The Answers (for Now) - Sam

real-life questioning stories

When did you start to question your sexual orientation? What in particular made that question arise? 

I didn't actually understand bisexuality and homosexuality until seventh grade, when a friend came out to me as bi. I asked her, "What does that mean?" and she replied, "It means I like boys and girls," and I continued on my merry way. That couldn't apply to me, I thought. I liked cute boys.

Reader, I did not like cute boys; or, well, I did, but it was in the same way I got obsessed with pretty girls. And so, as I got into high school, I tried to tell myself that the crushes I told myself I wasn't having on pretty girls didn't exist; I was asexual. I just wasn't interested in sex at all! Definitely -- definitely not with pretty girls. (Reader, I was extremely interested. This is not to say that ace people are just in denial, mad respect to ace people: but I very much was.)


This is part of a series of personal stories about questioning & coming to understand one's sexual orientation! Check out the other experiences, from: 

AsherBen • Gerbil • Jack • Mo • Riley • Riss • Ruby • Sebastian • Wyn


When (if ever) did that question resolve itself? 

You know, it wasn't a dramatic come-to-gay-Jesus moment. I didn't have any religious baggage to make me feel guilty, which is a thing I'm glad for. We just didn't talk about that kind of thing in my house. My sex ed was: "you have Google, look it up."

So I was washing the dishes one day, my junior year of high school, and went to put a plate away, when it hit me: no, actually, I do love girls. Realizing that, however, wasn't the same as...coming to terms with it, coming to terms with myself as a person with those gay feelings.

How would you describe your sexual orientation as you understand it now? 

When I'm joking, "evil bisexual." When a strange man looks at me in a public place, "lesbian." All other times, just "queer."

How do/did you feel about being questioning? Positive? Negative? Something else entirely? 

I'm downplaying it a lot, here, but you know when you're in a lot of pain and you expect to be in pain all the time? This is just normal for you? And then it clears up, and you don't know what to do with yourself? That's what questioning was like, for me. The hard part was after the revelation, because, great, now I have to deal with what being a gay means in this world of ours! Now I gotta be responsible for this gay water bottle.

What is or was the most confusing? When you thought "maybe I'm [x]," what made you feel unsure or second-guess yourself? 

When the realization happened, it happened. I went back and forth between "bisexual" and "pansexual" a few times before ditchen them and settling on "queer," but those are just questions I had to deal with about connoation, not about what I was.

Was there a defining moment that clarified things for you, or did you come to a more gradual realization? 

It was very gradual. I spent the years before my not-dramatic realization consuming every bit of gay media I could get my gay little hands on. This was the early 00's. I had some limited options -- yuri manga scanlations! Two David Levithan novels! Jeanette Winterson -- but not like confused gay babies do these days. In retrospect, I used media to slowly give myself premission to feel these things.

Did you talk to other people about being questioning, or compare notes with other people of an orientation you thought you might be? 

Not at all! I would rather have swallowed a fistful of salt than talk about my gay feelings as a teenager. There was one (1) out lesbian when I was in high school, but she was a senior and graduated when I was a freshman. She took one look at me and said she knew I was gay. I tried to laugh it off.

What would you say to past-questioning-you if you could send a message back in time? 

"Hey, kid! Kid. If you're having a little panic attack on the bus home from school because your leg is touching your pretty friend Luyen's leg, you might be gay. It's fine. You're going to have to come to terms with that on your own, I can't have this character arc for you, but it's going to be fine. You may think you're terrible now (and just between us gargoyles: you are), but eventually, pretty girls will like you back! You're going to make a lot of mistakes, but it's going to turn out okay for you. I believe in you. Also, part your hair to the side, not down the middle."