After reading it, and thinking about how difficult it has been for me to describe my orientation to people, I was wondering if anyone else has struggled or met contradictions when try to do so.
So more specifically:
How have you have all answered that question in the past? How did you reach that answer? Has any part of this process been particularly difficult?
Posts: 693 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011
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Okay, I guess I'll get the ball rolling. Sorry if this post is a little long!
Well, I was kinda late in discovering my sexual orientation. I didn't figure out/identify with being bisexual until this year. It kind of took me a while to put 2 and 2 together and I was denying the part of me that was attracted to women.
You know the cliché notion of "falling for your best friend of the 'same' sex"? Yeah, that happened to me in middle school while I was also crushing on guys. Mind you, my friend is straight and now I only view her in a sisterly way, but I guess that was the first time I kinda went "Hmm...". I pretty much brushed it off until later on in my life I started having sexual thoughts, not only about men but about women, too. Again, I brushed it off because I didn't want to deal with figuring out what my sexuality was to me.
Then, this year rolled around and for some reason, something inside of me just went, "Yup, I'm bi." It just felt really right, and it was both really scary and freeing for me to come to that conclusion and to identify with that label. I don't really know if that makes any sense, but yeah. One of my friends, who's also bi, was the first one to know, and then I came out to my parents. I was absolutely terrified of telling them, but I figured I should since they were probably gonna find out at some point. They were really loving and accepting about it, and they only cared that anyone I'm interested in treats me well. They're also worried about any homophobic/biphobic people treating me negatively if/when they find out about my sexual orientation. I also came out to one of my close friends; ironically enough, she was the girl I had a crush on in middle school (but I didn't tell her that part, lol). She, too, was really accepting and said if I ever needed anyone to talk to, she'd be there for me.
I still haven't come out to any of my other friends from high school. I know that my friends will probably be accepting overall, but I guess I'm afraid of how my female friends especially are going to react. I don't want them to be like, "Oh, ok. Wait, but what does this mean for our friendship?!" You know? I also haven't advertised my sexuality on Facebook yet either (under the "interested in men/women" section). For some reason, sometimes I wonder to myself when I crush on girls in particular, "Huh, does this make me gay?" and then I meet some guy who I start crushing on and I'm like, "Oh, guess not." I guess because society tells me subtly that I can only really be attracted to "one" sex, I can't possibly find "either" attractive (if we're thinking binary terms, "any" if we're not). Strangely enough, when I find a guy attractive, I don't wonder if that makes me straight, though. It's quite an odd process that goes on in my brain.
I've noticed that I have had romantic attractions to both/all sexes and the same goes for sexual attraction. I can't say how much I'm attracted to each of them, though. At one point I thought I was more attracted to men, until I met other women who changed my mind about that. I guess it's 50/50? I don't really know, and I don't think it's really a factor in determining my orientation, really. So, I guess I'm still coming to terms with being bi, since I'm not fully comfortable with it yet to be honest. But making friends with people who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community at my college has helped me out a lot.
I like that you mention being part of the LGBTQ+ community, I actually think sometimes that being part of a community, can be the biggest thing.
Right now... I feel like my orientation and identity are just two parts of that i.e. my ever-changing relationships with my friends, my parents, my partners, the people round me etc.
I identify as queer in some spaces, and not at all in others... in some spaces I feel like I'm politically read as straight and white and male and I know that I'm being given some privilege because of that, and I identify with that as a pretty straight experience and it becomes an important thing for me to acknowledge. At other times I can be read as gay and get abuse for it and that becomes a part of me too, even if it might not have been a big part of how I'd identify otherwise.
When I was around 18 I just decided to stop identifying as straight, especially to myself and I found myself more open to more sexual experiences with whoever, or to at least feel able to consider sexual experiences based on whether I actually wanted them or not, rather than whether or not they'd trigger a crisis in identity.
I feel quite happy to have taken that internal pressure off myself.
That's the sexual identity stuff.
With sexual orientation, I'm not sure I'd use one word to describe it, as it would totally overlap with what I said about identity.
But super practically speaking: I think through my experimenting I've found that my relationships are mostly with people who identify as women and queer and and that while I've been into other stuff, trying to be intimate with people identified as male has just been a bit too much for me to handle emotionally: I guess I have my own baggage with that, but it's all still a part of me.
Though really being landed with male privilege and heteronormative expectations feel to me like the biggest things to deal with and neither of them describe how I see myself or my identity or my desire!
Posts: 693 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011
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When I first started to think about my orientation, (age 13) I identified as bisexual, which was the only word I'd ever heard that referred to liking more than one gender group. In high school I discovered the word pansexual, which felt a lot more accurate - bisexual is still a word that fits me in many ways, but I tend to only use it if I'm talking to someone I don't know well and don't plan on getting to know because it's one of the simpler ways to describe my orientation. I like the word pansexual because of its broadness. I don't feel like I'm attracted to multiple specific gender groups so much as I'm just attracted to people - gender isn't a huge factor in my attraction to others, except in the ways that it can create social power imbalances or make folks less likely to understand their own privileges.
Nowadays, I define myself as queer or pansexual. I had a tough time claiming that identity in the past because I was dating a straight cis guy and felt ashamed and frustrated by how his identity masked mine in most social spaces. At this point in my life I think it's best if I only date other queer folks, not because straight people can't be lovely partners but because to support myself properly right now I think I need to be with people who have a personal understanding of the stresses and social discomforts that can result from being queer in a heterosexist world.
I reached my understanding of my orientation mainly through internal musings. My romantic and sexual experiences have further enforced the accuracy of those feelings, but I pretty much had a handle on what my orientation was long before I ever dated or slept with anyone. The first time I had sex with a girl was fantastic, but it didn't magically make me gayer - I was already queer and continue to be so, regardless of the identities and genital configurations of the people I'm intimate with.
Posts: 62 | From: California | Registered: Jun 2012
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