Am I passing in a world that demands I fit inside a box that doesn’t feel authentic to me?
These are very real, if not toxic, questions, and concerns that run through our minds. There is no dress code for being LGBTQ.
We come in all forms, all preferences and manifestations. Together this diversity in representation makes us the colorful tapestry that we are.
I know as a sex educator and counselor that these questions are common so I reached out to my colleagues to see how they help students and clients navigate what can feel like emotional landmines. Margaret Nichols, AASECT certified sex therapy supervisor, and author of the forthcoming book from Routledge, "The Modern Clinician's Guide to LGBTQ+ Clients: the Inclusive Therapist" said:
“First, the acronym has included a 'Q' for questioning for a long time, and rightly so - almost all of us who are 'queer' went through a 'questioning' and 'unsure' period before coming out to ourselves.
"During this time, it is especially helpful to seek out LGBTQ+ peers - when I do therapy with people in this stage, I always suggest they participate in 'queer' groups, organizations - and/or Pride. Just go to Pride and march by yourself, with a friend, or with whatever group you feel most affiliated.
"Unfortunately, most stigmatized minorities include people who vent 'lateral hostility' at other members of their tribe. The queer community is no different - you will still find gay people, for example, who don't think bisexuals or transgender people should be included.
"But our tribe is a 'big tent' community - diversity is one of the hallmarks of being LGBTQ+, the community continues to expand to include all those who are 'outsiders' because of a non-traditional sexual orientation, gender, or relational style. In recent years it has expanded to include asexuals, people who are kinky, and people in the polyamory community, for example. Whatever you are - you are 'queer enough'!"
Read: Words From a Bisexual on LGBTQ Pride Month
Only You Get to Decide Your Identity
I remember when I taught high school sexual health that many students would ask me if there was a test they could take to see if they were gay, trans, bi or not. Sadly, there are said tests on the internet, but none of them are really useful or valid.
Queerness is not something you can pass or fail. It is not something that fits inside a box that you or anyone else can check or uncheck.
There is not a bar that must be met in order to qualify as “queer enough,” and yet, because of internalized homophobia and shame, we and those around us can often make us think that there is.
No matter your sexual history, no matter your experiences, or how you present to the world, if you know you are not straight or cisgender, there is space for you within the rainbow that is the queer family.
We value you for who you are and where you are in your unique journey.