• GSA Leaders

Queeries (April 2021)

Updated: Apr 13

Hey there guys, gals, and nonbinary pals!

This year’s second edition of Queeries is here! Thank you for your patience, and, don’t worry, our next edition will be sent out much quicker. Thanks for all your wonderful questions, and keep them coming!

As always, here’s a key:

G: Gabriel

A: Avi

B: Bek

My partner and I kinda have different love languages. I love talking and interacting with them and letting them know how special they are to me, but they're more laid back and tend to like our daily good mornings and goodnights. Sometimes I feel like I ask for too much. Any advice for finding a compromise?

G: My advice would be to talk to them. Let them know what’s going on, and see if you can find a middle ground. There could also be more going on that you don’t know about! It can be scary to have this type of conversation with someone you care about, but I think it’s better than being unsure about how they’re feeling. When in doubt, ask!

As a same-gender (mostly) attracted person, I find it hard to make friends with people of the same gender for whatever reason. I really like having them as friends but a lot of the time I find it hard to make friends with them, despite wanting to. Any advice?

G: Super duper same! I only have a few guy friends, and (at least after I realized I was gay) it’s been pretty hard to make more. For me, a lot of it is because there aren’t a ton of queer guys at CPS, and I just don’t vibe with most straight guys in the same way. There also could be an element of toxic masculinity/homophobia at play, where some straight guys might feel uncomfortable with a gay friend (not your fault! Just an unfortunate reality). I’d say if there’s someone you feel like you’re on good terms with but not really friends with, try to work on that relationship. It’s not an exact science, and I’ve found that these things mostly just happen by accident. But it’s worth a try! However, if the interest isn’t reciprocated, you shouldn’t spend all of your effort there. It’s probably best to move on.

One of my closest friends just came out to me as non-binary, but has not come out to their parents yet. My mother asked me about how they were doing the other day, and I didn't know if I should let her know that my friend was using different pronouns now. My mom is super accepting and would not talk to their parents about it before getting an all clear, but I also don't want to share anything that might break the trust that my friend gave me when coming out to me. What do you all think I should do?

Ask your friend! They can tell you if you should use they/them pronouns with your mom. It’s up to your friend when their pronouns are shared, so it’s important to ask their permission first. The person who is coming out should be in control of the process, so it’s important you ask to avoid accidentally outing them!

How do you start changing who you are with your family? Them having known me one way for all my life makes it scary not just to come out, but to even think about things like asking for gender neutral/feminine clothing. Coming out is one thing, but changing my expression seems really hard when they've only known "me" as who I've been, not who I might want to be.

We love this question, but none of us quite knew how to answer it, so we reached out to Simon, GSA leader ‘19, and one of the founders of Queeries for his thoughts. Here’s what he said:

Simon: Okay I’m really glad someone asked this question because it was also one of the scariest parts for me about coming out as trans! I knew my family loved me unconditionally, but, at the same time, it felt like I had to change things about someone they loved. Here’s what I wish someone had told me—it honestly would have saved me a lot of stress, since it might have helped me come out sooner.

a) start off slowly, and with small things. Say, for example, you want to start dressing in a more androgynous way. You could start by dropping hints that work up toward what you really want—depending on how it feels to you and how your family reacts, this could happen over time or in a single conversation. (eg. Start with “I like that person’s hair/clothes”, then “what if I did that?”/“do you think I could pull that off” and then eventually “I want clothes like that”/“I think I’m going to get that haircut” until you’re ready to actually do it!)

b) Remember this: people who love you love more than just aesthetic choices. When it comes down to it, you have the same wonderful personal qualities you had before these changes. As a matter of fact, your family has known you long enough to see you change A LOT—you’re definitely very different from the person you were in kindergarten, or in sixth grade, and they’ve loved you through all of that.

I know there are lots of "secret" references to sexuality through artists/songs (hate to expose us but Girl in Red, Sweater weather, etc.), but what are some ways to ask about someone’s gender in a similar way, where it still gives an out to not answer if they're not comfortable?

Note: for cis/het people reading this: Don’t use these references as a way to “clock” people! Queer people are constantly forced to hide their gender identities and sexualities. Secret references such as these have always been important to help us find other queer people that we can relate to and know will accept us, the people we know we are safe with. They should not be used as a way for cis/het people to find out who is gay.

A: Asking pronouns is always a good way to get to know people in general. On top of frogs, I’ve heard about liking moss? I’m not entirely sure about the origins of that really, but I personally think it’s neat!

Simon: We asked Simon for a few more references. He says:

“The musical artists I can think of are Eli Conley (realistically, transmasc people are almost certainly the only people who listen to his music) and Against Me!— both of whom are trans artists who are vocal (no pun intended) about their experience. However, I don’t think either one is broadly known enough to give you any kind of definitive answer. (Actually Cavetown—another trans artist—might be a really good answer to this question.) [My boyfriend] also tells me that nonbinary people on tiktok use Mother Mother to signal that they’re nonbinary—I don’t know anything about that. I’m assuming this was asked by a trans person, and I wish I could help them out more! It’s always wonderful to find other people like you, and it can be hard when people don’t want others to know they’re trans.”

How do you know if you are aromantic? I honestly cannot tell if I'm just too young to have a sex drive or if I actually am not sexually attracted to a person.

A: Well, first of all, I’d say that aromanticism involves romantic attraction and doesn’t really have anything to do with sexual attraction! Being asexual, on the other hand, relates to the lack of sexual attraction! As for your situation, it’s totally okay if you just don’t know yet! You can try using the label of asexual if it makes you feel happy and you feel like it fits you at the moment, but you absolutely don’t have to label yourself, especially if you’re not sure. On top of that, it’s also completely fine if you use that label for a bit and then realize that you actually feel a different way. Labels absolutely don’t have to be permanent, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

B: I second what Avi said. The labels you choose to use don’t have to be permanent and might not feel exactly right to you (mine don’t, but I use them as a way to help other people understand my identity and to connect with people who might have similar experiences). Or you might decide that labels aren’t important to you at all! But if they are, and you are interested in exploring asexuality as a label for your sexual orientation, it could be helpful to remember that asexuality, like all LGBTQ+ identities, exists on a spectrum and is not the same for everyone. Some common microlabels that fall under the asexual umbrella include demisexuality (people who only experience sexual attraction once a strong emotional bond has formed) and Grey-A, people who identify somewhere in between asexual (used here to refer to people who don’t experience sexual attraction, not the ace umbrella) and allosexual (people who experince sexual attraction).

How do I separate (desired) gender expression from gender identity? How do I tell if I’m non-binary or gender non-conforming? Do I need to have worse dysphoria, or feel about more than my gender expression?

G: Figuring out what identity is right for you can be super hard, so don’t worry if it doesn’t come immediately to you. Here are a couple of ways you might be able to figure this out (or at least take another step in that direction). You could try using they/them pronouns (or he/they or she/they) and see how that feels. Does it feel like you? Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with these pronouns? Of course, not all non-binary people use they/them pronouns, but it could give you an idea. You mentioned having dysphoria (if I’m reading that correctly), which could be a sign that you don’t feel comfortable with your assigned gender at birth. Ultimately, this is probably more of a journey you’ll have to take with some serious introspection. That’s what it was for me, sexuality-wise! I didn’t figure it out all in one day.

I'm thinking about gender but like I also don't know if I actually am not cis or if I'm like trying to get attention… if that makes sense? like I question a lot but I also question my questioning... anyways how do you know whether you aren't cis? or if you are just wanting different pronouns but aren't technically trans?

A note on some terminology here: you don’t have to identify with a binary gender (male/female) to not be cis. And trans, though it most commonly is used by people who identify with the opposite gender binary (male-to-female or female-to-male) can be used by anyone who doesn’t identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.

B: It can be super hard to figure out your gender. Know that you are absolutely not alone in your questioning, or even your questioning of questioning! It took me a super long time to figure out my gender, and I still question it sometimes, and that’s okay! You might get your gender wrong the first time (or even the first few times) as you are figuring stuff out. If you think you might prefer different pronouns, go for it! It can really help to try stuff out and see what feels most right!

G: First of all, you’re totally not just trying to get attention! If you’re genuinely questioning your gender, that’s coming from real feelings that you have. I’ve questioned my questioning so much (first with sexuality like four years ago, and now with gender). As for how you know you aren’t cis, I would say that labels are what you make of them. If you want to use different pronouns but don’t identify as trans, go for it! Don’t box yourself into any one definition of a term. Experiment with different pronouns, or different labels. There’s also more than just cis and trans (nonbinary, genderfluid, genderqueer, agender, and so much more).

A: I personally wouldn’t worry too much about “trying to get attention” since questioning your gender is something that is completely normal and in fact, good! I personally think it’s great to take time to evaluate and question your gender identity, even if you just come to the conclusion that you’re cis. It helps you get to know yourself better in the long run. I’d try experimenting with different pronouns and different gender expression, maybe? Just see what makes you comfortable and roll from there. Don’t worry too much about settling on a label, just try to find what makes you feel the best!

any tips on coming out about my sexuality? this is kinda vague but really anything would be helpful!

A: Really whatever makes you comfortable! For me, personally, I didn’t want to do anything over the top, so I pretty much said “hey, I’m a lesbian” and moved on. You can totally do the whole sit-down discussion if that’s how you want to go about it, but I’m all for pretty casual coming out. I’ve definitely found it easier to come out to friends, since it’s easier to slip things into casual conversation, but, honestly, you could do that with your family members too!

How to answer the "oh do you have a girlfriend yet" from extended family when you actually have a boyfriend.

A: Well, I guess it depends on if you want to come out to the extended family! If you don’t want to come out, you could pretty easily just answer the question with a “no” and then chuckle to yourself in your head and move on. If you do feel comfortable coming out, you could answer with a “no, BUT, I am dating someone” and hope your family will figure it out from there. You could also just straight up say “no, but I have a boyfriend,” and call it there. That would definitely get the point across!

any tips/tricks for trying to pin down your sexuality? i keep debating bi or gay or queer

B: if you feel comfortable, talk to your friends! Sometimes having people to discuss this with (and who might even be going through the same process) can be super helpful so you don’t feel like you are completely on your own.

G: So, fun fact: I have no idea how I did it! I took a lot of walks in this little alleyway on my middle school campus and was generally very emo about it. So, take walks I guess? Spend some time with your thoughts? As for distinguishing between the three options, you can be queer and either bi or gay! For example, I identify as both gay and queer, since the latter is just an umbrella term. It’s not for everyone though, so don’t feel like you have to use it! Overall, I’d just say it takes a little bit of time and self-reflection.

What is a typical length of time to question one's sexuality before coming out?

B: Coming out is a process, and you’re probably going to have to do it over and over again. I don’t think there is any one typical or perfect length of time to question before coming out, and you might even want to question for different amounts of time before coming out to different people. When I first came out to some of my friends (the first people I came out to), I did it while I was still questioning my sexuality and said exactly that-- that I knew I was queer but wasn’t sure of anything more specific. Nearly all of them had recently come out as LGBTQ+ too, so it was helpful for me to come out before I had really spent a lot of time questioning my sexuality, because it meant I had a group of people who I knew were going through a similar process that I could talk to as I tried to figure out my sexuality. And then, I spent a whole lot of time questioning my sexuality before I came out to anyone else, mostly out of fear that I would have to explain myself to other people and I had no way to do that if I couldn’t really explain anything to myself beyond not straight.

A: I personally don’t think there is one typical length of time! Whatever feels right for you is right, so don’t worry about taking too long or coming to a conclusion too quickly. Personally, I questioned for about a year before coming out and realized I was wrong the first time, so I questioned for another year or so and came out again. It all worked out just fine and I’m happy with the conclusion I came to! But really, you can take all the time in the world, and you definitely never have to come to a concrete conclusion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: labels are for your comfort only! They’re definitely not necessary.

i’ve been questioning for a while now and have pretty much come to the conclusion that i am attracted to women, but i feel like i couldn’t feel romantically attached to one the way i do a man. what does this mean for me and the way i label myself?

B: Not everyone experiences attraction in the same way. Remember that romantic and sexual orientations are completely separate, and while they do line up for many people, this isn’t always the case. Often, people who are attracted (romantically, sexually, or both) to others of more than one gender choose to label themselves as bi, pan, or queer. The differences between these can be somewhat blurry, especially between bi and pan. I typically think of the difference as pan being attraction to people regardless of gender while bi is attraction to people of multiple, but not necessarily all, genders. Especially for people who identify as bi, attraction to people of different genders might not manifest itself the same way, but that doesn’t make them any less bi (or pan, or queer). I generally think of labels as largely to help me explain myself to other people, so, depending on whether you are wanting to specifically label your romantic or sexual orientation or you just want to get the point across that you are attracted to both women and men, the labels you choose might be different.

What does it mean when someone's pronouns are she/they or he/they?

We answered this one in our previous edition of Queeries! Here’s what we said:

If someone uses he/they pronouns, you can use he/him and they/them interchangeably to refer to them. The use of more than one set of pronouns generally means that the person doesn’t really have a preference, so it’s up to you which pronouns you want to use for them out of the two sets. In this example, Jay has he/they pronouns:

Person 1: You have English with Jay? They seem cool - I had Atlantic Worlds with them last year.

Person 2: Yeah, he seems pretty nice!

Neither person is misgendering Jay, even though they are using different pronouns for him in this dialogue. The same applies to someone with she/they pronouns or any combination of pronouns.

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