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Gay/Lesbian/Bi Teens/What's the difference between being gay and being bi

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QUESTION: I already know that bisexual girls like both genders and lesbians like girls. I know that I like girls, but it's hard for me to tell if I like guys or not. I came out as a lesbian when I was fourteen because I didn't like guys at all back then.

No one believed me. They say it was because of my age, but I suspect it's because of my femininity.  After that I started to really doubt myself. I kept on checking if liked boys over and over again. I often felt like I was attracted to guys. I suspect this is caused by my OCD tendencies.

I identified as bisexual for a while. I was happy to identify as bisexual because people believed me and I didn't want to be a lesbian.  

Right now I really don't want to be bisexual for some reason. I don't understand why. Many people have told me that sexuality is fluid and not to label myself. That advice has not been helpful. I think not labeling myself would make people think I'm bisexual.

I'm seventeen right now. I'm sick of mostly being in the closet. The main reason I'm in the closet is because I'm still confused. My city  and school is gay friendly, so I don't have to worry too much about homophobia.

ANSWER: Hi Lena, it's nice to hear from you.

I'm sorry to hear that you’re going through such a stressful situation at the moment. I hope that my response here will help clear everything up.

Your friends are correct when they say that sexuality is fluid and can change over time. I'm not sure how much you know or don't know about why they say that, so I'll quickly run through the theory with you, just so I know we're both on the same page...
This theory is called the Kinsey Scale of Sexuality. In this theory numbers 1 through 5 are used (however I prefer to use 1 through 10 just to show smaller movements on the scale better). Someone with exclusively Heterosexual attraction would be a 1, exclusively Homosexual/Lesbian would be a 10, and a Bi individual with 50/50 attraction to both genders would be a 5. In this theory, numbers 1 and 10 are incredibly rare to the point where it's unrealistic to think of you as either one. Therefore, when you think of the scale, I encourage you to think of numbers 2 through 9 instead. Over time someone who is Bi may not be interested in each gender evenly, and may prefer 1 gender over the other. Sometimes someone could be a 6 and be slightly more interested in the same gender, but later on be a 4 and be slightly interested in the other gender instead.

I'd like to give you an example of why it's best sometimes to not attach labels to yourself, and to go with the Kinsey Scale of Sexuality instead.
There's someone who is close to me (who is male), was married to a woman and had two great kids, only to later realize that he's not happy because he isn't being completely honest and would instead rather pursue other men. They got divorced and he has been with only men ever since and has no interest in women at all. This scenario isn't unusual at all (especially when it was taboo to come out). If we were to attach a label, we would see that none of them accurately describe this individual.
The Straight label doesn't work because he is now with only men.
The Gay label doesn't work because he was with his wife and had two kids from the marriage.
The Bi label doesn't work because he's not interested in women and no longer consider them attractive. If he did, he wouldn't have left his wife.
As you can see, it's much better if we would assign a number on the Sexuality Scale that would more accurately describe him. He may have been a 4 during his marriage, had the number slowly increase to perhaps a 7 or 8 when he got divorced, and is probably around that area right now.

I would encourage you to not label yourself by identifying as "Straight/Lesbian/Bi". The reason for that is because I feel that they have become outdated and not everyone fits neatly into one of those identities.

It sounds like you are at the 'Questioning' stage. The first thing I would suggest is to take some pressure off yourself for trying to get this over with quickly and be at peace a little bit. It may take longer than average for you to reach a conclusion then others because you are OCD and may have to go back a few times. In the meantime, be your own best friend and not your worst enemy.
The next suggestion I would have for you would be to reach your own conclusions and not be influenced by others (this includes what you think others want you to be). If you make a decision because of that, it is very likely you will have to revisit this issue again in the future.
Finally, as an extension of the last suggestion, I would advise that you take as much time as you want to come to terms of what your sexuality is. This is not supposed to be a race. Since you’re in High School, you’re still growing as an individual and going through Puberty (even if it's in the late stages). Give your body time to tell you what it wants and go from there.

Unfortunately, people will judge you. People can & will judge others on just about everything. Even if you were to be perfect, people will still judge you negatively, even if they have to make something up. All you can do is be your own best friend and look out for your own best interests. If you ever feel that it is becoming too much for you, please reach out to someone close in your area (like a parent or teacher) and get some assistance.

I'd wish you luck, but I'm sure you won't need it.

Take Care,
Josh

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick reply. I wasn't really asking about sexual fluidity. I am actually pretty skeptical about it. I am mostly wondering about why I am so disgusted at the idea of being bisexual. This post will probably be very long. I'm just trying to get my thoughts more organized.

I used to be totally fine with it when I was younger. I even identified as bisexual for a while. Right now The idea of me being bisexual disgusts me. I don't exactly know why. I don't find bisexuality disgusting in other people, I just find it disgusting in me.

Bisexuality just seems too "straight" for me. I'm just scared that I'll be forced to live a straight life if I identify as bisexual or with no labels.

This makes me miss my childhood. I remember being aware of finding girls attractive and having no interest in boys. I just accepted it. I didn't know about the concept of sexual orientation.

After I found out what people thought of being gay, I started to blame my feelings on girls on being too young to like boys. I just told myself that I would like boys one day. That kept me calm for a few years.

When I was twelve I was noticing that I was getting more attracted to girls, but not boys. This scared me. I knew this meant that I was probably a lesbian. I went back to my old excuse until I was fourteen and met a girl I liked.
Then I decided to face my sexuality and come out. When I came out no one believed me. They said I was too young to know. They also said I was too feminine.

After that my OCD kicked in. Before I came out I wasn't really questioning my sexuality. OCD can really play tricks on you. I started to feel like I was starting to like guys just because people told me I was straight. That is why I identified as bisexual. After I while I started to question whether my attraction to guys was genuine. I suspect that I'm not attracted to guys, but my OCD is complicating things.

I want to come out and identify as a lesbian, but my OCD and feminine appearance really complicates things. Whenever people don't believe me it triggers my OCD. I stay in the closet to avoid that, but staying in the closet is making me depressed.

Answer
Hi Lena, it's nice to hear from you again.

Telling you why you are disgusted at the thought of being Bi isn't something anyone could give an easy answer to. Anyone could speculate and give their best guess, but the best response you could receive would be if a licensed therapist would sit down with you and talk everything out with them. Unfortunately, that's not me but I encourage you to seek it out if you want to get to the bottom of it.

I hesitate to tell you what I think from your question, just because there could be more info that you didn't say (or even be aware of on an unconscious level) and I could give you a false response.

Since you mentioned that you find it disgusting only in yourself and not in other people, it would suggest that it is something that you have to work out on your personal life. Again, I don't know why specifically based on the information you told me, but it seems like the reason would be specific to only you and not apply to other people, such as your close family for example.

Did you assign OCD to yourself, or did a mental health professional tell you that's what you are? If you just gave it to yourself, there's a good chance it could be just stress. If a Health Professional told you that you are OCD; it would be a good idea to tell them about what you’re going through. You may want to consider seeing a Therapist either way, and it would be especially important if they assigned the OCD label to you.

Sexuality isn't black or white. It's not either "Straight" or "Gay". You might know people in your life who feel that way, but you can't allow yourself to be drawn into that. Eventually, you'll know from your own experience that it isn't one or the other yourself.

When someone says that you can't be into girls because you’re too feminine, it's part of a stereotype that only masculine girls like other girls. This stereotype is wrong just like all the other one's out there. If someone is making misguided assumptions about you that are completely wrong, and coming to a conclusion that is way off; that shouldn't surprise you in the least. If anything, if anyone makes a lot of false assumptions about someone (or something) of course their end conclusion is going to be wrong as well. It would be unreasonable to think the opposite.

12 is in general pretty young to know your sexual orientation. You don't usually know until after you’re going through puberty. Gender identity for Trans individuals can happen at a young age, but sexual orientation is another topic. People can go through puberty earlier than the average person, but if you’re still into girls when you’re older, those people will likely be fine and accept it. If you do come out and tell others what you are, you should expect some questions thrown your way that you wouldn’t usually think of. Such as "how can you know if you’re so young? How can you know if you've never been with a guy?" If this happens to you, it's best not to get stressed out and just respond back to them as calmly and factual as you can.

I'd also like to say, don't force yourself to be a Lesbian, if you’re feeling some attraction to guys. Being Bi is fine, and you don't need to come to a conclusion right away. If it takes a little bit of time, that's fine too.

If I can help any further, feel free to send me a follow-up. :)
Josh

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Josh Hawkins

Expertise

I am a gay man and a recent graduate of an Adult Psychology program and graduated with honors. As a result, I would like to assist anyone out there with any type of challenge that they may be facing. Before I list the type of questions that I may answer, I would like to encourage as many follow-up questions as possible. I'm not here to help you once and leave. I'm here to help you with your challenge every step of the way, until it's 100% completed. Some of the examples of types of questions that I may answer for you include: coming out, various questions of the gay community as a whole, negative feedback, how to handle stress and the emotional roller coaster you may be on.

Experience

I have studied in the post secondary education program of Adult Psychology taught at International Career School Canada. While studying in this program, I have learned comprehensive knowledge on a wide variety of psychology topics. Some examples of the types of topics covered in the program were: learning about the views of emotion & how it is linked to motivation, how we learn and the long term effects based on it, the process in which we think and how we affect others with it, how to control stress, how we are all individually different, our personality behavior, how to improve and change our behavior, and how others affect our feelings and happiness.

Education/Credentials
I have graduated with honors in the Adult Psychology program at International Career School Canada. I also have a second major in General Business, completed in College. In High School I have earned: The Business Certificate, a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement in Science, and a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement in Religion.

Awards and Honors
I have graduated in my Adult Psychology program with Highest Honors and a 97% overall average.

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