After watching Orange is the New Black as a sixteen-year-old, I was able to put two and two together to figure out that I was gay. Over the past three years, I have gradually come out to many people in my life, sometimes casually but other times dramatically. Since then, I’ve been faced with a slew of questions regarding my sexuality – from friends, acquaintances and family. Some of these are annoying, while others make me laugh. To set things straight, I thought I’d answer some of them for you.
“So do you have a boyfriend? Tell me, I promise I can keep a secret.”
No, I don’t. I’m actually too busy studying right now to date. All the boys are interested in my friends anyway. (Oh and also, I’m gay.)
“But are you sure you don’t like boys?”
Honestly, I’m not 100 per cent sure. But I’m fine with that, and you should be too. Why does everyone have to focus on the fact that I don’t like boys if I’m gay? Can’t we just focus on the fact that I do like girls and non-binary people? While these two statements may seem the same, my disinterest in boys makes me feel much more like an outsider than my interest in girls and non-binary people.
But you’ve never really had an actual girlfriend. Are you sure you’re gay?
True! But you know, requiring queer people to be in relationships to validate their queerness is a practice which is getting tiring. There’s never a need for straight people to be coupled to prove their sexuality. I mean, sure, being queer is about loving people of the same gender – and other genders for many people! – but it’s about more than that. So much of this postal survey bullshit focuses on how love is love and that queer people deserve to get married because their love is equal to that of heterosexuals. It almost seems like queer people are only palatable to broader society if they’re in relationships, because that’s the only way we are relatable.
Have you always had short hair?
No, I actually had long hair until two years ago. Although I did accidentally get a short haircut when I was one. My mother cried because I “looked like a boy.”
But you looked so pretty with long hair! Why did you cut it? Are you going to grow it out?
Thanks! I had long hair for most of my life but I felt like it was time for a change. I lacked the motivation to do anything with it too – it was always either in a bun, a ponytail or down. I was sick of showers taking forever. For the moment I think I’m going to keep it short. I can save money on shampoo and conditioner that way.
Aren’t you just conforming to lesbian stereotypes by cutting your hair short? Doesn’t that set a bad example for young girls?
Maybe I am. But that isn’t a bad thing. And in many ways having short hair is defying gender norms for women, and showing young girls that they don’t have to fit that Barbie doll mould.
Also what the fuck does this question even mean?
Aren’t you conforming to lesbian stereotypes by becoming a vegetarian? Don’t you have any sense of individuality?
I actually feel like I might be conforming to the B&G stereotype more than the lesbian one by becoming a vegetarian.
And don’t you play softball too? And do gender studies? And visual art? Do you do anything heterosexual? Also, do you ever want to be employed?
Yes, that’s true. Gee, you really know a lot about me. I actually started playing softball before I realised I was gay.
And yes, I would like to get a job someday. I’d like to think that my visual arts degree will make me stand out from the crowd when it comes time to apply for jobs. Maybe that’s just naivety though.
Why don’t you wear makeup? Don’t you want to look your age?
Honesty, because I’m lazy and would prefer to sleep that extra half an hour. And why would I waste money on makeup when I could spend it on food? Also, I didn’t endure nine months of roaccutane for nothing.
I do think people see me as younger because I don’t wear makeup though – most of the time I think that’s great. There is a tendency to associate attractiveness with maturity and confidence though, which many people achieve with makeup, so I do worry it also means that people won’t be attracted to me.
Do you think you were born gay?
I don’t know. And I don’t really care either.
So do you have a crush on me?
I really don’t.
Truthfully, I’ve never been asked this question. But it’s a question that I fear people might harbour internally. This concern has actually been one of the reasons why I’m scared to come out to some friends. I wish that my sexuality wouldn’t impact the way people understand my friendships with them. I’m not sure why, but I truly just see my friends as friends and nothing more. And even if that wasn’t the case, I don’t think it’s fair that queer people are treated differently than straight people by their friends. When I was younger, I particularly feared coming out to my swimming squad, as I was worried they would treat me differently in the change room. If there’s one thing to take from this article, it would be to treat your queer friends just like the rest of your friends.
Do you think you’ll always identify as a lesbian?
I’m not sure. I usually don’t actually label myself as a lesbian: I prefer queer. I think the term lesbian can actually be quite restrictive sometimes. Perhaps this is because it has historically been defined as someone attracted to only women (though that is changing now). Or maybe it’s the expectations and stereotypes that are placed upon lesbians that I don’t want to have to live up to. But maybe my dislike of the word is just my internalised homophobia talking, who knows.