Dear Trevor, I have a problem. I think I might be gay.
Up until the fifth grade, I had numerous crushes on boys. I didn’t always necessarily think they were cute, but I liked them because everyone else liked boys and I wanted to fit in. But in fifth grade, I couldn’t find a boy I could even pretend to like, so I stopped. I was crushless for two years until the beginning of seventh grade, when I found someone that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. The only problem is she’s a girl. She gives me butterflies in my stomach and when I’m around her I can’t think straight. She makes my head go fuzzy and I can’t pay attention to anything but her. I tried to convince myself that I was just being weird, and I wanted to be her friend, but I couldn’t. I remembered those times in sixth grade when I would get nervous around pretty girls. And I got this sinking feeling in my gut that maybe I wasn’t normal.
I’d never really been very girly, and I really hated things like that, but I never thought I was gay. Because, if I were gay, wouldn’t I hang out with boys? Wouldn’t I not spend time with girls as much as I did?
So I told myself that I would find out if I were gay by the beginning of ninth grade, which gave me plenty of time. I promised myself that I would come out then, if I needed to, because if I didn’t know by then I didn’t think I ever would. But ninth grade is steadily approaching, and I only have a few months until the summer before high school when I’ll have to know. I try to forget about it, but there is this running joke with me and my friends that I’m gay, and I always have to say “No, I’m not” and laugh with them. Before, I used to say “I’m pretty sure I’m straight, but no one really knows at this age!” but more and more often they need a definitive answer or they start getting this weird look and asking me if I really am gay, so I lie and say “of course not.”
But I’m really scared that if I am gay, they’ll find out I’ve been lying. I feel like time is running out, and I keep waking up in the middle of the night, overcome with panic that I’ll have to back out of my deal with myself. I know that it’s normal to not know at this age, but it’s causing me quite a lot of stress. The subject comes up daily and every time I think about it, I feel a panic attack coming on. I just feel so disgusted with myself, especially when I’m around my crush because I feel like I’m violating her privacy by liking her without her knowing that’s even a possibility. I need to know. It’s been nearly two years and I feel like I’m running out of time. I feel like if I don’t say it when the time comes, I never will. But I’m still not sure, and I don’t want to come out and then not really be gay. What if it’s a phase? How do I know it isn’t?
Defining oneself is one of the biggest challenges that all people must face, especially at your age, but it’s not always black and white, and it’s definitely not something that should be rushed. This process is unique to each individual and could take some time. You are not letting yourself down by not figuring it out by the beginning of 9th grade, if anything it could hurt you by making a decision before you are truly ready. I think you are stressing yourself out by trying to figure it out by a certain time, and that’s not how the process works. You are still very young and I know it can be hard to not really know, but you should focus on experiencing everything life has to offer at your age and not worry about putting a label on it.
Being “gay” doesn’t mean you need to act like a boy and being “straight” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to act like a girl. You should not feel like you have to fit into a certain stereotype, you should just be you! Also, don’t feel like you need to give an answer to your friends either. Like you said no one really knows at your age and you’re not lying to them, you just haven’t figured it out yet. It could very well be a phase, or it could not, you never really know until you experience it for yourself which may take some time. There are some amazing resources online to help you out including http://www.yoursexualorientation.info/ and I highly suggest you check them out. TrevorSpace is also an amazing resource where you can communicate with individuals your age that may be going through the same thing you are.
If you do decide that you like girls and feel like it’s the appropriate time for you to come out the Trevor Project has an excellent resource to help – http://www.thetrevorproject.org/section/YOU. The most important thing to remember is that this is your life and it shouldn’t be limited by labels. Whether you decide that you’re gay, straight, bisexual, etc, always remember that you are perfectly normal just by being yourself.
The Trevor Project is always here to support you in your journey and please feel free to reach out again!
The Trevor Project