Advice by Quincy Malesovas // Photograph by Clemence Leclerc
So this year I’ve basically figured out that I’m pansexual (or bi i don’t really know haha). I kind of want to come out to my friends but at the same time I don’t want them to feel differently about me, my friends aren’t outwardly homophobic but some of them are quite awkward when it comes to discussing lgbtqi+ stuff. Another thing that’s been annoying me is that I look so stereotypically ‘straight’ and my style is pretty feminine which I know shouldn’t be an issue but it just makes me sad because there are people who I have crushes on but I feel like they would all just assume I’m straight. Third and final thing (sorry for the long message haha) is I have a crush on two girls but one has a crush on another girl and the other I’m pretty sure doesn’t even know I exist! (Not literally we just don’t really talk.) This is a problem cause I’m super super shy (I have anxiety too) so it makes it really hard for me to talk to people at all let alone about stuff like dating. I love the idea of loving someone but I get so worried that it’ll never happen because 1. I can’t talk to people and 2. I’m not attractive enough that other people could have a crush on me (without actually knowing me but that doesn’t work because I can’t talk to people). Sorry if that doesn’t make sense!
First and foremost, I commend you for having the guts to explore and come to terms with your own sexual preferences. It’s not always an easy topic to tackle, so props to you! I find that when it comes to discussing tricky topics with friends and acquaintances, it can help to search for the root of their discomfort, or “awkwardness”. Is it because they were brought up with a narrow view of sexuality, or perhaps because they haven’t had much exposure to the LGBTQI+ community? If it’s the latter, then your friends may just not know how to appropriately discuss issues surrounding queerness simply because they have not had much practice doing so.
Looking back on my high school (and even early college) years, there were lots of sensitive topics (sexuality, gender, race, just to name a few) that I was uncomfortable discussing—not because the topics themselves bothered me in any way, but because I didn’t have much education on them or know how to discuss them in a constructive way. But as I expanded my friend group to include people from all walks of life, I also opened up my perspective to their ideas and experiences. Sharing your experience with friends and guiding them in matters of sexuality may actually be what they need to broach LGBTQI+ issues more sensitively.
Regardless of your friends’ responses, however, I would highly recommend getting involved in LGBTQI+ friendly events and groups in your area (there are sure to be at least a few!). That’s a great way to meet people on similar paths who may become great sounding boards and sources of encouragement for you as you continue on your journey of self-discovery. It may also give you a whole new representation of what it means to be pan or bisexual. As you have probably witnessed yourself either in real life or in the media, you can never assume someone’s sexuality, regardless of what they look like or how they dress. Sexuality and gender expression are different, as are the way that each person embraces each. You are totally right—many people do assume that “feminine” means straight, but times are changing and people’s outlooks are broadening, and hopefully you can help facilitate that change! So I would say embrace your femininity if you feel it’s true to who you are, and don’t be afraid to look to other queer women for inspiration! You shouldn’t veer from a self-expression that feels genuine just because you feel it’s what you “should” do since you’re queer, or for the sake of your crushes—you want someone to be interested in your genuine self, and right now it sounds like that genuine self is “feminine.” There’s nothing wrong with that, and it won’t prevent you from finding the right romantic relationships for you.
A long enquiry requires a long answer, but I promise this is my last point. 🙂 As you grow into your own sexual identity and meet others who are on the same page as you, your confidence in romantic pursuits may increase. (At least it has for myself and others I know.) Most everyone is timid when it comes to love and lust—perfectly normal. But again, as you increase your network within the LGBTQI+ community and build up your relationships (both platonic and romantic), you will probably grow more comfortable. Don’t forget to focus on all the great things about yourself rather than what you perceive to be flaws. Show others how great and interesting you are! When you are evidently comfortable with yourself, others take note and are drawn to this.
Thank you again for writing in,