Many of us gorgeous Essence women have a once taboo, dirty little secret. A secret that is thankfully no longer a secret. We grew up as the weirdoes, the outsiders, the nerds and geeks (two totally different things) and now we stand proud and tall. That’s right, people! The blerds (black nerds) are in the house. Just like everybody else, we eat, sleep, date and fall in love… Well, almost just like everybody else.

Blerds have their own issues when it comes to love, sex, dating and relationships. We have the stories and the battle wounds to prove it!

Enter #BlerdDating, a weekly web extravaganza created by Leesa Dean. Leesa is also known as the founder of the acclaimed animated web series, “Chilltown TV.”  Now she has partnered with entertainment industry veteran and Title VII filmmaker Nicole Franklin for this new kind of storytelling. They’ve assembled an incredible team, on which I proudly serve as the #BlerdDating resident Lifestyle Guru.

Let’s get the scoop on the perils of #BlerdDating, Twitter party style.

Since your #BlerdDating show lives primarily on Twitter, answer the following questions in 140 characters each. What is #BlerdDating?
Leesa: #BlerdDating is the first Twitter stories/chat mash-up party. Because the Twitter stories can be very personal, we call them “confessions.” It’s a party because, well, it’s a lot of fun! It happens every Monday at 9PM EST.

Nicole: #BlerdDating is a space to connect, commiserate, and hopefully one day celebrate the dating experiences of Black Nerds everywhere.

What is a blerd, exactly?

Leesa: Nerd culture with an urban POV. Originally it just meant black nerds. Now it’s open to include women, LGBTQ & all people of color.

Nicole: A Blerd is the anti-cool individual whose nerdy anti-hero characteristics makes her the hero/heroine of her own stories.

So, are the Steve Urkel days gone? Are we blerds finally cool?

Leesa: Yes! Our time has come!

Nicole: Blerds are finally cool. We obsess about discovery, then we trend. Plus, not all antiheroes can wear the stockings and still rock the sexy.

Besides President Barack Obama, of course, who are your favorite famous blerds?

Leesa: Donald Glover, Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes and Michelle Obama.

Nicole: Jamie Broadnax, Donald Glover, Key & Peele, and a number of special guests on our #BlerdDating show. Stay tuned.

Do tell. What well-known blerds will be joining the fun?

Leesa: Guests include Rain Pryor, Karyn Parsons, comedian Rodney Perry and Black Girl Nerds founder Jamie Broadnax.

Nicole: And we have a very special Valentine’s Day episode coming up February 13th featuring Anthony Hamilton. Yes, we are swooning!

How is blerd dating different from any other dating?

Leesa: To me, it’s more of a mind-meld kind of thing. We just have more to talk about. Always a good thing.

Nicole: As literary, cinema, comics and sci-fi fans, Blerds hold #RelationshipGoals close to our hearts. We’re mega-serious about happy endings.

Now, I  must confess to being a sapiosexual, meaning that I am attracted to intelligence. If we can write, read or watch documentaries together, I am in heaven. Should blerds date other blerds?

Leesa: Absolutely! I [heart emoji] Blerd guys.

Nicole: Absolutely Blerds should date other Blerds. Speaking for myself, Blerd guys are preferred: Committed, intelligent and into wicked cool ish.

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. What’s your most embarrassing blerd dating experience?

Leesa: My date arrived in an Uber with champagne on New Year’s Eve for long romantic ride. But the bubbly made me nauseous and I hurled in the cab. Not a good look.

Nicole: My most embarrassing dating moment happened with my clothes on, I’m happy to say. And it’s any time I fall flat on my face. It’s hilarious.

Been there. So what is your best piece of dating advice?

Leesa: “I’m looking for someone to accept me as I am” is probably a codeword for “I’m a convicted felon.” (Don’t ask how I know!)

Nicole: I have to say when I chose–and you have to choose–to live life with no expectations it freed me in life, love and career.

Yes! Agreed. Ok, spill the beans. What’s your idea of the perfect blerd date?

Leesa: Going to see an outdoor concert by Kamasi Washington, drinking prosecco and talking about graphic novels. I’m an 8 Ball and Kyle Baker fanatic!

Nicole: Happy that I’ve had the perfect Blerd date but I’d love to do it again: An afternoon writing and researching at the library, dinner then IMAX.

Leesa: When two blerds find kismet plus get to argue the merits of “Rogue One” AND “AtlantaFX.”

What advantages do blerds have when it comes to dating?

Leesa: Since we have so much in common, it’s easier to become best friends, which is always important.
Nicole: Blerds who date already surround themselves in their favorite storyworld–fantasy, tech, literary, the works! The date is just the icing.

So, what are the biggest blerd dating disadvantages?

Leesa: Many of us are naturally introverted so it can be hard to meet people.

Nicole: Blerds who date are at a disadvantage because we are politically conscious. Injustice toward anyone disrupts our happiness. #Vote or #Bye.

Yes! This was so much fun. Who’s who in the brilliant #BlerdDating crew – with Twitter handles so that Essence readers can play along?
Leesa: There’s me, Leesa Dean (@chilltowntv), Nicole Franklin (@nicoleedits), Abiola Abrams (@abiolatv), Ramon Javier Benitez (@TheRayvolution), Hollie Harper (@hollieharper5) and Lisa Durden (@LisaRDurden) are our regular hosts. Our alt hosts include Patrick Riley (@patarack), Shameika Rhymes (@mofochronicles), Debi Fraser (@simplydivaland) and Candice Frederick (@reeltalker).

What can folks expect? Break down the first 4 episodes… and why they’re called episodes…
Leesa: They’re called episodes because most weeks we also interview guests so between that and the weekly Twitter story, it has a podcast/radio type of feel. A podcast that people can interact with live!

The topics of the first four episodes are: The Elephant in the Room, Dating Somebody Who’s Married, My Date Ghosted (I Was Stood-Up) and New Year’s Eve Dating Resolutions I’ve Already Broken.

Awesome! How can people participate in the show and #BlerdDating experience?
Leesa: The easiest way is to type #BlerdDating into the search bar on your Twitter page. And make sure you include the hashtag #BlerdDating in every tweet. For more info, see the FAQ on our site: