The Answers (for Now) - Ruby
When did you start to question your sexual orientation? What in particular made that question arise?
I remember being in middle school and my friends were talking about someone who might have been a lesbian (gasp). They whispered the word like the person would hear us and come running and I remember wanting to get closer to them, ask them how they felt and what it was like and see if I related with them. I remember playing a game with my friends that was inspired by Gilmore Girls -- we would sit in a cafe, and ask each other if we would sleep with whoever walked by the window. Most of my friends would automatically pass on the femme people, and I did at first, but then I started wondering if that was because I truly wasn't attracted to them, or if I didn't want to be questioned by my friends. I started seriously recognizing my attraction to femme people around high school.
When (if ever) did that question resolve itself?
I knew I was queer, but never wanted to "come out" or define myself as bisexual. I wasn't scared to, I just felt it was unnecessary. Into high school, more and more of my close friends started to come out as bi or pan, and I never did, but it was an unspoken truth that I was queer too, and eventually I started to define myself by that label. I grew up in a very safe and privileged area, so I was never fearful of my safety and I was never bullied. By the time I was a junior, I had developed some serious crushes on femme people, and that was that; people knew I was queer. I don't really feel like I questioned it, but more grew into it.
How would you describe your sexual orientation as you understand it now?
I'm queer! I have been and can be attracted to a wide variety of people based on physicality and personality.
How do/did you feel about being questioning? Positive? Negative? Something else entirely?
I've felt neutral/positive about it. I had a brief period of confusion/anxiety that was calmed when my other close friends started to come out as some form of queer as well. But really, I knew nothing was wrong with me, and that I was free to feel any form of attraction, which I largely attribute to the area I grew up in and my family's liberal views.
What is or was the most confusing? When you thought "maybe I'm [x]," what made you feel unsure or second-guess yourself?
Mostly, I questioned my authenticity as a queer person because I had only ever felt attraction to masculine people before middle school or so. I didn't want to impose on or take advantage of the queer community, or take up space that didn't belong to me. I questioned if I just wanted attention, as several girls who came out as bi had been accused of. I guess in a way I did want attention and validation, but it was because of my authenticity as a queer person, not my lack of it. Sometimes i still wonder if I'm just doing all this for attention, which I think is a deep-seated insecurity of mine although I know my sexuality is valid and real and my attractions to femme people have been genuine.
Was there a defining moment that clarified things for you, or did you come to a more gradual realization?
I came to a more gradual realization over time. I have never come out as anything, but kind of assumed that people would be okay with it, or if they're not, that I just wouldn't want to interact with them anyway. Again, liberal upbringing! I feel lucky to have never feared for my safety.
Did you talk to other people about being questioning, or compare notes with other people of an orientation you thought you might be?
I talked with my close friends who came out as bi and pan, and told them how I felt about not wanting to come out as anything definitively. They kind of pushed me to define myself but I didn't worry too much about it. With my first real serious femme crush, we talked about having feelings for girls ALL the time, kind of as a way of connecting/flirting/exploring our relationship. My dad had a lot of queer friends, and I think I talked to one of them about their experience, but I can't remember it clearly. Mostly I conversed with my friends who were my age and provided support for their experience and their coming-out.
What would you say to past-questioning-you if you could send a message back in time?
I would say it's okay! It's all okay! You don't have to come out! You don't have to define yourself by anything! You know there's nothing wrong with you, but keep reminding yourself of it. You aren't just doing this for attention. It's ok to have little experience with femme people; you gotta start somewhere. There isn't a right way to do anything-- in fact, you can't really go wrong. Your experience is authentic. It's all good. Love you, get off your phone, read some queer theory.