The Answers (for Now) - Riley
When did you start to question your sexual orientation? What in particular made that question arise?
When I was 5, my parents moved to Europe from Africa for a better job. I had to learn a new language and make new friends, and I struggled a lot. (That’s also when I started stress eating). For the next 6-7 years, I was constantly bullied: getting insulted and kicked for being different. It got so bad I tried to take my life multiple times and then ended up in a psychiatric ward for my safety. When I got there, they showed me my roommate and I was completely in awe. She was so beautiful and her smile was stunning. I was unsure what I was feeling or why because at the time, love was supposed to be between a girl and a guy for me. When I was discharged, I explored the world of LGBT+ sites and forums. I had so many questions and there was always someone willing to help.
When (if ever) did that question resolve itself?
While I think I’ve reached a "decision," I’m currently struggling with my gender identity. I have no idea how my sexuality would even fit with my gender. For the time being, I’m taking things slow and not asking too many questions at once.
How would you describe your sexual orientation as you understand it now?
How do/did you feel about being questioning? Positive? Negative? Something else entirely?
It kind of makes me feel a bit disoriented, as if I’m treading on unknown territory. But at the same time, I’m kind of glad I’m trying to discover myself. It’s a mixed feeling of curiosity, uncertainty and a bit of eagerness to find out what’s at the end.
What is or was the most confusing? When you thought "maybe I'm [x]," what made you feel unsure or second-guess yourself?
I was raised without any knowledge of LGBT+ people even existing. “Gay” or “lesbian” was just like an insult to me as a child, with no hidden meaning behind it. When I got feelings for someone my own gender for the first time, I was a bit scared, nobody told me that something like that could even happen. Was it even normal? Was I the only one?
Was there a defining moment that clarified things for you, or did you come to a more gradual realization?
I don’t think there was really a specific moment. I just slowly got used to the idea that I had other likes than normal people. One day I started dating a girl for the first time and it just felt so normal, like nothing different.
Did you talk to other people about being questioning, or compare notes with other people of an orientation you thought you might be?
I did search online to see if it was something other people were feeling and sure enough I found some. They were super helpful and answered questions like “Is this just a phase?” or “Is this disgusting?”
What would you say to past-questioning-you if you could send a message back in time?
Don’t worry too much about what your parents will think. (Spoiler: they accept you and still love you.) Also, don’t panic about being different, or about being "bad." You’ll find plenty of people that will stand by you and love you for you, not hate you because you prefer something else.