Earlier today, I wrote about coming out and told my story. If you read that article, you'd know that when I came out, I was sixteen and heavily involved in religious community. For that reason, or because I lived in the midst of rural Alaska, I regretfully didn't have a resource like this blog to go to for advice, solace, community, or support. In fact, I had relatively few known LGBT resources -- a handful of Tumblr sites were in my arsenal, but that was about it! I spent hours browsing LGBT Laughs, but since people from church followed my tumblog, I didn't feel comfortable reblogging anything. As far as I knew, I was the only gay Christian on the planet, and thus probably the only person who had ever felt so damn alone.
As a direct result of this lack of information, I remember spending long nights awake freaking out over whether or not I was G-A-Y. In my mind, being gay was probably the scariest, biggest thing you could be, and it made me nervous to even consider the possibility. I thought endlessly about how my church might reject me. Even though my family is super-liberal, I even worried that they might reject me! If I came out, would I have friends? Would I have a house? Would I have a life? What about kids...? I had always wanted kids! There were too many questions & not enough accessible answers.
Obviously, in the end I did realize that I was gay, and though at first I had terrifying moments of doubt, now I have settled into my role as a gay woman & feel quite comfortable with it. Not only have I always had feelings for women -- even since childhood! -- I find that I am more alive, active, & vital since I came out! The relationships I've had with women have been so much more fulfilling, honest, open, & real than my relationships with men ever were. The queer community that surrounds me in my home state of Alaska is wonderful. Of course, there were complementary bumps as I skidded my way out of the closet, but I would never dare to say that I regretted coming out, and if given the opportunity to live life again, the one change I would make is I would have come out even sooner! (Maybe. It honestly is incredibly hard to come out, and I think doing so younger might have been even worse.)
(A side note for all you rockin' AK queer kids: the community does exist! Regretfully, prejudice is still running wild, but I have the pleasure to know incredibly lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender people in many areas of the state. Check out Alaska Pride for a starter. I attended the October 2011 Pride Conference in Anchorage on a scholarship, and it was the best experience I've ever had!)
An important thing to know about being a human, especially a young human, is that being madly in love with a person of your same gender does not automatically mean you are a flaming homosexual nor does it mean that you have to immediately come out of the closet as one. It doesn't even necessarily mean that you're bisexual! Bottom line is, people are sexual creatures with strong urges for emotional, mental, and physical intimacy, and sometimes you'll have wild chemistry with a person who you wouldn't normally be into.
Need examples? Several of my straight friends have had crushes on girls. Totally normal! I certainly have had crushes on boys. Again, totally normal! It doesn't make me any less of a lesbian when I daydream about Davey Havok, does it? Didn't think so! In that same vein, I'm not less queer because I've been in relationships with men, or because I am open to the idea of being in one in the future. Similarly, your crush on your straight BFF doesn't necessarily make you less straight yourself. Also, don't listen to what society might say -- you can definitely identify as straight and be in a relationship with someone of your same gender.
(Another important thing to recognize is that it can be pretty difficult to distinguish between undying lust & affection, and a basic platonic crush. There are people you might want to be, and there are people you might want to be with, and the line can get fairly blurry. I know there are women who I respect & admire greatly, and that admiration can feel like lust or love sometimes.)
What does that mean? It means I am more than queer. Not only that, I am not only queer, and I am not always queer! There are desires in my life that are completely heterosexual & I accept them as part of the unique, funky, weird creation that is Kayte. No problem! Being queer, while it is a label in and of itself, is largely about rejecting stereotypes & living life how you want to live it. It means that I can be a man one day and a woman the next. It means I can be with a man one year and a woman the next. If you feel the need to label yourself, try to suppress that sensation. That's crazy-difficult to do, but such a rad & freeing feeling when you inevitably succeed!
Sometimes, people will have known their sexual or gender identity since childhood, but with others -- like me! -- that hasn't been the case. Looking back at my childhood, it's pretty obvious that I liked women, but I was oblivious to that fact at the time. I mean, normal girls raised in Trekkie families might want to be starship captains, but lying awake thinking about Captain Janeway before falling asleep is probably a bit... Well... Gay. Don't you think?
When I was trying to determine if I was gay or not, I realized that picturing myself married to a woman someday felt absolutely right, where as picturing myself married to a man felt just plain weird. I also realized that how my friends felt about guys they liked and how I felt about guys I liked were two totally different emotions. My relationships with men always felt stilted, one-sided, and odd. Instead, I was totally enthralled by the way my girl friends were growing into their bodies. So, for me, it was a gut feeling & came from a lot of self-reflection and long, introspective walks.
Every queer person has a different story, though! For example, some people don't know they were gay or bi until they fell for a beautiful person of their same gender. Some people never thought they were different or unusual until they realized that not everyone felt the way they did about sex or gender. When it comes down to it, people are people & love is love & every person has their own fairytale ending to find.
In the end, the decision to come out is yours to make. I can't honestly tell you how to know if you're gay, bisexual, transgender, or any other variation on the gender and sexuality spectrum. If you're unsure as to whether or not you're queer, my advice is to give it some time. Love who you want to love, kiss who you want to kiss, dress how you want to dress, use whatever gender pronouns sound right to describe you. High school and junior high can be super-difficult times to be questioning or queer, but remember that someday you'll graduate & jet off to a big exciting new world where anything can happen. You can be whoever you want & whoever you are, and hopefully you will be free to do so without the threat of discrimination or violence. I totally see that happening, by the way, and I look forward to the day that it does -- for the both of us!