After identifying as bisexual for years, I?m starting to realize I might actually be gay.
Photo by Toimetaja tlkebroo on Unsplash
This is the second period in my life where I?m wondering whether I?m bisexual or gay. I?ve previously written about coming out as a lesbian and then ?falling in love? with a man. These days, I?m contemplating whether that ?love? was legitimate, or just compulsory heterosexuality.
A few months ago I entered a serious relationship with a woman for the first time in my life. And everything changed. I didn?t know that it was possible to be this attracted to someone, to be this truly happy in a relationship.
As a result, I?ve started questioning whether my past attraction to men was genuine. At the time, it sure felt like it, but that was because it had been all I?d ever known. Even with the man who convinced me I was bi a couple of years ago, I always liked the idea of him more than the person he was.
Come to think of it, that?s how I?ve felt pretty much every time I?ve ever had a crush on a man.
About three years ago, during my senior year of college, I had been questioning myself for several months before I came across this post on Tumblr:
Common experiences of lesbians who don?t know they?re lesbians yet
Out of curiosity, I recently googled the ?Am I lesbian quiz?. Half the ?Are You a Lesbian? quizzes just asked outright?
When I had finished reading this post, I was in tears. Never in my life had I read something that resonated with me so deeply and personally. There was no question about it anymore. I was a lesbian.
Although it sounds cheesy and embarrassing to be so moved by a post on Tumblr, it?s safe to say that this post changed my life. I began mentally going over all my past relationships, all with men, and realizing that my attraction to them had never been as legitimate as I had thought at the time.
I thought it would be therapeutic for me to go through some of the points made in that post and elaborate on my personal experience with them. After all, if I can relate to so many of these items, then surely I must be gay. And I figure that if a woman who?s questioning her sexual orientation reads this, then maybe it can help her come to terms with who she really is.
Deciding which guy to be attracted to
Many closeted lesbians choose a guy, not to date, but to be attracted to, based on a list of certain ideal qualities. As I think back over my adolescence, I can?t believe I didn?t realize I was gay sooner.
In elementary school, most of the other girls in my class had a ?crush? on a boy. My friends would ask me which boy I liked. When I replied that I didn?t have a crush, they were absolutely mortified.
Because I had a difficult time making friends as a child, I knew that I had to have a crush to be accepted. So, I selected a boy named Douglas to be the object of my affections. In reality, I chose him merely because his last name was next to mine alphabetically.
Hey, I never said lesbians can?t be lazy.
As I got older, I would enter each grade with a list of qualities for an ideal boyfriend in mind. I would pick a boy each year to be attracted to based on how many of those qualities he possessed. No guy ever made me feel attracted to him without some conscious effort on my part.
In fact, I have this specific memory from eighth grade. The class had been reading Much Ado About Nothing and we were discussing whether it was possible to choose who to fall in love with.
Virtually everyone agreed that you couldn?t choose who to fall in love with. I disagreed, but I kept quiet. I wholeheartedly felt that I was right, but I couldn?t provide any evidence. I just knew that I had chosen to fall in love with my boyfriend at the time, simply because he had already fallen in love with me. I was expected to have a boyfriend, so I picked him because it seemed like the easiest choice.
Being attracted to gender non-conforming guys/ trans women
During my freshman year of high school, I had a serious crush on one of my ?guy? friends who later turned out to be a trans woman. At the time, she identified as a gay man, but I still had an unbearable crush on her. It was more intense than any feelings I?d had for a guy before.
When this friend came out as a woman several years later, a whole lot of things clicked into place. That was why I?d had such a huge crush on her, why it had felt more real than any attraction I?d had to a boy.
Only being attracted to unattainable men
When I worked at a Dollar Tree during college, I had an uncomfortable ?crush? on an assistant manager who was only a few years older than me. Let?s call him Dean. He was certainly conventionally attractive, but I didn?t take much notice of his looks. We clicked on a platonic level and became fast friends.
One night, when it was just the two of us working and we hardly had any customers, he was sweeping and he casually asked if I had a boyfriend.
My heart stopped for a moment. That was the first time since my recent lesbian awakening that someone had asked me that question. I stammered out a no.
?Oh.? Dean kept sweeping, avoiding my gaze. ?So do you just not want one, or???
I?d seen the ring on his finger before. I?d heard him talk about his wife. Why was he asking me this, as if he were personally interested?
?I just haven?t had time, what with school and work and everything,? I said.
Dean changed the subject without meeting my eyes.
From that point on, I had constant romantic daydreams (and actual dreams) about Dean. I think part of me mistook the anxiety I felt when he asked that question for the ?butterflies? that people get when they?re falling in love.
He and I continued to get to know each other over the next few months, with him hardly mentioning his wife at all. I felt strangely ?attracted? to him, even as I was messaging a girl I?d met online for several weeks (that situation ultimately didn?t work out).
Even as I identified as fully gay, I couldn?t shake this ?attraction? to Dean. And I think it might have been due to his being married and technically my boss. However, I knew in my heart of hearts that if something happened and he was single again, I would immediately lose interest. I?d had dreams where he got divorced and started to pursue me. I?d wake up in a cold sweat.
In the end, Dean finished college and left Dollar Tree to become a teacher, his dream job. I was happy for him but mainly relieved that I no longer had to deal with the confusing feelings he stirred up in me. Once he was gone and those feelings started to fade, I felt gayer than ever.
Thinking you?re commitment-phobic
Before I began to consider lesbianism, I had been in two long-term relationships with men: one in middle school, and another in high school. In both relationships, after about a year and a half, I started to feel intensely ?bored? of being with these guys. I got snippy with them; everything they did started to annoy me.
I felt like part of me couldn?t handle being in a relationship for so long, that I was destined to have more casual flings with people because deep down I was afraid of commitment. Even though both of those breakups were mutual, I initiated them, because it just didn?t feel right anymore.
Getting a boyfriend just so other people know you have a boyfriend
Throughout middle school and high school, I was one of those girls who always had to be dating a boy. Or at least, I had to have a crush. If I didn?t currently have a boyfriend, I would be working on getting one.
At the time, I recognized that this was unhealthy. But I thought it was because of my cripplingly low self-esteem based on my not conventionally attractive appearance. I wanted other people to see that someone was capable of being attracted to me, specifically a guy.
I wanted to prove something to people. I just couldn?t identify what it was that I wanted to prove.
Wishing your boyfriend was less interested in sex
My high school sweetheart (let?s call him Kyle) had a crazily high sex drive. Of course, we were seventeen, so this was perfectly normal. However, I was less interested, especially after the honeymoon phase of our relationship was over.
During our senior year of high school, we?d hang out at his place nearly every day after school. More often than not, we?d have sex and then play video games, watch a movie, or do something fun. It wasn?t that the sex was bad, per se; I just wasn?t as interested in it as I should have been, considering I was dating this guy. I simply wanted the sex to be over with so that we could just hang out. Like friends do.
Getting over a breakup in record time
After Kyle and I broke up, I began expressing interest in a few people I knew at college. When I returned home after the first semester of my freshman year, he wanted to get back together, so much so that he cried asking me.
I felt heartless having to tell him that I didn?t want that. The truth was, the day after we had broken up, I felt like I was completely over Kyle. I still cared about him, but not in a romantic or sexual way. Getting back together with him sounded like a nightmare.
When my friends asked me about it, I pretended to be more heartbroken than I actually was. I didn?t want to appear cruel for instantly getting over someone I was never really in love with in the first place.
Feeling like you?re broken and incapable of loving anyone
There was a time when I thought Kyle was the love of my life. I had assumed for a couple of years that we would get married, have 2.5 kids, and get a house in the suburbs. When that didn?t pan out, I felt like if I couldn?t have that kind of love with Kyle, that I couldn?t have it with anybody.
I thought something was wrong with me, that I just couldn?t feel true love. I considered the possibility that I was asexual/aromantic since it seemed that my romantic and sexual desires were nonexistent.
After my breakup with Kyle, I went through a depressive episode. Not because I was upset about no longer dating this boy, but because I worried I was broken.
Being utterly fascinated with lesbians as a child
My dad?s sister is a lesbian. When my parents first told me this around age eleven, I was utterly transfixed.
Because I grew up with Catholic shame surrounding homosexuality, I was afraid to ask my aunt anything about her orientation. Instead, I watched her interactions with her long-term partner and wondered what their daily lives were like. Did they hate men? How did they have sex? How did they decide who to come out to?
More importantly, it was the first time I had been presented with the idea that I didn?t have to date a man to be happy.
Thinking that all girls must feel some attraction to women
When I was first starting to come to terms with my attraction toward women, I was under the impression that everyone was a little bit gay or bi. I thought that everyone felt a slight attraction toward their friends, even those of the same gender. I assumed that everyone felt like that until I had a conversation with a straight friend, in which she stated that she had never once felt a legitimate attraction for another woman. It was then that I started to feel like my queerness was real.
Being a really intense LGBTQ+ ?ally?
In my early teenage years, to fight back against my strict, homophobic Catholic upbringing, I became intensely interested in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Throughout high school, I would debate classmates on Facebook who disagreed with the notion that queer people deserved rights. Whenever someone else had a different option that I did, I took it as a personal affront. I felt I had to defend queer people, even though I was totally, one hundred percent straight. I was just a dedicated ally.
Having a lot of your friends turn out to be queer
As I mentioned earlier, one of my closest friends from high school turned out to be a trans woman. Another one of my friends is bisexual, another nonbinary. Straight people are in the minority in my friend group.
Queer people naturally flock to one another, even before they realize they?re queer. In high school, we all believed we were heterosexual and cisgender, but that would change for most of us.
Only expressing attraction to women when you?re intoxicated
Kyle was a stoner. Because of that, he got me to smoke weed with him throughout late high school, and I continued the habit through my freshman year of college (before it eventually made me too anxious and paranoid).
The summer between high school and college was probably when I smoked the most often, usually alone in my room, away from Kyle and by extension away from heterosexual expectations. When I was alone and under the influence, my inhibitions were lowered. As a result, I felt less ashamed of my attraction to women.
I dubbed myself ?high-sexual,? because I believed that I was more attracted to girls when I was intoxicated. In reality, I was attracted to women the same amount at all times, but in this state of mind, I was allowing myself to feel less restricted about it.
After writing all of this out, I?m positive that I?m not actually bisexual. I?m 100% gay. There?s no way I would be able to relate to literally everything in that Tumblr post unless I were a bona fide lesbian, right?
If any of this resonated with you, I urge you to consider the fact that you might be a lesbian too. I know that at first, it can seem scary. Our society often treats the word ?lesbian? like it?s a dirty word, but I promise you there?s something beautiful about it. Nothing is as amazing to me as the gay love that I share with my girlfriend.
You don?t even have to use the word ?lesbian? if you don?t want to. I know plenty of ?lesbians? who identify as queer or gay instead. If you don?t even want to use a label, then that?s perfectly fine too.
Coming to terms with the fact that you aren?t attracted to men can be terrifying, especially since society tells women that it?s our only option. That might be why it takes lesbians so much longer to come out than it takes gay men.
Still, I?m glad I came to this realization. I?m only twenty-four. I still have the rest of my life ahead of me, and I imagine that I?m only going to get gayer and gayer as the years go by. I?m looking forward to it.