Many people question their sexual orientation or gender identity if it differs from the norm, and they need to figure out for themselves if their feelings match up with these labels created by society. Some people question their identity very early, while others do so later in life. There is no science to the time table for questioning, some people figure it out early, and others take an entire lifetime of questioning their identity.
What is questioning?
This term within the context of the queer community refers to people who are questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity or both. They may be experimenting with their feelings and attractions to see what identity would best describe them. The letter "Q" is sometimes added to the acronym LGBTA for this category.
How can someone not know what they are?
Identity politics is a complicated subject, some people feel they easily mold into labels and others feel that they may embrace some attributes of a label but not others. Some people are afraid to take on a label due to the real or perceived consequences that may result. Others generally feel that they are a mix of things and accept that their lives are full of unanswered questions that likely wont be resolved.
Is questioning a sexual identity?
This is a topic that has been debated and will likely go on within the queer community. The answer is yes if you believe that a temporary phase of questioning identity is in itself an identity for a given time period. Also, for those who do question for life or prolonged periods of time, it is their sexual identity to question sexuality and gender. People who are questioning fall into a unique subset because they acknowledge that they don't automatically fall into the heteronorm, but at the same time they don't necessarily accept or feel that they are queer. To be questioning is to feel that you are somewhere in between these two realms and that in itself can be considered an identity.
Are questioning people confused?
Some are confused due to a host of variables such as religion, culture, and societal pressure. Others simply find that our society is heavily reliant on labels that just don't fit neatly to each individual. The process of questioning sexual and gender identity is not confusion, it is normal and healthy. Whether one is gay, straight, asexual or somewhere in between we all question our understanding of sexuality throughout life.
How do you come out if you don't have a label?
It is best to come out sharing who you honestly feel you are. You can choose to come out with the identity that seems to fit the most, or you can simply admit that you are questioning or curious. Don't worry about the judgment or perception of others, you need to do whats spiritually right for yourself. Some questioning people prefer to use ambiguous terminology to refer to their identity and/or a partner such as lover, partner, significant other, friend with benefits, etc. When asked what their sexual identity is they simply say their name, or that they like who they like and keep it at that, have fun with it!
Coping with an uncertain sexual identity:
1. You acknowledge each attraction when it happens, rather than trying to stifle any natural feelings.
2. You look for a pattern in your attractions. This will point you towards your natural sexuality.
3. You do not deny what you know. If you are homosexual or bisexual, don’t try to convince yourself that you are heterosexual. All that will result is a lot of headaches.
4. You embrace questioning. If you are not ready to classify yourself as a specific sexuality, then don’t.
5. You seek support. If you feel isolated due to your sexuality, look around your local, regional or even national or international community for organizations that will support your lifestyle.
6. You take yourself seriously. Announcing your sexuality to anyone who will listen isn’t necessary. Show your maturity by respecting yourself and your relationships and giving them the attention and privacy that they deserve.
7. You are honest with yourself and others. If you realize that you are a particular sexual identity, don’t keep it a secret from those you love. Remember, given time almost anyone can adjust to almost anything (Teen Issues).
Resources for the Q population.
The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Other Identities - David Levithan
GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens - Kelly Huegel
Coming Out Every Day: Gay, Bisexual, or Questioning Man's Guide - Bret Johnson
Link of Interest:
Planned Parenthood - LGBT and Questioning.
Questioning Your Sexual Orientation.
For Individuals Who Are "Questioning"
Using the Questioning Label
Videos of Interest: