Advice

“Hi, I’m thirteen and I’ve been questioning whether I am bi or not. I am a girl and I identify as one, but what I am not sure of is if I’m straight and just making illusions for myself, or bi, or just lesbian and denying it, or something else I don’t know of. Uugh, it’s all so weird. How could I find out what I am?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

It is confusing, isn’t it? We are given these letter-shaped symbols to mush together in ways that will explain our millions of feelings to ourselves and to other people, and they don’t always just “fit.” Now, I do like letters and words, and I think that they can help us work through our feelings in incredible ways. For example, it is helpful for me to be able to say “My name is Kristin and Demi Lovato has come out as not straight and that makes me feel SIMPLY DELIGHTED.”

Now, I know you didn’t ask me about my feelings regarding Demi Lovato, but I do think they are relevant. Hear me out. Right now, in the year 2017, I call myself bisexual because I know I have the capacity to be attracted to more than one gender. I also call myself queer because I love the word and all of its infinite possibilities. In years past I identified as a lesbian, because I didn’t yet fully understand all of my attractions (do we ever?), but I knew that I felt at home in the “lesbian culture” of the early 2000s (think The L Word, fedoras, pin stripes, and lip gloss). I have used a lot of words over the years to help me move through my various understandings of myself, but one thing has remained true: when I think a girl is pretty (and especially if that girl is into kissing other girls), I am SIMPLY DELIGHTED.

There isn’t really a word for that feeling, and it’s one I have had for as long as I can remember. It’s a feeling that I had before I even knew I had it, but it is also one that took me a lot of time to understand.

When I was thirteen, my best friend’s name was Katie. She was hilarious and loud and strong and her hair was always shiny and smelled like this one deliciously incredible conditioner, the name of which I cannot remember, but that came in a blue plastic bottle. I never thought about kissing Katie, ever. I thought about the idea of dating boys (seemed interesting) and the asshole teacher who made me spit out my gum even when it wasn’t disturbing anyone (the worst) and how much I loved music (it made me feel like I could do anything) and how I wanted to dye my hair using Manic Panic (blocked by parental bullshit, of course). Looking back on my friendship with Katie, I can now draw connections between the way I felt about her and her hair, and my reasons for going out of my way to get the same conditioner so I could smell that amazing smell all the time… but that is because I am now 36 years old, and I have a wife and a cat and a long history of crushing and dating and wondering and questioning – which is what you are doing now!

*blasts ‘The Circle of Life’*

Here is one promise that I can make to you: You are not making illusions for yourself. If you have feelings that are confusing when it comes to people of many genders, that is real: you have confusing feelings about people of many genders! I will go out on a limb here and say that prooooobably means you aren’t 100000000% straight, and that it will also likely shift and change as you grow. And I am not trying to pull some “you’re 13 and shit will change because you are young now” crap on you, I am literally saying that your attractions and desires will shift and change forever.

Part of our identity is the wondering. Do you want to kiss the girl in your science class? Rad! I’ve been there. Do you want to hold hands with the boy who lives three houses down? Makes total sense. Do you want to spoon with the nonbinary barista at your local coffeeshop? Hooboy, I totally get that. For now, maybe that means you choose to call yourself bisexual. Even if you kiss that girl in your science class and it isn’t fireworks, you can still call yourself bisexual! And, if you do suddenly realize that, hey, you aren’t attracted to more than one gender after all? THAT IS OKAY! It doesn’t mean you were just lying to yourself about your feelings before, it just means that you have a mind that is open to the many possibilities that exist out here in this crazy world.

Before I go and leave you with all of life’s confusing feelings, let me do two more things to try to help you walk this maze (we all walk it! I promise!). First, let’s break your question into three concise lil bits:

How do you know what to *call* yourself?
I think most of us just choose a word that seems kind-of-correct and then change it down the line if we find something that fits even better. It’s okay to do that, and it isn’t “attention seeking” or “lying” to yourself or anyone else to try on identity words and see how they feel.

How do you know you aren’t lying to yourself? 
Well, you wrote into an advice site anonymously to figure out more about feelings you are having. That isn’t the typical behavior of a person who is lying about their feelings… it is the typical behavior of a person who has very real feelings that they are trying to sort through. Trust your feelings. The world out here will try to tell you not to trust them, especially when you are a girl, and that is a giant pile of bulllllllshittttt. Your feelings are real. Confusing as all hell, sure, but real.

How do you know what you are?
You’re you. I know, I know, my part-time job is probably writing cards for Hallmark… BUT IT IS TRUE. You are you and right now that you has confusing feelings about attraction and sexuality and identity. Some of that will always be confusing, and some of it will solidify over time. For now, explore those feelings. Write them down. Remember to trust yourself, and remember that you can be more than one thing (at the same time! at different times! ahhhh!).

Second, some music. I mentioned earlier that music made me feel like I could do anything when I was thirteen. It still makes me feel like that, and it also helps me stand up to a world that tells me to doubt myself and my feelings. Music helps me face those confusing feelings and say “fuck off, world, I can be something different than what you expect. I can change. I can be a million things all at once, and I don’t have to pick one and I don’t have to apologize.”

Last week I asked all of my internet pals to tell me about songs made them feel like they could be whatever the fuck they wanted to be, and so together we created this mixtape for you. When you are feeling that creeping doubt, pop your headphones in and remember that you are who you say you are even if that is *not knowing exactly who you are*, and anyone who challenges that can SCREW.

I'veGotStripesTooV2

 


 

Kristin runs Everyone Is Gay, My Kid Is Gay, and OUR Restroom, co-authored This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids, and worked as host & producer of PBS Digital’s LGBTQ series First Person. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast called Buffering the Vampire Slayer with her wife, Jenny Owen Youngs. You can follow her on twitter @kristinnoeline​

Cover Art designed by the incredible Isabella Rotman!

share:

“Hi, I have known I was queer for a while (like… a while. a long while) but haven’t actually come out to anyone until a month ago (to my out gay friend at church camp–different story). The problem is, I have no idea how to tell people. Sometimes I feel like yelling "HEY I ACTUALLY ALSO LIKE GIRLS THANKS” when my roommate walks through the door or talks about guys, but there is always the fear I have that I will be treated differently. What should I do?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Kathy Says:

Hey, friend. First and foremost, I just want to say to you that your feelings are completely valid! I remember when my friends would talk about boys or dates to the school dance or celebrity crushes, and I would feel so left out, because I had absolutely nothing to contribute. Believe you me, had I known I was queer back in school, I would absolutely have wanted to jump in and add who I was crushing on.

Okay, now onto your actual question. You have the urge to come out to the people around you, but you’re afraid that people will treat you differently.

I think that if you have the urge to come out, you should absolutely do so. Listen to your gut on this one – and it seems like your gut wants to tell people! I think that people tend to emulate the energy that you give out to them, so that’s a good thing to keep in mind when you take the plunge. For example, if you are just bursting to tell your roommate that you’re also into girls, tell them with all the excitement in your body, and more likely than not they will be excited with you! I mean, don’t just shout “HEY I AM A GAY!” at them as they walk through the door, because that might be confusing…

Personally, I like coming out to people in the chillest way possible. When people talk about their partners, I will casually slip in something about a girl I used to date, or a girl I’ve had a crush on, or a girl I think is cute. Sometimes people raise an eyebrow, so I follow up with, “oh yeah, I’m into girls too,” and then I move on. Because I am completely relaxed about it, usually the people I’m talking to are too. I’ve also come out by having “the conversation”: I sat someone down and I said, “hey, here’s a thing I want you to know about me…” and proceeded to talk to them about my sexuality.

Another thing I’ve learned: the people you come out to sometimes need time to process what you’ve just told them, and giving them the space to do that will be helpful. Maybe your roommate will just take things in stride and immediately begin talk to you about your thoughts on Demi Lovato’s girlfriend – but it is also possible that she will hesitate at first and then find her footing once she has a moment (or a few days) to process.

If the thing you’re most worried about is people treating you differently after you’ve come out to them, well…  the harsh reality is that you have absolutely no control over how other people are going to treat you. Some people are going to be dickheads and make inane comments about lesbians or bisexuality. That’s on them. They need to learn to not do that, or you just don’t need them in your life. Sometimes people are going to ask dumb questions, or make hurtful remarks without thinking twice about it. You may be the first person in their lives to tell them what they’re saying is hurtful. In spite of this, there will also be people who are super supportive of your sexuality. There really is no controlling it.

Since you’ve only told a few people so far, I’d start coming out to the people around you who you trust, and the ones you feel like need to know most–for your own sanity (like your roommate!). I get the feeling that the main reason you want to scream “I AM A GAY!” at your roommate is because you haven’t had the opportunity to talk about your sexuality very often with people. You can start slow and have a few longer conversations with people; don’t feel like you have to cast a wide net when you come out. It’s not a race and it never will be!

Also keep in mind that you can be as out as you want to be. Coming out can mean telling your friends and family about your sexuality. But it can also mean presenting more authentically as yourself (e.g. more androgynous, more feminine, more butch). It can mean writing in your journal about how you’re feeling. It can also mean going to queer-normative spaces like a gay bar, a queer art show, or generally the entire Pacific Northwest (just kidding about the Pacific Northwest… but also maybe not kidding, I hear it’s pretty queer over there).

I’ve got a playlist here of music that my girlfriend help me put together. It’s by mostly queer artists who write about various aspects of queerness and are all out in different degrees. I hope you can take inspiration from them, and feel more agency in your coming out story.

You can be as out as you want to be.

ItsCodeMockup

Cover Art designed by the incredible Isabella Rotman!


Kathy Tu is the co-host and producer of Nancy, a podcast about the LGBTQ experience today. Prior to Nancy, Kathy worked on The Memory PalaceThe Mortified Podcast, Masterpiece Studio, and others. And prior to that she was an EMT and law school grad. It’s been a trip. Kathy’s on twitter @_ktu.

“An Honest Mixtape” is a new advice series here at Everyone Is Gay! Every month we will feature a new guest writer who will tackle one of your advice questions with words *and* music! 

share:

“So, I am a nonbinary person and I really hate having boobs. My dysphoria usually isn’t so bad, but for a while it’s really been getting me down and this human person would like to know is there are any little things that help hold dysphoria at bay.”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Alaina Says:

Hey bud, first and foremost, I want you to know that I feel these feelings that you’re feeling. Not being happy with the body that you are stuck with is probably one of the worst feelings that a person can feel in my opinion, because like what can you do? I’ve had days/weeks/months when all I’ve been able to think about is top surgery and how good I’d look if I just didn’t have these boobs—that I never asked for thank you very much. And while dreaming is nice, getting into that cycle of happiness=top surgery often makes me more sad than happy because top surgery is expensive, and inaccessible, and permanent, and just a big decision! So what’s a person to do right now, when they’ve tried on 17 shirts in one morning and every single one of them makes them look wrong?

Here’s my suggestion: feel those feelings. When I’m feeling dysphoric, I let myself feel it. That’s the most important step. Once you give yourself permission to feel things, you’re more likely to realize where those feelings are coming from and figure out a way to deal with them (or, at least my therapist says so). Once you’ve let yourself have a feelings party, choose an outfit that you objectively know that you look good in and wear it (call it your “fake it till you make it” outfit).  Then, text your very best friend a selfie of you in said outfit and ask, “is this a good outfit, yes or yes?” and if your friends are like mine, they will respond with all the emojis plus all of the love and confidence you’ll need to be able to leave the house. Lean on your friends. If you’ve got other nonbinary friends, now’s the time to chat with them about what you’re feeling—knowing that you aren’t alone will make dealing with these weird body feelings you have so much easier.

I also want to ask you (and myself) to work really hard to distinguish if what you’re feeling really is because of you and how you see yourself, or if it has to do with how the world at large sees you. Because here’s the dumb truth: we can’t control how others perceive us, and as nonbinary babes, it’s often even harder since most of society has been taught to use our body’s characteristics to see us as men or women. You’re never going to be able to get everyone to see you as the perfect non binary person that you are, so instead of trying to, really think about what makes you feel good and do that. You’re the only person whose opinion about your body matters.

Lastly, get physical. Dance, go for a run, have sex, do a cartwheel. Use your body. When I feel dysphoric, it’s also super easy to only be able to think about the things that are wrong with my body. But when I’m active, I’m reminded of all of the amazing things I can do with my body, like shake my hips or experience pleasure. My body is not perfect, and right now, it’s not exactly the body I wish it was, but it’s working so hard for me, and it can do so many amazing things. It houses my heart, lungs, and brain, which keep me alive. My skin stretches when I gain weight and retracts when I lose it. Every minute of the day my body is doing so much work to keep me alive and healthy and that is a gosh darned miracle. You friend, being alive on this earth for all of these days, it’s a miracle.

So when you feel the dysphoria creeping up, address it head on. “Listen Jan, I know you’re trying to come in here and ruin my life, but my body is trying it’s hardest! And I’m proud of it for doing that and since I don’t demand perfection from myself, I won’t demand perfection from my body either, so get out!!!” And then, dance!! (I even made you a great playlist!)

MyWeirdCoolBodCover Art designed by the incredible Isabella Rotman!


Alaina is a 20-something working on a PhD in Performance as Public Practice. They are a mom to three cats, they listen to a lot of NPR and musicals, and they spend a lot of time on Pinterest lusting over studio apartments. They are actively trying to build A Brand on twitter @alainamonts. One day, they will be First Lady of the United States.

“An Honest Mixtape” is a new advice series here at Everyone Is Gay! Every month we will feature a new guest writer who will tackle one of your advice questions with words *and* music! 

share:

, ,

“I’m in high school, and I went through a really messy, miserable breakup last school year. For the rest of the year, I would get anxious every time I saw my ex and tried to avoid her at all costs. Now I haven’t seen her in two months because of summer and I’ve been doing a lot better, but I’m afraid of how I’ll react when I see her again/if she tries to talk to me or if we end up in a class together. Help?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Brittany Ashley Says:

We’ve all gone through it. Trying to avoid seeing an ex-girlfriend is like the world’s worst video game that we’re all stuck playing for the rest of our lives. To take extra precautions, we’ll deny ourselves going to that party (5 points!) or cut off seeing certain friends (Bonus level!), just in hopes of avoiding one particular human being who seems to have the cheat codes to our anxiety.

Let’s start by saying this: throughout the summer, there’s no doubt that you’ve made progress. You started to feel like yourself again and finally like she’s not the only radio station playing in your head. Seeing her again doesn’t get to erase any of the work you’ve done. She doesn’t get to have that—that was work that you did! It’s yours! You own the rights to it!

I get that you think seeing her again might throw a wrench in your betterment. The best (but also worst) thing about being a fleshy mortal in this situation is that you simply can’t control the outcome of every awkward interaction or every student’s class schedule. Well, wait. Actually, if you learned how to hack into your school’s database, you could probably engineer the perfect schedule to where you two wouldn’t be likely to cross paths. Obviously you’d have to come up with an algorithm that also prevents hallway run-ins–maybe setting up roadblocks that block the flow of students. But even so—learning hacking as a trade feels like an enormous amount of effort just for this.

So focus on what you can control, like how much time you spend dwelling on the what if’s or how much space you let those negative feelings take up in your mind in places where good stuff could go instead. Remember good stuff? Good stuff is nice.

Once you relinquish the idea of control, the next thing you can do is build up your foundation. By that I mean: think of your self-esteem like a house. How banal, I know! But you don’t have to take an architecture class to understand how spot on my metaphor is. It’s easy to feel better momentarily when you paint the walls a bright new color or hang up a cool new Buffy poster. Who wouldn’t? Aesthetic improvements feel nice but they’re momentary. Why? Because if your foundation is cracked, the way the house looks doesn’t really matter because you have to rebuild that goddamn thing. The good news is that whether or not your house feels like an abandoned roadside shack or an immaculate mansion a la MTV Cribs (too old a reference?), remember that you can always build up your foundation.

So how can you build up this foundation, you ask? Well, emotional health should be tended to at all times, not just when you’re in dire need of it. If you continuously appreciate yourself and the people around you, you’ll build a strong ass foundation that won’t crack easily.

Think about what makes you feel warm and good. Maybe that’s simply being outside. Listen, you don’t have to go base jumping or extreme whitewater rafting, but sometimes it means just taking a book in your backyard or sitting on a swing.

Too much like an indie movie? Fine. Then go do something nice for your friends like writing them a handwritten card or making them a mixtape (Am I out of touch?). Strengthening your friendships and telling people how much you care about them is by far the coolest thing on the planet. Trust me. They won’t forget it.

Walk through the halls confidently with your headphones in while you listen to music. I like to daydream and picture myself as the lead singer, but that’s just me. Maybe you can even jam out to this playlist I crafted for you:

 

BuildThatFoundation_2

cover art by Isabella Rotman

 

But most importantly: Give yourself a break. It’s okay to not fully be over the messy feelings that ensued, that just means you’re human. If we could think our way out of heartache, we’d all be robots.

Eventually, you’ll be so distracted simply basking in your own incredible atmosphere, that you’ll forget that you ever cared what you’d think if you ran into her. I know it sounds kind of silly: Distract yourself with yourself. t’s the best advice I can give and has gotten me through many versions and variations of “fear of running into my ex at school.”


Hello! We are starting a new advice series here at Everyone Is Gay called “An Honest Mixtape”! Each month (starting right now!) we will feature a new guest writer who will tackle one of your advice questions with words *and* music! 

Huge thanks to writer, comedian, and actor Brittany Ashley for kicking things off for us!

Listen to Brittany’s Mixtape, “Build That Foundation,” right here!

share:

, , , ,

"Hi Everyone! So I'm in a kinda awkward situation... I've been dating this lady for 7-ish months and spend a lot of time at her place. I recently found a few old mementos from her past lovers - love notes, journals, cards, gifts, etc. I'm finding it hard to not feel jealous (especially cuz I'm not as experienced as her when it comes to relationships, and I trash everything after the relationship is over)... What do you suggest we do? Do I have the right to feel upset and jealous about this?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

share: