The Answers (for Now)

"Do these feelings I'm having for other guys make me gay?"
"Can you tell me if I'm bisexual or not?"
"I thought I was a lesbian but my friend says I'm faking it, how can I tell for sure?"

Here at Scarleteen, we get a lot of questions from people who are questioning⁠ their sexual orientation⁠ and want our help figuring it out⁠ . While we can't look at another person's thoughts and declare: "Aha! I've solved your sexuality-puzzle for you!," we're always happy to provide affirmation, input, or just a sympathetic listening ear.

A common theme that comes up in these conversations is that a lot of people feel pretty uncomfortable to be questioning or confused about their orientation. Instead of feeling like a time of exploration or discovery, being questioning can be a period⁠ of distress or confusion for many people.

We have a great article on what it is to be questioning your orientation, and why someone might identify as questioning, and if you think you're questioning and are finding it to be stressful, I highly recommend starting there. However, there's also a lot of value in hearing other people's stories and experiences, as told in their own words. It can be a way to feel connected to a larger community, to know you aren't alone in your feelings, and maybe even to find a little extra hope for the future.

For that reason, we've collected some interviews that show a range of ways people question and eventually come to understand their sexual orientation. Some of these narratives may feel familiar to you; others might be pretty far removed from your own feelings or experiences. Either way, we hope they can help you see everyone's varied process in coming to understand their own sexual orientation.

If you don't see your experience reflected at all here, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you or how you're coming to understand yourself; it just means that the world of sexual orientation is so wide and varied that it's impossible to represent everyone's experience. Any label or descriptive term about your orientation can only say so much about who you are and who you might be attracted to; the rest you fill in yourself, and it might look surprisingly different from one person to another. If you find that the stories here fit somewhat with your own, that's great! And if they don't, that's great too; you're just showing how varied and unique sexual orientation can be.

No matter how you relate to these stories, keep in mind: there's no deadline you have to meet for figuring things out, no rule that says you ever have to know your orientation for sure at all, no one "right" way to be any particular orientation, and no specific path you have to follow to get there. It's not something anyone else can decide or decipher for you, but it's just fine to talk to other people about how you're feeling and to take your time figuring out who (if anyone!) you feel those big feelings for.

If you'd like to talk to us about any of this, we're always happy to do that with you on our message boards or in our live chat service, but remember: even when you're questioning this or any part of your identity, you are still going to be the best authority on your own feelings and experience.

In their own words, here are the experiences of people who've gone through (or are still in) a period of questioning and have lived to tell the tale:

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Ben shares the moments and realizations that helped him understand his sexual orientation.