QUEERIES: Round 2!

QUEERIES: Round 2!
Queeries is a monthly LGBTQ+ advice column answering questions specifically relating to being an LGBTQ+ teenager. Inqueeries can be sent to our Instagram’s DM (@risenmags) or our email address: risenzine@gmail.com.

1.How do I tell my best friend I love her without ruining our relationship?(I’m a lesbian)

P: I know the feeling! Telling someone you love them is hard enough, even harder when you’re in your situation. There’s no foolproof answer to this question. There’s many factors: How long have you known her, how long have you felt this way, what do you know about her experience in relationships, who she’s attracted to, and how has she acted towards you? This will affect your relationship, but maybe not in a negative way! And if she’s your best friend, I doubt it will ruin it. My advice is, when it’s the right time to tell her, you’ll know, and you’ve just got to force the words out. Don’t take everything too seriously, remember what you love about her and what makes you happy in your friendship, and do what your gut tells you to! Best of luck.

Lucy: Look, if your friend cares about your feelings, she wouldn’t just end a really close friendship just because of a crush that can potentially go away. Also, is there a chance that you might be confusing infatuation with simply strong fondness? I hope she understands. I wish you the best of luck with whatever you choose to do.

Tara: I think, first of all, it's super important to make sure that these feelings you have are true. It's really easy to fall into the blur between fondness and love, especially over your best friend. It happens all the time. Think about how long you've felt this way, and evaluate it accordingly. It might pass over, or it might stick, but I think you should be sure before you confess. When you do, don't think about it too much. She's your best friend, the person who understands you the most, right? Like P said, wait until it's the right time. You'll know, and the words will flow out easily. Good luck x

Alexis: Hi! I'm not entirely sure how I should start this, but let me just tell you that I have been in your friend's position. I have had a close friend of mine confess that she had a crush on me, but didn't want to ruin our friendship. And it didn't! Even though I don't like her romantically, she is still one of my closest friends and I love her dearly. After she told me, I was a little worried that our friendship might be awkward, but then I realized that she would never do anything to make me upset or uncomfortable. If this girl is truly your best friend, she'll still love and support you even if the feelings aren't reciprocated, which might be! You never know.

However, if your friend is homophobic or is deeply trusting in some homophobic people that she might talk to, you may not want to tell her, just because some people might take the fact that you're a lesbian and use it to insult you or tell the entire school and that would be awful. But I get too caught up in the negatives! Chances are, she'll still be friends with you if you tell her and you won't ruin the friendship.

2. Are lesbians virgins because they don’t have the heterosexual version of sex?

Alex: I believe that when it comes to sex, it isn't merely the heterosexual penetration type. Being a virgin is a manmade concept as well as losing it in a specific way. Therefore, it all depends on what you perceive sex to be. If you believe doing a certain action to be sexual, then it is. Society's restrictions should never apply to your sexual life, or anything actually! In my opinion, you shouldn't let society’s labels destroy your perception of what is and what isn't, and that includes your sexual life.

Joy: The way that society conceptualizes and defines virginity is really heteronormative, so this is a great question. A lot of people think that to technically “lose” your virginity you have to break the hymen. That’s not necessarily true. The hymen is a stretchy bit around the vagina, and it can’t really be broken because there isn’t a plastic like barrier sealing up the upper crevices of the vaginal canal. It is actually a rare medical occurrence that a hymen is fully intact. This basically all means that heterosexual sex isn’t really the end all be all of sexual contact. If you’ve had oral sex, anal sex, whatever, you can say you’re not a virgin. If you’ve a lesbian and you’ve had sex you can say you’re not a virgin. In the end it just boils down to whether they care enough to define or label themselves. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, honestly. I hope this helped!

Derek: This is going to sound cliche, but virginity is just a social construct designed to keep your genitals in your pants. If you do believe in virginity though, I would say lesbians can pop their cherries. There are different types of sex: vaginal sex, anal sex, sodomy, etc. People who think that sex is only between a man and woman fuel homophobic notions and you shouldn’t listen to them. Others believe that you only have to give consent to lose your virginity. It all depends on you and whether you care or not. The only thing that matters is that you’re happy with your sexuality.

Malea: This can be a tricky question considering all our lives we’re taught that sex is heterosexual. It’s what we see on TV, in books, what we’re taught, etc. but really sex and virginity are all ideas we’ve created. And it’s your choice to believe in either of these. The short answer is, no, I don’t believe lesbians are virgins because they aren’t having the version of sex that is pummeled into our media and classrooms. Personally, ‘sex’ is people giving or receiving pleasure via genitals. I think sex and virginity mean something unique to everyone, and that there isn’t one idea that everyone needs to adhere to. As long as it’s consensual, it’s all good!

3. How do I meet other LGBTQ+ teens besides the internet?

Jinny: Most high schools have a GSA (gay-straight-alliance), and even if they don’t have the exact name as (GSA), most schools have something similar. If your school doesn’t have one and you really want to, ask around to see if you can start a club! If you are in middle school or want to meet people outside of your GSA, check out “rainbow cafes” (dances and coffee house talent shows specific to finding other LGBTQ+ people in the area) and pride events. I think that it’s important that people continue to go out and seek LGBTQ+ specific spaces because the “industry” of LGBTQ+ specific events is dying out as gay people are becoming progressively more accepted into society, and it’s a somewhat ‘tradition’ I hope continues.

S: Meeting other LGBT+ teens can be really difficult, so my advice to you is to look for organizations, clubs, and events to join. This year my school sent kids to a diversity conference and I met a bunch of LGBT+ teenagers from across the country, so check to see if there are any local or national conferences you could go to. Most schools have a GSA, and I know that my school partners with ALSO Youth to host the local ALSO prom so check for events like that, too. Events like these are usually open to any age group and don’t cost too much to get in. This probably sounds like cliché advice but I promise it’s how I met most of my LGBT+ friends!

Claire: Look into any LGBTQ+ organizations in your community! Most towns and cities have one, but they are not always very well known! A lot of the time they host events to bring the community together, and it is a great safe space to relax and meet other LGBTQ+ people! If your community or school doesn’t have any type of organization or GSA club, consider starting one! I assure you there are other teens who are wondering the same thing as you are!

4. How can I be involved in Queer-related activism? Especially as a young person.

S: Glad you asked! As an LGBTQ+ individual in the 21st Century, your options span an enormously wide range over a countless span of movements, protests, parades and even simple hashtags that the world has never witnessed or taken part in before! For the purpose of being to the point and preventing an expansive ramble, I’ll focus on the easiest and fastest way to get yourself out there: through social media! Along with thousands of others, you can create an LGBTQ+ related hashtag or account on social media apps such as Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram. Through these programs and more, one can find hundreds of accounts posting LGBTQ+ positive/supportive pictures and conveying vast amounts of information regarding LGBTQ+ news, legislation, and events across the planet. If you very much so desire to be heard and make a change as quick as you can, this may be the option for you! For an example of impacts made through these apps, just search up #giveelsaagirlfriend through any search engine and you’ll come up with many resources across Twitter, Instagram, and even large-scale news channels such as Time Magazine and US Weekly with information regarding this viral hashtag that the creator desired, as stated in the title, to give Elsa from Disney’s smash-hit Frozen, a girlfriend. If this course of action, or something similar, feels right to you, we wish you all the best. Good luck!
Victoria: One of the best things you can take advantage of is your school’s GSA (Gay Straight Alliance). Now I know the name sounds super exclusionary but that’s not always the case with the members themselves! Every school’s GSA is run differently, meaning some run better than others, so you never know until you give it a try! GSA is not only a great way to participate in activism but also helps you make some more LGBT friends. And if your school doesn’t have a GSA you could always ask the activities director about starting one! Also, do research about LGBT non profit organizations near you and consider emailing them asking if they need any volunteer work. You never know where this could take you, and it could bring you to doing some more hands on stuff that directly impacts your community. Lastly, by speaking out about LGBT issues on social media, you will be reaching so many people at one time. Follow other LGBT rights accounts across all platforms and hold discussions with them! Share your knowledge and passion by writing about injustices your or people you know face, spread LGBT history by celebrating important events like the first day of the Stonewall Riots. Remember that every little thing counts, and even a reassuring paragraph could help someone else in the community that’s feeling the pain of living in the society around us and being queer.

A: As a young person I think it can be hard trying to find ways to go big in your activism--which is completely fine! Every little thing counts, and there’s so much we can do one step at a time. A good place to start is probably by educating yourself! It’s one of the best means for getting more involved in your activism, and broadens your understanding of not only issues, ideas, and experiences, but also the movement itself. Read books, articles, blogs, anything you can get your hands on. Another thing would be looking for existing LGBT clubs, organizations, and events. One example would be joining your school’s GSA, or Gay Straight Alliance. There might already be things going on near you, and if there aren’t, you can always start your own! Lastly, I would tell you to join social media. Being an activist in easier now than ever, especially with Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and other sites that you can use to spread and learn so much information.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their questions for this installment! See the previous installments here