This is a question I think almost everyone in the LGBTQ+ community has asked themselves at some point. Discovering your sexuality is a rollercoaster of a journey and potentially one of the most confusing times in your life. I’m sure at some point we’ve taken the classic “what’s my sexuality?” or “am I gay?” quizzes. I don’t know about you but I feel like these quizzes are designed for people who know their sexuality but are just struggling to admit it. They ask things like “are you attracted to women?” (that one was an easy yes for me) then “are you attracted to men?” and honestly I don’t get how that’s helpful, the whole reason I’m taking this damn quiz is because I don’t know who I’m attracted to! When I was questioning I was almost certain I was attracted to women; the difficult part for me was that I couldn’t wrap my head around how all of a sudden I just wasn’t attracted to men anymore. This of course wasn’t the case, I think deep down I was never attracted to men, I just thought I was because it’s what society teaches you. If you’re curious how this works you can give my post on compulsory heterosexuality a read. So what questions should you ask when you’re trying to find that label? Below I’ve listed some of the things I asked when I was questioning.
1.When you think about sex how does it make you feel?
For me, inspecting how certain things made me feel made the world of difference. In terms of working out sexual attraction, sex itself is always a good place to start. So picture yourself in different scenarios, how does it make you feel? Is it positive or negative or maybe neutral? Positive emotions generally suggest there is attraction there while negative would indicate there’s not. If you feel neutral or negative in all scenarios then it’s possible you lack any form of sexual attraction, or possibly you need an emotional connection before you can feel sexual attraction. But take some time and really think about how all the different scenarios make you feel.
2. Would you act on the attraction you feel?
A lot of us can become confused about what is and isn’t real attraction. For example, I can tell you male celebrities that I think are attractive but it doesn’t mean I’m attracted to them. So grab yourself a wee list of different people you think are attractive and then think about whether you would act on that attraction, would you want them to cuddle you? To kiss you? Would you have sex with them? If you decide you would act on the attraction then it’s probably a genuine attraction, if you decide that no, even though you think they are attractive you wouldn’t want it to become anything real then you probably aren’t actually attracted to them. Case in point is women who say “I fancy her so much” but when asked if they would have sex with her say no; they aren’t actually attracted to that woman, they just appreciate how attractive the woman is.
3. Can you picture a future together?
This brings us into the realm of romantic attraction. In its essence, romantic attraction is a desire to form a connection with another person on a romantic level. For people who experience sexual attraction, their romantic attraction often aligns with this. For example, I’m sexually attracted and romantically attracted to women and women only. However, some people will experience little to no sexual attraction but do desire romantic connections. In this case ask yourself if you can picture a life together? How you picture this will depend on the kind of life you want. Can you picture yourself with someone non-binary? A woman? A man? How does it feel when you picture these different scenarios? Again look at what produces positive and negative emotions and take it from there.
4. How have you felt in the past?
Reflection is a great way to working out how you feel; often we have repressed or purposefully ignored signs that have been present. I spent eight years of my life in relationships with men and even longer thinking I was attracted to them. I recently found my old high school diaries and every page is filled with how I didn’t find my boyfriend attractive but he was kind and funny, so I must be in love. Then I have a whole diary entry about kissing a girl in a game of spin the bottle but for another nine years I would remain adamant I was straight; madness. During my relationships I often experienced a feeling of discontent, this nagging of “what if there’s something, someone better out there?” This is something that I now don’t experience with my girlfriend, I don’t spend hours wondering if maybe things will feel more right with someone else. So have a look at past relationships and really examine how you felt in them, what was good? What was bad? Did you feel like something was missing?
Discovering your sexuality is hard and this is by no means a sure fire way for you to discover yours but these questions did help me when I was feeling lost and confused. The most important thing to remember is that sexuality can be fluid, the label you identify with today might not be the one you identify with tomorrow. It’s normal to have a changing sexuality, especially when for so long queer relationships were seen as taboo and information about them wasn’t freely available. Now there is more acceptance and with that comes room for more exploration of different and varying sexualities. So don’t stress about finding that label just enjoy the journey and focus on making decisions that make you happy!