Ask A Queer Chick: A Guide To Sex, Love, And Life For Girls Who Dig Girls

Paperback | February 2, 2016

byLindsay King-miller

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“Fresh and authentic… [King-Miller] combine[s] the 'directness' of Dan Savage with the 'compassion and gentleness' of Cheryl Strayed.” –BITCH magazine

This guide to sex, love and life for girls who like girls is useful whether you’re a lady-dating veteran or still trying to come out to yourself.
Seasoned advice columnist and queer chick Lindsay King Miller cuts through all of the bizarre conditioning imparted by parents, romantic comedies, and The L Word to help queer readers live authentic, safe, happy, sexy lives. With advice on every aspect of life as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer woman—from your first Pride to confronting discrimination in the workplace—there is guidance for some of the most major parts of living in a world that can vacillate between supportive and cruel.
 
“Lindsay King-Miller is the cool, queer aunt you never had but always wanted — she is unrelentingly kind, totally funny, and no subject is off limits. Ask a Queer Chick is essential reading.”— Jolie Kerr, author of My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag ... And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha

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“Fresh and authentic… [King-Miller] combine[s] the 'directness' of Dan Savage with the 'compassion and gentleness' of Cheryl Strayed.” –BITCH magazineThis guide to sex, love and life for girls who like girls is useful whether you’re a lady-dating veteran or still trying to come out to yourself. Seasoned advice columnist and queer chick...

Lindsay King-Miller received her BA from the University of Arizona and her MFA from Naropa University. She has been writing the advice column "Ask A Queer Chick" for The Hairpin since 2011, and has contributed to Cosmopolitan.com, Bitch Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Toast, and other publications. She lives in Denver with her partner, a lot o...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8 × 5.3 × 0.6 inPublished:February 2, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

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ISBN - 10:0147516781

ISBN - 13:9780147516787

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Kathleen Schmidt IntroductionHow Do You Know You’re a Queer Chick?In January of 2011, I began writing the advice column Ask A Queer Chick for the Hairpin, a women’s website that had recently launched and had already become something like an intimate party for all the smartest ladies you know—the kind where you drink mojitos with mint someone grew in her garden and get a little too tipsy and end up in a friendly but intense argument over fine points of feminist theory. Back in the day, the Hairpin featured a smorgasbord of advice columns to suit almost any conundrum that might present itself, but none specifically targeted the trials and tribulations of LGBTQ women and the folks who love them. I had never written an advice column before, but as soon as I pitched the idea to then-editor Edith Zimmerman, she was eager to get it going. The column’s name and the mascot, a fluffy baby chick with a pink bow on its head, were her idea.Initially, I had some concerns that it would be difficult to collect enough questions to keep Ask A Queer Chick going on a regular basis, and I even considered writing a few fake letters myself based on Past Lindsay’s relationship troubles. But as soon as the first column was published, emails came rolling in. It turned out there were quite a few queer chicks reading, and they had questions—boy, did they. The last few years have been a time of exhilarating highs and disheartening lows for the LGBTQ community. With the legal and social climate surrounding queer issues changing so quickly, it was hard for young people to figure out which way was up, much less navigate the obstacle course of coming out and finding love. Dating, sex, being a person in the world—these are things most of us learn by example, from big sisters and older friends and classmates in school. We need the guidance and wisdom of someone who’s already lived through it, but for queer people, those role models are often difficult to find, if not totally nonexistent.That’s what this book is here for. No, it won’t tell you foolproof ways to meet hot, available women (although I can tell you that my friend Mickey introduced me to the person I ended up marrying, so maybe hit her up). Instead, it will talk you through some of the major roadblocks you might face on your journey through the joy and heartache of queerness, and offer time-tested tips on confidence, communication, self-advocacy, and generally being the best possible version of yourself, so that when you find the person who makes your heart (and genitals) sing, you can sweep her off her feet. Whether you’re struggling with discovering who you are, coming out, hookups, breakups, or anything in between, Ask a Queer Chick is here to help you get through it with style, wit, and self-love.I’ve been answering your questions for four years, from “Did I wait too long to come out?” to “How should I introduce my girlfriend to my homophobic parents?” to “Is it okay to wear nail polish if I’m gonna, you know . . . ?” I’ve struggled with all these issues in my own life, and I know the feeling of wishing your heart came with an owner’s manual. You’ve been told over and over that “it gets better,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it gets any easier. So you like girls, but does that make you bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, pansexual, or just curious? What about all those secret code words and gestures that every girl but you seems to know already? And now that marriage might be on the table, all your (cool) relatives are probably lining up to ask when you’re going to walk down the aisle, even if you have no idea whether you ever want to get married. What’s a lady-lover to do?In Ask a Queer Chick, you’ll learn the answers to all these questions and more, from social etiquette (dating your friends’ exes, you’ll be glad to learn, is much more acceptable among queer folk than in the straight community) to sex toy etiquette (rechargeables make you look environmentally conscious and therefore more attractive). We’ll talk about how to get dates (an obviously gay haircut isn’t required, but let’s be honest, it helps) and the basics of relationship maintenance (stand between her and your craziest relative when you bring her home for Christmas).Ask a Queer Chick will also guide you through some of the less sexy aspects of being queer, like what to do when coming out might mean losing your job, and handling your relationships with bigoted family members. We’ll talk about the legal protections at your disposal, what to do when they don’t work, and how you can give back to the community. We’ll chat about biphobia in both the straight and gay communities, and how to fight it. We’ll also discuss the particular challenges queer trans women face, and how cis women can help.Is This Book for Me?Throughout Ask a Queer Chick, I’ll be addressing most of the common—and more than a few of the uncommon—questions I’ve received in my years dispensing advice. I’ve abandoned the Q-and-A format for a more general approach, and all of what you’ll read here is new writing, though I’ve touched on many of these topics before. But before we really get into it, there is one topic I want to address right up front. By far the most common question I encounter is some version of the following: “I’m starting to suspect that my sexual orientation and/or gender are not entirely standard, but I’m not sure. Aren’t LGBTQ people supposed to know who they are, from diapers on? How do I know whether I’m gay or bi or queer or maybe genderqueer, or if this is just a phase? Who the hell am I?”First, some bad news: I don’t know! I have no psychic powers, nor does this book include a handy Myers–Briggs-style test to determine the truth of your orientation, gender, or identity. Who you are and what you call yourself is something that only you get to, or can, decide.Now for the good news: You don’t have to know yet, either! The words we use to describe ourselves—“straight,” “gay,” “bi,” “trans,” “fluid”—are all just approximations; none of them really captures the complexity of our glorious and specific lives. They’re ways to describe how you feel and what you do, and most important, they’re something you get to choose. There is no right or wrong answer.Some people will try to convince you that you have only one true identity, and that your job is to find it, possibly by acquiring and following some sort of Lord of the Rings–style treasure map. These people may be either well-intentioned or malicious, but they are definitely not correct. You’re not born with a single identity that is perfect and immutable. The core of who you are doesn’t change, but how you feel, what you do, and what you call yourself may vary based on your experiences, your stage of life, even your location.If there’s a word that you think might suit you, try it on for a week or a month or a year, and see how it feels. Maybe it will be a perfect fit; maybe it will be a little too tight in the shoulders and you’ll want to trade it in, or at least make some alterations. Or maybe it will feel great at first, but you’ll start to feel a bit of a pinch as time goes on. All of these things are okay! Exchanging one word for another doesn’t necessarily mean you were wrong the first time; it just means that you’re growing and changing and trying new things and learning more about yourself. That’s something to be proud of.Having an identity that feels right, that feels true, can be a great source of confidence and strength, and knowing others with the same or similar identities can create a sense of much-needed community, as well as the opportunity to work together to meet common goals and overcome common obstacles. However, the pressure to know what your identity is, to pick a label with absolute certainty and commit to it, never wavering, for the rest of your days, can sometimes be counterproductive. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure, right now, whether you’re gay or queer or pansexual or straight or homoromantic or any of the fascinating and nuanced words that humans have come up with to describe how they feel and what they like to do, because the feeling and the doing are the only parts that really count.If you’ve picked up this book and you don’t already identify as a member of the LGBTQ community, you’re probably either related to me (hi, Aunt Bobbi! Thanks for being so supportive! Don’t read Chapter 4), or your feelings (or doings) have been kicking up some questions in your life. I encourage you to embrace those questions, and follow them where they lead you, without worrying overmuch about what to call yourself in the meantime. Listen to your heart, even when it isn’t making much sense; that’s how you learn to speak its language. And remember that defining your identity is, in the long run, actually one of the less difficult challenges you’ll ever face on your quest to obtain lifelong happiness.A Note on the T WordIt’s fairly common to lump the issues faced by transgender people in with those faced by gay, bi, and queer people under the catchall umbrella LGBTQ, or sometimes LGBTQIA (the last two letters standing for “intersex” and “asexual,” respectively). This can be useful in terms of creating solidarity, but it can also elide the fact that the challenges of being trans are not always the same as the challenges of being attracted to your own gender.As a cisgender queer chick, I am not qualified to write in depth about trans issues, so while some of what I have to say will apply to the whole LGBTQIA community, this is primarily a book for women who date and/or sex up other women. If you’re a trans chick whose sexual and romantic compass points dudeward, you may find certain sections helpful, but a lot of the relationship advice isn’t going to be relevant to your life. If, however, you’re a gay/lesbian/bi/queer trans woman, this book is for you as much as for anyone else. In several places, you’ll find sage wisdom from other queer trans women who were kind enough to let me interview them on the particular joys and struggles of being a trans lady who digs other ladies. All girls who like girls are extremely welcome at this party.With That Said . . .If you’re here, you’re at least an honorary member of our happy little club, so enjoy yourself! At the end of the day, it’s not about what you call yourself or how many Tegan and Sara lyrics you remember; it’s about figuring out what you want and going after it, as bravely and honestly as possible. And then figuring out that, no, that’s not actually what you want at all, and starting all over again from square one—and enjoying yourself along the way.Chapter 1Coming OutFor some people, coming out is the first stage in a lifelong journey of queer adventures; others don’t get around to it until they’ve already been partaking of queer relationships and subcultures for years. Most of us within the LGBTQ community have come out and will continue to come out many times, and in many ways, throughout the course of our lives. It can be a daunting process, so this chapter is here to help you handle its highs and lows, whether you’re coming out for the first time or the fifteenth.When Should I Come Out?The first—and by far the most difficult—step in the coming-out process is deciding whether you need to come out in the first place, and if so, what to come out as. In other words, you have to figure out who you are, what you want, and the words you’re comfortable using to describe those things. This may involve reading some books, talking to out LGBTQ people you know, or getting by with a little help from Google—or all of the above. Unfortunately, it’s an essentially solitary process, and one that I can offer you little help in getting through. But the nice thing is that once you’ve done it, the hardest part is over.Which is not to say that the next part is easy. Once you’ve made up your mind that you belong somewhere within the kaleidoscope of identities that is the LGBTQ community, there’s a complicated calculus that goes into deciding the right time to come out. Every one of us has to figure it out for herself, but here’s the simplified version: You should come out when the problems caused by staying in the closet are bigger than the problems that would be caused by coming out.The downsides of coming out are obvious; in fact, you’ve probably had a stress dream or five about them: rejection, alienation, having to pretend to like The L Word. There are even times when it’s downright dangerous to come out, which we’ll discuss later in this chapter.But staying in the closet has its drawbacks, too. Many closeted queers feel a lot of insecurity in their relationships with friends or family members, because they’re withholding what is, for most of them, a key part of their identities. They begin to ask themselves questions like “How can I trust someone to love me if they don’t really know me? What if someone finds out? What will they say?”In addition, it’s awfully hard to get laid when you’re closeted. Because, listen, do you know who queer chicks do not go around hitting on? Straight chicks. We all went through a phase where we had a crush on a straight girl, and it was totally heart-wrenching. It devastated our confidence and our self-respect, and we’ve sworn on a stack of Sarah Waters novels that we will never go there again. So if you ever want to know the sweet touch of someone else’s boobs, coming out is definitely going to be your best bet.Whenever you start to feel as if you just can’t take the secrecy—or the celibacy—anymore, here are some options to consider.The One-on-OneThis is the classic coming-out move. You sit down with someone you care about, pour them a glass of wine (because unless they have a drinking problem, emotional revelations are always better with wine), look into their eyes, and with as little preamble as possible say “I’m gay.” Or “I’m bisexual,” or “I’m transgender”—whatever truth you’ve been holding inside. Be prepared to explain your preferred terminology and why you chose it. If you’ve been keeping secrets about your relationships or other important facets of your life because bringing them up would out you, now is the time to mention them.Do everything in your power to keep yourself from apologizing. I know it’s tempting, especially if the person you’re talking to gets upset, but apologizing tells them you’ve done something wrong, and you haven’t. You don’t have to be sorry for not coming out sooner, either; it’s okay to keep that information to yourself until you feel safe and comfortable disclosing it.This technique is a winner because it’s simple, it’s intimate, and it gives you the chance to have a nuanced conversation. The person you’re coming out to can ask questions, and you can explain anything you need to. You can also include more than one person in the conversation, of course, but it works best if everyone involved already knows each other well—you probably shouldn’t invite your boss or your BFF from college to be present when you come out to your parents.In some ways, this is the scariest method of coming out, because the possibility of rejection or cruelty is so immediate. It also gives you plenty of opportunity to back out, which can be a positive or a negative, depending on your point of view. And of course, if you plan on coming out to everyone in your life this way, it’s probably going to take you a few months—and many gallons of wine.The HallmarkComing out in writing is a popular plan B. If you don’t live near the people you want to talk to, putting your disclosure down on paper feels more real and more definite than saying it over the phone. There’s also the benefit of not having to be present when they find out, which, if you suspect they might not react well, is a major selling point.Writing a letter or a card also lets you put as much time and thought as you need into getting the words just right. In person, we all know that no matter how many times you practice your monologue in the mirror, people are going to interrupt and throw you off your stride. With a written disclosure, they can’t get a word in edgewise until you’ve finished saying what you need to say—and if you fumble it on the first try, you can always go back and do it again.You can even write a cute greeting-card-style poem, if you think your intended recipient would be amenable to it. You can’t buy a “Guess What, I’m Gay!” card at your local drugstore (you can buy coming-out cards online, but most of them are kind of boring and devoid of personality), but don’t let that stop you from crafting your own! You can even borrow this charming poem my BFF wrote in high school for a friend of ours to use when coming out to his sister (feel free to customize as appropriate):Roses are redViolets are blueYou like boysAnd I do, too!The biggest downside here is the delay. While your letter or card is winging its way through the mysterious ether of the postal service, you will probably be going out of your mind with anticipation and anxiety. On the upside, you can save time by printing multiple copies of your letter and sending them to everyone in your address book. You could even let this double as your Christmas card and save money on stamps!The Status UpdateSocial media is already changing the coming-out game, and our future LGBTQ kids will have options we never dreamed of when it comes to announcing their orientations or identities. (Or maybe not—perhaps by then we’ll be living in a utopian society where no one ever has to come out because no one makes assumptions about anyone’s sexuality or gender, and thus our kids won’t feel pressured into cisgender heterosexuality by default! We can always dream.)Today, the most useful new coming-out tool is the Facebook status update. When your social media network asks “What’s on your mind?” you might as well tell it! “What’s on my mind, Facebook, is that I’m just as queer as a three-dollar bill. Anyone know good places to meet cute girls?”The pro column for this strategy is similar to the one for sending a card or letter: You can take as long as you need to get the wording just perfect, and you don’t have to look anyone in the eye at the exact second they find out you’re not straight. It has one up on the postal service, though, in that you can see people’s responses immediately, thus cutting way down on the waiting-and-freaking-out part of the process.On the downside, coming out to everyone all at once will make it more difficult to customize what you want to say based on your audience. Also, as everyone knows, the semi-anonymity of social media tends to bring out a certain evanescent douchebaggery in some individuals, so be vigilant about your privacy settings and make sure that no one you don’t want to share your news with can see it. Another downside is that if some of your loved ones are less open-minded than others, there’s the disheartening possibility of a debate starting in the comment thread where you’ve just shared the deepest truth of your soul, so tread carefully.You can, of course, mix and match these approaches as desired—perhaps a sit-down with a few of your closest friends, a thoughtful letter to your parents, and then a social media announcement for more distant family and casual acquaintances. Or you can just reset your “interested in” widget and let that speak for itself. There’s no wrong answer here, so feel free to get creative!Text Message, Gchat, Etc.Girl. Don’t.My Coming-Out Story, or, What Not to DoIt’s the year after I graduated college, and I’m visiting my family for Christmas. My sweetheart, Charlie, is flying in from Tucson in a week’s time to spend New Year’s Eve with me; we’ve been together only two months, but it already feels like the most serious relationship of my life. Before Charlie arrives, though, I have to tell my dad and brothers something important. We’re in the car on Christmas Eve, on the way to our traditional lunch with our entire Denver-based family—my uncles and aunts and grandmother and cousins—and on impulse, I decide that now is the time.“I have something to tell you guys,” I say, “and I need you to not be dicks about it.”“You know that’s not something we can promise,” says my brother Kevin, who is seventeen.I laugh and sigh at the same time, then say, “I told you about Charlie, who’s coming to visit me from Tucson. Well, the thing is, Charlie isn’t a guy. He’s actually, um, more like . . . a girl.”There’s a pause while my dad and brothers digest this information. Then Kevin says, “Oh, okay. So you’re, like, a lesbian?”“I don’t know,” I say. “I’ve dated guys before. I might date guys again.” (I didn’t—two and a half years later, Charlie and I got married.) “I think I’m more, like, bisexual, or queer.”“That’s cool,” says my dad. “You got your grandmother a Christmas card, right?”Okay, class, here’s your discussion question: How many classic rookie coming-out mistakes did I make in this brief anecdote?First of all, I came out in a moving vehicle. This is a terrible idea. Coming-out conversations are often stressful and emotionally taxing. Sometimes people fight. Sometimes people dredge up old and painful memories just to have more things to throw at each other. And sometimes, when you’re in the midst of a fraught interaction like this, you need to bail. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is irreparably damaged; it just means that everyone needs a little bit of time to cool off. But if you’re in a moving car, the only way you can get the necessary space is by diving out and rolling onto the side of the road. Lots of us have coming-out scars, but most of us would prefer they not be literal. So, here’s the First Commandment of Coming Out: Thou shalt disclose thy orientation in a stationary location with at least one functioning exit.Second, I came out under a serious time constraint. We were on our way to a family get-together; what if the discussion hadn’t gone well? What if my dad and I had gotten into an argument? We would have either had to skip Christmas Eve lunch—a long-cherished holiday tradition—or walk into the restaurant bickering while fifty of our relatives gawked at us in horror. Thus, the Second Commandment of Coming Out: Do it when you know you won’t be interrupted for a while. Leave yourself time to talk through all the potential questions and concerns without having to break to order lunch or walk the dog.Third, and perhaps less obviously, I made my coming out about my partner’s identity, not mine. I didn’t say, “I am queer”; I said, “The person I’m dating is a girl.” This is less a logistical error than a political one and, to some extent, an etiquette one as well. Your coming-out conversation should be about you and the people you’re talking to. Don’t come out on your partner’s behalf unless they’ve specifically asked you to do so.When you focus your disclosure on your sweetie’s gender instead of your orientation, you give closed-minded friends and relatives the opportunity to see the person you’re dating as the “problem.” If only she would break up with so-and-so, everything would be back to normal, they may think; they may even attempt to sabotage your relationship in the hopes of getting the “bad influence” out of your life. If, however, you make it clear that your queerness is part of your identity and that they cannot reject it without rejecting you . . . well, they might not be any nicer about it, but at least they’ll be dealing with the issue more or less head-on.This ties in with another key point, which is that it’s never cool to use your partner as a distraction so your family goes easier on you—even if your partner is not present. Coming out by bringing your girlfriend home, with no prior warning, is also not acceptable. Sexual partners are not singing queer-o-grams, and if there’s any chance that your coming-out conversation will turn into a fight, it’s your responsibility to protect your ladylove from the cross fire.Honor the Third Commandment of Coming Out: Always use “I” statements. This isn’t about anyone but you. It’s one of the few times in life when that’s the case, so enjoy it while it lasts!So What Do I Say?Everything about coming out is personal and specific, and you should, first and always, do what seems best for you. If you want to come out via skywriting, or by reciting a crown of lesbian-themed sonnets composed for the occasion, those are totally valid moves (and you should send me those poems, because they sound great).But if you’re totally stuck when it comes to approaching the issue, try this easy four-step process: First, tell them what you call yourself. Next, tell them what that means. Then, tell them what’s going to change. Finally, tell them how you expect them to behave.In action, this formula might take the following shape: “Mom and Dad, I’m gay. I’m only romantically interested in women. I’m probably going to bring home a girlfriend in the future, and I expect you to treat her the same way you would if I brought home a boyfriend. I’m happy to answer any questions you have, but I don’t want you to feel sorry for me or treat me like I have a disease, because I’m not sad or sick or interested in changing who I am.”Another variation would look like this: “I want you to be the first person to know that I’m a transgender woman. I know that you think of me as a man, but inside I feel that I’m a woman. I’m going to start dressing in a way that matches my gender identity, and sometime in the future I might take hormones or get surgery. From now on, I’d like you to use female pronouns and the name I’ve chosen for myself when you talk to me or about me.”Obviously, in a perfect world, this would be all the information your loved ones would need, and they would respond with, “Okay. What do you want on your half of the pizza?” Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world, as evident from the fact that Freddie Mercury died before he ever got a chance to record a duet with Beyoncé, and so it is very likely that your audience will have some follow-up questions. Be ready to answer them, or if you’re not willing to answer questions, be ready to enforce that boundary—by getting up and leaving, if you have to.The Worst-Case ScenarioI want to stress that most of the time, when you come out, nothing bad is going to happen. People might be a little awkward, or struggle with your pronouns for a few weeks, but basically everyone will be cool and do their best. Mainstream acceptance of LGBTQ people has made staggering increases in my lifetime—hell, since I started writing this chapter (as I’m typing this, Laverne Cox is just becoming the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine)—and more and more people are realizing that queer folks are every bit as fun, smart, interesting, and great to have around as anyone else. It is getting easier and easier to come out without significant damage to your health, lifestyle, or relationships. In all probability, the anticipation before you come out will be massively more stressful than the actual event.However, I cannot tell you with absolute certainty that everyone you come out to will react positively and show you their best selves. I wish I could—I want that for you—but it’s just not possible. You might, in the process of coming out, face your own personal worst-case scenario: someone you love rejecting you because of a fundamental aspect of your identity.If this happens, it will hurt like a bitch, and no amount of reassurance that they’re the one in the wrong will take that sting away. But I’m going to say it anyway: If someone is cruel to you or cuts you out of their life because you came out to them, they are the one with the problem, not you.Pretty much all the advice I can give you boils down to two things, and most of this book will be variations on these two things, with minor adjustments to suit a variety of situations. The first: Take responsibility for your own shit. And the second: Realize that the only shit you can take responsibility for is your own.It is not your job to convince people to accept you. Nothing about you is unacceptable. You do not need to educate, persuade, bribe, or cajole anyone into believing that you are fundamentally okay. The only thing you need to do is believe it yourself.If people are cruel or disrespectful to you, do not apologize for who you are; don’t grant them the moral high ground even for a moment. Instead, be clear about your own self-respect, and let people know that you won’t tolerate being insulted or abused. Enforce your boundaries ruthlessly, and don’t let anyone tell you that a moat full of crocodiles is overkill.You may have to cut ties with people who are important to you if they won’t respect your life, your relationships, or your identity. This is really difficult and painful, but it’s better than maintaining contact with people who mistreat you. By staying in touch, you send the message that their bad behavior is tolerable. If you remove yourself from the situation, and make it clear that they will not be part of your life until they can stop belittling you, there’s always a chance that it will induce a come-to-Jesus moment and they’ll work on repairing your relationship. And if not—well, “out of your life” is preferable to “in your life and hurting you.”If you have friends or relatives in common with someone from whom you need to distance yourself, they may try to pressure you into a reconciliation. As much as you can, shut down this topic of conversation before it starts—a simple “I appreciate your concern, but I’m not interested in discussing that” should do the trick. If it doesn’t, try again, but leave out the first part. After that, you may have to fall back on the crocodiles.Finally, if you think coming out may put you in physical danger (violence, being kicked out of your home, etc.), do everything you can to have an exit strategy in place before disclosing. This should include a place to stay, a way of getting there, and a plan for how you’ll support yourself, at least for the short term. If anyone makes you feel threatened, call 911 and/or activate your exit strategy immediately—don’t wait around to see if things get worse. For more information on the official and unofficial resources available to you, please see Chapter 8.Third Time’s the CharmWhile every coming-out story is challenging in its own unique and awful way, there is one particular scenario that deserves a bit of extra attention here: coming out as bisexual. Sadly, lots of people, even people who are nominally “cool with the gays,” tend to have a problem accepting bisexuality as the real and valid orientation it is.Bisexuality isn’t always visible the way homosexuality is; if you’re queer but dating someone of the opposite gender, people can sort of squint around the edges of your queerness so that it’s easier to ignore. This is how I ended up coming out to my mother three times. When I was twelve, I told her, “I think I might be bisexual, and I don’t know what to do.” She told me it was probably just a phase, and didn’t mention it for five years. During that time, I dated boys, kissed girls, and only told her about the boys. When I was seventeen, I told her, “I’m pretty sure I’m bisexual.” She told me I probably just thought that because I had so many gay friends, and didn’t mention it again for four years. During that time, I dated boys, slept with girls, and only told her about the boys. (Yes, I’m aware that I was part of the problem here.) When I was twenty-one, she asked me if I was dating anyone, and I said, “Yes, and her name is Sarah.” That was the one that stuck.If you come out as bisexual and then date someone of the opposite gender, someone is probably going to sigh with relief and think, Thank goodness that was just a phase, because a surprising number of people don’t understand what “bisexual” means. No matter how insistently you repeat “I am bisexual. I am attracted to people of all genders. Even when I date a person who has only one gender, I will continue to be attracted to people of all genders, because I am totally, one hundred percent bisexual,” the second you do anything that could potentially be read as straight, someone will declare you cured. The opposite is also true: If you date someone of the same gender, some people will assume that you’re gay, and that being bisexual was just a stage of your coming out. This is called bi invisibility. I wish I could tell you there’s a way around it, but frankly, your best bet is to be prepared to gently but firmly correct people for the rest of your life or until the heat death of the universe, whichever comes first.But I Don’t Know What I Am Yet

Editorial Reviews

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