Sometimes people know exactly who they are: gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, asexual … male, female, or another gender identity. There are people who’ve been aware that they’re LGBT since they were children.
But plenty of people are questioning their identities, figuring out who they are and who they want to be. It’s not necessarily easy, or “supposed” to be easy. Human beings are complicated. Sex and gender are complicated subjects.
Straight? Well, maybe, but there was that guy—but maybe that was just a crush. And maybe I’m a little feminine, but that doesn’t make me gay—but if he were my boyfriend—but I love my girlfriend—but my girlfriend’s maybe more masculine even than I am, and she told me she once liked another girl. Maybe I just like tomboys? But he isn’t a woman …
Who is this kid? A bisexual boy? A gay boy? A “feminine” straight boy who likes to date “masculine” women?
Who is his girlfriend? A bisexual girl? A straight girl going through a phase? A lesbian with a one-time crush on a feminine guy?
The lines between different identities are not always clear-cut. Sometimes we can’t quite figure out what we’re feeling, what we’re experiencing. We’re in a state of questioning—not sure about ourselves, one way or the other.
If you have a crush on someone of the same gender, that doesn’t “make you” gay. It doesn’t “make you” anything. If it’s just an isolated incident, not a pattern, it won’t do you any good to assign it more meaning than it’s worth. Having a crush makes you someone with a crush.
Along the same lines, even: having kissed someone of the same gender doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay. It means you’ve kissed a person. Period.
If you regularly crush on/are attracted to people of the same gender, it’s likely that most people would consider you gay (or, if you like the opposite gender too, bisexual). But “a single incident” or “an experimentation” doesn’t carry the same significance as does a regular behavior pattern.
Maybe you’re a straight person, and your hormones are bringing out a touch of bisexuality in you. Maybe you’re gay and you’ll feel this way all your life. Maybe you’re bisexual. You’ll have time to figure it out, and any way is fine.
The same sort of theory applies to questioning around gender identity. Many people are masculine females, and feminine males, without having trans identities or wanting to transition. An occasional thought of Damn, I wish I was [other gender], life would be so much nicer that way is very, very common.
When you’re experiencing thoughts, emotions, or attractions that seem to indicate a certain label—don’t panic, and don’t assume. Ask yourself some questions:
How long have I been feeling this way? Since I was a child? Since last week? In the long term, does it seem like a viable option that I might grow up to be this way? How do I imagine relationships? How do I conceive my self-image; what is my identity?
In the past, looking over all my attractions, what patterns do I see? How do I feel about men, about women? Do I ever want to stop questioning? (This is not something you ever have to do; “making up your mind” about yourself is hardly mandatory.)
These questions are heavy stuff. They’re also quite rewarding to think about, even if you’re one of those lucky people who knows the answers already.
Keep reading, too; make sure that your ideas about “an LGBT lifestyle” are accurate. They may not be. Check out books from the library, or just read them, even.
Keep thinking, and listening, and trying to answer the hard questions. It might take a while.
Try not to be afraid.