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"I'm 20yo and recently found ur channel, where the vid w/ your mom really struck a chord.In the last yr, I've realized i am bisexual.My family is devoutly catholic, and so while i don't like the idea of them not knowing, i'm not really counting on a positive reaction(many think bi=slutty) Its really encouraging to hear you talk about working things out with your mom, but overwhelming to imagine doing that w/ my whole family to the point where I'm not even sure if it's worth it and idk what to do."

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin says:

Hi, hi, hi.

Listen, I totally understand what you’re saying, and I want to be clear: my mom and I are in a pretty great place right now with my sexuality, but there were years where it felt overwhelming and super, super hard. To be honest, during many of the years that I was first going through the coming-out process with my family, I (unknowingly) closed myself off to a lot of the things that were happening; I think our bodies go into self-protection mode when we are around things that hurt us. I would often avoid conversations that might intersect with my sexuality, or, even more so, I would cloak myself in anger and spent years raging against the heterosexual-machine.*

I have the benefit of being able to now LOOK BACK at that time in my life and view it from a distance. I have the benefit of being able to sit down with my mom and reflect on those years that were super, super hard. I came out in 1998, and my mom and I made this video in 2016 – almost twenty years of work span in between.

Now, I do not say any of this to discourage you, Anonymous. As a matter of fact, I say it to encourage you, and to hopefully better inform and prepare you for what (might) lie ahead. My family – and especially my extended family – is incredibly Catholic. My mom, over time, has been able to integrate her love for me with her faith. That is an integration that took a lot of time, a lot of conversation, a lot of patience, and some serious, overwhelming hurt (for both of us). My extended family has done varying levels of that same integration (for both me and my wife as a matter of fact), but we still bump into places that are difficult, and I think we always will.

One thing I never bump into anymore, though, is the avoidance of speaking my truth. I no longer apologize for who I am, and I don’t to hesitate or avoid my truths when I am around my family. They know who I am, they know the work that I do, and most of us have chosen to focus on the things that we know to be true: we love each other, we have differing beliefs in certain places, and we have the same beliefs in many others.

Yes, my Catholic family can still tangle together my life and their beliefs in ways that hurt, but moreso than anything else they have chosen to center their actions and their words around LOVE. And as well they should! My understanding of Catholicism, Christianity, and most religions, is that love and community are core tenets of the larger structure. Those supports of love and community helped to bring my mom and I to where we are today, and I can say the same for many of my aunts and cousins, too.

I encourage you to take your process one step at a time. You don’t have to come out to your whole family all at once (and maybe give the people you do come out to a copy of This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids so that they understand that they aren’t to go telling everyone before you’re ready, not to mention gaining a whole bunch of other important knowledge!). Prepare yourself as best you can, which generally means surrounding yourself with supportive friends and online communities – places you can turn to when your family is processing in ways that hurt you.

Our website for parents is also a really great resource to offer them as you do come out (we have a whole section on religion!), and when things are feeling low, spend some time in this playlist of the best lipsycing that Dannielle and I ever did… that’s exactly what it’s for.

xo, Kristin

*Technically, I suppose I am still raging against the heterosexual machine…

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“Hi, I’m Sara and I’m 15. I’ve been trying to figure put my sexuality for a while and when people ask about my sexuality I just tell them ‘Oh, I’ve had a boyfriend for two years’ and they just leave it at that. When the truth is I’M CONFUSED AS ALL HELL!!! I love my boyfriend but I’ve never been interested in sex. Ever. And I think I’m Asexual but there’s also the factor of having had crushes on people of all genders and I don’t know if that makes me pansexual or what. Or Pan and Asexual? Advice?”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Kara Kratcha Says:

Dear Sara,

Oh geeze. I have felt these feelings (confusion! conflict! ambivalence!) and given similar non-answers when people ask about my sexuality so many times. As I’m sure you know, I can’t tell you whether you’re asexual or pansexual or anything else. I can, however, tell you a little bit about how I felt when I was 15 and offer some advice about sexuality labels.

When I was 15, I barely knew any “LBGTQ” people. To make matters worse, almost all of the “LGBTQ” people I knew were gay men. There’s nothing wrong with gay men, of course, but the lack of queer representation in my life really limited my options in terms of possible sexuality and gender labels. (I know you didn’t ask about gender, but a lot of what I’m going to say applies to gender as well as sexuality.) I keep putting “LGBTQ” in quotation marks because, although I knew the letters in the acronym at 15, I didn’t hear the word “queer” as I understand it now until I was in college. As far as I was concerned, the Q stood for questioning. And honestly? 15-year-old me kind of liked “questioning” as a sexuality label.

In a lot of ways, you’re doing better than I was at 15. You have access to words like asexual and pansexual, and you’re not afraid to use them. That’s excellent! Unfortunately, with access to so many words comes pressure to pick the correct words. If it’s possible to figure out that you’re a (for example) biromantic polyamorous grey-ace nonbinary human, wouldn’t you want to know?

Sometimes you would. I bet you’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the truth about yourself. It feels good to find words that reflect how we experience the world. The thing is, words like asexual and pansexual are trying to capture the commonalities between many people’s experiences. Identity words allow us to form communities around shared truths. Identity words also don’t always provide for each person’s experiences all the time.

Having crushes on people of all genders and not experiencing any sexual attraction is an experience that some people would call panromantic asexuality. You can identify that way if you want to, but you don’t have to. For more asexuality words, you can check out this glossary from the Asexuality Archive. You might find something you like there.

My advice is to think about what you want out of an identity label. Who is your identity for? Is it for you, to help you understand your own experience better? Is it for your community, to help you find people like you? Is it for other people, to help you explain your experiences to them? (If you haven’t, it might be a good idea to discuss what you’ve been thinking about your sexuality with your boyfriend. A supportive partner probably wants to know what’s going on with you so that they can support you better.) No matter what you decide, how you use these identity words is up to you.

I also want you to remember that you don’t have to use the same label at all times with everyone forever. Explaining your complex feelings and experiences gets exhausting if you try to do it for everyone! You can tell people different things about yourself in different contexts. You can offer different levels of information about yourself to different people. You can decide on a label and change your mind in five minutes or five years. Let yourself use the words that feel good now, and give yourself permission to use different words later. Your future self will appreciate that!

You don’t owe anyone absolute consistency, and you don’t have to explain yourself to everyone who asks in order to claim the identity you want to claim. You’re pan or ace or queer or whatever enough because you say you are. Anyone who refuses to allow you to keep learning about yourself, preserve your energy for when you need it, and tell your truth how you want to is bad news. You can keep questioning as long as you want to.

***

Kara Kratcha studies English literature at a university in New York City. She recently applied to library school and tells everyone that she’s an aspiring librarian, but really she’s always wanted to be an advice columnist. (Kara would like to thank Everyone Is Gay for making hir dream come true.) If she had to pick a label, she would probably go with “genderfluid polyamorous demiromantic grey-ace,” but usually she just kind of shrugs. Right now (like, probably literally right now) Kara is working on hir senior thesis on representations of asexuality in Sherlock fan fiction.

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"What advice can you offer to a person in their mid-20s who is curious about women? While I've always had some curiosity (but never acted upon it), I've always classed myself as straight. But the curiosity is getting a lot stronger and I'd like to explore it and find out how I really feel. I've no idea how to connect with other women and I also don't want to waste someone's time if they're looking for someone who knows what they want because I might find that it isn't what I want."

-Question Submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

Ooooooh ok ok ok ready: MAKE OUT WITH A GIRL! MAKE OUT WITH TWO GIRLS! MAKE OUT WITH ALLL THE GIRRRLLLS!

*clears throat*

I understand what you are saying, Anonymous, about being worried because “what if it is isn’t what you wind up wanting,” but at the same time: isn’t that the entire point of connecting with people in the first place?! It’s like, when I met my wife and thought “boy oh boy do I sure want to make out with that one,” I definitely had no way of knowing a) that I would actually like making out with her once we made out (I did), 2) whether or not I would want to keep making out (I DID), 3) if making out would mean we’d talk about more-than-making-out (we did), 4) if we wanted the same things for the rest of our lives (who knowwwws but so far we are doing pretty good)! All we could do was make the decision to make out and then reassess… then make out some more and reassess… then get married and keep making out (HOW FUN).

You aren’t obligated to know how you’ll feel about connecting to anyone before you connect with them, so I, Kristin Russo, give you full permission to take that concern and toss it out the window. Cool? Cool.

NOW: On how to connect. Personally, I really like making out, so I screamed a bunch about making out up there… but for you connecting with another girl might mean something totally different! It might mean that you ask someone you have more-than-friend-feelings for to grab a coffee or a beer, and then talk to them for hours. It might mean that you see them again, and tell them that you’ve been questioning your attractions (HINT HINT). It might mean you watch a movie at their house and you hold hands and see how that feels. It might mean you have dinner together and then have all the sex all night long! IT MIGHT MEAN YOU WRITE EACH OTHER LOVE POEMS, WHO KNOWS.

Point being: you should think about what you like, and what you want. Then, once you have some thoughts, you do like the rest of us and clumsily stumble around trying to make those thoughts a reality. It’s okay to mess up or feel scared (IT CAN BE SO SCARY BUT EEEE THAT’S THE FUN!), it’s okay if you stumble a bit, and it’s okay if you love it too much or you don’t love it at all.

Our desires and attractions can be so much fun if we let ourselves have the room to explore… and that is exactly what you are saying you want to do, Anon.

THREE CHEERS FOR MAKING OUT WITH GIRLS!
WOOOOOO!

 

***
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"Hi so I am a lesbian who is still mostly in the closet I am just not ready to come out just yet but there is a guy in my class who has a big crush on me. I don't like him at all but I don't want to be rude he keep's asking me out on date's and I keep saying no. How can I get the message to him nicely that it's nothing personal I just don't like him without coming out as gay?"

-Question Submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

HOW ABOUT DON’T GET THE MESSAGE TO HIM NICELY ANYMORE, HUH?!

Oooooooooh, Anonymous, I am sorry for yelling, but your question fired up all of my feminist gears and pistons and engines and superpowers and whatever else comes in this box labeled “Feminist Powers, Open With Care.” Let’s just take a moment to go over what you said here:

– A boy asked you out on a date

– You politely said no

– A boy asked you out on a date again

– You politely said no

– A boy. Asked you out. On a date. AGAIN.

Now, and I understand where you are coming from, I DO, you are asking how else to fucking politely say no again but GUESS WHAT… this boy isn’t getting the message. Guess what else? Your sexuality doesn’t need to have anything to do with this exchange, because who you choose to go out with isn’t anyone’s business but your own.

I am mad, Anonymous, not because of this one boy in your class who has a crush and who might just reaaallly think that you saying “no,” means “maybe.” However, read that last sentence again and you’ll get where this kind of behavior is super fucking dangerous. When people think “no” means “maybe,” other people – and especially women – are put in really shitty, dangerous, fucked up situations. This boy in your class, and lots of other boys (and other people, not just boys!) need to be taught to listen to what others say, and not assume that they know what others might want despite what they say.

Does this mean you have to walk into class, open up your own box of feminist-power and smash this boy over the head with it?? You certainly CAN, but that isn’t the only solution here.

If I were you, the first step I’d take would be to speak directly and clearly (which is still polite!), letting this boy know that I’d like him to stop asking me out. I’d say something like, “Listen. I don’t want to go out on a date with you, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t as me any more. It’s important to me that we have the ability to be friends, and the more you ask, the less that becomes possible!”

Now, you’ve drawn your line. Clearly.

If this boy asks you out again after you say these words to him, I don’t know that he even deserves an answer, and that much is up to you. If you’re feeling it as much as I am feeling it though, turn to him and say, “I didn’t have interest in going on a date in the first place, but I can tell you very clearly that I would never, ever want to date a person who doesn’t trust the words that I share with them. I’ve repeatedly told you I wasn’t interested in dating you, and I also tried to be polite. You have disrespected me by ignoring what I’ve said and what I’ve asked for, and I think that if you are looking to date anyone in the future, you should really think about being more respectful to start with. THANK YOU AND GOOD DAY, SIR.”

Then, blast a Beyonce song in your mind and go back to your work.

*flips all the furniture in the room*

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