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“You look so light skin on your profile picture”

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

“Oh my god. You look so light skin on your profile picture. Which filter do you use? It’s kinda cute though.”

I don’t know how to respond when these words came out of Brendon’s mouth. This is my first ever “going on a date” experience in the United States of America. I don’t even know how to react. My response might offend or hurt him since I am from a different country and culture.

After I was free from my 6-year long relationship, I decided to start a new life. However, I had several more reasons to move to a different country. I used to work as a television journalist back in my country. Some of my stories threatened the existence of some Islamist political parties and I ended up being threatened to death by them. Do you realize how it feels like to be dead every single day or to die every single moment? However, I had another vital reason to leave the country which is “I am gay”. The country I belong to is an Islam practicing country and according to Islamic scholars being gay is Haram and not merciful. Homosexuality is legally prohibited. Some gay people tried to secure their rights once, but they were stabbed to death. Since I have been a free spirit all my life, I wanted to live my fullest. So, I decided to move out of my country. My ex-boyfriend helped me a lot in this regard. He was supportive. I know, it didn’t work out between us. He lost his interest in me after six years of relationship, but he was a very wonderful person. I still remember his last words to me the day we broke up, “The more we grow older, our preferences change. But the love and respect for a person never change.” It took a long time for me to understand. But I did finally. However, I am such an emotional fool whose preference never changes with his age. I am still connected with my ex-boyfriend. We are really good friends now.

After landing down here in the US, the very first thing I did, was I installed the dating app Tinder. I kept right-swiping thousands of people, but no one ever swiped me back. No, that’s not true actually. Some people did. The majority of them never replied to my Hello back. Some who did ghost me ten minutes later. I don’t know why. Because they are the person who said, “Oh you are adorable and nice. I am looking forward to hearing from you more, to know you more”. But they never did. I assumed they were too busy with their American lives, to live their American dreams. Some people I matched with, directly offered me sex after some basic introductory conversation. But whenever they came up to know that I am not up for sex, I am up for something serious, something meaningful; some unmatched me immediately or some said, “best of luck with what you are looking for”.

After my first week on Tinder, I matched with Brendon. A 31-year New Yorker, who used to work as a musician. I found some connection with him. We both like music, traveling, movies, and most importantly photography. I must say, he has wonderful eyes for photography. We kept texting, chatting, and talking for a week. Then, after a week of knowing each other, we finally decided to meet.

- So, you want me to go out for a dinner with you?

“It’s a dinner date”, replied Brendon.

- What is the dinner date? I know I sounded like a fool, but this dating thing was so new for me.

“When two people decide to move further, they fix a date, go out for dinner or movies. They try to know each other on that date.” Brendon replied.

Yes, we went on a date. We visited a fancy restaurant on the upper east side of Manhattan. He reached there five minutes earlier than me. When I stepped inside the restaurant, he called me by my name. But he seemed quite surprised. When I said, “Hey Brendon”, he replied, “Hey you. What’s up. I am sorry I was not sure at first that it was you”.

I asked him the reason for not recognizing me at first though we used to have video chat all the time. He replied, “Oh my god. You look so light skin on your profile picture. Which filter do you use? It’s kinda cute though.”

I had no idea what he meant or how to respond to his question. I felt weird. I took a pause and replied, “I don’t use any filter man. Mostly it’s the digital camera and the position of the light. You are a photographer, and you know this. Right?” He just nodded his head. “And this American weather is not suiting me, to be honest. It started burning my skin the moment I landed”, I added more. But something was itching me inside that I couldn’t figure out.

We had our dinner together. He insisted to pay the half bill but I didn’t let him do. We were together for more than an hour, but he acted very strangely. He wasn’t the caring, super nice guy who used to text me every single minute. When we used to text or video chat, he said, “Can I give you a hug when I see you, because you are so adorable and cute.” But he didn’t even put that hug promise on the table the entire time, even when he left. I texted him when I got back home. But he replied 4 hours later saying he was busy with his dog. Brendon was a completely different person the next day. Stopped texting me at a certain. But I kept texting, is there any problem. But no reply. After 4 days I stopped texting him too and that feeling left me in the position to think that what exactly happened to him? Why didn’t he want to communicate? Didn’t he like me? Where were all those promises that we would go to movies together, we would visit this, would do that? The one question that was hitting me from inside, is that my Brown color that he didn’t like? Is there any problem with my color?

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