FAQ

“how can I surely know I am gay? like everyone is saying that they have known it since they were little kids, but can you figure out later that you somehow happen to love women? I told my mother about my feelings because I believed that she would help me with it but she said to me that, she knew me and I cant like women because I didnt obviously like girls when I was a little kid. does it really make sense? I am really confused, I dont think I am faking my feelings but what if she is right?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

Your mom is wrong.

Want to know how I know? I know because I am pretty flippin’ gay (specifically a queer bisexual cisgender lady married to a queer cisgender lady, if you really want to know the particulars), and I didn’t have any awareness whatsoever of being anything except tiny Kristin Russo when I was tiny Kristin Russo.

When I was 4 ½ I met a boy named Peter and he was 4 ½ too, and I thought that was the most lovely thing I had ever heard and so we told our parents we were boyfriend and girlfriend and then wrote each other pen-pal letters for a few years. In middle school I had real, heart-stopping crushes on boys and I also adored my very best friend in the whole wide world who was a girl. When she moved from New York to Ohio it was as though all of our limbs were being ripped from our bodies. You know?! In tenth grade I kissed some girls on “dares,” and was like “Oooooh boy, I sure don’t think I am gay… that was a GRAND EXPERIMENT, though!” Then, when I was a senior in high school I kissed one more girl and I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach and I was like “OH WAIT OH SHOOT OH MY I AM SO GAY FOR THIS GIRL AHHHH.”

You can read some of what happened after that when it came to coming out to my family here, but my larger point is that while I can go back and see some deep connections that I made with other girls (like my BFF in middle school) and perhaps overlay some “Oh maybe I should have known something then” logic… I didn’t know then. I didn’t know at all! I wasn’t sitting up at night thinking, “Oh but if only my BFF would kiss me someday, wouldn’t that be swell?!” I didn’t want to kiss her! I just wanted to be her very best friend forever!!

Some people know from a young age, sure. They feel different, they have crushes that are clear, and they might do things that make their parents or family think, “She is gonna be gay.” (Which SPOILER ALERT is pretty problematic bc you cannot tell a person’s sexuality by watching their behavior alone, duh.) Some people might be able to say, “Well, my name is Tina and I am a lesbian, I have known forever, it is clear as day,” and then slap a big rainbow sticker on their laptop. That is super great for Tina! GO TINA.

However, there are a whole ton of people who, like me (and you!), navigate through our sexuality in a more complicated (and sometimes confusing) manner. You might not ever feel like you know who you will be forever, and that is okay. You might not feel like you know exactly how you feel right now, and that is also okay. What you are saying is that you might find girls attractive, and you don’t have a label for those feelings yet. THAT. IS. OKAY. That is great! That means you know something super rad about yourself, and it means that maybe you will explore those feelings with people as time goes on. That exploration might teach you even more about yourself – what you like, what you don’t – and help you in better understanding your identity.

You aren’t faking your feelings. If you were smushing down those feelings and not talking about them or acknowledging them at all, that would be really tricky, and might make you “fake” certain feelings (like forcing yourself to date a boy so you don’t have to think so much about your crushes on girls, for example). If you are curious or interested or super into the idea of dating a girl someday, that isn’t fake! Even if you someday date a girl or kiss a girl and think, “Welp, I didn’t like that after all,” those feelings still weren’t fake!! They were just feelings that changed over time.

It is okay to tell your mom you don’t have a word for yourself yet (and that you might not ever). It is okay to tell your mom that not all gay people “always knew” who they were. It is okay to tell your mom that what you need right now is her support and love as you work to understand yourself better, and that you would really love to keep an open dialogue with her as you figure things out more.

Here is a video where I talk a bit more about my own journey with my sexuality, and here is another video I made with my own mom about our coming out process together.

Coming out to ourselves and other people can be really confusing sometimes, and that is totally, completely okay.

All my love to you and your mom, and I hope 2017 brings you a whole bunch of new questions, new answers, and maybe even a girlfriend WHO KNOWS.

xo

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“How should a new trans man deal with all the increase in anxiety after finally being honest with themself?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Liam Lowery as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Liam Says:

You know the expression, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it”? Here is what I perceived from the way you asked this question:

I am guessing that there was always a nebulous question mark looming over your head when it came not just to sexuality—but to more basic things, like your name or preferred gender pronouns.

I am guessing that you eventually decided you needed to answer those questions about yourself.

I am guessing that inevitably, you saw a plot arc on The L Word, or came across a Tumblr featuring cute trans guys in bow ties, and a chord was struck somewhere deep within you. For the first time, maybe, you felt called towards an answer about yourself.

But, given societal transphobia, lack of inclusion in some LBGT spaces, and the entire overwhelming process of transitioning (though that means different things for different people), maybe you didn’t want that answer to be “trans.” You thought about the process of telling family and friends, and your heart sank. Could you really take this on?

Maybe I am just projecting.

You see, the hardest person to come out to is always yourself. Because when you come out to yourself, it sets you on a path lined with decisions only you can make. When I realized I was trans, I wanted to shove the realization deep into the recesses of my mind and never deal with it again. But I couldn’t, and I’m glad for it now.

I have news for you, new trans man. Since you’ve come out to yourself, you are not so new after all—in fact, you’ve already done the hardest thing. Congratulations!

For the anxiety:

[First, I want to say this: if at any point your anxiety is overwhelming, or makes you think suicidal thoughts, seek the help of a mental health professional immediately. Not to be a downer, but it is important to be aware of since one of the sad legacies of our community is an increased rate of suicide and depression.]

Early-transition anxiety varies a lot from person to person. Some people may have a hard time talking to their family about their new identity. For others, it might be trying to gain access to trans inclusive healthcare or afford things like new gender affirming clothes. For others, it might be gaining trans-specific legal resources to aid in their transition. For others, especially those who are geographically isolated, it might be establishing a trans support system. All of these problems can be solved using the Internet: PFLAG’s website for families, eBay for cheap clothes,Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Lambda Legal for legal resources, Art of TranslinessOriginal Plumbing and Bklyn Boihood for community resources, and to meet cool new friends.

Then there’s the stress, though. The stress of trying to decide what medical steps, if any, your transition will involve, and how to afford them. The stress of convincing your family and friends to respect your identity and, when they do, reflecting how your relationships have changed as a result. The stress of legally changing your name and/or legal gender, if you decide to do so. The stress that even when you do “transition” (whatever that really means), even if you are stealth and passing, you can never un-learn the questions you had to ask to get there: what does gender really mean, and how does gender inequality inform everyone’s lives.

Deep stuff, right?! When I was newly out, I felt like I was on a long road with no end in sight. It’s scary. I totally understand. As such, the last thing I wanted was more information on how to start a Kickstarter to fund my surgeries, or how to do a testosterone shot. I wanted to know (preferably from someone a few years post-coming out) how to get through the dark days when you feel bad/ugly and your family isn’t talking to you and everyone at school thinks you’re a freak. I didn’t want advice on the beautiful butterfly I would become (I am sure you know that you, too, are a beautiful butterfly), I wanted to hear how to survive as a caterpillar. In case you can’t tell, I am about to get mad real.

Take a bath.  No, seriously. Take a bath. Make yourself a nice cup of tea, light a candle, get in the tub. Or if you live in a place with only a shower, go get one of those shower steamer things that makes your shower smell extra good.

Or: eat an ice cream cone. Clean your room. Do a yoga pose. Buy a plant and keep it alive. Wash your clothes with fabric softener. Take a walk. Paint a picture. Nap. Make yourself a dinner like you’d make if company were coming over. Sleep in.

The goal of this is two-fold: 1. Remind yourself that you are special and deserve to be taken care of. 2. Spend some time with you, in leisure, since you are already spending lots of time working on you. Get to know you, get to like you. You deserve that.

Then, after your bath/nap/ice cream/walk/laundry, take a minute to be grateful.

Take a second to say to yourself: I am so lucky to have the clarity to know myself. I am so lucky have already done the hardest part. I am so lucky to have good things in my life.

Gratitude is a practice, and often throughout any transition (whether you’re moving away from home for the first time, or changing your life to better reflect your gender identity) gratefulness is often the only thing that can ward of anxiety and fear.  It is one of few sure ways to foster happiness in yourself without any external motivator. It is very good for sustaining you through long journeys, like the one you are on.

And then, always, remind yourself that the hardest part is behind you.

***
Click through to read more about Liam & our other Second Opinions panelists!

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"I’m in love with my straight best friend. She is perfect. WHAT THE FISK DO I DO?!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

We get this question all the time, so we wanted to revisit because (1) helping people (2) FISK. LOLOLOOL.

Anywayzzzz. I was 100% head over heels, ready to lay in front of a bus for, could have been married that second, spend your life together, in LOVE with my straight best friend in college. What did I do? I asked her to date me almost every day. She said no almost every day. This story does not end in ‘turns out she was gay and we are in love now” at all. In fact, it was a helluva journey.

I didn’t tell her for a while that I was into her because I was afraid it would make things weird or uncomfortable or she would think I was an idiot or whatever. I just couldn’t do it. BUT Y’ALL. It was already weird and uncomfortable because I FELT WEIRD AND UNCOMFORTABLE. Once I finally told her and she was like ‘I’m not gay, tho’ things were a lot easier. I still totally wanted to date her, but I could make jokes about it, talk to my friends about my feelings, and I wasn’t obsessing over it in my head.

When I was obsessing over everything in my head, nothing made sense. I was convinced that when she said, “ooh i love this song” what she meant was “this love song represents how I feel for you.” Spoiler: SHE JUST ACTUALLY LIKED A SONG, THAT’S IT.

Also, what happens if she has feelings for you, too? If you don’t say something, you will NEVER KNOW. You will CONSTANTLY wonder. You will literally be thinking ‘what if’ for the rest of your life. And trust me, that shit will ruin you. I think you should totally say something.

Kristin Says:

Yes, there are two main things to remember when you are in love with your straight best friend. Since almost all of you are, have been, or will be in love with your best friend, pay attention:

1 – Things will, almost always, be weirder in the long run if you aren’t honest about your feelings. Bottled up love-feelings make you act in ridiculously strange ways, make you feel more and more distant from your friendship, and just turn your brain-head into general, all-around mush.

When I was in college, and in love with my straight best friend, I didn’t tell her for years. For YEARS I would think about what it meant when she’d ask me to come watch Felicity, I would be filled with enormous amounts of hope when I was asked to sleep over, and I would go out of my way to be present at any party that she attended (“what if THIS IS MY NIGHT?!”). Eventually, after my love-feelings were gone and I was in a long-term relationship with another lady, I told her about my past feelings. Her response? “Yeah, I knew all along. There was one night where I almost did roll over and make out with you.”

SHE KNEW ALL ALONG.
WE’D ALMOST MADE OUT ONE TIME.
LIFE, YOU GUYS.

2 – It will be okay if you have feelings and hers are not the same.

You don’t have to pull a Dannielle and ask her to date you everyday (tho, you can and it works pretty well if you’re of a similar personality type). You can explain that you have some feelings and that you know she isn’t into ladies, but that because you value your relationship so very much… you just had to be honest so you could work through things.

Sure, if she says “I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO SAY SOMETHING,” and then romantic music swells in the background, and you kiss and flowers spring up all around you while a choir of angels descend… that would be wonderful.

If, however, she seems a little weird, or things feel a little wobbly, that is okay. If your heart feels like breaking into bits and you believe you’ll never love anyone like you love her: your heart will mend, and you will love other people. I can promise you that from over here on the other side. Be patient with your own feelings and remember that even if things are weird for a bit — a friendship, like any relationship, goes through ups and downs!

Your friendship will carry you through if things get a little wonky, and there’s a good chance that being honest will help you move through the feelings in a much healthier way.

Plus, WHO KNOWS YOU GUYS MAYBE YOU’LL EVEN MAKE OUT OR WHATEVER.

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"How can I stop acting like a dork-waffle and a half in front of people I find attractive?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

DORK. WAFFLE.

DORKWAFFLE. LOLOLOLOL

sigh. I have no idea. bye.

JK. I mean… real talk I don’t have an idea, but I will regale you with some words that will maybe help. First of all, I am a born-n-bred dork waffle. I can’t NOT be a dork waffle, so I spent a long time learning to accept my dork waffliness. The fact of the matter is, I AM WHO I AM and who I am is a dork full of waffles (??) and when I like someone, I want them to like me back because they actually like me back, not because I played it super cool around them for a while and they thought the fake super cool version of me was the real me…

Second of all, accepting your dork waffliness is difficult. HOWEVER, it is possible. Think about it from the opposing POV. If a girl walked up to you and was like “heeyyyy sooooo you’re cute i’m leaving bye ttyl that paper has my phone number haha bye” one of two things would happen (1) you would think “holy shit that was the cutest thing on earth” OR (2) you would think “that was bizarre, I’m not at all attracted to that kind of human interaction.” If you’re not into it, you’re not into it, AND THAT’S OKAY. But if  you arrrrre into it, good lord everything just got so awesome.

My point: Do you. Be true. Fall n Luv.

Kristin Says:

You guys. I love dork waffles.

I am like the Leslie Knope of Dorktown.

Get it? Bc Leslie Knope loves waffles and in Dorktown they would be Dork Waffles so if I am her it’s like a metaphor for loving dork waffles.

*drops mic*
*picks mic back up*

Seriously, though. All the things Dannielle said. Who ever told anyone that dorkwaffles weren’t totally attractive?

If you want tips to keep your cool a little more FINE, plan a couple of things to ask about, make eye contact, keep breathing, say goodbye one time instead of four times, blahblahblah. There are your tips. You know what you’ll do with them? You’ll make a plan to ask her about where she got her jeans, and instead you’ll say “Jeans! HAHA!” and instead of making eye contact you’ll accidentally look at the zipper on her jeans bc you were going to say something relevant but your eyes will get stuck there for a second too long and then you’ll be all “OH GOD I WASN’T LOOKING AT YOUR CROTCH I’M SORRY. It was your zipper. I was thinking about jeans. Because I like your zipper. I mean your jeans. Anyway…” (At this point you will have forgotten to breathe and you’ll gulp air like you are preparing for an underwater challenge) “…HERE’S MY NUMBER IF YOU EVER WANT TO TALK ABOUT THINGS BESIDES JEANS.” Then you’ll run away and forget to even say goodbye at all.

It’s. Fine. EMBRACE YOUR DORKWAFFLINESS.
Being a self-proclaimed dork waffle is a beautiful thing. Don’t fight it.
Lots of us out here really like our dork waffles just the way they are.

 

 

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“I want to have sex with my girlfriend but I want to know the cautions and what to do in order to be safe. I’m female.”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Dr. Justine Shuey as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Dr. Shuey Says:

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) do not discriminate, so it is important to protect yourself and your partner(s). There are ways to get STIs without ever having sex (through birth, skin-to-skin contact, sharing IV drugs / needles / injection equipment, etc) so it doesn’t matter if your partner is a virgin, or if you are – you always need to protect yourself and your partner(s). STIs can be transmitted sexually in a variety of ways via bodily fluids, which include blood, semen, vaginal secretions, anal secretions, breast milk or even skin-to-skin contact.

Using Latex (or non-latex) dental dams during oral sex prevents the transmission of bodily fluid and some skin-to-skin contact. Some even come in yummy flavors to make oral sex taste sweeter. If you can’t find dental dams you can make them using regular latex/non-latex male condoms or gloves. You can find easy to follow instructions for this online.

If using sex toys, you should know what material the toy is made of, if it can be completely sterilized, and if it is safe for sharing (when cleaned appropriately). You might also consider covering sex toys with condoms to prevent the spread of infections and for easier clean up.

You should also considering using gloves/finger cots for vaginal and anal play. It will make things smoother and will help lubricants last longer.

Individuals with penises can use male condoms during oral, anal or vaginal sex. There are even flavored condoms made specifically for oral sex (which could be cut and used as dental dams).

There are also “Female Condoms” & “FC2” condoms which are insertable condoms and can be used during vaginal sex or used during receptive anal sex by removing the inner ring. These are made of non-latex materials and can also be cut and used as dental dams.

There are a variety of lubricants available: A good water-based lubricant is best, though you can use flavored lubricants externally during oral sex on the outside of condoms/dental dams. Silicone lubricant is another option but be cautious as silicone lubricant will break down silicone sex toys.

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