(art by Arfa)
Queeries is an LGBTQ+ advice column catering to any individual across the gender and sexuality spectrum. Throughout this series, we will be answering questions or “inqueeries” that readers may have and hopefully provide some closure and/or useful information that can be used in everyday life. All questions are anonymous and will be answered to the very best of our abilities. Inqueeries can be sent to our Instagram’s DM or our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m aroace and I feel like I'm the only one. I’ve never met anyone who is aromantic or asexual and it makes me really sad when I think about being aroace because I feel like I'm going to live alone forever. I see all these happy couples and I know I won’t be like that. I won’t ever feel that feeling of love like they do. It makes me feel so lonely and it makes me hate myself more.”
In my short time on this planet, I’ve learned that self-love can go a long way. Recognizing that, while the community is not large, there are many more asexual, aromantic, and aroace people out there that can be reached out to through a school’s GSA, local LGBTQ+ groups, and the vast communication possibilities that the Internet presents such as social media accounts focusing on the theme at hand, chat-rooms, and more, will (in time) open doors to not only a completely new mindset and others who feel exactly the same way as you, but a supportive community of individuals who could change your life. It takes courage, but I’d like to believe that everyone has it in them to take the first step. The absolute best of luck to you.
Aroace people are a very small minority, but you are most definitely not the only one. Two of my very close friends identify on the aro spectrum, one as aroace and the other as asexual. I’d recommend the internet, with columns like this and networks, to find people who are in a similar situation as you. But don’t hate yourself for something you cannot control. Being aroace is something you were born with, and it’s something wonderful that is just as valid and important as any other sexuality. Society often idolizes romantic love over all other types of love, something very unhealthy and untrue in my opinion. Focus on deepening your relationships with friends and family, self love and self care, and finding joy in the other types of love that exist in the world. You can feel just as happy and fulfilled as someone in a romantic relationship. Also try “friend dates”- go do anything that you think is for dating with a friend! Get dinner, go to the movies, cuddle- these things aren’t romance-specific!
I think a lot of times when we don’t know directly know people who identify with the same things we do it can feel very isolating. When I’d started questioning my sexuality (pansexual), I wasn’t sure anyone else felt the same way. At least not anyone near me, not anyone I knew. And that’s really scary, it is. Society tends to place ‘epic love’ on a pedestal. Romantic love is portrayed as somehow more than friendship. Which it isn’t, at all. We’re bombarded with romance movies, books,and literally almost every song on the radio. So of course without direct contact to anyone who feels the same as you do, it would feel really lonely. The internet is so good for things like this, really. There are tons of online communities out there filled with other ace people like yourself, and it’s all a matter of seeking them out. Also, maybe check to see if there’s any LGBTQ+ groups or meetings around where you live? Just remember, you aren’t the only one. You don’t need to hate yourself for this. This isn’t a flaw, or a weakness. It’s something that makes you, you. It really can be hard at first, but try to embrace yourself and your sexuality with all you can. You deserve to love yourself.
"Did you change anything about yourself (appearance, friendship group, etc.) when you realised you weren't hetero?”
After realizing I liked girls in eighth grade, there was a long period of time when I felt uncomfortable with my appearance. For some reason, I felt that since something had changed so drastically in my life, I had to change the way I looked--to match what I was feeling on the inside. I wanted my thick, long hair to be short and out of the way. I wanted new clothes and a new look. I kept it all in until the beginning of this school year, when I asked my mom to let me get a haircut. This was a battle that seemed to be going nowhere, so I took matters into my own hands and cut in myself. There were a lot of tears and yelling involved in the process of getting it fixed the way I really wanted (and my parents absolutely hated it), and a lot of arguments during shopping trips, but what mattered was that I was happy with the way everything turned out. It felt like a clean slate, or like I was becoming myself for the first time.
I’ve never been too femme or butch, always just interested in fashion, so since my prominent realization of being queer, I never worried about what I would have to wear to show that. I personally didn’t change my appearance, but I did change my friend group. The first person I came out to was my best friend during the end of eighth grade in my goodbye letter to her (she was going to another high school.) By the beginning of freshman year, I lost the set of friends I had in middle school and hung out with completely different people. I came out on instagram, so most people in my grade knew about it. Around this time I was getting more into politics and learning more about feminism, and so I joined my high school’s “women's issues” and “GSA”. So stereotypically, everyone in these clubs were mostly if not all queer, and these were the people that became my friends. We all clicked at first. They were all open to liberal ideas and liked screaming out that they were gay, but the more time I spent with them, the more time I had to realize we had no real base of friendship. All of my old friends didn’t understand what it was like to like girls and believed everything our teachers told us, but despite our lack of common “behavior” or interests in music or movies, we could laugh and have fun no matter the context. So, I’ve recently left yet another group of friends (the gang of gays), but this time I’m okay with being more alone than usual. Coming out as queer may tempt you to befriend all the other queer people in your area, but being friends with someone is also about their personality, and how much they truly care about you- not just their similarity with you on the spectrum.
I remember the moment I realized I was queer, and seeking out other queer women on the internet to find people I could identify with. I found many queer youtubers, but most of the ones I found were very butch. Thus, yung me decided that, if I were to be a true queer woman, I would have to dress in flannels, suspenders, and bowties. Not that I did not like these fashions, I just thought I needed to do that, in part because I didn’t want to verbally come out to my parents, so I thought if I hinted at it with my appearance they’d catch on, and in part because I thought that since I had now found my sexuality, I needed it to be part of every aspect of my life. Now that I’m out, I don’t feel as pressured to dress butch, and I feel comfortable having my sexuality be a part of me that I don’t need to advertise to feel valid. The bottom line is to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable, and never dress for other’s validation or opinion.
When I realized I wasn't heterosexual, I went through a time where I acted and tried to look way more masculine. I still do, but I think that goes hand and hand with me being genderfluid on top of being an assigned female at birth who likes girls. I used to insist that I was a "stud" and wore all of those clothes that matched up with being masculine all of the time. Later on I realized that my gender identity changed a lot, until the point it changed within the day. Because of that, I try to make sure my clothing remains neutral or both. It is perfectly fine to alter your appearance to whatever makes you comfortable. I hope this helped.
"I sometimes call myself by the wrong pronouns, does that mean I'm faking it?"
Identifying as bigender (agender and cisgender) felt like a combination of two emotions. I felt like I was becoming the truest form of myself, but at the same time there came a feeling of unfamiliarity. Although I could feel it in my bones that bigender was what I was and that they/them pronouns were the ones that I would like to introduce into my life, it felt foreign. There was a voice inside my head that told me that I was wrong, that how I felt wasn’t real and valid, that I was being ridiculous. Having to deal with this while I was in the closet and responding to she/her daily often caused me to call myself that. But I’ve grown to learn that in order for my identity to become real, it does not have to be accepted by anyone other than myself. Just because you slip up and call yourself the wrong pronouns does not invalidate you in anyway. Because everything is a learning process, and with the amount of courage it took to be honest with yourself about being trans in such a transphobic society, you deserve to give yourself a break. Please try to remember to be understanding. Be forgiving. That your identity will always be valid.
Nope! It’s completely okay to slip up sometimes. Your gender is yours and yours alone, so there isn’t really one way you could fake it. We live in a world where people often assume another’s gender by first glance, hence a lot of wrong pronoun name-calling and misgendering. Growing up in a world like that, it’s completely reasonable that you’d use the wrong pronouns on even yourself sometimes. And keep in mind that you don’t have to pick one gender and that is it for the rest of time. If you feel more comfortable identifying as something else someday, rad! It doesn’t mean you were faking what you previously identified or didn’t identify as. It’s all about you feeling comfortable, gaining a better sense of self. So do what makes you feel most at ease, and comfortable in your own body!
You’re still trying to learn about yourself, you’ve been called a certain pronoun your entire life and you’re trying to get used to different pronouns; messing up is natural in this situation. You can’t be faking something that is exclusive to you. If one day you decide you would like to be called she/her and the next you like they/them, that is totally okay. It all depends on you, what you preferences are and how comfortable you are. Also if anybody makes you feel bad about your pronouns, tell them “You can nut in your esophagus for all I care”.
"How to come out to people at school?"
Well, when I came out as being non-hetero, I believed that I was bisexual at the time. I kind of subconsciously did it on social media - I'd post photos of girls kissing girls, have " bi 👭 & 👫" in my bio, and make other little hints and clues. Eventually, it caught on with my school because I'm kind of well known when it comes to that. But honestly, I regret not directly coming out the way that I should've. That is what I am encouraging you to do. You are probably very scared and nervous about these emotions, but take pride in them! They are yours and perfectly normal. For whatever you identify as, I suggest you starting off with your close friends and letting it take off from there, up to your acquaintances. Let them know your proper pronouns too if that applies. Your true friends will love you regardless, for who you are! I believe that being direct is the best approach for this.
If you're willing to just come out, if anyone asks you if you're _____, just openly say yes! I came out to people on instagram on national coming out day, via a video of me crying with the underwater snapchat filter. Months before, I posted "warning posts"(stop unfollowing if you're uncomfortable with ..) to ensure that I would only receive positive comments to my future coming out. But if you're okay with others not always accepting you, then just go on with it. Remember that there are people that support you, even if they aren't with you physically! Risen is made up of pure teen support, and you can always talk to us members! And If you still aren't ready to openly pronounce yourself to the world, I think sticking up for the LGBTQ+ community (if kids are making jokes) is a way to show support if you aren't ready to come out to your school. Remember that the coming out process is different for everyone, and it doesn't matter how long you stay in the closet- only come out when you're ready! Never let anyone out you or force you to come out whether that be a partner or friend, your coming out process is all about you!
There are a lot of different ways to come out, and it all depends on your own preference. How many people do you want knowing your sexuality? Does it matter if a lot of people know, or would you rather keep it lowkey? If you want to come out in a way that's under the radar, I suggest telling a few close friends. If you want more people to know, I would suggest giving your friends permission to tell other people, and then having it work up from there. Coming out doesn't have to be flashy, and it doesn't have to be a big deal. Don't let anyone pressure you into coming out if you're not ready. I hope this helped!
“What’s your opinion on Glee’s inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters?”
I think Glee has done a phenomenal job including LGBTQ+ characters in the series. Throughout the show’s screen-life, many vast and sophisticated story lines revolving solely around certain LGBTQ+ characters and their lives were explored, contrary to the majority of modern television series’ inclusion of these characters, usually using LGBTQ+ people only as “sidekicks” or short term side characters. Glee greatly emphasized the importance of accepting LGBTQ+ individuals in the community and showcased the power of friendship and acceptance between people simply trying to find their place in this vast world. The human connections formed and relationships created by Glee’s writers set an amazing example for struggling LGBTQ+ individuals in the real world, encouraging those in harm’s way to stand up for what they believe in and what they deserve, and showing others that happiness is possible for anyone from anywhere in the world and across any part of the gender and sexuality spectrum.
Glee was one of the first TV series to be completely out (pun intended) about having LGBTQ characters, and I really appreciate that. The show, from what I’ve seen of it, did make them complex characters, with more identity than simply being gay. However, it has been accused of biphobia (http://lgbtlaughs.com/post/63123622202/gaspthewontons-glees-attitude-towards) and should not be idolized as the pinnacle of LGBT media, but it was a step in the right direction. Some other shows I think do a better job of having LGBTQ characters are Sense 8 and Orange Is The New Black.
“I identify as bisexual, but lately I’ve realized that at times I move around on the spectrum of masculinity and femininity (some days I feel masculine other days I feel feminine. I’m not sure how to identify and what this makes me?”
As a genderfluid assigned female at birth who likes girls, this question jumped at me the most. I think it would help if I gave a quiet definition of gender fluidity first to answer this question. In my own words, a genderfluid person is someone who fluctuates between feminine, masculine, neutral, both, or neither. It has nothing to do with the genitalia of the person, but how the person sees themselves or feels. This seems to be what you've been feeling, and if you think it might be you may want to do some more research. Now, being genderfluid doesn't have much to do with one's sexual orientation. You may be genderfluid and like girls, genderfluid and like boys, and in your case like both. That is okay! Please don't ever get too caught up in titles or identifications. If you are in fact a
genderfluid bisexual, then that is perfectly fine! You are loved, don't ever forget that, and through this somewhat confusing process I hope you find enlightenment.
As a cisgender girl, I don't relate to your experiences on the gender spectrum, but I have friends who have at one point identified as genderfluid, which is when a person's gender moves on the spectrum at any rate. So if most days you feel like one gender, but a few times a month you feel like you are another gender, or if you feel different everyday, you can still identify as genderfluid. However, you don't need to label yourself! If you're content to stick with the gender and pronouns you were given at birth, that's okay, and so is saying that you don't know your gender. And my main advice is don't worry! I know it sounds stupid, but gender is a spectrum, like sexuality and even color. There's nothing unnatural or weird about moving to different places on the spectrum. Your gender is for you and you only to decide, and you can decide whenever you'd like, and change it whenever you'd like!
I can really relate to this question! There are times where I feel more masculine and times where I feel more feminine, it just depends on my mood. Genderfluid is the term that seems to be the closest to what you are feeling. People who are genderfluid can swing from different ends of the gender spectrum, going from male to female to any non - binary identity. Their gender is, well, fluid. If you can relate to this, genderfluid might be something you want to research more in depth.
However, don't feel like you have to conform to labels. Some people find reassurance in them, while others are even more confused by them. Some of my friends proudly identify with several labels at once, and some choose not to use any. Everyone is unique and it all comes down to self expression. Know that whatever decision you make is valid, and you are loved nonetheless!
Gender really is a confusing process, and it usually takes some time to figure out. I wish you the best!
So, keep in mind that while gender and sexuality often relate, they don’t really have anything to do with each other. The way that you identify gender wise doesn’t have to influence you sexuality wise. On the same topic; your gender identity doesn’t need to tie in to the way you represent your gender. If you identify as guy, it doesn’t mean you automatically need to start wearing baggy jeans and cut your hair short, etc. We tend to attribute masculine to male and feminine to female, and that’s okay but we can’t let that trap us inside of a box. Don’t stress yourself trying to finding a label. It’s self expression, and if you feel comfortable identifying to one thing that’s awesome! But don’t feel like you need to fit into one category for everyone else's convenience. Ashley Mardell did a really great series on everything sexuality and everything gender, covering a broad range of both and talking about them all. I’d really recommend it as it helped me a lot in understanding myself and other genders/sexualities.
What I’ve come to understand over time is that gender and sexuality are fluid and no one can define you except yourself. Saying that, although you seem to want to fit yourself into a specific category, the two you've mentioned aren't exactly connected. Sexuality and gender don’t have to be interconnected, one based off of the other, and you can certainly identify as bisexual and genderfluid at the same time. This seems to be a good combination based on what you've described, but if there’s more to the picture, there are countless websites, articles, and other programs bursting with information on this exact topic. Simply search up the relevant terms and the world will be at your fingertips. Good luck!