Coming Out As An Amorphous Weirdo

I was 22 years old when I kissed a girl for the first time. She and I liked all the same electroclash bands, and the tattoo on the back of her arm said “calm down” in Russian. She was engaged to a boy. We were out dancing at Don Hill’s with her fiancé one April night, the three of us giddy and drunk on rum and cokes, and I was having a perfectly lovely time until I blacked out. When I came to, she and I were furiously making out, stumbling around, slamming each other back against the wall of the sound booth, both grinning. I was taken completely by surprise, but I was told later that I’d initiated the whole thing.

When that relationship spectacularly imploded several months later, I was an absolute wreck, as I’m told many girls are. I promised myself that it was a one-time experiment, that it had something to do with that specific girl, that specific time. I told myself all the lies I needed to reconcile what had just happened with my life, which until that point had been certainly always open, but very much straight. It wasn’t until I kissed the second girl that even my therapist at the time laughed at me and told me maybe it was time to accept that my sexuality was not as cut-and-dry as I’d always imagined.

It was confusing to start confronting my orientation as an adult, as I’m sure it is for many other late bloomers, but I was doubly confounded because these revelations did nothing to help me achieve any sort of clarity. From what I’d heard, this was the sort of thing I should have figured out during puberty, or (as the cliche goes) at the very least experimented with in college. I was fairly certain I was still attracted to boys, but my eyes had been opened to a whole new world of possibilities. At the same time, the terms I’d heard  (“bisexual,” “pansexual,” whathaveyou) did nothing for me, and I felt like none of these things directly applied to me. Sometimes I’d look at my friends who were just straight or just gay, or hear people on this very website confidently talking about how they’d known they were gay since they were little kids, and tried to imagine being so certain about anything. (While also recognizing that such absolute knowledge of one’s absolute gayness came with its own set of terrifying consequences and privilege loss.)

On top of this, I wasn’t sure about coming out to my parents. I knew enough about their political affiliations that they wouldn’t mind at all and that they would be supportive, and I knew not to take that for granted, but I also knew that it would irrevocably change our relationship and the way they looked at me, their only daughter.  Despite knowing it wouldn’t be any sort of dealbreaker, I was terrified to take that step.  I decided that until I found myself in a relationship significant enough that it warranted such a discussion, I would keep my identity crisis to myself.  My family and I had never really talked about my relationships in depth before, so they didn’t seem to notice when I took my personal life out of our conversations entirely and began speaking in genderless pronouns.  For them, life continued as it always had.  All the same, keeping that secret troubled me in ways I was unaware of until years later, when the weight of it started to become extremely painful.

I justified my silence to myself in all sorts of ways.  When you come out to your friends and family as gay, that’s it – you’re just gay – everybody knows what that means (more or less) and what they can expect from your relationships in the future.  With this, I faced an uphill battle.  Every relationship I’d ever be in would be met with a certain level of criticism, and the gender presentation of all of my past and future partners would be analyzed as some sort of clue to my real orientation. With no terminology to describe my feelings and no self confidence to back up my choices, I shut down.  I didn’t know what to say. Despite in-between sexuality being a relatively widespread phenomenon (hello, Kinsey scale), society is still largely convinced that such a thing cannot possibly exist, that it’s either a stepping stone on the way to lesbian land or a weird experiment. This was always incredibly hurtful, and as a result I never felt like I belonged to any specific community. I saw myself as too gay to identify completely with my straight friends, but I didn’t feel gay enough to party with the lesbians. At different times, I would be more attracted to a person of one gender over another, and I found some friends’ surprised reactions disheartening. It was around this time that Autostraddle was beginning, and while I was excited to embrace the opportunities I knew the website would provide, in my heart I felt a strange distance from the other girls. I wasn’t sure the readers would accept me because I felt so different, and in the end this self-fulfilling prophecy contributed to my decision to drop off the team fairly early in the game.

Then of course came the inevitable girlfriend and the relationship that changed everything about my life. It was my first relationship where we were not only 100% healthily in love with each other, we were talking about major life plans and where we wanted to live and the scope of what we wanted to do with our entire lives together. I was planning a cross-country move based around her grad school calendar, changing the entire trajectory of my career because of Love and Compromise and other mature things. When that relationship ended (and oh girl, it ended BADLY), I found myself devastated in a way I’d never been before, mourning not only the loss of the girl but the life we thought we’d share.

Obviously I was a weepy mess, trapped alone in my dark cave of a bedroom with my Fiona Apple records and my feelings, and nothing anyone could say or do could fix me. A very patient friend compiled a list of resources I might look into for counseling, and the one that made the most sense to me was the program at my local LGBTQ center. This was a huge deal; I’d never taken advantage of resources for the LGTBQ community because of some self-loathing notion that I didn’t belong and it wouldn’t be for me.  At this point, I was in fairly desperate need of help and could not wait to navigate the nightmare that is this country’s mental health system when you’re a person without health insurance, so I sucked up all my moot feelings of alienation and just made the call.

stef on a tree at camp autostraddle

It was so simple and obvious: I called, I told them I needed an appointment, and they gave me one. I didn’t have to prove that I was “gay enough,” I just had to pay for my sliding-scale sessions. My counselor and I had seven short sessions together, and in that limited time she was able to help me put things in perspective. I couldn’t fix my relationship, but I could fix the state of my life. She wondered if I might feel a sense of relief if I opened up to my family, and at long last I found myself in a place where I was ready to agree with her.

The actual discussion with my mom and dad was anticlimactic, just as I had known it would be. I took a huge breath, closed my eyes and explained that for the last six years I’d been dating both boys and girls, that I wasn’t attracted to any one gender, that it had been confusing and that I was sorry for keeping such a large part of my life so hidden.  They shrugged – “That’s all?” I suppose it helped put the last six years into some sort of perspective, but they mostly seemed relieved it hadn’t been anything more major. I recognize that I am very fortunate to have parents who are so open-minded. I can’t say that telling my parents instantly fixed anything, but it did open the door to being more honest and open, and being able to tell them about Autostraddle and how proud I am of the work we’re doing with A Camp has been refreshingly lovely.

Since then, I admit that I have still picked and chosen which relatives I will share this information with, which has less to do with confusion or shame and more to do with keeping some of my personal life personal. A lot of my extended family’s idea of what a successful life for me would look like is wrapped up in the idea that I’ll meet and marry a very rich Jewish man, stop working and start having babies somewhere in the suburbs. Sexual orientation notwithstanding, this has never been an idea that appealed to me, and has never been a realistic plan for my life. I’m open about my life to those I feel close to, but no longer feel panicked or pressured to justify myself the way I did in those early years.

Why was telling my parents so important? In part, I knew that our relationship was suffering from my lack of honesty, whether they were aware of it or not. Mostly, it was a matter of saying these things out loud to two people who’d known me literally since I was born, accepting it as a fact of my life and moving on. I had gradually become comfortable with being out to friends and coworkers as a matter of course, but to admit my status to the people who’d actually brought me into the world made the situation feel legitimate and real. A lot of this came from the Autostraddle readership, from meeting people in 3D at A Camp who were going through similar things and realizing that this community was inclusive enough to accept even weirdos like me. At times, not having the exact words to define what I am and am not has still felt like a struggle, but I no longer feel like those labels are necessary. I’m comfortable with the idea of answering questions when they arise, but at this stage of the game, I’m just trying to figure out who and what makes me happy and go with that — You Do You, natch.


Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.


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Stef Schwartz is the Music Editor and self-appointed Vapid Fluff Editor at Autostraddle.com. She's a rock'n'roll jack-of-all-trades, vegan crusader and legit professional weirdo. She lives with her cat Scully in the wilds of Los Angeles, where she writes terrible dance music, drinks quality bourbon and misses New York City. Follow her on twitter.

Stef has written 104 articles for us.

173 Comments

  1. Thumb up 18

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    i love you so deeply. that first part super resonated with me:

    “I promised myself that it was a one-time experiment, that it had something to do with that specific girl, that specific time. I told myself all the lies I needed to reconcile what had just happened with my life, which until that point had been certainly always open, but very much straight.”

    and i love you.

    • Thumb up 3

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      I love this, thanks to you all.
      To be honest, I’m still in that stage. A woman came after me for several months, until I finally realized that I had fallen for her too. Then it was too late, and we haven’t seen each other since. I’ve never had a connection with any other soul in such a profound way. I still tell myself that it was that ‘one specific girl’, that ‘one specific time’, and that no one like that (cliché i know–) soulmate, will ever come along again.
      And in the meantime, I tell myself it was just that once.

  2. Thumb up 19

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    Hey Stef! So Amazing!I wish I could hug you right now! Thank you so much for sharing this and on such an important day. I shared a little bit of my story at camp so I wont bore anyone rehashing it here because in a million ways it is still happening, but I will say that when I figured it out I was so completely terrified. I didn’t know anyone who was gay, I thought it was a sin. I sent a text message breakup to the boy I was seeing and I bought a ticket to Chicago to drown myself in Lake Michigan. I was eating my last meal at Giordano’s when I met a guy who took me to a party full of the gay and well I came home and started watching the L Word (it was 2008) and googled Lesbian and started reading Autostraddle. I began a relationship in the closet and when it ended I felt like maybe I should find a way to tell people so that it wouldn’t feel so scary and isolating, but I wasn’t really sure I was ready to give up everything (I lost a lot of my close straight girlfriends because they just didn’t know what we had in common anymore) and I was afraid that maybe I was wrong and this was a big mistake and my parents just needed to call Candy Finnigan at INTERVENTION and set me straight. I think the most important part of coming out is doing it at your own pace. And you are so brave and wonderful!
    Love,

    Lanie

  3. Thumb up 7

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    “When you come out to your friends and family as gay, that’s it – you’re just gay”

    That has always been a big thing for me. Putting a label on myself feels confining and explaining that to other people is not very easy.

    Thank you for sharing, Stef! I’m excited to be reading more from you on AS!

  4. Thumb up 20

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    “Despite in-between sexuality being a relatively widespread phenomenon (hello, Kinsey scale), society is still largely convinced that such a thing cannot possibly exist, that it’s either a stepping stone on the way to lesbian land or a weird experiment. This was always incredibly hurtful, and as a result I never felt like I belonged to any specific community. I saw myself as too gay to identify completely with my straight friends, but I didn’t feel gay enough to party with the lesbians. At different times, I would be more attracted to a person of one gender over another, and I found some friends’ surprised reactions disheartening.”

    ^^This resonates for me so much, so many times over.

    Thank you for writing this.

      • Thumb up 12

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        Totally this. Such truth, for so many people I know, and myself in particular. I feel really queer, and sometimes even use terms like gay and dyke, but lesbian never fits, nor does bisexual (it implies somehow being right in the middle… I can’t be in the middle, ’cause it’s fluid, yo). And for me, it has changed over time. I still consider myself to be attracted to cis men, cis women, also trans* men and trans* women – and tend to be attracted to energies – i.e. androgyny, masculine energy, but balanced with feminine in some way… but over time, dating women/genderqueer folks… the actual dating part, I can’t imagine being in a LTR with a cis guy anymore. But I don’t identify as a lesbian still… and I might have just not met the right guy. Who knows? I love saying I am queer, I love saying I love (fuck) who I love (fuck) and I love saying I am fluid. Or just… I am me. Thank you for your words, Stef. Please keep speaking your truth, and sharing it with us here. I think it holds true for many (and many more, if they felt comfortable just being…)

        • Thumb up 3

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          oh my god, we exist. thank you so much. it’s so hard to come out when it has to be my life story, but if i say “i’m gay” for the sake of brevity, it feels like a lie and if i say something super ambiguous i sound like a dick.

          maybe i’ll marry a jewish guy and have babies in the suburbs and maybe i’ll marry a dyke and not have babies in the city – i’m not there yet and i DON’T need to have that “figured out” at this stage of my life.

    • Thumb up 16

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      YES, this. Fluidity is totally a thing, yet I was so worried that it couldn’t be true – I spent years trying to weigh which gender I was more attracted to. And I felt like a poser in the gay community, which is absurd, because I really, really do like women. Like, a lot.

      Now I’m all enlightened and shit, and when people ask me about labels I’m confident enough to explain how I prefer queer because it’s the least label-y label, or I just say, “I do whatever the fuck I want. Or WHOever the fuck I want, knowwhatImean?”

  5. Thumb up 3

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    this pretty much sums up my last few years. minus the status as ukulele goddess.
    crushing on a boy would almost trigger a guilt trip and i’d never tell my gay friends :-/

    hope to read more from you.

  6. Thumb up 4

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    “On top of this, I wasn’t sure about coming out to my parents. I knew enough about their political affiliations that they wouldn’t mind at all and that they would be supportive, and I knew not to take that for granted, but I also knew that it would irrevocably change our relationship and the way they looked at me, their only daughter. Despite knowing it wouldn’t be any sort of dealbreaker, I was terrified to take that step.”

    This. This is all of my feelings. Stef, you’re a wonderful person.

  7. Thumb up 18

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    This is all of my feelings…it’s hard out there for a bi/queer/questioning girl, and I 100% identify with this story. It’s my story. I also felt inadequate about being in this community, like I was a bad queer, and even questioned my decision to go to A-Camp bc I’m in a relationship with a man and didn’t feel “gay enough.” Luckily my friends talked me out of that mishigas and I had one of the best weekends of my life!

    I love this and the Autostraddle community.

    • Thumb up 4

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      I’m so glad you decided to come to A-Camp :) You are 100% a part of this community and you bring so much to it! (not even counting points for the purple team) Seriously, you are a wonderful person and I’m incredibly happy I got to meet you last month.

  8. Thumb up 25

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    I clicked this article without really knowing what it was about because it was written by Stef. I love Stef. I love when Stef writes a thing and am compelled to read all the Stef things. After my first read through, I sat trying to make sense of what I was feeling. I went back and read it a second and then a third time. Still, more *FEELINGS*. In the end I’m left simply with this. I FUCKING LOVE YOU STEF!

  9. Thumb up 4

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    OH MY GAWD! This was the perfect article I needed to read today! Thank you so much for sharing. I feel EXACTLY like you do and for me all of this is happening at 31 years old – I feel so out of place, confused and lost because I feel like I don’t belong on either team and I’m worried about making friends with lesbians because I think they will shun me for not having known before…

  10. Thumb up 12

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    This.

    Everything about this.

    Thank you so much. I have NEVER heard anyone talk about having an experience that is so incredibly in tune with mine. It is particularly meaningful to hear you talk about the fear of being accepted neither by those who identify as straight, nor by the LGBTQ community, all because of not identifying any certain way. I have lived a lot in that space, and spent a lot of time in my head berating myself for not being able to just be a REAL SOMETHING.

    Like I said… just, everything you said. I feel it, so hard. And I am totally familiar with that not-having-an-answer-to-the-orientation-question scenario, and just having to patiently answer that I just think human beings can wonderful and sexy and that’s just kind of what I go with.

    <3

  11. Thumb up 2

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    It makes me sad that fear make it hard for us to come out to understanding and open-minded parents. I didn’t come out to my dad until I was 23 (and I came out to the rest of my family at 16 so a pretty big difference) and when I did it was like nobigdeal and they (my dad and his wife) came over to meet my girlfriend and it was all one big happy family. I couldn’t believe I waited so long to have a more honest and just all around better relationship with my dad. Every so often now my adorable and awkward father asks me, “so… do you have a girlfriend?”

    I love hearing coming out stories because everyone’s is so unique and awesome and different and empowering. Thanks for sharing, Stef!

  12. Thumb up 12

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    oh stef.

    i read this on the treadmill when i was cooling down from a run and i started crying somewhere in the middle and tried to pass the tears off as sweat but i don’t know if it worked. anyway. this article. oh man. it is not exactly my story, but it parallels pieces of my story and takes ideas and fears i didn’t know other people shared with me and makes me feel so safe and comfortable and yes, part of a community.

    the search for validity you write about, the desire to feel REAL, legitimate, all of those things, is something that resonates so strongly. my mom was slightly less accepting, and at the time i felt so much anger toward her — now i realize it’s because she was looking for answers i didn’t have. it would have been easy to hand over labels or a girlfriend or anything concrete, really, but i was busy writing journal entries where i would rip myself apart and question my own feelings, my truths, wondering if i was lying or making things up or just confused like everyone said i must be…i’m not sure i’ve thought about my feelings enough to coherently put them out here, and i’m sorry that this is a jumble and a mess…clearly i have a date with my diary later this evening.

    but really, i just want to say thank you. thank you for these words, thank you for coming back to this community, thank you for saying exactly what i needed to hear on this venerable national holiday of coming out. the more we all stop beating ourselves up, the more we can let the people who do want to love us do exactly that, and this essay is something i’m going to think of next time i worry about being “queer enough” or belonging or any of that jazz. so thank you.

  13. Thumb up 5

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    Stef, thank you for sharing this.
    I started identifying as “gay” to my friends long before I actually called myself that. My identity has been a journey. For me, the queer community was always attractive even from my “straight” relationships because I always felt so weird, and in communities like autostraddle, “queerdo” is actually a good thing.
    But I appreciate what you say about feeling in between communities. And it is pieces like this, with the positive reception it has received so far, that are a lot of why this place is so amazing. It is writing like this that keeps bringing me back to autostraddle, no matter what.

  14. Thumb up 1

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    I don’t like to label myself but I went through something similar thing with two women. It was so devastating with the first girl and I was 17 and we had a mutual love for similar things and we clicked but it end badly too for me and I went on a downward spiral and date some guys who just use me but event I meet someone who help me put the belief back into myself and we have been together for 6 year.

    Thank you Stef for the insight into your journey

  15. Thumb up 1

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    i relate so much to the keeping the identity crisis from the parents thing. why change things so drastically with them when i don’t have to? honesty and acceptance, that’s why. thank you, stef.
    i’ve labeled you as awesome since your cartoon recaps ftr.

  16. Thumb up 7

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    Thanks for this article. For the past 8 or 9 years of my life I identified as a lesbian. In the past year I have started to re-come out to people as queer. The more and more I thought about it, I felt uncomfortable identifying as a lesbian. It didn’t fit me and it was more and more frustrating to have people assume things about my sexuality. I remember the first time I told a guy that I was attracted to that I wasn’t a lesbian. It was so scary to put that out there that I liked men as well.

    Glad to find other people who feel like their sexuality is more fluid.

  17. Thumb up 6

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    wow, a queer person feeling inadequate as a queer person in relation to queer “community” (like there are some queers who are more queer/deserve community) is something i don’t read about very often, so thanks for this.

  18. Thumb up 1

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    Thanks so much for writing this. It’s kind of uncanny, because you hit on a lot of things that I’ve had bouncing around in my head, and it was actually weird to see what you’d written out like so. Get out of my brainnn. Jk. Thanks.

  19. Thumb up 1

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    My experience has been very similar… I have to say, though, I knew from a very early age that I liked boys and girls equally though I didn’t know the word ‘bisexual’ until I was 12 (I’m now 21). Currently, I’m out to all my friends and co-workers, two of my cousins, my brothers, and I think my dad knows although my mum’s biphobic so he doesn’t say anything about it to her. You’re really lucky your parents were so accepting. My dad is, but I know that when my mum eventually finds out (she’s been suspicious for years) she’ll go into denial about it.

  20. Thumb up 2

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    Thanks so much for sharing this – it goes a long way in articulating the mess of things I feel about the fluidity and elusiveness of my own sexuality – not feeling gay enough or straight enough or just not being able to define it in any meaningful way that grounds it and validates it in my own mind. Not being able to grasp such an important part of my identity is problematic, but I’m really glad I read this. :)

  21. Thumb up 4

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    A few months ago I had a dream that my wife and I had broken up, and within the dream I had a legitimate identity crisis. What would it mean if I dated a guy now? I thought. What would it mean if I dated a woman? And that sense of unease followed me throughout the day.

    I really don’t know if I’d be as out and confident as my queerfabulous self as I am now if I didn’t have an eleven-year relationship with a lesbian to back it up. I really don’t.

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      “I really don’t know if I’d be as out and confident as my queerfabulous self as I am now if I didn’t have an eleven-year relationship with a lesbian to back it up. I really don’t.”

      replace “eleven-year relationship with a lesbian” with “two-year relationship with a gay girl who doesn’t like the term lesbian but has known forever that she is 10000% gay” and you have just described my life. i think we should talk more next time we are both at camp. i want to hear more words from your brain.

  22. Thumb up 6

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    I’ve worried a lot about not being accepted by regular gay and lesbian people as much as straights. My gender is hard to define, and my sexuality is even harder. I wish I had a more female body. I say more because some body parts already function more like the female parts, though sadly not my junk. I look super androgynous. How do I feel? I’m a country girl at heart. I do things. I have a woodshop, know how to do a lot of basic blacksmithing, I’ve got a huge garden, I cook like a chef, make apple butter, etc… A lot of the people I know tell me I’m not very girly because of my countryfried hobbies, but I feel really feminine inside. Now for the complicated part. I can have a loving relationship with any gender expression or physical nature, but I only feel attracted sexually to Women, and a few select men. I don’t really consider myself bi, or lesbian. And I’m definitely not straight. I looked it up once. If we go by labels, I’m a Panromantic, Transsexual, Nearly Lesbian person.

  23. Thumb up 4

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    This is something that I am struggling with right now at 26. I stumbled upon Autostraddle through that same Google “lesbian” search.

    Three years ago I met a girl (while in an relationship with my boyfriend from high school) that I shared an energy with that couldn’t be denied. It took a year of awkward sleepovers and skirting the issue to finally just kiss her, and we have been together ever since. I am “out” to only two of my friends, but it has only consisted of me drunkenly admitting that she was my girlfriend, and them responding by saying “Ya, we know”.

    She has known her whole life that she is gay, but is still closeted for fear of all of the things you’ve talked about. I’m not comfortable saying that I am gay, but do not know how to “come out” otherwise which makes the process that much more terrifying.

    Your article is what I have been searching for. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am a lesbian, because what else makes sense after being in a same sex relationship for 2 years? The label doesn’t feel comfortable, and I am so glad you’ve shared your story about finding a way to live happily in the in between.

  24. Thumb up 3

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    This article perfect for me right now….I’m still at the beginning of realizing all of this. I can’t help but sit and be frustrated by, why couldn’t I have figured this all out sooner? It would’ve been really good to know in college. This is just fantastic although. Obviously we are all not alone in our silent identity crises.

    I haven’t had the guts to stay anything to my parents yet. I know they won’t care, but it’s still a big step.

    Plus, I can’t help but feel paranoid I’m going to turn around and change my mind. I don’t want to make a big thing of it and then decide two years down the road I’m going to date a guy.

    In either case, this whole column you wrote made me feel better about my life and a little less alone :)

  25. Thumb up 4

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    “With no terminology to describe my feelings and no self confidence to back up my choices, I shut down.”

    This.

    It is so comforting to see how many people also went through this experience, because it felt so isolating when most of what you hear about are people that are confident in their straight/gay/lesbian labels. I feel either like an imposter, or way too limited using any label other than queer.

  26. Thumb up 2

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    thank you so much for writing this! it is exactly what i would have written, except i’ve only lived through the first half. it gives me hope that i can go through this and reach the great place that you have in your life. <3

  27. Thumb up 3

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    A therapist told me I wasn’t alone. But this really tells me that I’m not alone in feeling this way about my sexuality. Yesterday was coming out day and so badly I wanted to post the badge on my facebook “Hello, I’m bisexual or hello, I’m pansexual or hello, I like boobs”.

    On one hand, I feel like it’s none of my distant cousin’s business who I bang or who I love. On the other hand, I’m proud of my individual sexuality. I told my Mum that I’ve always been a bit queer and she cocked her head and said “really?” – I nodded and she shook her head and said “okay”. Haven’t had the chat with my Dad. Sis is very supportive as are my friends. Would it be a relief if I publicly came out and said that women turn me into a puddle? I’m doing the online dating thing to meet anyone that I can (women and men) but part of the reason that I added men into the mix because I can’t find a queer gal to date/hang out with/be friends with/love. I’m 31 and I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere.

    I’m very grateful to you for writing this, honestly, thank you!!

    PS – if you are looking for a friend on the East Coast of Canada don’t be shy to message me :)

  28. Thumb up 2

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    I did a whole big project about coming out as my graduate show at uni. I interviewed a bunch of lovely ladies from the UK and the US, turned them into monologues and shared them on stage [as well as my own coming out story].

    Revisiting the show this year really helped me and my ex become friends again [as SHE was basically my coming out story]. I interviewed several bi/confused/label-less women and many of them communicated that it was difficult facing the stigma..even from the LGT community towards the ‘B’, which I find appalling and frustrating. We should be supporting each other not negating each other’s feelings and experiences [case and point...Romi from the Real L Word...who cares if she ended up marrying a guy...does that mean she did'nt really love kelsey?!]

    Here’s the website I made for the project, have a read. Many of the stories are amazing and probably more like yours than you realise.

    http://comingoutonstage.webs.com/

    If anyone wants their story added to the rest and potentially told on stage at some point [anonymity is always used] then either contact me on here or via the website.

    =]

  29. Thumb up 3

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    LJHGSLIUAHSFOIAOSÄIHDÖIGSAF SO MANY FEELINGS and you’re in my brain and i love this article and i have many thoughts like

    a) i can’t come out to my parents when i have no fucking idea what to come out as, and sometimes i feel like it’s better to wait until i have a SERIOUS girlfriend while other times i just feel like crying.

    b) also, my parents would (eventually) be cool with it, but my maternal grandparents would not, it’s not even an option to come out to them. and i’m very close to them, so it feels wrong to keep things from them. if i don’t tell them, i can’t tell my parents either or i would feel like a ugly liar…ugh.

    c) some time ago i told my closest friends that i had previously had a secret girlfriend (long story) and consequently might just fall in love with other ladies down the road – most of them replied things like “cool, we’re not that surprised, but cool!” but one of them said “haha, as if we didn’t know you were queer” in a kind of patronizing way and it happened months ago but it still makes me sad and i’m not sure why. maybe cause she couldn’t possibly have known that, because i didn’t fucking know? i still don’t know!!

    d) i am studying to become a teacher atm, and have been doing some field work in schools recently. i have seen so many out and proud high school baby gays and it makes me SO HAPPY for them and the world as well as VERY VERY SAD because i wish it could be that simple for me. like…i should be out & proud & FINE by now, but i’m sooo far from it.

    however, in conclusion: thank you for this stef, it made my afternoon, xxxxxxxxx

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    “With this, I faced an uphill battle. Every relationship I’d ever be in would be met with a certain level of criticism, and the gender presentation of all of my past and future partners would be analyzed as some sort of clue to my /real/ orientation.”

    …um, yes. The very story of my last 4 years.

    This was awesome. <3

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    I, too, am an amorphous weirdo. I’ve been out for 20+ years – for most of that time as bi, with a few years here and there where I’ve called myself lesbian out of the pressure to choose “one or the other.” I have felt at times so much shame about how I am. It’s a bit of comfort that that’s at least par for the course: there was a mental health study released earlier this year that found bisexuals and significantly (like, astoundingly) higher risk for addiction and suicide as compared to gays and lesbians. (I’m trying to find it again, will post it if and when I do.) The numbers made me cry. How can there be so many of us in the middle, and yet such struggle to be seen as valid?

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    Oh man, this hits so close to home. I’ve only recently (read: within the past year) been coming to terms with my sexuality, which I’m still having trouble defining. While it’s not terribly difficult to be out at my super-duper liberal college where “queer” is essentially the default term, I’ve been agonizing over what to do about my parents. They’re liberal in theory, but they often subscribe to the “not in my backyard” way of thinking in that they’re fine with other folks doing things that they wouldn’t want happening in their circle. So I worked up the courage last night to come out to them, only to chicken out once I made the call.

    One of my biggest concerns is being an additional stressor in their already pretty stressed lives. They’re dealing right now with elderly/sick parents and some other issues that are making things tense at home. My plan for the past few months has been to wait this all out until I reach a “good” time to come out to them, but every week/month something new springs up in their lives. It makes me wonder if there will ever be a “good” time.

    And now I’m just rambling. But, really, a wonderful post that resonates so strongly with me. You’re awesome!

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      Yes! I have been trying to find a “good time” for like 2.5 months since moving home after graduation and I feel like a failure. My parents have a lot of financial/medical stress and it never seems right adding something else to the mix (even though I’m sure they would be supportive).

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    I literally just created an Autostraddle account to comment on this specific post. Thank you, a thousand times thank you. You summed up errythang I’ve been feeling/dealing with in the past year of my life. I was all “I like boyz!” and then I initiated a super intense make out sesh with my friend and I was all “I don’t like girls?!” and now I’m all “I’m an amorphous weirdo (who now has an Autostraddle account).” So…thank you. From the bottom of my huge queer heart.

  34. Pingback: Link roundup: National Coming Out Day 2012 « Bridges Not Walls

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    WARNING: TL;DR!

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned yet, but I say this as a reminder and recommendation. Has anyone ever read Lisa Diamonds book, “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire?” If you have not, I HIGHLY recommend it. It put a lot of things into perspective for me. There were times I thought and or felt I was asexual, polyamorous (I have practically read every book out there on polyamory), straight, demisexual, sapiosexual and pretty much anything that runs the gamut. I’ve found over time, that my sexuality is fluid as fuck and it’s like its own free spirit that manifests and morphs into various forms when it so chooses. It’s like the ultimate shapeshifter ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shapeshifting[/url]) as seen in mythology, except my sexuality is not a myth. Many times this has led to a general confusion overall, when it comes to my sexuality, but I don’t believe that I am a confused individual because I’ve learned to understand it better to where it makes sense to me. It’s just that my sexuality is consistently inconsistent, thus fluctuating on a scale, similar to an electromagnetic spectrum, where by, you have different modes of interaction. According to Wikipedia, “Electromagnetic radiation interacts with matter in different ways in different parts of the spectrum. The types of interaction can be so different that it seems to be justified to refer to different types of radiation. At the same time, there is a continuum containing all these “different kinds” of electromagnetic radiation. Thus we refer to a spectrum, but divide it up based on the different interactions with matter.” In any event, I find that the analogy of an electromagnetic spectrum is similar to that of human sexuality and sexual fluidity in general, which of course draws a parallel to the Kinsey scale as mentioned.

    On another similar note, it’s like that Bruce Lee quote, “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” For me and this quote, this is not something I learned over time, but something that has been innate and part of my personality for the longest time, however finding the right words to describe my experience and or people that could relate has been quite daunting to say the least. Without going too far off tangent (I promise there is a point to all of this), I’ve recently been interested in astrology and the “abstractions” and or “esoteric” knowledge that I’ve picked up and applied to my own personal development. Once you get beyond the surface crap of astrology and actually delve into things like your own natal chart, you start to notice really interesting and unexplainable things. One particular natal aspect of mine that really struck a chord was the “Moon square Uranus” aspect, which can be found here: [url]http://www.cafeastrology.com/natal/moonuranusaspects.html[/url]. To be specific, the part where it starts talking about emotional pretense and expressing oneself honestly (on the cafeastrology description) reminds me of another quote by Bruce Lee, when he says that martial arts is about honestly expressing oneself. Interestingly enough, Oscar Wilde, Osho, Carl Jung, Gregory Peck (To Kill A Mockingbird), to name a few, had Moon square Uranus. If anyone is at all familiar with some of these people I mentioned, then you may understand how all of this ties together.

    In conclusion, I suppose my point in mentioning all of these odd coincidences, tangents and or parallels is that I can relate to Stef’s experience (and those of some of the comment section) because it’s similar to that of my own. Over the years, I’ve learned that the best descriptor for my sexual orientation is that of being sexually fluid + label free. Not only is my sexuality fluid, but my personality and or mind is fluid as well, meaning that it’s constantly changing. I don’t think in boxes, I don’t do boxes, both literally and figuratively. For myself, there was nothing more beautiful than to discover that I have the ability to adapt and morph into whatever way I choose to honestly express myself and it’s even more beautiful to find others who do the same, whether or not they are sexually fluid, amorphous, or some other label they care to describe themselves as. I leave with one of my favorite quotes from Hakim Bey’s, Temporary Autonomous Zone, “There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you’re the monarch of your own skin–your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.” If you want to hear the audio of it or read his works, you can find it here: @1:33 in particular ([url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qskr3msH2w[/url]) and [url]http://hermetic.com/bey/taz1.html#labelChaosSection[/url]. Fair warning, Hakim Bey can be hard to digest for some people, as well as Lisa Diamonds book that I mentioned earlier. Anyways, that is all I have to say.

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    Amazing. Thank you so much for writing this article – Im 23 and this describes my recent experiences with women almost eerily to a T. The part about feeling too straight to hang out with lesbians, while at the same time feeling too gay to relate to my straight friends really resonated with me. It’s comforting to know that others are going through the same thing!

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    this is so special today. thank you thank you thank you. i spent the whole of the last two days trying to get my brain out of “am i gay or am i straight or i am neither, is that ok, can i accept that, can i just know one way or the other????” territory and it is sooo exhausting. This has let me relax my shoulders and breathe a bit. thank you.

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    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been feeling the same way, not straight enough for straight, but not gay enough for gay, and not feeling bi, so it’s so comforting to hear another person’s story! I kinda felt like I was the only person who couldn’t get this whole “sexual orientation” thing down.

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    THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!!!!!!!!! Last Christmas, I told my mom that I wanted to “focus on dating girls” and have spent the past 10 months changing my wardrobe, following numerous queer/feminist Tumblrs, working on applications for four different womyn’s colleges, and getting an alternative lifestyle haircut. Despite trying to immerse myself in the sea of queerness, I recently met a cis dude who I am mad crushing on. He had to move back to SLC a week after I met him (he’s going to try to move back here in 6 months) and I honestly don’t know if he saw me as more than a friend (we met at my friend’s house and all of our hanging out was done in groups of people), but I can’t stop thinking/writing poems about him.
    I have the urge to text him/Facebook him every day but I don’t want to bombard him and I need to keep telling myself that if it’s meant to be, it will be. I grew up with a chauvinistic and emotionally abusive father, so men generally leave a sour taste in my mouth.
    I have also never had sex with anyone, and so I really don’t know what turns me on (this also has me worried that I will scare off potential partners).
    Recently, I have also been thinking about how to go about attracting cis dudes as a visibly queer cis female (potential AS story?!)
    With the guy I like, I decided to femme it up a notch every time I would see him, because I was worried that he would think I was too gay for him.

    Stef, I am so glad you wrote this because this came at the perfect timing and I want to applaud you for getting through your journey.

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      you guys, i can’t even, i love all of you for commenting and every time somebody says something i felt is something they felt i feel all of the feelings and i’m SO GLAD you guys were able to relate to my crazy story.

      i know exactly what you mean re: cis guys, i feel like this is potentially really trite advice but i sort of believe that the “right” cis guys will get it and be totally cool about it? though i haven’t found many lately.

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        I was discussing the cis guy issue with my bff last night and he said the same thing you just said: the right ones won’t care how you present yourself.

        I also wanted to add that I love what you’ve titled this! *hugs*

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    Thank you for writing this – it really resonated with me, especially as I have recently started seeing a cis guy after people knowing me as ‘the gay one’ or the lesbian friend, despite me never actually outing myself as 100% gay. Things are going so well and yet I’m continually frustrated by having to use labels like bisexual and pansexual as identifies, constantly having to justify my hetereosexual relationship. He’s a sweetheart about it all, but I’m really fed up of being told I’m a ‘shit lesbian’.

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    Thanks so much for writing this, seriously. I came out as bi at 23 (I’m 31), but even now, I sometimes torture myself with, “Oh, God, am I gay enough to be queer? Am I fooling myself? Am I just trying to ~belong or some shit?” I had a similar coming-out-to-parents situation, though my angst was slightly different… I knew my parents, friends (both BFFs are bi), town, etc., wouldn’t give a shit, but because of that, I felt like, “Oh God, I have to make EXTRA SUPER DUPER SURE I’m ~really bi or else I’ll be appropriating queer pain and being a general life ruiner to ALL GAYS EVERYWHERE.” It’s like I was Tumblr before Tumblr. Good times.

    My mantra, when I want to shut up those doubts, is, “I like what I like when I like it.” Anyway, thanks again for writing this. It helps.

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      “am i fooling myself” — oh my god yes this, exactly this, right?! why do we all torture ourselves with this?! if i crossed out that phrase from my 2009 journal i would essentially have an empty book. i feel like that’s all i asked myself — why are we so hard on ourselves, why do we assume we don’t know ourselves?! stef, can’t thank you enough for writing this — i want to keep thanking you over and over and over.

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      i’m copying and pasting Stef’s article and Kangaruiner’s response into a word document that i will look at every time i need reaffirmation that i’m not alone in this. Thanks to both of these incredible women for sharing

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    Thank you for writing this post. This is my first comment and this is the first time reading something that made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my experiences. I’ve told very few people about my past “secret” relationships, and no one has ever been supportive or understanding enough to make me feel like it was okay to not be categorized in one of the dichotomized labels of sexual orientation.

    You’re amazing, Stef.

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    I had been afraid to be active on Autostraddle before, for the same feelings you describe of not feeling ‘gay enough’ to fit in with the community since I started questioning earlier this year– but everyone seems so great and THIS- it was just such a comfort to read your story since it mirrors so much of what I’ve been feeling and I didn’t even know how to trust my feelings since I kept thinking “wouldn’t I have felt attracted to other girls sooner if this were real?” etc etc… so I logged in to comment for the 1st time and say thank you thank you thank you for writing this. :)

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    i am 100 lesbian and have always known, so this doesn’t hit home for me. i can however appreciate how much it makes sense and more people like you need to speak up about how they honestly feel. too many bisexual women (or women who are confused about how they feel) are ashamed for being confused. as if everyone HAS to know everything about themselves right away in life. and if you don’t you’re a phony.

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    I saw myself as too gay to identify completely with my straight friends

    A thousand times YES! I live in such a (gay friendly) straight area I want to scream sometimes. Where all my trans*, girls, and bois at? WHERE ARE THEY?!!!

    but I didn’t feel gay enough to party with the lesbians

    This I hadn’t even thought about… Until now. Mostly because my closest friends, who are all hundreds of miles away from me, are queer* in one way or another. *I* was the straight hold out until the eve of my 30th birthday and then there was this One Girl*. ::le sigh::

    How lame is that? And I’ve spent the past few years of my new-gay (nu-gay?) physically isolated from my compatriots.

    Also sometimes I date boys. And when I get around other queers I feel like I’m betraying my kind. And I hate it so so so so much. Even tho I had my straight decade in my 20s – where I put my sexuality on the back burner to deal with some shit (rape-y b/f + mommy abuse = therapy & celibacy) – I was never ever ever not queer.

    Like other straight girls? Look at me funny when I talk about how I date boys. Apparently nobody sent me the straight girl memo on how to get picked up, or how be coy or how not to say what I want/like – out-loud and shit. I just don’t understand that (hetero-normative?) culture. Gives me the wiggins.

    And then one day, oh so many weeks ago, I found Autostraddle. It’s like curling up in a hammock with my queer+trans* peeps every damn day. ::hugs autostraddle::

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    Thanks so much for writing this. Everything, down to coming out late, is me exactly. I just figured out I was bi (or something) last year, and it definitely puts me in a different place than a lot of the other college kids at the LGBT center. Plus, studying abroad in a conservative country is making things more confusing.
    Because of all that, I’m so happy to read articles like this and hear that it’s a shared experience.
    So, yeah, please keep doing great stuff!

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    It makes me feel a lot better to see so many people identify with this article. I really resonated with your situation with your parents. I just moved home a couple months ago (ugh) and even though I know my parents would be supportive 100%, I can’t find the words or the right moment. How do you talk to people who have known you as straight for your entire life about something so complicated? I don’t know how to label myself, so I don’t even know what to tell people, but it feels weird keeping a secret. BLARGH. Thanks for making me feel like less of a weirdo.

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    THANK YOU. I’m new to Autostraddle, and this post is the number one thing I found that made me decide to join. I can relate to this sooooo completely, black out and all. It’s nice to know that there are other “amorphous weirdos” out there!

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    Though I’ve been a loyal Autostraddle reader for quite awhile, I always wondered if I really fit in. This essay totally answered that question. (The answer is yes yes yes.) I don’t know if I’ve ever read an essay that resonated so well with me and my feelings. Thank you, Stef, and thank you, Autostraddle community. Y’all are beyond wonderful.

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      And how! I love the vibe of comfort with ambiguity and fuzzy boundaries on this site. It’s got a Queer woman oriented gravity, but without the castle walls and guards giving you the stink-eye if you don’t have the secret dyke handshake. :P

      Thanks, stef, for bravely sharing your many feelings with us in a way which so many can resonate with on a healing level…

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    This was wonderful, lovely, I wish I could hug you!

    After fighting the same inner-battle of “Am-I-gay-or-is-this-just-this-one-girl” recently, it’s great to hear a story like yours. I’ve been trying to find the right answer to that nosy friend question of “So you’re a lesbian now, right? Or bi-sexual?”, and I thought I was a real looney for not knowing the answer right off the bat.
    Thanks, from another weirdo. You kick ass.

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    I think it is a great moment of reassurance and clarity for everyone when we share these stories and can see that so many of us are experiencing similar things. My rejection of any label that people wanted to place on my sexuality made it hard for me to figure out how to explain what I live and feel to my family. My close friends all just knew that I am a big ol’ queer that maybe will show up to a party with a male, female or trans date (all of which I have done and my lovely friends never bat an eyelash).
    Family is a different story, especially when we are dealing with different generations and different levels of intimacy.
    After 4 years of stressing over it, I finally wrote a long email (i live far from my family) introducing myself as a queer woman and sent it to my relatives. Tears were streaming down my face as I hit send. I was so scared about someone rejecting me , but every response was so positive I could hardly believe it.

    Thank you for sharing your story and power to all the other amorphous weirdos out there! We are not alone, even if words can’t easily describe us.

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    omg. all of this. fucking all of this.

    I came out on my 23rd birthday by telling my friend that “I like girls” because to say I was gay didn’t make sense, especially since I had never been with one. I decided “queer” and “figuring it out” made more sense.

    I started going to orthodox jewish LGBTQ stuff and felt amazing within the community yet frustrated by the fact that I just DIDN’T KNOW. I actually told my story on an inter-generational panel in which after hearing stories from men who had fought to be who they are in a time when it felt like everyone hated them for it, I pathetically shared that I had come out to all of my important people as, “figuring it out.” Effectively, as I told it, I had “built myself a little gay nest was deciding whether or not it was where I needed to live.”

    Then I dated a nonjewish girl.
    Then I dated a nonjewish trans guy.
    Then I marched in DC Pride and literally ran around with an enormous rainbow flag, telling everyone that this was the first year I stopped, “being okay with maybe being gay and started being really pumped about it.”

    Then I met a 5’2″ bio guy. And he was a Jew. And in rabbinical school. And to him, I was gay, and so we were friends. And then I fell for him. And it’s complicated.

    But at the end of the day I realized that coming out was less about liking girls, and more about making a promise to myself and my important people to start really looking at myself and whom (who? gaaa) I love HONESTLY. And to avoid telling him how I felt because it didn’t fit would be dishonest.

    Surprisingly, most of my LGBTQ friends just want me to be happy. And I am…but I have yet to navigate how to continue to represent my rainbow fagginess (oops. FLAGginess. Freudian slip intended.) honestly without feeling like I’ve crawled back into a closet.

    Thank you so so much for sharing your story.

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    Thankyou Stef for sharing your feelings re being an amorphous weirdo. I have often felt like I am in the middle, I have loved women and men, most recently the pattern has been women, but I can’t say that I won’t at some point crush on or love a man.
    It is the person for me that seals the deal, but it is hard having to be pressured to fit into the box. So I’m also coming out as an Amorphous Weirdo too.
    I’ve read all the responses to this article and this is the article that I feel safe and real with. Thankyou everyone you are all utterly fabulous!!!! ((((())))

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    Seriously, this article is everything I needed right now.
    I am 23 and going through this EXACT thing, and I cannot thank you enough for posting this 2ish Years ago, because I feel so much better about all the realizations I am making in my life right now about how and why and to whom I am attracted.

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