Everyone says I’m gay. Are they right?
I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer and ethical man (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I learned a thing or two about navigation issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sexual questions with in-depth, practical advice that goes beyond just “communicating with your partner” because you already know that. Ask me anything – literally, anything – and I’ll gladly do it.
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Dear Sexplain It,
I feel like my family thinks or assumes that I’m gay. I’m going to grad school out of state and I feel like people are talking about me when I’m not there. Sometimes when I’m talking to my mom, comments slip out and she immediately changes the subject, and I pretend I didn’t hear anything or didn’t understand what she said.
I grew up with sisters, I’m not into sports or cars, and I’m not the macho type. I was bullied all through high school because of these things. All this bullying made me lose confidence around women because I got to a point where I assumed everyone was looking at me and thinking I was gay. When I was a kid, I could tell a girl I liked her without hesitation. But today, I hesitate, I freeze and I get all nervous when it comes to women.
The thing is, and this is the first time I’ve said this to anyone else, I’m into guys. I never did anything about it in high school, but decided to experiment in college. My first experience with a guy was both awkward and hot, and since then I’ve met a few guys.
It’s quite confusing because I don’t know if I’m gay, bi, straight, or in denial anymore because I like having sex with men, but I can’t see myself dating or living with a guy. It’s all about sex, like fulfilling a fantasy. I try to date women, but when I meet women on campus, I immediately find yourself in the friend zone. On dating apps, I hesitate, freeze, or find an excuse to sabotage the potential relationship because I’ve been single for so long and often wonder if I really want to be in a relationship.
It seems obvious that I could be gay, but I feel like I don’t want to decide whether I’m gay or not without first having experiences with women.
I am contacting you because I am not ready to discuss this with my family or close friends. What can you recommend me to do?
— Could be gay
Dear maybe gay,
Reading your question broke my heart. I can tell how much you struggled with your identity, and being bullied for who you are caused a lot of pain. Thank you for having the courage to share your story with me.
I can’t tell you if you’re gay, straight or bisexual – ultimately it’s something only you can decide for yourself. But I don’t want you to dwell on that now, because overall I want you to focus less on labels and how other people think you should identify yourself, and more on what you makes you feel sexually and romantically satisfied.
“While most of us are honest with ourselves, we are more dimensional than most labels allow, even when it comes to sex and love,” said Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D. , founder of Modern Intimacy, when I showed her your question.
There is, for example, a difference between sexual and romantic attraction. “You can be attracted to people of one sex for love, connection and companionship, and people of another sex for sexual experiences,” Balestrieri said. “Sexual and romantic attraction don’t always line up, and while it can be confusing, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.”
If, deep down, you want to have sex with men and have romantic relationships with women, that’s totally valid! But I also want you to dig deep and be honest with yourself about your true desires, because – at the risk of overreacting – I think you might be struggling with internalized homophobia, in the same way I do. used to struggle with internalized biphobia.
I used to say I was bisexual and hetero-romantic, meaning I had sex with people of different genders, but only wanted romantic relationships with women. When I finally got honest with myself, I realized I had an internalized biphobia and wasn’t ready to admit that I was actually attracted to all genders, both sexually. and romantic. For many people, it’s less “intimidating” to pretend they’re just romantic drawn to straight storylines because it doesn’t impact their identity in the same way. I just want you to keep an open mind as you continue to explore sexually and romantically.
I noticed in your letter that you didn’t say anything about having a sexual or romantic attraction to women. Do you? Or do you only want to have sex with a woman to prove a bigger point on the labels? If the attraction isn’t there and you repeatedly sabotage yourself on dating apps when flirting with women, I can’t help but wonder if you really desire women at all levels.
“It seems that the desire to avoid proving others right about the suspicion that you might be gay could be rooted in internalized homophobia, fear of judgment, or even fear of aggression, depending on your circle of friends. loved ones, your family and your community,” Balestrieri said. “It can also mean a bit of heartbreak if you constructed a future fantasy that included the hope of a female partner.”
That said, I understand the idea of ”don’t hit until you try,” so if you decide you really want to sleep with a woman, I think finding a fluid, queer woman is your best bet. “Queer women can be a wonderful source of friendship and possibly dating, and they can provide a source of companionship as you explore the different dimensions of your romantic and sexual attraction,” Balestrieri said.
I would recommend trying a gay-friendly app like Feeld, but whatever app you use, write in your bio that you are exploring your sexuality and looking for a female partner who is willing to take that journey with you . You will feel much more confident if you are with someone who accepts your sexuality, your fluidity and your ambiguity, someone who encourages you and loves you as the non-toxic masculine person that you are.
Dating apps usually have you choose a sexual orientation tag, but don’t worry about your selection. Whatever you choose, know that you can change it later, and it has no bearing on who you should date or sleep with. (And for what it’s worth, some apps let you go with “questioning” or “bi-curious.”) Stay open to meeting people of all genders, really focusing on the Connections you do with these people.
IRL, you never have to settle for a label if you don’t want to. “It’s okay to be rogue and go without a label until you’re sure she really fits, if she ever does,” Balestrieri added.
Maybe Gay, you’ve experienced a lot of homophobia in your life, but the queer community is also growing and stronger than it’s ever been. You can find romantic partners, sexual partners, and friends who support and love you for who you are. If you decide that’s what you want, you can marry a man, have children, and live a rich and fulfilling life. Who knows? Maybe your family and friends will support you in ways you never imagined.
I know this all sounds daunting. I also know how difficult it can be to live with the uncertainty of “not knowing” your sexuality. But I can tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I went through something very similar to you, and now I’m confident in my sexuality and have multiple partners. I think if you give yourself the freedom to explore and Enjoy without feeling that overwhelming pressure to pick a label, you’ll get to a place where you’ll be confident and happy with who you are.
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