My name is Nick, and I’m a sophomore in high school, almost 16 years old. For a while now, I’ve been questioning my sexual orientation, but only recently has it gotten to the point where I want to come out. I’m ready to come out to my family and friends, and I know that they’ll be supportive, but there’s a problem: I don’t really understand my sexuality.
I’ve definitely determined that I am not heterosexual, that my feelings toward other guys are not just a phase. I look at other guys a lot in a sexual way, like when I’m on the beach or at school, something that I don’t really experience a lot with girls. I fantasize about guys, and definitely find them more physically attractive. I feel drawn more toward guys than girls, and because of this sometimes think that I’m gay.
However, I also feel a romantic or emotional attraction to girls, like I could have a romantic relationship with a girl. With girls, there is a more emotional or platonic connection, but little to no drive to explore them on a sexual level. I do have close friends who are girls who I think I could love in a romantic way, who I think I could have a romantic relationship with like serious long-term dating. I’ve heard that gay men often don’t feel emotional love toward women, so this makes me wonder whether I’m bisexual.
I have a lot more things in common with girls than with guys, but I feel as though I could have a relationship with either one. I have had a girlfriend in the past, but even then I fantasized about men rather than women. Because of my feelings toward other guys, I’m not sure whether or not I could maintain a romantic relationship with a girl without being unfair or somehow dishonest toward her. I’m also not sure if I could have a romantic relationship with a guy because I haven’t encountered a gay or bisexual guy my age who I could develop romantic feelings for.
Is this “romantic orientation” a contributing factor toward my sexuality, or does this just come from me being nervous or apprehensive about coming out?
I realize that sexuality isn’t a black-and-white, either-or concept, but is there any way to describe how I feel? Am I gay or bisexual? Is this a common problem, or am I just kidding myself? How can I explain my feelings to my family and friends, and what should I do if they’re negative about it or can’t understand how I feel? What should I do after I come out? Who should I engage in relationships with: men or women? Will I be able to have a romantic relationship with either gender?
Letter submitted by:
First of all, I think it’s very courageous of you to be so open about your feelings and to ask the questions that you want answers to. It’s perfectly natural to be questioning your romantic attractions, and I love the phrase that you use, your “romantic orientation.” You are not alone in your struggle to identify what you are feeling and who you are attracted to romantically, it’s a normal part of getting older and growing as a person. Being attracted to guys physically and girls emotionally and romantically is very common and perfectly natural, especially while you are trying to figure everything out.
I agree with you, there is no black or white, either / or answer for your questions. First, I think it’s important that you understand what you are going through is normal. That said, there are some things that you can do that may help you as you grow into your feelings and attractions. When you find yourself daydreaming or thinking about the future, who do you see yourself with the most, a guy or a girl? Who do you enjoy being around, talking to more? Physical attraction is only part of it, but it is important, are you physically attracted to guys only or girls as well? These are questions you are already asking yourself and it may take time for you to answer the. Being gay, or attracted guys physically and emotionally, or bisexual, being attracted to both guys and girls physically and romantically, are both normal and healthy identifications, but don’t necessarily rush to label yourself as either / or. As you grow, your feelings may become stronger for one or the other, or become stronger for both. As for coming out to your family and friends, I would suggest reading this pamphlet from the Human Rights Campaign http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf , it offer some great information. Coming out should be a personal choice, and done on your time frame. Coming out can let your friends and family get to know you better as a person and make you feel less stress from hiding your feelings. At the same time, if you are not in a financially independent situation, you should consider if you are safe and comfortable if your family reacts badly. The most important thing is that you are safe, healthy, and comfortable.
This great article from Advocates for Youth highlights some of the issues surrounding what it means to be gay, http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/726-i-think-i-might-be-gay-now-what-do-i-do and the following link will take you to bisexual.org, they have many resources available to help you seek answers. I have specifically linked to the question and answer section for you http://bisexual.org/qna_categories/bisexuals/. If you have not already done so, you might consider joining Trevor Space (www.trevorspace.org) it is a social network that will help you connect with other people your age that may be going through the same thing as you. Also, during the week, you can log on to www.trevorchat.org to chat online with a volunteer counselor who may be able to help you further. Check the web site for times.
Nick, you are a special and unique individual, I wish you the best in the future and feel free to write Ask Trevor again at any time.