Ask Katie: How Do I Know If I Am A Lesbian, Bisexual, Straight, Or Something Else?

When you start to have feelings for people of the same gender, you really want to know what’s up. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been there, too. A lot of you have questions about what label is right for your sexuality. Take this reader, for example:

“I recently started talking with this girl who’s so cute and bubbly and it made my heart flutter. She started flirting and, at first, it felt fine. But later on, I felt confused so I broke it off because I didn’t want to lead her into something that I myself am unsure about. So my question is: How do I know if I’m a lesbian? Maybe I’m bisexual? Or maybe I’m just curious? I guess those are the questions that I’ve been really wanting an answer to…”

confused

The thing is, I can’t give you a 10 question quiz with a definitive answer of how you should be labeling your sexuality. And, honestly, I don’t really wish I could. Let me explain.

For some people, sexuality is relatively simple. Some girls know they like guys and always have liked guys. Some girls know they like girls and always have liked girls. No questioning or confusion needed.

But then there are people who don’t have that sort of experience with sexuality. Sometimes it takes a little time to figure things out. And that doesn’t make those of us who have a harder time labeling our sexuality broken in any way or too confused to know what we want or anything like that. It just means we have a little different experience with sexuality, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

Finding out what exactly is the deal with your sexuality means figuring out what (and who) you like. I don’t think you should consider this process as “leading people on.” Think of it as following what your intuition tells you is right.

Are you day dreaming about that new girl, but you’ve always thought you were straight? Get to know her (and flirt if she seems into it!). Is that trans cutie catching your eye, but you’ve never liked someone who was trans before? Get to know them (and flirt if they seem into it!). Have you only dated girls, but all the sudden get nervous around the boy you sit next to in math? Get to know him (and flirt if he seem into it!)

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Well, you see the pattern here. I think the key is to get to know yourself and what feels good to you without the pressure of labels. The labels can come after. Or they don’t have to come along at all.

There can be power in claiming labels as identities. It’s how we categorize ourselves and relate to people like us, which is cool. But if you feel like claiming a label is making you feel anything but empowered, don’t feel like you have to choose a label! There’s no shame in simply answering the whole question of, “Are you a lesbian, bisexual, straight, or something else?” with “I’m still trying to figure things out.” In fact, it’s a very self-aware thing to say!

Something that can also be empowering? Rejecting labels completely if you hate categorizing yourself. Responding to questions about how you identify by saying, “I don’t label myself because labels aren’t important to me” is completely valid, too.

i dont care

An important thing to know about sexuality is that, for a lot of people, it’s a fluid identity. That means that how we identify at one point in our lives may not be how we identify all our lives. For example, I identified as straight for a while, then bisexual, and then settled on the label “queer”…for now. But who knows? When I’m sixty, I may identify differently. Or maybe I’ll feel empowered completely rejecting labels all together.

The important thing is to get to know yourself. Find your comfort levels with different labels. Make the choice to choose one or not to choose one. The cool thing? This is all up to you! I can’t tell you how to identify. Your friends can’t tell you, your partner can’t tell you, your family can’t tell you. Only you.

And you know what that also means? No one can tell you your wrong. Your label (or lack of label!) is yours to claim. And that’s pretty empowering all on its own, if you ask me.

Wishing you the best,

Katie

Got an LGBTQ question you want Katie to answer? Email her at staff@gurl.com with your issues so she can work her advice-giving magic! 

 

 What does “virginity” mean when you are a queer girl?

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