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Heather Corinna replies:
I'm 17yrs old, not sexually active, never had a boyfriend (and I'm more than fine with it). Ever since my friend came out as bisexual, I've had this horrible feeling that I might be too. I've thought sexually about women for a few years now, and occasionally look at female porn. I just assumed this was normal, straight-girl activity, even though I don't think about guys as, um, graphically. Since my friend came out I've found myself attracted to certain women, not just sexually but romantically, as well as guys.
I just DON'T WANT to be lesbian or bi. I have no problems with them, but I don't want it to be part of my life. I'm terrified I'll have to acknowledge it - my family's loving but straight-laced and wouldn't accept it, for one thing, and it's just not the way I planned my life to run. I don't know how to explain it without sounding bigoted, but I don't want to deviate from the social "norm". I don't know what to do. Is there any way of...checking, some how? Is the Kinsey Scale accurate? Am I just imagining it since my friend came out?
Please tell me what to think, because I don't know what to do. Thanks in advance. I'm so glad for this website.
For most people, whether we're talking about sexual orientation or something else, trying to live a life as anything but yourself is more painful than living a life working to come to peace with something about yourself that you or others are uncomfortable with.
Really, if you read the stories of older bisexuals and homosexuals who tried to live their whole lives in the closet, they'll break your heart seven ways to Sunday. I've heard a ton of them, on the page and firsthand, and even after over two decades of being exposed to them, I still can hardly bear most of them.
Let's assume for a moment that you ARE bisexual, even though that may or may not be the case.
You still get to choose who you partner with. You still get to opt into heteronormativity if that turns out to be what you really want. You still get to decide how little or how much your bisexuality -- and your sexuality period -- plays a part in your life and your identity. You still get to choose who you share information about your sexuality, your attractions and your sexual relationship with. You still get to have whatever sort of life you've planned (with the understanding that on so many levels, the plans we have for our lives in our youth often differ from how our lives play out realistically).
Most importantly, you still get to be exactly who you are, no matter who that is, or to whom that person is attracted.
Understand that you're hardly alone in these feelings: there are a pretty rare few of us who are gay, lesbian or bisexual who haven't strongly wished we weren't at one point or another, mostly -- and often ONLY -- just because the world we live in can still be so discriminatory and unfriendly towards us, and being anything but heterosexual -- in a similar way to being anything but white -- can sometimes be something that makes our lives more difficult than it might be otherwise. But ultimately, as most folks will tell you who felt that way and tried to be something they weren't instead, trying to be a person you aren't makes things far more painful and difficult.
Regardless, whether you are bisexual, lesbian or not, this isn't something you need to get panicked about or really worried about right now. Sexual orientation -- even for straight folks -- is something that tends to reveal itself over time, and no one is required to be any level of out while they figure it out. There's no reason to figure out how it fits into the plans of your life, or to put off those plans, right now: after all, the plans you make for your life should be more about you than your relationships, especially if you're not actually in one. Relationships should fit the whole of your life, not the other way round.
Certainly, plenty of women who are and/or identify as heterosexual and who look at pornography look at a myriad of types of it: while our fantasies sometimes have something to do with our realities, they just as often do not. But to be frank, if you've had a few years of thinking about women both sexually and romantically, and those feelings are stronger and more persistent than they are for men, it's not very likely that you're solidly heterosexual. Mind, more people are bisexual -- whether they choose to partner same-sex or not -- than those who are heterosexual and homosexual, even though more people identify as heterosexual and choose to live their lives only dating opposite-sex. And since you've had those feelings for a couple of years, it seems unlikely your friend coming out somehow made you suggestible to this.
But you have plenty of time to figure all of this out: as much as you want or need. What I'd suggest is that you give yourself that time, and in the meantime, no matter WHAT you turn out to be, you perhaps spend some time looking at why you have the biases you've got, and who they're really about. In other words, your family having any level of homophobia isn't about you -- save that theirs likely rubbed off on you, too -- it's about them. Any sort of avenue for your life that might only seem to have room for you as a member of a heterosexual couple is about cultural biases: not about you. Because those things are unjust and discriminatory doesn't mean there's anything wrong with being lesbian or bisexual: rather, it means there's something wrong with the way some aspects of culture and some people view sexuality and orientation and romance. And while things certainly still aren't just ducky for non-heteros, even just over the last thirty years, things have improved pretty drastically. For all we know, in ten or twenty more, we may see the same velocity of improvement.
Once more with feeling: no matter what, it's really a lot more scary and limiting to think about a life where you'd try and live in denial of an aspect of yourself on purpose, or try and be someone you're not, especially with something you really have no control over. I mean, often I sure don't want to be short, nor am I that thrilled to see the effects of gravity on my backside, and sure, once or twice in my life I've wished my sexual orientation was different than it was, but as Popeye always said, I yam what I yam, and that's about all there is to it. It'd be a pretty big waste of my energy and time to try to pretend things about me that just are or are not, and doing that would make me a lot less happy than just accepting even the things I don't like or wish were different.
So, for now, why not just invest your energy on getting to know who you are and accepting yourself? As you go through that process you can figure out how to manage and deal with what you discover, but there's little sense in putting the horse before the cart or freaking out about what you could be and how people will react until you just relax and find out for yourself what you really want and who you are. :)
I've included a couple of links for you that I think may be of help, as well as a link to information on my book, which I think could be a real boon to you: