The femme-friendly theme continues with the warm-up portion. As the president of Lightning Fast Speed Dating and main master of ceremonies, Ryan Glitch, calls out instructions to the daters, he notes:
If you are carrying a bag or a big papier-mache axe, put any big weird bulky items in the back. Gentlemen, please, I need you to understand something. You are not God's gift to women, women are God's gift to you. Men, if you are here to get laid, leave. Ladies, if you here to get laid, take your pick.
The male speed daters truly didn’t seem like they were just there to get laid, and some of them were even a little sheepish about attending in the first place. Dater No.19, who declined to provide his real name, decided to “take one for the team” as he couldn’t convince any of his other single friends to come. Even at Comic Con, the stigma for participating is high—even though we are at a convention where people run around in superhero costumes, it is still seen as uncool to admit to using a dating service.
Another way that Comic Con speed dating is more accepting of nontraditional relationships is that there are transparently nonmonogamous people participating. Adam W., 33, a handsome black man who came dressed as Elwood Blues from The Blues Brothers, is in a long-distance open relationship. Adam says he’s looking for "a girl who knows how to grab the controller from me." He jokes, "Some guys won't drop the controller for a naked woman. I'll put it on pause." Like Adam, most men were looking for a connection with someone accepting of quirks, both sexual and otherwise: a relationship where you never have to “come out of the closet” about your collection of action figures or predilections toward dress-up.
Over on the ladies' side, the attitudes were very similar. Regina B., 33, bounced up to the table with a gorgeous red patterned dress and a style equal parts Harajuku and punk rock. While she was ambivalent about meeting someone at the event, she said she preferred the face-to-face contact because her experience on online dating sites taught her the Internet maxim that people lie in photos. A frequent con-goer (who is into horror and costume drama as well as Star Wars and anime), Regina explained how the normal dating preferences often disqualified women like her: "I have a hard time with Caucasian men because I'm taller. … Punk rock guys wanna date size zero Gap girls, not me." She expressed interest in "beautiful Korean and Asian boys," but also had a list of requirements, including no one named Jimmy and no one in a band. But, by mid-evening, Regina was happily engaged and chatting with men of all races, her hot pink painted mouth upturned in a shy smile.
Though it’s refreshingly counterculture, speed dating at Comic Con is not a panacea. Dating in general can be exhausting and downright depressing. But there’s something comforting about meeting someone within your subculture, where you already share a beloved interest. As M.C. Ryan points out, “Real speeding sucks. You are stuck in a room with 50 people you have nothing in common with. Guys, this is the place where your action figure collections matters.”