Although we live in a world that’s making more progress toward equality and safety of the LGBT community, coming out is still difficult. It’s especially hard if you come from a strict and religious background. You may not even have considered that you’re gay or may have actively ignored signs you might be gay because it was too difficult to admit to yourself or others. This article is all about how to know if you’re gay, but it might not matter as much as you think!
SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE GAY
If you’re unsure how to know if you’re gay, look for these signs.
- You’re attracted to other women.
- There is a woman or women to whom you’re especially attracted to and may want a relationship with.
- You think about other women when you masturbate.
- You have fantasies about women during sex with men.
- You have lesbian thoughts, which you may try to push away.
- You experiment with women, especially when drinking or doing other drugs. Your desire doesn’t go away, however.
- You’re not sexually or romantically attracted to men.
- You’ve dated and slept with men, but it didn’t feel right. You may have felt societal pressure, but it wasn’t authentic to yourself.
- You slept around in an attempt to force straight feelings.
- You feel as though living a straight lifestyle doesn’t allow you to be your true self.
Of course, attraction to women is all that’s really needed to “be gay.” Not all of these signs you’re gay might apply to you personally just like a guy might not be gay even if he does some of the things in this list.
IF YOU THINK YOU’RE GAY
You might want to hold off on shouting it from the rooftop if you think you’re gay. Even if you’re sure, there could be negative repercussions. You might not be gay, either. For some transgender people, they first suspect they’re gay but later realize their identity crisis is about gender identity and not about sexual orientation at all.
Some signs you’re gay could also point to the fact that you’re simply not sexual. Asexual women wouldn’t find themselves attracted to men, which is what is expected of most women. But this doesn’t make them gay. They’re simply not interested in a sexual relationship with anyone, even if they want romantic companionship.
Plus, some signs you’re gay don’t actually mean that you’re a lesbian. For example, you might like to watch lesbian porn, but this may be because it’s more woman friendly and less penis-centric, even if you like having sex with guys! People like to watch all sorts of gay porn, and it doesn’t make them gay. It’s similar to how a guy can like pegging and not be gay. Our society views these things rigidly (similar to how society promotes slut shaming), but some things have nothing to do with your sexuality, including:
- Having close friendships with other women
- Having a more “masculine” sense of style
- Being interested in traditional male hobbies such as carpentry
- Being a fan of gay or lesbian celebrities, artists or musicians
- So on and so forth
When it comes to learning how to know if you’re gay, you’re the only person who can make the ultimate call. It isn’t up to some checklist in a blog post or Buzzfeed quiz to determine your sexuality.
If you do think you’re gay, consider doing the following:
- Discuss it with a confidante who is safe. This means someone who won’t judge you for even considering you’re gay. It might be a friend or family member.
- Consider therapy. A professional – not a member of the clergy – might be the only option if you come from a traditional family and have no supportive people in your life. Coming to terms with your sexuality and coming out can be difficult processes, and it’s sometimes arduous. You might also be feeling doubt because your identity has been shaken.
- Talk to other gay people. If you have friends who are already out, they can lend a crying shoulder and provide support. They can also advise you on coming out based on their experiences. Plus, they may be able to introduce you to members of the LGBT community and safe spaces. Surrounding yourself with these people provides a buffer for the people who inevitably refuse to accept your newfound lesbianism, including the men who are convinced they can “turn you back with their magic touch.”
- Decide when to come out — and how. For those who have realized they are gay, this is a biggie! If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, you’ll have to come out to and likely break up with this man. This can be even more challenging than a breakup under normal circumstances (tips in this post). There is a whole slew of other people you may want to come out to your friends, your family, your coworkers or boss. In the beginning, you might decide to keep the fact that you’re gay under wraps as you come to terms with it. Many people find themselves telling people only on a need-to-know basis. If your boss doesn’t need to know, you might never tell her. On the other hand, you might make a public Facebook post where you proudly wave a rainbow flag if you have the sort of loud personality from which people would expect that sort of coming out.
You do not have to begin dating or sleeping with women; although, you may eventually want to. You don’t need a certain amount of – or any – experience to be gay. You just are.
YOU MIGHT BE GAY, BUT DOES IT MATTER?
Don’t get us wrong. For plenty of people, being gay or lesbian is an essential part of their identity. If that’s you, this section might not be helpful. It may even go against your core values. However, society is moving in a direction where labels sometimes don’t matter.
For example, some people can sleep with or engage in relationships with members of the same sex. Outsiders might look at this as say “You could be a lesbian!” But these people still consider themselves straight, especially if that was just a phase, such as in your teens or early twenties.
Being attracted to women doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay, either. Sexual attraction is a scale. In fact, there’s a name for this: the Kinsey Scale . On one end is heterosexuality, homosexuality on the other. In the middle, we have bisexuality, where you’re attracted to men and women. Dr. Alfred Kinsey devised this scale in the 1940s after doing some of the first public research into sexuality. Many people fall in between. For example, if you’re bi-curious, which could lead to some experimentation, you might ultimately find yourself attracted more to men and never develop an emotional relationship with a woman.
It has been suggested that women have more fluid sexualities than men and that more of them are bisexual than we realize. The Kinsey Reports revealed that more women were bisexual than was previously thought – 11% of unmarried women between the ages of 20 and 35 .
The Kinsey Reports also indicated that sexuality was more fluid than previously believed, which means that your sexuality can change throughout your lifetime. You might be bisexual and find yourself more attracted to women now, but the pendulum could swing to the other side at a later point in your life. The newer Klein Sexual Orientation Grid provides a way for you to examine your past, present, and ideal sexual attraction .
There are sexual orientations that neither of these scales fully realizes, and you might find these better fitting than “gay.” For instance, pansexual means you’re attracted to people of every gender, outside the gender binary and transgender individuals rather than merely men or women.
Regardless, you don’t need to get too caught up in labels, especially if you’re just now coming to the realization that you might be gay. You might find that coming out to yourself lifts a weight from your shoulders and allows you to be more accepting of yourself, but now may not be the time to tell others. While others find labels and community welcoming and reassuring, this might not be the case for you.
Some people prefer no labels at all: they just love whom they love. You may be gay, bisexual, bi-curious or just open-minded. You may be too busy enjoying life or having sex to consider “what” you are. No matter what, it is important that you allow yourself to live in an authentic manner and enjoy sex, no matter who you desire to have sex with!