Not Just a Phase
Queer women discuss their invisibility
Intro by Bailey Mount Managing Editor
It’s October. Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and all across the United States, some people are hoping that they don’t have to wear masks this year. For them, it’s LGBT History Month and for the brave few, it’s the month that they take that step and come out to their friends and family.
Why do people come out at all?
The answer isn’t always some calculated decision, some carefully organized plan to tell people. Oftentimes, queer people come out because someone else asks them about their sexuality. They don’t always have agency over it.
Even the connotation of “coming out” echoes the sentiment that it’s a secret, a personal detail not everyone needs to know or one that people might not be comfortable with sharing just yet.
For queer women in particular, both are often true. They’ve been told their sexuality is “just a phase” while exclusively gay men and women are accepted and celebrated. They’ve felt isolated from LGBTQIA+ spaces because of how they identify or pressured to behave a certain way because of the misconceptions associated with them.
Basically, for these girls, coming out isn’t a one-time battle — it’s an ongoing war.
In honor of CSULB’s Out-ober and National LBTQ History Month, three queer women decided to share their experiences with coming out. Here, they’re our friends and coworkers and their sexuality isn’t something we consider. Out there, it often defines who they are.
With them, we say: We’re not your punchline. We’re not your fantasy. We’re what we’ve always been — your friends, siblings, coworkers, and most importantly, ourselves.
And coming out to you is something we shouldn’t have to do.
By Sheila Sadr Copy Editor
Writing this is hard. Telling people is hard. I completely recognize that it’s incredibly uncomfortable to come out. But it especially is for me.
Especially because almost everyone believes my sexual preference doesn’t exist. Especially since every time I’ve come out to someone their first question is, “isn’t that how everyone feels?” or “doesn’t everyone get that way?”
And my answer is no. It’s always no.
My sexuality is hard to understand. Sometimes it feels hard to explain and I think that’s because it feels invalid. It feels like I am not in the LGBTQIA+ community because my sexual preference doesn’t fit nicely into this new box. It feels invalid also because, to me, it’s literally not a big deal. But I’m writing this for anyone who feels the same. To let people know that you’re not alone. So I don’t feel alone.
See, I’m demisexual.
Phew. Okay. That’s the first time I’ve written it down. That’s the first time more than three of my closest friends will know. And again, it’s. not. that. big. of. a. deal. I’m not trying to downplay how much it affects me personally. I just don’t want to make it a big deal or hype it up. Because I’m not coming out right now out of vanity or because I want to appear different or “trendy” (as some will say).
I’m doing it because I’m fucking tired. I’m tired of people assuming that I’m into guys. I’m tired of some of friends teasing me over my sexuality at parties. I’m tired of lying.
I’m tired of the how problematic I’ve become when I engage with my sexuality. How I practice flirting with womyn only at social gatherings, when I’ve had a couple drinks. When it’s kind of socially appropriate to.
Ultimately, I’m tired of being in the closet or people telling me that I’m not in one and me almost believing them. I’m tired of people thinking that sexuality moves along some sort of line or works only one way. I’m tired and hurt that people don’t understand mine.
So, I’m going to explain it once. Please pay attention and if it’s still confusing, I kindly encourage you to do your own research. Continue on your quest of asking questions and being curious.
Being a demisexual means that I ONLY become sexually attracted to people AFTER I’ve formed an emotional bond with them. So, I only become interested in having sex with someone after I’ve spent a solid amount of time with them. Biological sex and gender identity play literally no factor on it at all. My sexuality never robs itself of other human being.
There were times where I tried to push myself into hookup culture, thinking that maybe if I found the right person I could “do it”. But I couldn’t do it. Because I’m plainly not sexually attracted in people I don’t know.
The best way to explain it is also the way I realized I was demi: I’ve never ever looked at an attractive stranger passing by and thought “I’d fuck that”. Never. Not in my entire life have looked at a single stranger and thought like that. At the very max, I just thought that they were beautiful. And it wasn’t until I grew into adulthood that I realized that this mentality wasn’t the norm.
There’ve been years where I’ve thought I’m asexual and simply interested in romance. There have been times where I thought I was bisexual. There were times when I thought I was straight or when I just didn’t want to know.
It took too much energy and too much time. It was too scary to contemplate because, if I was in anyway interested in womyn, I knew I would be outcasted and shamed by my family or questioned constantly by my peers.
Or even worse for me, I would become undesirable to someone I love. And I couldn’t handle that.
But now, I’m out I guess. I’m kind of relieved, kind of excited, and terrified out of my mind. I don’t feel proud or brave like I’m supposed to feel. I feel very, very vulnerable and scared. My heart is actually feels like it’s going to leap out of my chest.
But I am living. I am living. Because what is life if you are not living authentically?
I hope nothing’s changed. I hope I’m accepted.
By Alexis Cruz Staff Writer
I always thought that the notion of coming out was, for a lack of better words, weird. For the longest time I would question my sexuality, as I was one of those girls that would notice how attractive other girls were, but never thought much of it.
If I liked the way a person looked, did that change the heterosexual label placed onto me?
I was forced to look into this matter by analyzing my sexual identity for an essay back in Fall 2015 when I took a Sociology of Sexualities class. My professor reached out and pointed out that I was questioning, which was nothing to be afraid of.
As the semester went on, that class had shown me that “questioning” was an identity itself and because of this I was unknowingly a part of the LGBTQIA+.
“It’s a big, scary world out there, but if bisexual/queer women stick together, it won’t be so bad.”
However, the class left me feeling more confused and made me want answers, so I turned to my peers. A very good friend of mine gave me the final question to end all questions. As I spilled out the feelings that I held in for so long, she asked, “can you imagine yourself with a woman and pursuing a relationship with them?”
I paused for a bit, and looked to her and our two other friends and confidently said, “Yes, I can.”
I am a bisexual woman. Did I feel the need to “experiment” with other women to confirm this? Absolutely not. Did I feel the need to tell everyone about my newly found identity?
Well, yes and no.
I told my significant other (S.O.), who is a man, and I would always throw that fact at him. I was expecting some big negative reaction from him, and it was wrong of me to assume such and try to pry it out of him.
So, I was out, I am out, but I don’t know how to feel about it. I feel free, yet caged.
Caged in the sense that the bisexual identity is skewed by the notion of passing as heterosexual — therefore creating a feeling of guilt on the identity — and that being a bisexual woman is often associated with a woman willing to “spice up” her life with some girl on girl action.
These ideas ostracize bisexual women from both the heterosexual and LGBTQIA+ communities, and leave us in this sort of middle space to wander.
Women shouldn’t be left to float in this endless space. I refuse to let other women float in this space as I did.
For those of us who are out, we need to push the boundaries set upon us and open the conversation, but not to the point where we are verbally attacking our peers (as I did to my S.O.). It’s a big, scary world out there, but if bisexual/queer women stick together it won’t be so bad.
By Allison Meyer Multimedia Assistant
There seems to be a misconception about how “coming out” works.
There’s this idea that when a person comes out, that’s it. They’re out of the closet and there’s no turning back. The people they love accept or reject them. Game over. The end.
Unfortunately, life is rarely that easy.
“I want to tell them that they aren’t entitled to my gender and sexuality. I get to disclose information, that shouldn’t even matter, on my own terms.”
In a world where people assume I’m straight and cisgender until proven otherwise, coming out is a process. It’s a calculated risk. It’s a tiring and mundane cycle that happens every time you meet someone new.
The first step is deciding if you even want to come out to someone. There’s always the possibility that you could lose your job, your friends, your family. The price of coming isn’t always worth it to me.
To further complicate things: I identify as bisexual genderfluid. The first label comes with a host of negative connotations thanks to popular media. The second comes with the burden of being completely unheard of.
This means that coming out involves a lot of explanation for me. I’ve actually considered putting together a PowerPoint just for the occasion.
Once I finish my piece, I get to watch as the clear confusion consumes them.
I try to put into words the feelings that are so natural to me but foreign to them. I put up with invasive questions about my sex life that are born out of ignorance. I attempt to correct any misunderstandings that they have. I Google search the definitions just in case.
Next is the waiting game. How will they respond?
I have found that there are three ways that coming out can go: acceptance, rejection, or fake acceptance.
I am lucky enough to have come out to plenty of people who have happily accepted my identity. And there’s always that handful of people that I know will never talk to me again.
But even worse than straight up rejection is the fake acceptance. The people who say they are supportive but in reality think that I’m just “going through a phase”.
Once I get one of the three responses, it usually concludes in, “Why didn’t you tell me you were bisexual genderfluid before?”
I want to tell them that they aren’t entitled to my gender and sexuality. I get to disclose information, that shouldn’t even matter, on my own terms. But, I don’t say that. I go with the shorter, less aggressive version. I just tell them I don’t make it a point to come out because it never comes up. Which is true, but doesn’t make what I don’t say any less right.
Finally, I live with the consequences of telling that person, good or bad.
I don’t get a gold star and triumphant music doesn’t play as I ride into the sunset.
At the end of it all, I get to go home tired and start the cycle all over again in the morning.