Gender identities and sexual orientations often change. After all, sexuality is a spectrum. You don’t just “pick” your sexual identity and “stick to it.” However, being unsure about how you identify can be stressful, especially with so many labels to choose from. What is it called when you are questioning your sexuality, and how do you come to terms with it? This article will tell you what you need to know about the “Q” in LGBTQ.
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What Is The Questioning Sexuality?
“Questioning” as a sexuality pertains to people who are still in the process of discovering their gender or sexual identity. It is often used to refer to people who are gender non-conforming or non-heterosexual yet haven’t subscribed to a specific label yet.
According to a 2019 study on sexual identity in teenagers, roughly 2.5% identify as questioning. How someone goes through the process of questioning their sexuality will depend on their environment, family dynamics, and access to helpful resources.
Myths About The Q In LGBTQ
Unfortunately, there are plenty of misconceptions that come with questioning your sexuality. If you or someone you know identifies as questioning, being aware of the following misconceptions can help you foster a more supportive environment.
You Have No Gender Identity Or Sexuality
Questioning your gender identity or sexuality right now does not mean you will never identify with just one. Many people who are questioning will eventually find a label that fits them. That said, you may find that you have no gender identity or sexuality in your discovery process.
You Have To Come Out
For some, coming out is a cathartic and affirming experience. However, you don’t have to come out if you are not comfortable or don’t feel safe doing so. Remember, coming out is your decision and should not be influenced by anyone else.
You Have To Pick A Label Eventually
Labels describe someone’s gender identity and to whom they feel attracted. People can use labels to describe their experiences to other people. That said, one disadvantage of labels is that they can constrict or make people feel boxed in.
If you are questioning, you might find that a certain label fits for some time and later discover that it doesn’t describe you at all. Like gender itself, labels are fluid and can change over time. And if you do find a label that suits you, remember that there is no one “right” way of embodying that label.
You Can Only Be Questioning When You’re Older
Contrary to popular belief, most people begin to question their gender identity and sexual orientation between the ages of 11 and 15. At this age, adolescents are learning and experimenting with their social identity – gender and sexuality are critical parts of this discovery process.
Children are never “too young” to be questioning their sexuality because it is akin to any other exploration, such as discovering how they like to dress and what they want to read.
That said, adults over 75 can still experience a shift in sexual attraction and gender identities. Someone is more likely to enter this discovery period later in life if they grew up heteronormative or non-accepting environments.
I’m Questioning My Sexuality; What Should I Do?
Questioning your sexuality is nothing out of the ordinary, but it can sometimes make for a stressful experience. Keep these tips in mind if you consider yourself questioning and want to make the most of your empowering journey.
Be Honest With Yourself
When questioning your sexuality, it can be normal to experience an identity crisis. It might help to write in a journal and reflect on pressing questions like:
- How long have I been feeling this way?
- What gender label do I most associate with?
- Have I told anybody what I’m feeling and, if so, how did their reaction influence my thoughts?
- Who am I attracted to?
- What about my sexual identity worries me?
- What about my sexual identity am I excited for?
If you feel your sexual identity is traveling from one end of the spectrum to the other, take your time and let it happen. The process of questioning your sexuality is just as important as whatever label you arrive at.
Do Your Research
There is no single “right” way to approach a specific sexual identity, so doing some research can help put your experience into perspective. Online resources like GLAAD, PFLAG, and Straight for Equality provide helpful information for questioning individuals and their families.
Talk To Other People Who Are Questioning Their Sexuality
Talking to someone who is going through the same thing as you can be incredibly validating. Consider connecting with people in your local LGBTQ organization or join a network online. Sharing your experiences with other like-minded people will remind you that you aren’t alone.
Find Support Groups
Unfortunately, prejudice against the LGBTQ community is still rampant today. If you’ve had negative experiences with other people because of your questioning sexuality, consider joining a support group. Today, there are many online inclusive counseling services and resources for the community’s most pressing issues, including substance abuse, discrimination, body dysphoria, depression, and more.
The Bottom Line
Questioning your sexuality can happen at any age and poses unique challenges depending on your environment. As long as you act consensually, are honest with yourself, and have access to the appropriate resources, your questioning journey can be rewarding, enlightening, and positive.