Growing up I was often unsure of who, or what I was supposed to be. I had a white grandmother, but dark skin. I was fluent in German, but couldn’t pronounce a single word in my mother tongue. During my primary school days, my coiled afro hair felt out of place, while at home my accent, which differed so much from the African tones of the people around me, made me feel like an outsider.
During many sleepless nights I would ask myself am I black enough? and after many more sleepless nights, I finally found my answer- There’s no such thing as “black enough.” My cells produce enough melanin pigment to turn my skin, eyes, and hair dark. End of story.
However, now that I’ve grown a bit, a new question plagues me: Am I queer enough? Sadly, this question can’t be answered using science, but now that I’m a little smarter and wiser, I realise that most of the things that create my insecurity regarding my queer identity are stereotypes.
For those of you who are unsure of the term, stereotypes are conventional and oversimplified images or ideas of a particular type of item or person. An example of a stereotype is: All men are bad at housework. It generalises men and makes it seem as if they are unable to do housework and should therefore not bother doing it. Stereotypes are often wrong, cruel, and demoralising.
For a long time, the LGBTQI+ community has been stereotyped and generalised.
“Lesbians have short hair, Gay men are fashionable, Trans people are gay” and so many more stereotypes exist. As a cis femme woman people have often made me feel as if I didn’t deserve to be a part of the queer community. Simply because I didn’t “ look” queer. Or better said, because I didn't meet any of the stereotypes.
But as previously mentioned, stereotypes are often wrong and oversimplified. So I asked some people here at TWE a few questions regarding their thoughts on queer and gender identity.
Where on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum do you fall?
Caterpie: “Our whole system identifies as queer- two are agender, one is trans, another is demigirl, and so on… Sexuality is complicated.”
J.D: “Bisexual and Gender fluid.”
Astrum: “Panromantic, Asexual, Genderfluid.”
J: “Transgender, Bisexual, and Asexual.”
Piper: “Lesbian, Non-binary & Aroace (Aromantic Asexual).”
What does being a member/ an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community mean to you?
Melissa: “It means I have an identity & (that ) I can feel safe with my sexuality and not ashamed.”
Caterpie: “Being open-minded and supportive.”
J.D: “That I'm not afraid to be who I am.”
Astrum: “A community that will support me even when others may not.”
J: “(It) Means knowing I'm not alone in what I feel and go through.”
Piper: “It means being a part of a community in which I can express myself and feel a little less alone with how I feel and what I go through in regards to my sexuality and identity.”
How, if at all, do you represent your sexuality?
Melissa: “I am very open about my sexuality, if anyone asks if I like girls etc. I will just say yes.”
J.D: “I'm open about my bisexuality.”
Astrum: “I like to wear flags.”
J: “I'm very open and chat a lot about my experience being ace (asexual).”
Piper: “I'm quite open about my sexuality, depending on who I'm speaking to. I express it much more online than I do in person since it feels safer that way.”
How, if at all, do you represent your gender?
Melissa: “Just normal day-to-day things.”
J.D: “I’m open about being gender fluid.”
Astrum: “I like to wear flags.”
J: “I tell most people my preferred pronouns and ask theirs. I have a trans flag on my laptop and phone case.”
Piper: “I tend to represent and express my gender identity a lot more online, but I also like to do it through the way I dress and carry myself. I often associate my gender with certain styles or interests I have.”
Do you feel as if there’s a reason for your queerness?
Caterpie: “We’re autistic so we don’t understand gender”
J: “Yes, men and woman existing”
Piper: “I think the main reasons for my queerness are community and self-expression since those have always been a big part of my life. I also think that it allows me to support others through their journey by discovering who they love and how they identify.”
Do you feel a part of the LGBTQI+ community?
Melissa: “Yes, I do.”
Piper: “Most of the time! There are moments where I see a lot of discourse and disagreements around my specific sexualities and those in correlation with my identity, which sucks. But finding the parts of the community in which people listen and accept one another is always so wonderful.”
These answers, just like the people who provided them, are diverse. Spanning all throughout the LGBTQI+ spectrum these answers highlight how complex and yet simple being queer can be.
All of us don’t express ourselves in the same way, and neither do we need to. To answer the original question: No, you aren’t queer enough. Simply because it doesn’t give such a thing as queer enough. We’re all just people who despite our differences all feel a part of this wonderful rainbow community.
I hope that this article helped answer some of your questions, and if you’d like, you can answer some of the questions above and share your answers with the rest of us, through the comment section below.
We‘re all bigger than our labels (or lack thereof ).
If you ever need to talk to someone don’t hesitate to contact-
We’re here for you Now – The Trevor Project
Discovering who you are can be a tough journey to go on, but it is one that is needed to accept yourself. For me, it was a scary path to walk but it brought out my true self.
Seeing the pride events over the years that have been held worldwide has motivated me to be who I truly am. Seeing all the people who attend these pride events just opens your eyes to how many people are like you!
When I first came to terms with my sexuality of being bisexual, I thought it was just a phase. But, it was not! I’m proud to be bisexual and if anyone makes a negative comment towards me then I’ll just stick up for myself.
My first pride event that I attended was in London. I met up with my friends and we got all glammed up: makeup is done and colourful outfits on! We wanted to express who we were through our looks! But it was all about making new friends and enjoying ourselves.
At the pride event, I made lots of new friends that I class as my close friends now! Just being colourful is what I love and the friends I made loved that too! We connected on so many levels and we accepted each other, that’s what mattered most to me!
But how has pride helped me? It’s allowed me to discover who I am, it’s built my confidence and also let me accept myself for who I am. 5 years ago, I was a completely different person; I disliked who I was and I didn’t accept myself.
If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self I would give them this advice, ‘Never let yourself be dragged down for who you are. Your sexuality is what makes you and if people dislike that then you need to cut contact with them’.
Pride has shown me that acceptance is the key to happiness. Like I said before 5 years ago, I was a different person but now, I realise that I am me for a reason. No one else can be you, no one else has your characteristics or talent the way you do.
It’s given me the chance to try new things and rediscover my identity. I’ve done things that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Doing what I love once again, after years of punishing myself, I can finally just let it go.
The LGBTQ+ Community has gained more attention and exposure over the past few years. An important part of this community which I find is still often misunderstood and is still discriminated against by many is the B: bisexual.
I am a cisgender biseuxal woman. This means that I was born as a woman, identify as a woman, and am attracted to both men and women. For me, this also includes trans men and trans women as well as nonbinary people. This can be different for all bisexuals though. I have always known I am cisgender but I haven't always known I am bi. For around 12 years of my 21 year life, I thought I was 100% heterosexual. I found women pretty but I didn't recognise that as sexual romantic attraction to women. The first time I actually fancied a girl was in school when I was around 12/13 and I freaked out. I went through a phase of asking out every boy I found even remotely attractive just to make sure everyone thought I was straight and only attracted to boys. Of course that wasn't true, but I still didn't actually acknowledge that I was bisexual until I was 15. Now, at 21, I have no problem with my sexuality. I am happy with myself and who I am, as are most of the people I love.
But I do notice that anyone who I tell tends to have questions. Sometimes they are personal questions like how did I know I was bisexual or have I ever been with a woman. Other times, they are general questions like what is bisexuality or what is the difference between bisexual and pansexual. I always try to educate people as much as I am able to when they have questions. So I thought I'd compile a list of some of the most Frequently Asked Questions I get about bisexuality and being bisexual and answer them for you, in case anyone reading this article is questioning their own sexuality or would like to find out more.
1) How do you know you are bisexual if you have never been with a women?
The way I always respond to this question is 'how do you know you're straight if you've never been with a member of the opposite sex?' The answers I often get include things like finding them attractive, fancying someone of that sex, feeling arousal towards certain people, fantasising about someone of that sex etc. etc. Well it is the same for bisexual people. We know we're bisexual because we find both sexes attractive. We fancy both sexes. We can feel aroused or fantasise about someone of either sex. The way you know you are straight is the same way we know we are bisexual.
2) Does this mean that you date men and women at the same time?
No. Being bisexual doesn't mean that we date men and women at the same time or that we are likely to date more than one person at once. Bisexuality and polygamy are not synonymous with one another. Some bisexual people may be polygamous and date more than one person at any one time, but other bisexual people, such as myself, may be monogamous and only ever date one person at a time. It just means the person we date can identify as a man or a woman or none of the above.
3) What is the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality?
The difference between the two is a topic which is quite widely debated and very misunderstood. Different people define it differently. One pansexual person I have spoken to said 'bisexuality is when you are mostly sexually attracted to two or more genders whilst pansexual is when you are attracted to people regardless of gender.' but another pansexual said 'pansexuality is a branch of bisexuality in which spans across all genders nonwithstanding and equally.' From my understanding, pansexuality is more about the personality than gender. So a pansexual is attracted to the personality of the person regardless of their genitals whereas a bisexual is attracted to the gender first and the personality second.
4) Aren't you attracted to everyone then?
Again, no. Think of it this way. Because you are heterosexual, does this mean you are attracted to every single person of the opposite sex? No, of course not. The same goes for bisexual people. Though we can be attracted to any gender, we are still only attracted to certain people, regardless of them being a man or a woman or any other gender. We are attracted to those we find aesthetically or emotionally attractive, just like anyone else is.
5) What do people mean when they talk about bi-erasure? Is it a real thing?
The term 'bi-erasure' refers to the act of ignoring, explaining away, or otherwise dismissing bisexuality in culture, media, or history. It can also relate to someone denying that bisexuality exists or saying it isn't real in its most extreme form. Unfortunately, it absolutely is a real thing and absolutely still exists today in modern society. Sometimes bi-erasure comes from heterosexual people but sometimes it even comes from other members of the LGBTQ+ Community. Bisexuality can be seen as being greedy, hiding somewhat so we can still enjoy 'heterosexual privilege', blurring the lines between gay and straight or trying to weaken the lesbian or gay movement. This just isn't true at all - we're just people looking for love and it's as simple as that to understand.
If there are any questions that you have which I haven't answered, please feel free to comment below or send me a message and I'll be happy to answer them for you. Please remember that being bisexual is completely okay. There is nothing wrong with it. It isn't weird. It isn't abnormal. You aren't wrong or abnormal either. You don't have to pretend.
You are perfect just the way you are - just be you.
If you would like to learn any more about bisexuality or anything addressed in this article or need any support, here are some useful websites:
Bisexual.org - https://bi.org/en
#StillBisexual - http://stillbisexual.com/
Stonewall - https://www.stonewall.org.uk/
The BeYou Project - https://thebeyouproject.co.uk
Bustle '5 Myths About Bisexuality Which Contribute To Bi-Erasure' - https://www.bustle.com/p/5-myths-about-bisexuality-that-contribute-to-bi-erasure-2418689
~ Kenzie x
If you are new to LGBTQ+ identities or queer theory, or you are struggling to label your own sexual or romantic orientation, this article is for you! I will go over several major LGB+ identities, beyond their dictionary definitions. Most of these terms are perceived as being black and white or having very strict definitions, but many are much looser than what people perceive, and none exclude or differentiate people based on whether or not they are transgender. If more information on any given label is desired, it is always best to look specifically to people who identify as such and are willing to talk with you about it. Many LGB+ accounts exist with admins who are more than willing to explain their identities and experiences with their sexualities and labels they use, or their posts about the same information may be enough.
A note before reading - for some people, their gender is not the same as their sex. Non-binary people and identities are real. The following definitions of sexual and romantic orientations are completely trans-friendly, regardless of whether an individual person who uses any of these labels is transphobic or not.
ASEXUAL: feeling no sexual attraction. Many people commonly believe that asexuality is the same as lacking a sex drive, but this is not true. Many asexual people, or “ace” people, do have sex drives, and may participate in solo, partnered, or group sexual activity. They simply do not feel sexual attraction to people. Asexuality is also commonly confused with AROMANTICISM, the lack of romantic attraction to people. Asexual people can be aromantic, or “aro,” but not all are, and same with aromantic people being asexual. Both identities are valid. A black ring on the right middle finger is often worn by aces to show their identity, and a white ring on the left middle finger by aromantics.
ALLOSEXUAL/ALLOROMANTIC: a person who experiences sexual or romantic attraction. This term refers to anyone who is not ace or aro, and is commonly abbreviated as “allo.” On the ASEXUAL SPECTRUM, a concept that sexuality is experienced on a spectrum of strength, attraction, and drive, allo people would mark the opposite end of ace/aros.
BISEXUAL/BIROMANTIC: feeling sexual and/or romantic attraction to two or more genders and sexes. Many people unfamiliar with LGBTQ+ identities often mistake bisexuality as meaning “male and female,” but that is simply not the case. Many bisexual people, throughout history, experience attraction to people of all genders or sexes. Bisexual does not exclude trans or non-binary people. This is also the most common non-straight orientation within the LGB+ community.
DEMISEXUAL/DEMIROMANTIC: only feeling sexual or romantic attraction after forming a deep, emotional bond. These identities are often seen as being in the middle of the ace-spectrum.
GAY: a term to express same sex / gender attraction. Often perceived as homosexual male, many other LGBT+ people describe themselves as gay even if they do not fit that exact description. Some use it as an umbrella term to describe all forms of same-sex/gender attraction, although that usage sparks controversy within the community, especially concerning potentially negative effects of erasing bi identities and experiences.
HETEROSEXUAL/HETEROROMANTIC: Attraction to the “opposite” sex or gender.
HOMOSEXUAL/HOMOROMANTIC: feeling sexual and/or romantic attraction to mainly or exclusively people of the same sex or gender.
LESBIAN: a homosexual woman or person who is connected to womanhood, attracted to people who are connected to womanhood. A very common misconception is that a lesbian is strictly a cis-woman who is only attracted to other cis-women: this is both historically and practically inaccurate. Many GNC, non-binary, and trans people identify as lesbians, and lesbians often find themselves attracted to or in relationships with such people.
OMNISEXUAL/OMNIROMANTIC: attraction to all genders / sexes. Many people who identify as omni describe that their attraction to a person is influenced by their gender, sex, and gender expression. Though this experience is not true for all, it is important to note as many use that experience to distinguish omni identities from other, similar identities that include attraction to more than one gender or sex.
PANSEXUAL/PANROMANTIC: attraction to all genders / sexes, most commonly attraction without regard to gender or sex. This definition is not used by all people who identify as pan, and there is some overlap with other labels. Such flexibility with these definitions must be accepted. One cannot “diagnose” another person’s sexuality.
POLYSEXUAL/POLYROMANTIC: attraction to many, but not all genders / sexes.
QUEER: an umbrella term, of sorts, that is non-specific to sexuality or gender. Any person who is LGBTQ+ in some manner can use this label. The word, originally a slur, was reclaimed by the community in the 70s and 80s, and only recently has there been an increase in thought that using this label is homophobic in such manner. Take caution when describing others with this term, however. Some people do not want to be labelled as queer, and that wish should be respected.
I hope that this short guide is able to provide some insight and help you better understand different sexual and romantic orientations, or help you understand your own. Years ago when I was questioning my own identity, I found that seeing these different labels and definitions layed out helped me get a better sense of what I experienced and what I did not, allowing me to get a better sense of what labels I most identified with. If you are questioning, feel free to try different labels to see what fits, or to not use a label at all. You are unique, and only you get to decide which label describes your experiences best.