The Answers (for Now) - Riss
When did you start to question your sexual orientation? What in particular made that question arise?
I didn't question it very actively until I was nearly out of college, at around 21-22. I had a lot of inklings well before that, like a few crushes on other girls, or interest in gay pairings for the TV shows or video games I was into. But I grew up in a heavily Christian household and was taught that sexuality was a choice. So whatever feelings or questions I had about my own sexuality, I believed they needed to be suppressed, ignored, smothered, and buried. Those feelings were just sin creeping in when I was weak, and I just needed to throw myself more into church activities and prayer to overcome them. For a while, I believed I had succeeded, and those feelings were simply a thing of the past. I was completely wrong. In college, I started developing really serious feelings on a new friend I'd made who at the time was identifying as the same gender as me, and who I knew was bisexual. At the same time, I was also reconnecting with some other friends who had come out as gay, and it all led me to start questioning what was really so bad about being non-straight, who was it really hurting, and how could God shun someone just for who they loved? That didn't sound like God to me. All these things sort of came together to make questions about myself I'd always had re-surface.
When (if ever) did that question resolve itself?
Once I had admitted to myself that there was a possibility I really wasn't straight, I thought back on all those hints as a kid, all those times I tried to ignore, and I just knew at a gut level that it was true. I knew all the times I'd had feelings for men were genuine, but now I was realizing the times I'd had feelings for women were genuine as well.
How would you describe your sexual orientation as you understand it now?
There really isn't a proper label I've been 100% comfortable with. I feel the most comfortable just calling myself queer, though I've tried bisexual, pansexual, considered just identifying as a lesbian or homoromantic bisexual. I usually still just default to saying I'm bi in mixed company.
How do/did you feel about being questioning? Positive? Negative? Something else entirely?
I spent an agonizing couple of weeks doing a lot of soul-searching when I finally admitted it to myself, trying to reconcile the person I thought I was supposed to be with the person I realized I was becoming. My faith was, and still is, very important to me, and I was terrified that my sexuality was going to make my family, friends, support system, and God reject me. The prospect of coming out was daunting to say the least, and I had to resign myself to the idea that I may lose people I valued from my life. It was a very difficult process.
What is or was the most confusing? When you thought "maybe I'm [x]," what made you feel unsure or second-guess yourself?
Part of it was overcoming the completely ingrained idea that sexuality was a choice, and that I was just choosing to also be attracted to women because of some moral defect in my character. More recently, as I'm trying to figure out how to most comfortably identify, I thought maybe I was just a lesbian, but I have had genuine feelings for men in the past, and still abstractly find them attractive, and it's the same with other genders. So identifying that way completely just didn't feel like it was the whole truth of who I was, just personally. Basically, it can be difficult trying to examine your personal attraction history and current feelings, and trying to find a label that really fits in light of all of that.
Was there a defining moment that clarified things for you, or did you come to a more gradual realization?
As far as questioning whether or not I was straight, I can remember having a clear moment of admission to myself. It didn't feel like a revelation so much as finally admitting something I had known on some level for a long time. It's been a more gradual realization from there in terms of how I specifically identify and what fits me best, and it may be something I still question and work out for myself for a long time to come.
Did you talk to other people about being questioning, or compare notes with other people of an orientation you thought you might be?
I had very few resources when I first came out. I had a couple friends that were non-straight, but as they were not also religious, I felt like there was only so much of my personal struggle they were going to be able to help me with. They were very supportive and encouraging, which I appreciated immensely, it was just difficult to talk to them about every part of what I was going through. Since then, as I've continued to work out my sexuality, I've talked a little with people here and there, and it has helped to bounce thoughts off others, and even just commiserate a little.
What would you say to past-questioning-you if you could send a message back in time?
Don't be afraid. Question. Only you can completely know yourself, and it's okay to take time to find the right fit. It's not going to be an easy road, but it will be a worthwhile one. Whatever people you lose along the way, you'll eventually gain new ones that can support and love you better than anyone before. Your faith is yours, and no one else's, and no one can take it from you no matter what they say. Your relationship with God, however you end up defining it, is your own, and it's not something that can be destroyed just because you understand yourself in a new way--a way that, theoretically, God has always known and understood, if He's the way they say He is. Your journey is valuable, and it will make you better.