Three Things About Queerness I Wish I’d Known a Year Ago

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This October marks the one-year anniversary of an especially chaotic and confusing college Halloween party. That means it has almost been a full year since I stopped thinking of myself as straight (Woohoo!).

Lots has changed since then. For example, I now own a “Love is Love” enamel pin and three men’s flannels. But even though my impeccable gay fashion choices would make you think I’ve got it all figured out, I am actually far from it. When my sexuality comes up in conversation, I feel like I never have the right words, which makes writing this that much trickier. I am certainly not qualified to comment about the intricacies of human sexuality (at best, I am qualified to give you a brief summary of Orange is The New Black). But I can offer the three most influential pieces of advice given to me during the last year. 

These notes helped me bunches, so I hope they will give others who are questioning a little bit of insight:

Labels are not important 

Some people find power in labels. And if a label makes you feel better, then label away! In my case, I was overwhelmed by the amount of terminology. Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Pansexual, Homoflexible– it’s a lot to think about it. It helped me the most when I stayed away from labels and really took time to focus on what I wanted. Things change. People grow and adapt and learn– often one word won’t apply to you through the whole process. You do not owe the people around you a definitive label so they can pack you away in a box. As my favorite queer comedian Mae Martin says, “I don’t feel the need to identify as anything else than a human being.”

With that being said, sometimes it’s nice to have a word to tell people when it comes up. I tend to stick with “queer”: it portrays the “I’m not straight” message, without requiring more explanation. 

It’s ok to be scared

I was a freshman last year, and there was this beautiful, confident queer senior who I looked up to tremendously. One day she told me, “I remember the moment I realized I was different. And it felt like the floor came out from under me.” I couldn’t wrap my mind around it: How could this brilliant, self-assured gay rights activist ever be scared about her own sexuality? 

But it’s a scary thing for everybody– identity is a big and powerful thing. No matter how confident you are, no matter how “woke” you are, coming to terms with something new about yourself is always nerve wracking.

There are no prerequisites

You do not need to be in long-term relationship with someone from the same gender to consider yourself queer. Heck, you could have never even held hands with someone from the same gender, and you can still be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. There are no prerequisites, so you do not have to do anything just to prove yourself. Self-discovery happens in many different ways, along many different time-frames; you can identify however you want no matter where you are in your own journey.

Love is love. And you should not be uncomfortable about finding and being your authentic self.

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