“I recently discovered I like girly things even though I’m a guy. I love lipstick, silky stuff, the color pink, and am afraid I may be bi or gay. What’s the best way to come to terms with this if you’re a guy in our judgmental society who’s been straight for some time? I mean, how do I accept this?”
Submitted anonymously on http://www.ask.fm/cathincollege
Hey there Dear Reader,
Thanks for your message. 🙂 Please allow me to start by saying just how flattered I am that you have come to seeking my advice on this delicate and complicated issue. I’m happy to offer my perspective, but I don’t want to act as if I’m an authority on this subject. After all, I’m neither a member of the male or LGBTQ communities, though I’m a huge fan of both. 😉
That being said, my first piece of advice would be to reach out to people who do belong to one or both of those communities, as they’d have a lot more useful insight for you and would be much more qualified to answer your question. Now, let’s assume for a minute that you’ve reached out to me in part because you don’t have anybody in either of those camps you feel you can reach out to. Well, HAVE NO FEAR! My amazing male and/or gay friends are here. 🙂
I went ahead and passed your inquiry along to four of my most trusted comrades belonging to the male community, LGBTQ community, or both 🙂 I want to thank each of them, Daylon Tippett, Benji Demonbreun, Hava Schwartz, and Terry Adkins, for taking the time to send me their all their glorious, kind-hearted bits of wisdom. An extra big XO to Hava and Terry, who went above and beyond and included additional long-form responses!
In my experience the best thing to do is just to go with whatever you’re feeling without putting labels on anything. The most important thing is feeling comfortable within your own skin regardless of what society thinks. From my experience of coming out as gay in a small rural town in the Deep South, I can say that the people who are important in your life will just adjust and move on accepting you as you are and anyone who doesn’t shouldn’t hurt your spirit. Give people time to adjust and be understanding that not everyone can quite wrap their head around what you’re going through, but in time it’ll all come together. Just keep doing what feels right and take it one step at a time!
You definitely shouldn’t feel ashamed of your interests. We live in a society that tries to put everyone in these little boxes. Men should be this, this, and this, and women should be that, that, and that. It’s all socially constructed bull sh*t. As trite as this statement is, you should just be yourself. And you should surround yourself with people who love and support you for being yourself. You’ll probably face some backlash from some people, and I would advise you not to respond with anger. You should understand that they are victims of this judgmental society and calmly try to help them reach a point of acceptance.
The first problem with your ideology is that you claims to be “afraid” that you may not be 100% heterosexual. There is absolutely nothing to fear from not fitting the perfect image of heteronormative society. Yes, there are challenges. Yes, there are people that don’t understand. Yes, there are bigots, but they are the ones who should fear. Society is evolving, and more people are joining the movement of acceptance and equality. Soon, the bigots will be in the minority, and they are the only ones in this world that should not be tolerated. Another trouble with this ideology is that you use the common categorization of lipstick and the color pink as “girly”. Really, these items are independent of gender, and their classification as such is unnecessary and may be confusing. My last advice for how you should accept these issues and yourself would be to avoid labels. Avoid the distinctions and classifications and just be yourself. Love who you love, and don’t avoid it. People love people. Genders don’t love genders. Sexual orientation is a continuum, and very few, if any, exist at either extreme. No one is alone, and no one has anything to fear.
I also have an autobiography on the subject that I wrote at the end of spring quarter that you may post or read if it helps. It’s not too long. 🙂
First, mad props to you for addressing your feelings and starting a dialogue with someone. I think it’s all too common for people who are uncomfortable with their interests that go against gender norms to ignore them, which ultimately leads to feelings of fear and resentment. I’ve been out as gay to everyone (except for my family) ((a story for another time)) since the 7th grade. I understand how hard it is to come to terms with finding yourself in the minority, but your situation is much different than mine and I think that we should clear something up before moving onto the advice part of this.
I know that I’m gay, not because I’m interested in lipstick or silky stuff or the color pink, but because I’m attracted to dudes and only dudes. There are a ton of assumptions about the links between sexual orientation and behavior, but one of the greatest misconceptions is that your degree of femininity determines your sexual orientation. Guys who like flowers, Lady Gaga, luffas, and/or appletinis aren’t necessarily also into sucking dick. Your interests may be more feminine than what our society presents as the “proper” representation of a man, but f*ck that. Liking “girly things” as a guy and liking guys as a guy are completely independent of each other. Identifying as queer is not a directive for a change in masculine/feminine behavior, and vice versa.
Now that we have that settled, we can move onto the advice-giving. Don’t hate me if I over-simplify your situation, but I’m basically going off of no information here. I think that you’re in one of two situations, but no matter the case the advice is fairly similar.
The first situation is that in your discovery of being attracted to “girly things,” you’ve also discovered that you’re attracted to guys – a possible indication that you may be bi or gay. I remember struggling to come to terms with my own sexuality in middle school and it sucked. I thought of myself as abnormal and I harbored a lot of self-hate; I wouldn’t let myself acknowledge what I was feeling and it took some time to overcome the negative feelings I had polluted myself with. So, I would recommend the exact opposite approach for you. If you’ve predominantly identified as straight up until this point in your life, ease into the mindset of being open to possibility of being with another guy (in whatever context you feel comfortable with). Your word choice is interesting to me. “I’m afraid I may be bi or gay.” Change the way that you think about your sexuality. It’s okay to fear the social impacts of being not-straight, but understand that identifying as not-straight doesn’t define you and you shouldn’t let it. It’s one aspect of your personality and you are so much more than your sexual orientation.
The second situation is that you’re a guy who has always been interested in girls, but discovering your interests in “girly things” has made you feel less masculine, which has made you second-guess your sexuality. Again, ease into the mindset of expressing your feminine side. Realize, though, that this doesn’t make you any less of a man and, if there are no sexual urges towards other guys, doesn’t change your identity as a straight male. If you’re into lipstick and girls, then head over to Sephora, grab some MAC, rock it, and ask a girl out on a date.
Like I said, I know that your situation is more complicated than this text box can explain, but just do what makes you happy. Experiment if you want to. If you don’t, then don’t. Just don’t give in to the pressure that comes from expectations that people have of you just because you were born with a piece of meat between your legs. Find what makes you happy and do you, homie.
As for the issue of acceptance, I’m not sure if I can offer you any cheats. You just… do. I know that probably sounds like esoteric BS but it’s really as simple as that. It’s mushy af but you just have to learn to do you and love yourself and tell anyone who doesn’t like it to f*ck off.
I hope this helps, DR. These four stellar souls are some of the smartest and most trustworthy people I know. I hope you, and whoever else is reading right now, will think about what they have to say; even (/especially?) the straight community can learn a thing or two from these guys. I know I did.
Oh, and as for my opinion, just keep listening close to who you are and who you are becoming. I’m not going to say “be true to yourself” because that’s awfully hard to do when you don’t even know who “you” are, amirite? But for now, just love every silky scarf and all the pink glittery fluffy stuff your heart desires. Don’t be afraid to think independently of what society tells you to think. And don’t be afraid to ask yourself how you feel instead of thinking you have to feel what society tells you to feel. You can like pink and be straight. You can also like pink and be gay. You can like whatever and whoever the hell you want. And honestly, DR, if anybody tells you otherwise…