If anyone ever told me that my identity as a queer woman is “just a phase,” I’d probably get a little unruly. That phrase is used way too often to discourage people from exploring their desires and wants and needs when it comes to sexuality. But it’s also used to put down queer girls like me by suggesting we will realize we are straight…eventually.
In case you haven’t heard, both of those things are definitely not okay to suggest!
So, this week, I’m dispelling some myths about this very popular phrase that I loathe. And I’m starting it all off with a question from one lovely reader:
“I’ve just recently started questioning my sexuality. I’ve had plenty of cute boys ask me out, but I always say no because I could never imagine dating them. I’ve taken tests, quizzes, and basically anything I could find on the Internet to help me explain how I was feeling. I always get the result of bisexual. The label of bisexual feels right to me, but also makes me a little uncomfortable at the same time. How do I know if I really like girls, or if is this just a phase? PLEASE HELP!!!”
Girl, I’ll be the first one to tell you that questioning your sexuality can be really confusing. From the time we are born, we are basically programmed to think that boys are the only option for ~love~. So when you start noticing that cutie in chemistry who happens to be a chick, things can get a little puzzling.
I know that you want the quick fix that Internet quizzes provide. You want a Harry Potter-esque Sorting Hat to place itself upon your head and proclaim, “Bisexual!” once and for all without any doubt. But that’s not the best idea because it leaves out one very important person: YOU!
Quick fixes don’t allow you to take ownership of your own sexuality! FYI, they can also be wildly inaccurate.The fun part about sexual identity is that we get to define it in our own terms. So don’t let confusion and your need for speedy answers take that away from you!
The good news is you can — and should — give yourself time! Take time to process and reflect on your feelings, whether we are talking about sexuality or anything else. Having a stellar sense of self is really where it’s at! With a little dedication to exploring your own feelings, needs, and wants, you will stumble across your own wildly accurate answer. I guarantee it.
But let’s quickly talk about the whole concept of it being “just a phase” for a hot second. There is a lot of shame attached to that whole idea. Like I said before, for queer people who are secure with their sexual identities, it’s a phrase often used to minimize our right to claim our sexualities as valid. But, for people questioning, it’s also used as a way to discourage them from exploring their identities. People say, “It’s just a phase,” when they really want to say, “You are wasting your time. Obviously you are straight. You questioning your sexuality is ridiculous.”
Well, that way of thinking is ridiculous, IMHO. You should be allowed to freely explore your feelings and identity without shame and without fear. And especially without that phrase, “It’s just a phase,” jumping out of everyone’s mouth when you never even asked their opinion anyway!
Getting it “wrong” isn’t shameful. It isn’t even getting it wrong! It’s simply exploring who you are and coming to a conclusion through that exploration. So what if you identify as straight after kissing or — gasp!– even having sex with some girls? As long as you are being respectful to them, and respectful to yourself, there is no harm in testing the waters when it comes to your possible same-sex attraction.
Only you can define your own sexuality. Not me. Not a quiz. Not you’re Aunt June who is constantly saying, “It’s just a phase.” Only you. If you feel confident identifying as bisexual, go for it! And if you change your mind in 5 days or 5 months or 5 years, switch it up. Most importantly, do what feels right to you.
And if anyone ever smuggly tells you, “So, it was just a phase then,” tell them that you were just exercising your right to explore who you are. And that you wish they were open-minded enough to do the same. Also, feel free to tell them to STFU.
Got an LGBTQ question you want Katie to answer? Email her at email@example.com with your queer conundrums so she can work her advice-giving magic!