Q: Does the fact that you find Naya Rivera hot mean you’re gay? A: No. It means you have EYES. HELLO.
So, like any good obsessive blogger, I keep an eye on what search terms people are using to land on my blog.
Lately my search terms have included a lot like these:
“Going through the same as Santana.”
“I can’t tell if I’m lesbian or just love Brittana.”
“Have the same issues that Santana and Brittany had.”
So, I figured, if you’re looking for that info, and you’re desperate enough to come all the way to my blog, I might as well try to help you out.
Brittany and Santana are actually going through quite a few different things, though, and since I don’t know which ones you’re looking for, I’ll take them in turns. [Btw, in case you have no idea what I'm talking about: link]
Disclaimer: Everyone’s experience is different. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you; neither will what works for your best friend, or that girl you met online, or your high school guidance counselor. Or, for that matter, Brittany and Santana.
Now, let’s dig in, shall we?
Issue #1: Am I gay? Bi? Something else? ARGH.
“I don’t know. I made out with a mannequin once. I even had a sex dream about a shrub that was only in the shape of a person.” — Santana
For a lot of people, especially a lot of girls under the age of 25 or so, this is the hardest part of all.
Let’s take, as our example, the Googler who doesn’t know whether she’s gay or whether she just really likes Brittany and Santana.
It’s an understandably tricky thing. Naya Rivera and Heather Morris are both really hot.
Hey, do you know who else is really hot? Darren Criss. Or Mark Salling, if that’s more your style. Or Harry Shum Jr.
Also hot? Dianna Agron. Jonathan Groff. Lea Michelle. Apparently even Cory Monteith has people drooling over him.
There is a theme here. Wait for it:
Famous people tend to be really hot.
And therefore: Which famous people you find hot usually has nothing to do with your sexual orientation.
The people you find hot in real life will offer you a better clue. But that’s not definitive, either. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between sexual attraction and friendly affection, or respectful admiration, or straight-up loathing.
What sucks about all this is that there’s no magic formula for figuring out where you reside on the sexual orientation spectrum. Your only option is to figure it out for yourself. And what sucks even more is that often, figuring that out takes a long time.
In my opinion, Glee’s writers (who all happen to be guys ― I’m just saying) rushed Santana into claiming a lesbian identity too quickly. Unless she was lying to Holly Holliday (which she could’ve been), Santana was conflicted about her sexuality only a few weeks before she was putting on that “Lebanese” T-shirt.
It generally takes longer than that to figure yourself out. It takes a lot more introspection. And it often takes a lot more life experience.
Eventually, your feelings will fall into place. There’s no way to know how long that will take. And there’s no way to know what your final conclusion will be. Some people never come to identify with one of the three most common sexual orientations (straight, gay, or bi) ― because sometimes, sexuality is just more complicated than those arbitrary labels allow. And that’s fine. Those people still live perfectly happy lives.
So I can’t tell you when, or if, you’ll know the answer to that question that I know seems so important to you right now.
But what I can tell you is that you can’t force it.
You can think and think and think. You can talk and talk and talk. You can tear your hair out waiting to have a prophetic dream that explains it all to you.
Or you can suck it up and wait for it to work itself out on its own.
It will. Someday.
And here are some things you can do while you’re trying to figure it out:
- Write about your feelings in a journal. This can be especially useful if your feelings change from day to day, because then you can come back later and remember how yes, there really was a time when you considered inventing your very own sexual orientation so it could revolve entirely around James McAvoy.
- Talk to a trusted friend. Someone who will listen to you and help you try to sort out your feelings. Not someone who will try to impose their own feelings on you. You’ve got enough to deal with already.
- Talk to a trusted adult who is familiar with how gayness works. Sadly there are still a lot of people who aren’t yet informed about this stuff.
- Talk to other LGBT teens who are going through the same stuff you are, through groups in your community or on sites like Oasis or Scarleteen.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking you can take a shortcut to figuring this out by having sex with a bunch of people of various genders? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. When you’re having sex, no matter how you feel about the person involved, there are a ton of hormones flying all around that make it hard just to tell your left from your right, much less which gender you prefer. And the rarely-discussed truth of the matter is, sexual orientation is a lot less about body parts than it is about feelings.
By all means, sleep with whomever you want; I’m not here to judge. I’m just saying, it’s not going to help you with this particular question.
And no, to answer another question that apparently people are Googling like crazy ― you don’t have to have had sex to know what your orientation is.
Issue #2: Coming out.
“I can’t go to an Indigo Girls concert. I just can’t.” — Santana
Ah, the eternal debate.
Who to tell? How? When?
Not to repeat myself, but: Only you can answer that. Everyone’s situation is different. Blah, blah, blah; I know you’ve heard all this before.
I will offer some advice based on my own experiences and those of some of my friends, but please take every single word of this with the biggest grains of salt in your vicinity:
- Don’t start with your parents. At the very least, you need some practice before you go there. Start with a friend, or an adult you trust not to turn around and tell your parents without your permission.
- Until you’re ready for your parents to know, don’t come out to everyone at school (i.e., don’t walk around the halls holding hands with your girlfriend, or show up in math class wearing an “I Heart Pro-Choice Girls” T-shirt). You might think there’s no chance your parents will ever hear your school gossip. But you might be wrong. And it’s not a chance worth taking. Your parents deserve to hear the news from you, not some girl in the checkout line at Old Navy.
- When you do tell your parents, plan it in advance. Sit down and think through every reaction they could have. Tears of joy? Tears of despair? Tears accompanied by shouts of “You are no longer my daughter”? Think through every single realistic possibility, and think of what you’ll say in response to it. Write and memorize a script if that helps you. Your goal is to approach this logically, not emotionally. Your parents will already be emotional enough for the both of you.
- No matter who you’re telling, remember that coming out isn’t just a one-time thing. Anyone you tell will probably have questions for you in the days and weeks and months that follow. If the person asking questions is someone you care about, then answer their questions respectfully. Don’t make them feel stupid or shitty for asking you. Remember, you’ve known who you are for a long time, but they’re adjusting to a whole new reality.
- Unless they ask you if the lesbian experience is just like the Katy Perry “I Kissed a Girl” video. If they say that, then throw something at them, please.
Issue #3: Girl trouble, of the unrequited variety.
“Please say you love me back. Please.” — Santana
What if your concerns are less about identity and more about a particular girl?
Well. I wish I could say that’s easier. But if I did, I would be a big lying liar who lies.
I can say it will probably be less time-consuming in the long run than the identity questions. Both relationships and non-relationships tend to last months, not years. Not so much for that other stuff.
But I promise, no girl trauma is insurmountable. Your goal in all things romance, though, should be to avoid screwing yourself over whenever possible.
So, let’s say you’re in Santana’s situation. There’s a girl you like, and she likes you back, but not in the way you want her to. What are your options?
- Have a screaming fight and swear never to see her again.
- Keep hanging on and hope she changes her mind.
- Give up on the romance and resolve to just be friends.
I suppose these options aren’t mutually exclusive. Though for your own sanity, they should be.
Option #1 is for the drama queens among us. Some of us, in fact, might follow this pattern over and over again. It’s exciting. Like living inside your very own soap opera.
But it gets old. Very, very old. And I promise, your friends will get sick of hearing your stories about your latest girl drama way before you get tired of telling them.
Option #2 is probably the most popular choice. Hey, it’s what Santana picked. And after all, you never know, right? Maybe your wildest dreams will come through in the end, and she’ll come back to you. And in the meantime, you get someone to talk to, and maybe to snuggle with, and maybe more too.
Here’s the thing, though. If you like her more than she likes you, and she knows that? Then she’s the one who holds all the cards. And that way lies heartbreak, sweetie.
It’s always possible that she’ll come around, change her mind. But it’s not likely. Much more likely is that she’ll find someone else she does feel just as strongly about as you feel about her right now.
And when that happens, do you want to be the friend watching from the sidelines while you cuddle with your new GF, the one who likes you too? Or do you want to be the girl who gets the awkward text messages reiterating what she tried to tell you back when you first talked about your feelings?
Option #3 is by far the hardest. It will hurt. A lot. But the sooner your heart gets broken, the faster it heals, as they say. (Wait, do they say that? Well, they should.)
Also, the girls you were once in love with make the very best friends. I know that probably sounds cruel, but it’s the truth. Those girls know you better than anyone. And when you do fall in love again, they’ll be thrilled for you ― and they’ll be the very best shoulder to cry on, when you inevitably need one.
I’m about to go all Lima Heights now.
OK, so here is the thing.
I wish there had been someone like Santana, or Brittany, or even Kurt, on TV when I was 16. Instead, all I had was Ellen DeGeneres and Melissa Etheridge. Which was more than the girls who came ten years before me got.
But when I was a teenager, if there had been teen girls making eyes at each other on primetime soap operas, I probably would’ve tried to emulate them in every possible way. I know I would have, because I did the same thing with the straight characters I related to. If there had been gay girls on my TV, I would’ve convinced myself that my situation was exactly like theirs. That I was going through the same problems they were, and that if I did things the way they did them, the outcome of my story would look a lot like theirs.
And I’d have been wrong.
Because TV shows tend to tie things up into unrealistically neat little packages. That’s just the nature of the medium. But it’s not the nature of real life. In real life, relationship issues don’t need to be resolved by season finales, and people’s sexual orientations don’t change just because someone wants them to.
It would be nice if the world really did work that way. But, alas.
So by all means, look for examples of your experience in the images around you. But don’t expect your life to go the way those fictional people’s lives do. Because yours is going to be a lot harder.
But it will be OK in the end. Really, it will. You can trust me on that one.