be hard to know what you are looking for on them, and even when you think you’ve figured it out can change on a whim – you can be sitting at home of an evening thinking about how all you want in the world is a boyfriend to tell you you’re special and then ‘Muscle Stud 89’ unlocks his private photos and you’re suddenly not so concerned with how special your fictional boyfriend thinks you are.
What’s the most important thing to you in a partner?
Each new relationship you have teaches you something about what you are or aren’t looking for in a partner, and when I look at all of the boys I have dated before they are very different physically and personality-wise but what links them all is that they were extremely confident in who they were. I think that that is a very attractive quality in any person, and particularly in the gay community where the freedom to be yourself isn’t necessarily automatic.
More generically I think that optimism, a sense of humour and a willingness to see the good in things are really the most important qualities to find in a person.
Are you excited about seeing yourself on the show?
I mostly am, I am a little apprehensive because the show has such a huge audience and people on Twitter can be mean – but, I’ve become used to sharing quite a lot of myself since starting my podcast so I’m used to people having opinions on what I do! But I’ll be watching it with a big group of friends and people who I know love me so I’m ready to just enjoy the night.
Similar to James O’Hagan own experience, RTE 2’s First Dates has been a great chance for LGBT+ people to meet each other and share their stories. If anyone would like to take part in the show, applications are now open for the next season. As stated on the COCO Content web page, “The tables are set, the champagne is on ice, and the doors are ready to open up to welcome in a whole new set of singletons looking for love. Fill in an application form below for the chance to find love in the First Dates restaurant!”
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