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Am I Queer? Or a Fraud?

Hi Yana,

Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about my sexuality. Recently, I came across the term “heteroflexible” and immediately, I felt like I identified with it more than any other sexual orientation I previously knew about.


However, I continue to feel invalidated by my lack of sexual experience with people who are the same gender. I know sexuality isn’t defined by our experiences but by what we think and how we feel. But I can’t help but continue to feel like a fraud (to myself) because I’ve only ever been with men. I also feel like because I’m in a serious, long-term heterosexual relationship, people just assume my sexuality and wouldn’t take me seriously going by any other label. In a way, I feel like I don’t belong. When I’m with my straight friends, I feel like the “most gay,” but when I’m with people who identify as gay/lesbian/queer, I feel like the “most straight” person in the room.


I pretty much let my friends believe that I identify as 100-percent straight to avoid confusion, judgment, and having to explain myself. I feel very happy in my monogamous heterosexual relationship. It’s not that something is “missing” regarding my relationship. I think this is more of an identity dilemma.


How do I become more comfortable and confident in my sexuality? How do I talk to my friends about being sure of my sexuality without the experience to back it up?


— Feeling Flexible

 

Dear Flexible, 


When I first learned the term “bisexual” in high school, bisexuality was trending in whatever way that was possible well before hashtags and tweeting. While the term made me think, “Yes! That’s it!” I saw other young women performing bisexuality — typically at parties for the enjoyment of high school boys — and it made me unsure that this label was for me, after all.


I continued dating boys until college when I finally had my first ever girlfriend and I too felt like a huge phony. In a ridiculous twist of living in the liberal valley, when I came out as publicly dating this woman and formally affixing the label “bisexual” to myself, men I had dated on campus spread the rumor that I was “actually NOT bisexual.” I questioned my already questioning self, felt ashamed at my lack of “real experience to back it up,” and ultimately ended up in relationships with women for the next decade (so joke’s on those dudes).


All of which is to say, Flexible, that there are two types of validation we receive: validation from others and validation from ourselves. Both are important in identifying who we are and how we feel supported in that process. Identity is an ever-evolving process and our labels can change as we do.


Find people who validate you. Public figures who are out as heteroflexible or bisexual, media that represents you, friends who understand the difference between the straight man you’re dating and your sexuality, and even new community spaces like queer events or organizations that are unlikely to make assumptions about you at all.


Most importantly, validate yourself. Sexuality is often developed within someone long before she is sexually active with anyone. It’s only once we become horribly category-obsessed adults that we start to fret about the proof and experience of who we are.


You say you’re heteroflexible, and so you are. There’s no application or passport stamps necessary to certify you.

 

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Bi-curious at Bedtime

While I don’t think labeling one’s sexuality is always necessary, I’ve always considered myself a heterosexual woman. I’ve been attracted to members of the opposite sex for as long as I can remember. During puberty, I plastered my bedroom walls with magazine cutouts depicting boy band members and only developed crushes on my male classmates. However, nearly all of my recent erotic dreams are of me performing a variety of sexual acts on females. I always wake feeling aroused.

I’ve heard that dreams are manifestations of things we see throughout the day. Could this be a result of living in a society where the female body is hyper-sexualized? Is this bi-curiosity? I’ve considered the possibility of being bisexual with an open mind. However, I don’t feel capable of having feelings of romantic love for another woman.

I’m currently in a loving and committed relationship with a man and I don’t feel as though anything is missing, sexually or otherwise. Because of these dreams however, I sometimes can’t help but wonder: is there a part of my sexuality that I’m not exploring?

Traditional stage theories of identity development dictate a linear story of same-sex sexuality identity: girl meets boy and falls in love; girl goes to liberal arts college; girl starts watching the L-word; girl makes out with her “lesbian friend”; girl breaks up with her boyfriend; girl gets short haircut; girl is now a lesbian; the end. This implies that once someone achieves a full awareness of her sexual desire, stability occurs.

In convincing contrast to this, psychologist Lisa M. Diamond found in her 10-year study of female same-sex sexuality development that young women’s sexuality is particularly fluid. Specifically, her research revealed female same-sex desire to be more malleable than male same-sex desire, featuring drastic, often late-blooming, and seemingly abrupt changes in female sexual desire and attraction…continue reading…

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Related Reading: Don’t Wanna Be Straight Forever: My Bisexual Marriage Equality Freakout