Figuring out who you are — whether we are talking in terms of sexuality or just in general — is really effin’ hard. Trust me, even I don’t have myself entirely figured out yet and I’m supposed to be an adult or something. I’m constantly discovering and uncovering new parts of myself and my identity. It’s exciting and scary (and sometimes a little strange) all at the same time. But I’m sure you already know this.
All that being said, it’s hard enough to deal with all of this self-discovery and rediscovery without people hatin’ on you. And this week, we’re addressing the sexual orientation haters that tell you that you’re only queer for attention. And….cue the eye rolls.
Check out this question from one Gurl reader that breaks down exactly what I’m talking about:
“I am 14 years old and I think I may be gay. I’ve always been the weird girl who stands out. So, I guess I’m an attention seeker. Because of this, I don’t know if I’m just thinking I might be gay so I get attention. The word seems to fit me, and I have had crushes on two girls recently. I get like fluttery feelings when they’re around. But I worry maybe I’m making these feelings happen. Because I am comfortable with the word gay, and describing myself with it. But then, what if it isn’t real?”
When you’re gay, a lot of people will tell you (directly or indirectly) that they think you’re just claiming that label for attention. And let me start this off by saying that is a boatload of B.S. Never, ever believe that. You hear me? Ever.
People always label anything that’s different from the mainstream as a cry for attention. People with pink hair just want attention. People with tons of piercings and tattoos just want attention. People who have offbeat interests just want attention. And, finally, queer people are always constantly seeking attention by simply being queer. But here’s the thing. These assumptions are all simply not true!
People use this “cry for attention” language to try to shame you from doing whatever you’re doing. They use it to discourage you from having pink hair or from having piercings or from being gay. Since “crying for attention” is a characteristic no one wants to display, their accusation try to keep you from being too over-the-top. It’s a way to keep you in-line to expectations. Seeking attention is apparently childlike and immature. It isn’t charming. So, it makes sense why you don’t want to be seen as doing that by coming out as gay. Their tactics (and that language) is working
However! And this is a big however, so listen up. This simply isn’t a valid critique of your behavior! Period. Using your sense of self to label your identity is not an attention seeking endeavor. It is an endeavor that let’s you start to figure out who you are in relation to others. But it’s not attention seeking at all.
Now, on to those fluttery feelings you’re talking about. It sounds an awful lot like a crush to me! And, again, not something you are doing for “attention”…whatever that even means, anyway. These girls you adore are probably hella cute and you deserve to crush all you want. Without feeling guilty.
And if you are happy calling yourself gay, call yourself gay! If someone says you are too boisterous about your sexuality, ignoring them is your best bet. At the end of it all, you deserve to be a happy girl. And if you’re happy being a gay girl, no one can take that away from you with some mumbo jumbo about “wanting attention.” Puh-leeze.
But, there’s one thing I can’t help but bring up while talking about “queer attention.” I personally love to flaunt my own sexuality as an empowering action. So, in a way, I like to draw attention to my sexuality purposefully. I use language like “my girlfriend” in conversations when I want to let someone know I’m queer. I wear queer-coded pins on my jean vest to let strangers in on my sexuality. I kiss my girlfriend on the lips in public because why not!?
Point is, I do all of this consciously as a queer girl who doesn’t mind putting attention on her sexuality. Because my sexuality is a big part of my life. And I like to celebrate that part of my life in big and small ways daily. No one can shame me for that. I won’t let them. And I hope you won’t let yourself be shamed, either.
Got an LGBTQ question you want Katie to answer? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your queer conundrums so she can work her advice-giving magic!