On (Not Yet) Coming to Terms

May 1, 2010 | 2010 Spring - The (First) Youth Issue, Articles

By K.

At this point in my life, I have yet to “come out,” mostly because I am not sure whether I need to come out, or what exactly it is I might need to come out about. After thinking carefully about my sexuality, I realized that many of the reasons I have not come out are related to my age, both because my age means I have not yet had a lot of experience with relationships or a lot of time to discover and reflect upon my own feelings and attractions, and because many of the social circumstances defining the time in which I am coming of age make my true feelings difficult to sort out. I have put together a list of ten reasons why I haven’t come out:

  1. At the age of twenty, I have only dated men, and with the exception of some adolescent experimentation, only had sexual experiences with men. I acknowledge that I have sexual attractions toward women, but I am uncertain of whether I can see myself in a relationship with a woman. I think I need more time and life experience to become more certain of my feelings.
  2. Because I am still uncertain of my feelings, “coming out” seems awkward. Especially because I am in a relationship with a man, “coming out” seems like it would be a discussion of who I might date in the future—or perhaps of my sexual fantasies—which seems like a potentially uncomfortable discussion, especially to have with my parents! Also, I am afraid of having a label assigned to me by others when I am still uncertain of how I feel.
  3. As a woman with a generally “straight” romantic/sexual history, I am not sure whether my attractions to women are “real,” or whether they are a reaction against what has bothered me in relationships with men. I am especially turned off by men who seem to put up a front in order to display a certain type of masculinity. I feel I am more attracted to femininity, but I am uncertain of whether I am attracted to femininity in male-bodied people, female-bodied people, or both.
  4. I can’t help but notice in my relationships with men how much their ideas of sex have been influenced by a particular type of pornography. I have expressed to partners my frustration that it seems a sexual encounter isn’t considered “sex” unless it culminates with a man putting his dick in my vagina, and I often feel that they just humor me with a little more of this or that, but are not open to a different kind of sexual experience. I also find the female body very beautiful, and I am curious about what sex would be like without dick involved, but I am uncertain of whether this is simply curiosity/fantasy, or part of a “true” sexual identity.
  5. I am also uncertain of whether my attractions to women result from the over-sexualization of the female body in our culture. If so, I am not sure whether it is “just a fantasy,” or whether I could be in a relationship with a woman.
  6. I sometimes feel like I can’t own the word “bi” or “queer” because I look so straight! I also feel nervous about approaching a woman I’m attracted to because I know I am very normative in my gender presentation, and I’m just not sure if queer women would be interested in me.
  7. Although I sometimes want to believe I am beyond such concerns, I know that part of me fears the reactions I will encounter from others if I am to acknowledge my attractions to women or come out as bisexual or queer, especially from certain family members.
  8. I also know that I am not immune to internalizing biphobia or homophobia, and although I am very accepting of others’ various sexual identities, I know that a part of me isn’t ready to accept a queer identity as my own.
  9. If I were to come out, or adopt a label for my sexuality, I am uncertain of what label would fit me. I find myself very attracted to many genderqueer people, and although I know the word “bisexual” need not imply that I limit my attractions to two genders, I think I would be more comfortable using a label that reflects my attraction to gender expression that goes beyond the binary… But I am not sure what that word is.
  10. At this point in my life, I am content not to pick a label, because I want to be open to discovering my potential to be attracted to different people.

In closing, I know that many of the reasons I have not come out relate to the fact that I am just not sure what to come out “as”! However, I realize that by not coming out at all, I am assumed to be straight, and politically I find this problematic. I hope, then, to keep reflecting on and realizing my attractions because I want to come out as something at some point. In the meantime, I have to say that I feel so very welcome in the bi community, despite the fact that I do not (yet?) identity as bisexual, so I would like to thank everyone who has made this community a place where what you call yourself is not nearly as important as what it is you believe in!

K. is currently studying Sociology. She spends a lot of time thinking about gender and sexuality in the (overlapping) contexts of her personal life and academic work.


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