We’re taking some time this Pride to look out for ourselves and each other, with the intentionality and respect we all deserve. What do we really need right now? How can we show up for each other? How can we celebrate the resilience of this community while still making space for our own rest?
We were messaging back and forth for a while when they finally sent a text that I knew was typed with hesitant hands:
Her: “Girl, can I tell you a realization I’ve had recently?”
Me: “Yeah, sure what’s up.”
Her: “Well…I recently realized that I’m not polyamorous like I thought I was. I think honestly — I was just doing it because I thought there were limited options in the queer community now for people who don’t practice nonmonogamy.”
In that moment, I affirmed my friend and told her how much I appreciated her for sharing that realization with me…but that scenario ultimately got me thinking.
We’re here, we’re queer, and some of us have had the privilege of coming out openly to our friends and family…but are there certain stereotypes and expectations in the queer community that keep us from feeling valid?
It can feel like its own coming out in a way.
There’s “Hey, parent (s), guardian(s)…I’m gay.
Then there’s “Hey queer friends….I don’t know what a moon and rising sign is and I honestly don’t care.”
And once you say it, it’s easy to wonder — did your truth lose you a potential friend or love connection? Did you show too much? Are they judging you? Are you truly queer enough?
Impostor syndrome tries to trick us into thinking it only shows up in the board room. But, the reality is that it can sneak its way even into the spaces where we most expect to experience belonging. In the group chat. In the Pride march. And even in our very own mindsets (gatekeepers who invalidate bi and pan folks with cis male partners — I’m looking at you!). Impostor syndrome drives us to act in ways that are not authentic to who we are and teaches us to focus on the surface level of our identities.
My first understanding of impostor syndrome came from not feeling “Black enough” as a child. There were certain ways that my peers- both Black and non-Black- expected me to act as a Black woman and when I couldn’t live up to those expectations, I often felt like a failure. I spent many hours trying to change my speech and my hair and my clothes and my music tastes and I only stopped this dangerous cycle when I realized that I am the only person who defines what my Blackness is and should be. [Like…ya girl can still like Taylor Swift and still be Black (mostly) (I kid)].
So, just in time for Pride month: I want to remind you that you are queer enough just the way you are!
Say it with me: you are queer enough just the way you are!
You do not have to drink alcohol to have fun. You do not have to be non-monogamous or monogamous. You’re still queer even if you’ve never had sex or if you never want to have sex. You’re still queer if you love astrology and ask people for their birth chart on a first date, and you’re still queer if you don’t know what a moon and rising sign are.
It’s time that we stop limiting ourselves and allow ourselves to have depth. Otherwise, we slide into the role that was laid out for us. We’ve been asked to be our stereotypes for so long and it’s time that we, as a community, throw that off and allow ourselves to be fully ourselves- each our own main character.
Brene Brown once said that “if you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”
So, let’s douse our Petri dishes with some empathy!
Post your “not queer enough” stories and confessions below! Where do you feel like you don’t often fit in the queer community, and how are you going to affirm yourself this Pride month even when impostor syndrome hits?
“You’re not like any other lesbians I know, so you must not be gay”… said by a straight girl.
I felt this a lot. Thank you for writing this.
I was single for years, dealing with some personal stuff. I usually dress rather femme and have a lot of interests that are traditionally considered feminine. It was like a part of me was just turned off, despite never hiding being gay. I didn’t really feel like I belonged to the queer people, because I’m just to boring. I’m cis and white but absolutely don’t want to belong to where all the terfs and other horrible people are. And I really don’t believe in astrology.
I’ll just have to find my own little shelf in the library I guess. There’s probably more of us out there.
Sorry, @bob, that was not supposed to be a reply
And I can’t believe someone actually said that, that is terrible!
I also am boring! Or at least I try to be/want to be.
@no longer nice: welcome to the library shelf! :)
Sometimes I wonder if there’s even a place for me in the queer community at all. I don’t find myself drawn to specific labels or even pronouns, and that can cause a lot of confusion when meeting other queer folks. I feel like certain things are being demanded of me that I have no way of providing, so I just end up feeling like an outsider within the community and outside of it. Like I’m some strange alien that doesn’t belong in any of the spaces that exist within our society. I really just yearn for some tender, sober queer pals who will even see half of who I am.
you are queer enough! you too @strangealien. You’re enough. I bet you’re not-so-secretly awesome.
I think we’re all people,at least I hope so.just love in heart,and light in each day. We will survive…and what a long strange trip it’s been.
Oh what a lovely piece and concept, thank you for this! Interestingly some of the things that make me feel alienated in the queer community have already been mentioned. I did feel a lot more isolated as a monogamous queer before finding my partner, especially in spaces where being nonmonogamous is considered something of an ethical goal everyone should be working towards. I’m also a trauma survivor who can’t be in spaces with alcohol and drug use, which has been incredibly isolating as the queer spaces I’ve been often assume everyone drinks and everyone under a certain age wants to smoke weed. I’m grateful that I’ve done a lot of work to know that if people miss out on my queer trans friendship because of their assumptions of what being queer means that is on them and is their loss.
Where on earth are you all finding these communities where being non-monogamous is considered normal and ethical?! In my fairly large city, I have the opposite problem – all the women I meet seem to want a monogamous or monogamous-adjacent relationship and I feel less part of the community because of that!
I also haven’t had a long term girlfriend for a few years which also makes me feel like I’m not “queer enough”, though I suspect that one is entirely my own insecurities.
“in spaces where being nonmonogamous is considered something of an ethical goal everyone should be working towards“ <- i really don’t get peoples obsession with the idea that non~monagamy is a more enlightened way of life. in fact it strikes me as an avenue for manipulating somone else into accepting shitty behaviour…(and the same can be done with monogamous dynamics) poly people aren’t anymore immoral or “degenerate” than monogamous people and monogamous people aren’t anymore jealous or less queer (I don’t see being poly as anything inherently queer)
I grew up in an emotionally abusive and homophobic family, so I was closeted and confused about my own sexuality for years. I only came out as a lesbian last year. I was married to a man, and had only dated men before. Sometimes I feel not queer enough because my girlfriend is the first woman I’ve even kissed, and I don’t have the million stories about ex-girlfriends that I can overshare. I’m afraid that people doubt that I’m really a lesbian because I didn’t act on my attraction to women for so long, because I was too scared, both of rejection and of my family.
Similar experience here Brittney, although I haven’t been married and haven’t been lucky enough to have my first girlfriend. I have no insight for you, but wanted to say you’re not alone! My best to you and your girlfriend and know you are valid <3
@E and I am right there with you with not even having my first girlfriend yet. Only dated guys in the past but when I knew I needed to get sober I also had the revelation I am gay… now so much makes sense. But because I don’t drink dating is more of a challenge and years have gone by and I have no “proof” to show but I know my truth. Now I am doing the work on myself so I can be happy.. with guys I was burying myself under lies. People like sometimes expect black and white and I am just fine exploring my greys.
I share 15 years of long relationships with men before realizing I needed to be with a woman. I still struggle to find a connection to the local queer community. @latetolesbian IG account is all about hundreds of people with this exeprience – check it out if you dont know it yet :)
I’ve been married twice, to cis men both times; I’ve never been in a relationship with a woman. And *I* *am* *queer* *enough*. You tell me you’re a lesbian? Great, I believe you, yay you! Sounds like things have gotten better for you and I hope they continue to do so. Happy Pride, you extremely lesbian person you!
I am not good at writing but this I need to say. THANKYOU for writing this. I feel like an imposter in this world and by default in being queer. I dont even know if I identify as being queer. I can’t write more than this as i am not in a mental space to confront all these feelings but thankyou so much for this article. And reading the comments from other people about how y’all feel and navigate the spaces you exist in..its everything.
Ooooh the monogamy vs nonmonogamy thing is so real. I’ve also considered getting into poly relationships out of impostor syndrome and a false sense of scarcity, even though I’m mostly monogamous.
Felt this one too yep
same. for now, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have a problem with my partner dating other people, but I personally just don’t feel the need to date other people. But if polyamory culture wasn’t so deeply a part of queer culture, I would never have gotten into a relationship with partners in other relationships, and I prefer strictly monogamous relationships. I just feel like sticking to that would limit my dating life as a queer disabled non-binary person greatly. But I still don’t want to feel like I’m ‘pretending’ with my partners. But debates about this are so black and white. I think it should be normalized to be like “I have a strong preference for monogamous partners, but I have realized through being open to experiences that my partner having other partners does not impact me negatively as long as they don’t expect me to be in other relationships as well”. But…maybe I am lying to myself and do have a problem with that…I just wish I’d meet a monogamous person to be with.
at least polyamory culture made me feel okay about crushes and make-out sessions with no strings attached
I’m bi, demisexual, and polyamorous. But, I’m in long-term relationships with two cis men. With my current job and partners in two cities, I just don’t have the energy to pursue anything beyond a friendship with others right now. I also live in a city where most of the lgbtqia+ folks I know are monogamous, so I often have to explain my relationship structure. Most are accepting, especially once folks get to know me, but I do feel like I need to prove myself to earn the trust of others in the queer community.
It’s wonderful how these insecurities around belonging in the larger picture are insignificant, but for that I think the presence of people who value you for you is essential. If I read my first sentence while surrounded with people who are cagey and unwilling to open their mind no matter their identity and/or orientation, it’d feel insulting, even.
That said, my feelings of not belonging in the queer community have lessened for a few reasons:
•the realization that speaking of a singular community is a misnomer, there are rather constellations of communities, each with different values (and wounds as well)
•to not be “the only one with my walk of life i know”, I’m relieved to not go through that sort of grim situation as I used to (esp relevant when queer and also on the autism spectrum)
•understanding the concept of “people having their own hangups that are not your problem” (i.e. people who feel threatened by someone being queer not like them)
•having cultivated friendships with people with whom understanding each other feels easy to do, even when it’s difficult.
My feelings of alienation are not something I intend to give more power, though for sure they still exist. Almost all aspects of my identity are met with malicious disbelief because they don’t adscribe to any binary (bi/pan, recently admitted to myself to be non-binary, the kind of aut who “passes”; and because there are astrology-inclined people here, yes my mercury-ruled chart reflects this haha), my only “experience” has been with cishet men, and continued occasions of unrequited affection -as well as holding back from fully expressing myself and my sexuality- had distorted my faith in being considered desirable by any fellow queer person. Some of these things I’m past from, some of these I’m currently working on a more compassionate approach.
At the present moment people are rightfully wary of validity sentiments without material action (and this is where some of the gatekeepers are probably coming from but are acting toxic about it), at the same time I believe that many of the people who act on gatekeeping ironically lack a baseline of intrinsic validity, even with a “hard won” exp. Tbh the material conditions affecting us often make it difficult to be fully present on affirming each other, but gatekeeping and tear others apart is definitely not the answer.
Oof, this got more long-winded than intended, i have too many feelings on the matter, it seems. This is a reminder always worth having, newcomers of all ages and seasoned folks alike. Depth over stereotyping, you said it best!
Wow, i felt this all the way down to the mercurial chart. I’ve hooked up with women before, but I tend to date people in my field, which is super male-dominated, so I haven’t had much luck dating women within it. I currently identify as cis but I’ve always felt very masc for a woman and my presentation leans androgynous, and I’m also ‘the kind of aut who “passes”’, to steal your words. I’ve identified as bi/pan for a long time, but i don’t find men attractive physically (all my friends say I’ve only ever “dated down” but i don’t see that bc no man looks appealing) so I’m starting to lean toward maybe thinking I’m actually a lesbian. I guess I’m nervous bc emotions aren’t my strong suit (to say the least) and it’s scary to enter a relationship with high stakes, one that has serious potential to be “real,” if you will. I gotta work on that.
All the love from a fellow queer autistic adhd non binary non pronoun-er… Because those are the titles that are used, when really, I’m just a me.
This piece made me feel not so alone, thank you! I typically don’t feel “queer enough” because I honestly don’t care about my queer identity or alignment most of the time. I never wanted to feel part of the queer community, because to me, the other aspects of my identity (my religion, my ethnic background) mean more to me about who I am and how I go about in the world. For that, I’ve felt a lot of shame for not participating in the community or even being active in important social issues. I still think I should help out others by being active, but I don’t feel obligated to help myself in queer issues.
Yes, I totally agree. Most of my friends and how I live are more representative of my other interests. I’ve been told I don’t look gay when I was at a gay club with my wife at the time, and went to pride a couple times and felt so out of place with my comfy and preferred wardrobe of boring and basic. Even on this site I’ve felt outcasted sometimes as people say some tv shows aren’t true to life with one or two gay characters in a mostly straight group of friends (which reflects my experience). Not all queers run in packs of other gays.
I’m nonbinary and bi. I’m also married to a cis straight man, have never dated anyone who wasn’t a cis straight man (didn’t date much, honestly), have a child, am comfortable with ALL pronouns (though prefer they/she), and am currently afab passing (hoping to change that soon). I came out for the first time this year, but it felt weird. If people can still use she/her pronouns, if I’m not dating anymore, what’s the point? I know that I’m queer, but it feels like it doesn’t matter and coming out was totally pointless and meaningless. I’m not even sure why I did it.
But, I guess I’m glad I did because it’s finally made me comfortable looking for binders, using my pronouns at work, joining the Pride committee. So, I guess for me it was just one step forward out of many.
I said a lot of the things in that first paragraph to myself before coming out too. Finally did partly for my own sake and partly so my kid and my nieces and nephew would know that they knew an lgbtq adult. Even without them though I still feel like there’s a point. Multiple people here over the past few years have said that me being here visibly as a bi woman married to a cishet dude has mattered to them which is kinda amazing because I had more theoretical than actual expectations of my visibility making a difference. And even without that, being out has still made a difference because my husband has gone out of his way to make sure I feel seen. And I just feel better knowing that in most circumstances I’m not hiding (I am lucky enough to be safe enough to be out).
Happy Pride, fellow queer-enough person :)
Very real for me right now. This is my first pride with a cis male partner and I have a lot of discordant thoughts about that.
More specifically, and more often, I feel like I am not trans enough. I’m nonbinary and afab, and not only are there certain expectations for what I want medically, but also how I should present sartorially and otherwise. It’s hard to balance being “seen” as my gender with how I actually want to present (and then also considering encountering someone potentially transphobic). I really could go on– a lot– about all of this. It’s just tricky to feel seen when you live in gray areas.
“Why do you have to identify as such & use they/them pronouns? Why can’t you be happy just being cis straight male who does non-conformist stuff?” – a lbq woman on OKCupid after I messaged her my opening line. It was really offensive & she didn’t like my reply of “because I am not that, never was that & never would be that.
I have trouble with groups. I have trouble with identifying with groups. I have trouble being a part of any community that doesn’t have a utilitarian use or actual activity. (I’m a writer, it makes sense that I talk to other writers. Or, I play video games, it makes sense that I play video games with other people.)
I feel really alienated in that I don’t have big swarthes of LGBT+ friend groups – most of my friends (LGBT or not!), like me, are really individualist and prefer their own projects/own constellations of groups and hobbies rather than just… a big friend group that hangs out all of the time.
Sometimes it feels like I have to look a certain way, or perform certain behaviors, just to be noticed as an LGBT person, and none of it has anything to do with dating or fucking women, and frankly that’s what I’m primarily here for, dating and fucking women. (I do fine on apps, but it’d be nice to like, meet someone in real life, or even just have a girl check me out in the grocery store.)
I guess I’m lonely, primarily, and I’ve never felt the warm brace of community and acceptance that everyone else seems to get when. I don’t even know where to find community, and even if I did, I feel like I probably would just feel like they accepted me because I’m queer rather than because they actually liked me.
This was a very long winded way to say I was bullied a lot as a child and do not trust communities generally.
Also, for me and likely many other people, especially bi/pan women – I’ve put up with a lot of bad behavior from women (in both friendship and love) because I was horny/lonely/wanted to feel validated or a sense of community in a real way.
And that’s no one’s fault but my own, and I’m getting over it. But it’s a very real thing and should absolutely be talked about more. (Yes we all need more therapy.) There’s not a lot of narratives in which bi/pan women are actively desired by other women, rather than tolerated.
Also I think bi/pan women need more guidance on how to actually hit on people and date, because it’s very different than dating men, and there’s just a lot to unpack in trying to actively date women rather than men (completely different script for most of us!) and more frank discussions about what bisexual dating looks like from bi people for bi people on dating would be helpful (and truly validating.)
I came out as bi at work really and my older lesbian colleague has been great at welcoming me into the LGBTQ+ family, but I do feel like a fraud, as I’ve only ever been in one relationship, with a man, which ended over a decade ago. I’m also Christian, deconstructing the super conservative background I grew up with, and kind of expect to be told from all sides “you can’t be both, you have to choose.” I’m perfectly happy with who I am but don’t really expect anyone else to see myself the same way.
“Also I think bi/pan women need more guidance on how to actually hit on people and date, because it’s very different than dating men, and there’s just a lot to unpack in trying to actively date women rather than men”
This is very true and a great idea.
Having been around for ten years and without visible disqualifiers for people to claim, I’ve long known how to quietly fit into the queer community, by following the motions. Talk the right talk when I have to, listen without judgement no matter how much I feel alienated, and minimally speak about myself and my opinions and experiences. I can easily hang out unquestioned but I feel lesser because I’m not talking about my personal life, dating, sex, ways I feel oppressed, or anything at all really, like the more valid/important people do. If anybody wants to hear me talk about how terrified and hurt I feel about my own circumstances, it’s usually just so they can use that to talk about their own experiences about finding dating difficult or not having relationships literally all the time or something. Trying to find common ground has many positive aspects, but in the queer community it is generally considered unacceptable to make someone else’s pain and oppression about yourself. Whereas in the case of my less valid sources of grief, especially since I won’t own up to a specific identity per community expectations, people are happy to do that. I don’t want to listen and center to other people’s problems (some of which I wish I had, others of which I do have but don’t feel like harping on or can’t risk being accused of centering myself in others’ more valid stories) all the time and not be able to have those people listen to, much less center, mine for five minutes. Most of the time queer “community” just makes me feel more lonely and more closeted (for whatever that means without a specific identity to “come out” as), not less so.
fwiw, everybody here sounds hecka lgbtqia to me.
I am feeling so much love for this article and all the folks replying. Thank you.
And as someone who totally embraced being attracted to women as a teen but didn’t realize until my late thirties that maybe I’m not attracted to cis men at all (after being married to a cis man)… Well, I’ve got enough imposter syndrome for several people.
But most of the time, we’re our own harshest critics, and the legal system will, eventually, grind out decrees of divorce (I’m told), so… we all find different paths to where we need to be. Or, to quote David Bowie, “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”
Thanks for sharing the quote! I just turned 40 and do feel like I’m living my purpose, being the person I should be.
I always have imposter syndrome about being “trans enough” as someone who sorta passes as a “butchish” queer woman but is actually a fairly femme genderqueer soyboys. I have a lot of passing privilege and a lot of internalized “truscum” ideas and self doubt that need work and need bravery to be be more out.
I recently came out as ace / aro: I think I’ve been aro all my life, and ace has followed on as I’ve aged out of having any interest at all in partnering short- or longterm. Even when I IDed as straight, partnering attempts were fraught and not worth the time / effort.
I’m also autistic and there’s an intersection with partnering simply not making sense or being worth the effort. That being said, many autistic people can partner in a manner that’s rewarding to them personally.
Lotsa impostor syndrome going on right now, since I identified as straight for so long. But honestly I’ve always felt much more comfortable in queer spaces anyway. I’m glad that many of those spaces now officially have open doors for folks like me.
100% agree with this. I found it really hard for years, feeling not gay enough because I’ve never been in a relationship with a woman (I’m bi). But this year I’ve decided to stop giving a f**k and I have found that so empowering. I talk about being bi all the time and if anyone wants to question me about it or try and gatekeep then I’m ready to fight hahahah.
I’ve been out and proud as bi/queer for years, and yet. I still feel that impostor syndrome every time I find myself attracted to/crushing on a cis man in my actual life (ie, not a safely unattainable actor/celebrity). For all that I’m vocal about shutting down gatekeeping and validating other bi/pan people, I still find it hard to quiet the gatekeeper in my own head sometimes. It’s maybe a forever work in progress, but it feels good to know I’m not alone.
I used to feel like I fit well enough into the community back when I first came out (almost exactly twenty years ago). I was always set on the side a bit as a very femme person but I fitted well enough/certainly didn’t feel actively pushed out. Now? I don’t know . . . I feel more and more alienated and unwanted and not good enough with every passing year. Some of that is just ageism (v much A Thing in the queer community and also the world generally) but a lot of it is something more nebulous and difficult to pin down. The internet has (for better and worse) really changed how people build and sustain community, which the pandemic has put into hyperdrive; I fit much less well into the world all in all this way (but that is a me thing rather than a community thing). And I just struggle with how much mainstream shit is part of queer culture now – idk if that’s a good or a bad on the whole, I just know I struggle with the utter disappearance of the underground. Plus all the rules! By no means is that code for I’m secretly a terf who feels left behind – far from it – but everything feels like a flashpoint all the time and I miss being able to play and have fun in good faith and sometimes just ambiguity and confusion. Anyhow, I very much don’t have this all figured out and I’m all right just sitting back for a while trying to make sense of it, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a bit wistful about feeling pushed away when I gave so much energy and time and took a certain (not terribly extraordinary but still real) amount of personal safety risks over the years only to find I’m not really let in to the swim of things anymore. But then, the world has changed, what else is new? It will change again.
Okay, so for starters, I have low vision, so I can’t flirt by batting my eyelashes across the room at some cute chick who just walked in, and wouldn’t notice in a million years if she looked at me; verbal interactions are important, and even then, I’d be pretty dense, as I have limited experience with relationships. I’m interested in casual dating, but I don’t wanna’ shack up overnight with the first vegan carpenter with 7 cats (who builds cat condos for their 7 cats)who walks in. Oh yeah, and though I love animals, I EAT MEAT!! I love sampling all kinds of food, including vegetarian and vegan offerings though. The soy-sage at A-Camp had me fooled! :) Most of all, I think in my heart of hearts, I probably identify as a lesbian, but I’m really afraid to say that out loud for several reasons: First, I don’t want to exclude people of other genders. I just don’t have any interest in cis men. But I really identify with the generation of lesbians who came before me and created Olivia Records that paved the way for women musicians whom I love today. I live near Gulfport, FL, which is home to many LGBT seniors so it’s been easy to connect with some of my elders. Now, I’ve just got to find some my own age who don’t get all weird about my inability to make good eye contact or read body language from across the room! And I’m sober-curious. I’m very small in stature and a half glass of wine knocks me right out; no fun!
Lol I live up in Palm Harbor and yesss so many senior lesbians and bi or pan elders but hard to find sober ones to hang out with under 50 and closer to my age (41).
I appreciate this article. Can I firstly just say the topic about race I completely relate to, I’m half Mexican, half-white and I’ve been told I’m not Mexican enough or I act ‘too white’ whatever that means. Or it’s weird because I can’t eat Mexican food, fyi I don’t have a gallbladder and I can’t eat spicy foods.
Anyway on to not feeling queer enough, I definitely have that feeling. I don’t always feel welcome or accepted in the queer community. I’m still closeted and I’ve had my fair share of women laugh at me or tell me they wouldn’t even be my friend, the latter hurts more. I struggle with mental illness and that’s a problem for many, which is bizarre because a lot of queer people struggle with that. I’ve been told I don’t look gay enough. I didn’t fully know I was gay until my early 30s and yes there are plenty of people out there on that same journey. I’ve noticed on social media younger people tell me they understand what I’ve gone through and I don’t mean to be mean or ugly but I don’t know how they can compare their journey to mine when they are out and I’m still in my 30s and closeted and feel years behind. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I do. At the same time it shouldn’t matter what I look like, how I dress, even what shows or music I like, it doesn’t make me any less queer than someone who rocks rainbow hair, wears flannel watches The L Word and listens to King Princess. I have to learn that my journey is my own and we all are at different places in life and just because someone who is 22, is out and has accepting parents, a chosen family and has already had 3 girlfriends doesn’t mean I’m this pathetic, old virgin who will die alone and friendless.
I’m bi and met my husband in college. I’ve never had a relationship with a woman, aside from a friend who tiptoed the line, then told me she wasn’t into women after all. I’ve only come out to a handful of close friends and have sat silent as other people invalidated bisexuality as a “gateway”. Because I’m married to a cis man, I don’t feel like a part of the queer community and I don’t feel like I can publicly come out due to the stigma of not being “queer enough”. I’m so thankful for this post and I hope in this sentiment will be felt across the board.
What a wonderful, generous article. Thank you. And it’s such an honor to be in community with everyone in the comments. You are all LGBTQIA+ enough and I see you.
Here’s my story. I’m bi and I’ve been married to my cis straight husband for almost 20 years. I’ve struggled on and off for years with not feeling bi or queer enough but I’m now (miraculously) both out and pretty comfortable in my identity. One of the benefits of being 51 is that I’m more comfortable with just taking my place and not feeling like I need to ask permission first. I’ve also been really lucky to find other bi+ when I needed them.
I’ve had two major coming out events – first in my early 20s when I realized that I’m bi and then again in my mid 40s, when I realized that I’d unintentionally bi-erased my identity and that everyone I knew (including those I’d come out to much earlier) assumed I was straight and it didn’t feel good.
Coming out again in my 40s ended up being easier than I thought it’d be. I think it’s because I focused on finding support and community first and then being more visible kind of flowed from there. Online communities like AS helped me gather up my courage to call myself bi and queer. Looking for queer versions of things I like to do also helped. I’m still looking for the perfect queer book group but I’ve read a lot of interesting books and met some interesting people in the process.
I am queer enough and so are all of you.
Oops, meant to post this as a separate comment, not a reply.
Same! All of it. Slowly coming out and it feels amazing!
Hey, I’m Bi and I met my (cis hetero) husband in college too. You’re not alone. Happy pride!
Ugh it’s so real. I started considering myself bi/pan within the last couple of years, and it’s still SO hard for me to shed my imposter syndrome. Some of my friends know , but I’ve also only been with straight, cis men. So it’s all the easier to convince myself that this isn’t real, that I haven’t “proved” my queerness.
My friends are almost all queer and largely supportive, but sometimes I wonder if even they don’t really see me as queer enough. I’ve also had queer friends instantly try to flirt with me when I tell them about my sexuality, which only makes me want to hide in my shell even more. And honestly, pride can stress me out for the same reasons! Just trying to take baby steps.
Thank you! I love hearing this! <3
I’m a bi woman and my imposter syndrome tells me that I’m not gay enough until I “arrive” at identifying as a lesbian. And no matter how much I read the lesbian master doc, I can’t deny my attraction to men. I struggle to feel secure in identifying as bi and usually call myself “someone attracted to all genders” but I am bi and that’s okay! I’ve dated men in the past and I’m in a LTR with a woman now and I haven’t felt queer enough in either situation. To my bi babes dating cis men, remember it’s not your partner making you feel less queer, it’s bi stigma!! <3
“To my bi babes dating cis men, remember it’s not your partner making you feel less queer, it’s bi stigma!! <3”
This is so true I’m just going to say it again!
I definitely relate to imposter syndrome discussed as I didn’t realize I wasn’t a straight girl who just happened to be obsessed with whether everyone was gay or not gay.. until I was 31. And it made everything make sense in the moment that my denial washed away but all my internalized homophobia was so unexpected. Like if I am a lesbian now there goes my shot at being “perfect” and all my romantic hero myths where I would find my knight and be the badass heroine.
Before that I was so preoccupied with whether or not my friends were “truly gay and just in denial” so much that when I told my sister I had a revelation and it was important we talked.. she literally thought I was coming over to tell her I thought another person was “truly gay”.. which makes me think those that care so much what other people “are” .. in fact are probably just not comfortable in their own skin yet.
But now 10 years later I still have never kissed a girl but I am sure I am gay. Getting sober has made it harder to casually find possible dates, dating sites suck in my town, and where I live there are mostly older people since Clearwater is retirement central. It is hard too because most of the older generation of bi/pan/lesbians I hang around with here all “realized” their gayness by physical attraction or emotional attractions and interactions vs I just sort of had a revelation after my drinking got bad and another awkward interaction with one of my cis male straight friends.
I had more fun and went to more Pride events when I was “straight” than I do now honestly.
And I could be bi so there is that self doubt churning around since I did enjoy sex with guys. But I never enjoyed making out and it was more a power play not true intimacy. But to try an explain that I am “probably lesbian and definitely demisexual and sapoisexual and maybe just bisexual/homoromantic” is just exhausting and at 41 it makes me feel like a uncertain child when talking to my “peers.”
I have been parenting (happily) solo for years, and I’m pretty openly (& visibly) gay. I’m often called “sir” when I’m out on my own, but when I’m out with my kids and chatting with strangers (which is my typical MO), I’ll have people make offhand commends about my “hubby”. The socially-coded sexism and heteronormativity we’ve been trained to associate with motherhood has such a powerful influence on how I am perceived.
I gave birth to my kids (back when I was young and caught in the throes of compulsory heterosexuality), and for that reason I’ve never really felt queer enough. There’s definitely judgement and distrust from within the LGBT community.
Thanks for sharing your story @AlainBernardin! I find the intersection of parenting and queer to be fascinating! I had a daycare for years and now am a foster/adopt parent. I’m not normally read as queer, but I love pushing the edges of what parenting can look like and what it can mean to be queer.
It’s also fascinating watching my kids’ relationship with queering gender and sexuality.
I call myself queer non-binary femme. I’m polyam, dating two cis het guys. I definitely get accused of being straight all the time. I can’t help that I’m romantically more attracted to men and more likely to date someone I’m romantically attracted to. I’ve had feelings for plenty of women, non-binary folks and all kinds of genders, but seem to keep dating cis men. I don’t know if it’s also what I “learnt” to do but I plan on spending the rest of my life with hopefully both of my partners in some capacity. I have no desire to have top surgery or wear a binder, my body doesn’t cause me dysphoria. I rock a dress. I don’t want to look androgynous. I’m getting more and more into makeup. I want my long hair to grow back, after cutting it short to help with migraines. Also I’m disabled which interferes with a lot of things.
I don’t go to queer spaces because often they’re not accessible or full of alcohol and I don’t drink. I also don’t tend to go out at night, when a lot of stuff happens.
I often don’t feel like I’m “queer enough”.
I accidentally posted this as a reply. Putting it here too.
What a wonderful, generous article. Thank you. And it’s such an honor to be in community with everyone in the comments. You are all LGBTQIA+ enough and I see you.
Here’s my story. I’m bi and I’ve been married to my cis straight husband for almost 20 years. I’ve struggled on and off for years with not feeling bi or queer enough but I’m now (miraculously) both out and pretty comfortable in my identity. One of the benefits of being 51 is that I’m more comfortable with just taking my place and not feeling like I need to ask permission first. I’ve also been really lucky to find other bi+ folx when I needed them.
So here’s my story, for anyone who might be helped by it.
I’ve had two major coming out events – first in my early 20s when I realized that I’m bi and then again in my mid 40s, when I realized that I’d unintentionally bi-erased my identity and that everyone I knew (including those I’d come out to much earlier) assumed I was straight and it didn’t feel good.
Coming out again in my 40s ended up being easier than I thought it’d be. I think it’s because I focused on finding support and community first and then being more visible kind of flowed from there. See also – being in my 40s and having fewer fucks to give about what other people think. I mean, I still care. But not enough to not do what I want to do.
Online communities like AS helped me gather up my courage to call myself bi and queer. Looking for queer versions of things I like to do also helped. I’m still looking for the perfect queer book group but I’ve read a lot of interesting books and met some interesting people in the process.
I am queer enough and so are all of you.
I’m bi and (afab) nonbinary and in a relationship with a cis-ish guy. Even though I know I am queer and this is not a straight relationship, I know people look at us and see a girl and a boy. He’s the only person I’ve ever been with and sometimes I doubt my place in the community. 🤷🏻
I’ve been told by members of my community that I wasn’t “queer enough” because I didn’t listen to queer podcasts, watch enough queer shows, wasn’t enough of a queer activist. Then I would be told that my life was “too queer” by others. It’s like I could never be the right amount of anything for anyone. Guess what though, I didn’t care! I’m me and happy with my right amount of everything!
I have known I was bisexual since I was at least 7, but I do often feel like I’m not queer enough. I am also pretty feminine presenting, which creates a lot of identity frustration for me-like maybe I should butch it up a little to peacock the fact that I’m here for the ladies? It always feels stupid and overplayed when I say that out loud, but it is a very real struggle.
Hard yes to this!! I have this same problem. I wear my hair pretty short with an undercut but I otherwise do not remotely present as anything other than femme and I also periodically think I should “dress gayer” but I also like the way I dress and the idea of presenting more masculine does not spark joy. I’m compromising by wearing a rainbow bracelet and hoping that’ll help.
Hey! You might be interested in my podcast The Bisexual Agenda, the most recent episode is about femme bisexuals and we talk a bit about not feeling “queer enough”.
Thanks so much for writing this. I came out as bi to most of my friends when I was in my early 20s and then dated exclusively cis het men for nearly a decade and presented as straight / didn’t ever bring up being bi even with my partners. I never stopped knowing I was bi and that I was attracted to all kinds of people who weren’t cis het men, I just didn’t think it was a part of my identity I needed to pursue until my early 30s when I realized…it absolutely was. I got massively unlucky in having my first serious girlfriend turn out to be biphobic and emotionally abusive, and wanting to know when I was going to “start just calling myself a lesbian”. I still have a good number of days where I struggle with being bi and thinking it would just be “easier” if I were a lesbian or straight and trying on both of those labels and realizing nope, I got it right on the first try when I was 20 — just really, really bi, and absolutely that is queer enough.
Thank you so much for this article. I’m ace, so I sometimes feel like an outsider in queer & lesbian culture, which often puts an emphasis on sex & sexual attraction.
Feeling “not queer enough” is a thing I’ve talked with lots of my queer friends about, and we pretty much all feel that way at least sometimes. I never doubt the “queerness” of my queer friends, they’re just so unequivocally and wonderfully queer, so knowing that they also struggle with feeling “not queer enough” really helps to put my own self-doubt in perspective. I like to remind myself, and my queer friends, that showing up just as we are without trying to make ourselves seem queerer in ways that feel performative and inauthentic, is not only good enough, but also shows other queer folks that their queerness is queer enough as it is too. You’re all queer enough, bbys, exactly as you are!
Thank you for a really validating article. I came out almost 10 years ago at 28 after meeting my first girlfriend who is now my wife. I live in Japan, which doesn’t have a lot of out people to begin with, but I have never had a LGBTQ friend. I’ve never been to pride. This has me feeling so horribly isolated and genuinely afraid if I will ever make a friend.
I’m a fairly femme presenting bisexual polyamorous lady, married to a cis hetero man and I have a bisexual boyfriend. I have dated many women in the past, but those were just not very good matches with me. I still really enjoy dating women and non binary folks. I am so sick of invalidating comments from everyone, but especially from within the queer community. Thank you for something that was nice.
It’s really frustrating that I still routinely hear oh you’re just confused, oh you’re still figuring it out, oh well you’re not really lesbian/gay/queer.
I acknowledge the way I present gives me a bunch of privilege. My marriage makes most people think I’m straight.
I am not straight though. It was still a huge thing to come out to my parents. I’ve still dealt with homophobia at work and school. I’m still not safe coming out as bisexual at work or I could lose my job. My state offers no protections for housing or employment discrimination. I still feel like I have to hide a chunk of myself a lot.
Due to the pandemic I’m still not really doing big social events despite being vaccinated. That said I bought myself some bisexual flag stripe socks and a matching bandana for me and my boyfriend.
Thank you for writing this article, I resonate deeply with what has been written and shared by others. I often feel as if I don’t belong within the queer community at all, born female I’ve always been attracted to men… Yet there has been an undercurrent of not fitting in, having relationships that feel wrong, or off and not understanding why. It was only when I was in my thirties and I came across terms like genderqueer or nonbinary that I slowly began understand why I felt they way I did, and why I was often attracted to gay men. I still sometimes wonder if I’ll ever find someone who will see, understand and appreciate me just the way I am, and for the most part have just accepted myself and the high likelihood of being single. My faith tradition also promotes monogamy, and for me, finding the right person who I know was meant for me is crucial.
I also want to thank you for giving me the space to write this, and explore my own feelings, my oft hidden fears, feelings of longing and disappointment… I appreciate it more than I can express.
also, a queer experience I never see anyone talk about is having identified as a lesbian for a long time and then suddenly realizing you’re bi, suddenly being in a phase where you’re usually dating cis male partners, still being super confused about everything that surrounds this while heteropatriarchal society expects all women who have sex with cis guys to know what to do, but also feeling kind of separate from the lesbian/nonbinary monosexual community I felt a part of for so long, but also from other bisexual people who are much more experienced with cis guys and often realized that they are attracted to women after thinking they are straight for a long time.
Yes yes yes. A definitely queer experience that dare not speak its name.
I’m currently at a point in my life in which, having identified as a lesbian since I came out, I’m wondering if maybe I’m actually bi. Definitely resonate with the heteropatriarchal society confusion. I’m thankful for a supportive immediate circle, but definitely fear what others beyond that would think if I *gasp* dared date a man.
I keep having ideas for bi specific topics, so I’m going to keep rambling:
-talking about the bi woman’s experience is also talking about trauma! (I believe half of us have a history of trauma, or something close to it, and it’s surprising it’s not talked about more except on on bisexuality awareness month)
-this is relevant to all bi ppl, even the ones who are married to men, and probably especially the ones married to men (I personally keep retraumatizing myself with men, although I can only speak for myself)
-so general trauma resources, but in a sexuality informed lense
-maybe more using the autostraddle surveys or data analysis on bisexuality and what that means for all of us (I know most mental issues have a high cross over with PTSD, so does is there a link between ADHD & bisexuality as there’s a link between ADHD & PTSD?)
-informally looking at the comments, most of us struggle with social isolation generally
-as I said in a previous comment, bi specific dating advice (from bi people) that acknowledges the realities of dating both men and women.
On actual community:
-maybe setting up a specific space for bi women (in irl meat space) like as a meetup group just as general community building thing (board game night, drinks, etc) the focus of the space wouldn’t be dating (and be boyfriend/husband friendly)
-general community building ideas
So, everyone reading this: make a meet up group in your city for bi ppl, let’s make a podcast or something, and invite your bisexual friends to more events
You might be interested in my podcast The Bisexual Agenda :)
While I’m not exactly “against” it, I really hate how family-of-choice has become the dominant romantic myth of contemporary queer life. I think it isolates people, promotes unhealthy ways of relating to others and trivializes the pain of estrangement.
I’ll admit I’ve had some very negative friendship experiences but I don’t think that invalidates my opinions, means I’m not queer enough or justifies the really vicious and personal attacks that even the mildest hint of a critique of this concept (not peoples actual relationships, just the abstract concept) provokes.
I am a straight, cis woman married to a trans woman. We were actually a couple pre-transition over 30 years ago and reconnected 5 years ago. Many people assume I am a Lesbian. LGBTQ+ friends tell me that, of course I’m queer. But frankly I don’t feel like I fit in any category. Which is mostly OK; I don’t care for labels. But it does make for some confusion for other people.
I had my first crush on a girl at 15, and fantasized about women in my yoga teacher training seven years later, but between how ‘boy crazy’ I was in high school, and falling in love with a wonderful cishet man (who looking back, looked like a lesbian, lol) my senior year who I married right after college, I wrote it all off as a fluke.
I was very happy in my marriage, but at 31, knew I had to come out as bi, and stop repressing that part of myself. My husband was so supportive, even when I started talking about opening our marriage so I could date girls. I couldn’t explain it, how badly I needed to have this experience.
And then I fell in love with a wonderful woman, and everything started to fall into place: the way I had ‘learned’ to like boys. The way I couldn’t imagine EVER being with any other man than the wonderful ally, comfortable with femininity husband I had found. And the way our sex life together had never felt right in a way I couldn’t explain.
It makes sense. It’s clear I’m a lesbian. But I’m a 34-year-old woman who has only had one gf, only ever had sex with one woman, never been picked up by a woman in a club…I question myself all the time. That instead of a repressed lesbian, I’m just a terrible wife. I have so much guilt and shame about separating from my husband, though he has continued to be kind and supportive. I wanted to be with him forever. How can I be queer enough when I miss my straight marriage?
(Side note: for me, identifying as bi was unexpectedly a step on the way to identifying as a lesbian, but I see you, and believe you, and celebrate you, bi women! Even if you’ve only dated cis straight men, or only dated women, you are bi, and you should be proud.)
When your tmasc friend invites you on a group hike so you wear your favorite skirt, blue lipstick, edgy tusk earrings, chunky watch, all the right touches that make you feel butchy and cute and queer and just very you, then you show up and even the other trans women have side shaves and gauges and face tattoos and clothes you’ve tried to wear but just looked like a dude with them on, and you know in your heart ppl you pass on the trail are all wondering why these folx brought the straight girl with them…
Thanks for this article. I feel in love with with best friend at 15— 28 years ago and I still sometimes feel insecure about how others perceive my queer cred. When I started working at an lgbtq youth center a few years ago, a teenager asked me, “are you even queer?” And I replied, “I’ve been married to a woman longer than you’ve been alive.” But 3 years later, I still remember that convo. Unless I’m holding my wife’s hand, no one is clocking me as a lesbian. Most days, I’m very happy with who I am. And I’m always happy with my wife. But sometimes, with folks who are more “outwardly queer” than I am, I do feel inferior.
Thanks for the article.
I don’t feel queer enough because I am in a monogamous relationship with a cishet man,though I identity as bi/pan, which he knows and is super supportive of. I am out in safe spaces, but if I have the privilege of hiding my identify, am I really queer? What defines queerness? Because I’ve been on dates with women, or kissed a woman, or am attracted to women, or enjoy w/w porn? But,I’ve always been with someone with a penis. I always have a twinge of discomfort when I say I’m queer out loud. It feels fake.
I recently have been exploring my gender identity and using she/they pronouns, and have always felt super dysphoric with my period (among other things) and having been examining if I am nonbinary and what that means, but again, is this performative or is this real? This has caused so much self-hated and self-doubt.
I love this conversation – thank you Autostraddle. I am a 34-year-old coming out as bisexual and I feel the need to ‘decide’ now if I am a lesbian or not. Also nonbinary – want to use they/she pronouns but fear being perceived as difficult or just taking up space. Good to hear I am not the only person out there struggling in the gray area (isn’t queerness ABOUT being in the gray area?). Love to all. 💖💖🤸💖🌈
As a bi woman in a monogamous relationship with a straight man I often feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. Added complication being that I didn’t fully realize my sexuality until after marriage. I am not straight. But since I’ve never had sex with a woman I also feel like I “don’t count” and someone is going to say I’m not really queer. Thank you for reminding me that I am in fact queer enough. ❤️
Great post, Tiara! I love the idea of not putting limits on ourselves.
This resonates so hard. I’ve been called ‘heteronormative’ for being monogamous. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only queer in the world who wants to marry one woman and grow old with her and only her…
I do not feel not feel as though I have to answer to all the demands that queer culture and the people who impose it on sexual minorities to sail through life.
I have long accepted that the concept of a queer or LGBT community was conditional to your adherence to a series of norms that have nothing to do with your gender identity or sexual preferences.
Do people still straight up insult you like the used to do 6 to 8 years ago when you were too « feminine » looking (whatever that means) or too into the opposite gender? Not as much, but can we say that the lateral violence is not still high when you don’t perform queerness adequately? I don’t think so.
I think there is some sort of hypocrisy to our movements. We hide our communal pain, our scars our anger, and our resulting violence behind a veil of simile acceptance and because of this we are not holding the necessary conversations to implement change.
Writing on New Years Day drowning in imposter syndrome. I suggested that queerness was internal, not linked to certain experiences or actions (I.e. you are not more or less queer if you haven’t been hate crimed, though of course you have experiential understanding of that impact of queerness).
Was told the following things:
– there’s levels of bisexuality, and if you’re in a straight passing relationship, you’ve not truly been queer
– people can claim bisexuality without doing anything about it, which is unfair
– experience of direct discrimination is a marker of queer experience, if you’ve not experienced that you shouldn’t claim your experience as queer
– fun add on – “can a straight person be queer?” / (me) “they might be ace spectrum or trans” / “oh god I’m not even getting into the ace thing”