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"Are you sure?" And Other Things People Say About My Sexuality.

Ladies, we've all been there. Two feet up in metal stirrups, some strange body-sized, one-ply napkin around you, and your gyno prying around where you'd really rather she wouldn't unless she, at the very least, got you a drink first. Perhaps my experience is unique following this, though. Our conversation goes like this:

"Are you sexually active?"


"Are you taking any contraception?"


"Are you using condoms?"


"Are you aware of the risks of being sexually active and not being on contraception or using condoms?"


"Do you want contraception?"


"Are you sure?"


It's a little game I play with myself called, "How many times do I need to come to the gyno until I'm forced to come out?" Would she write it down next to my allergies (penicillin)? Or, would she forget, like she does about the fact that I am, in fact, not a new patient. (Hearing "it was a pleasure to meet you" sounds like a falsity when it's the 5th time you've seen a person).

This isn't really about a biannual conversation I have about the pill at the doctor, though. This is about my visibility as a gay female. Since coming out a few years ago, I've changed my appearance slightly. I dress a bit more androgynously, I walk differently, I cut my hair, but I likely won't ever shave my head and throw out that last dress I'm hanging on to "just in case." I'm more feminine presenting, this is true, but I would not call myself a femme, and I also wouldn't call myself a butch either. I just am. But everyone else's favorite question upon meeting me is, "Are you gay?" or, after I come out to them, "You are?" My first initial thoughts when this would happen were: Gee, thanks for the validation.

It actually got so bad, people not thinking I was gay, that I got called a "stupid dyke" on the train once, and I thought, "Omg he noticed!" It wasn't until I was above ground and around the corner that I realized the guy was a total asshole and that my reaction left something to be desired (like the middle finger).

It is interesting to come to terms with your own identity. It seems strange to need to stick a flag in the dirt that is your soul and say, "This is what I am." It's even harder when that process is so confusing for you that you seek validation from others about it and seldom receive it. What does it mean if your own community says, "Are you sure?" when you preach your membership? Was I? (Yes, with utmost certainty). It is also frustrating, within that, to need to stick that flag out at all, which is perhaps where this whole need for validation comes from. Coming out is basically saying, this is who I am, but because of our long history of being ostracized, we are inadvertently saying, "Is that cool?" Sometimes, having people ask you about your identity, as if it isn't as obvious to them as it is to you, is a reverse response of what you're looking for.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I don't need validation from anyone for my own existence. Moreover, people who ask likely aren't seeking to harm your sense of self, but your past or current experience causes your intake to be a bit off tilt. At the end of the day, it feels way better to say, "I just am," rather than to seek that from someone else. There lacks purpose in getting your existence signed off on by someone else. You'll spend the rest of it seeking signatures that you won't get, which will diminish your sense of self worth. Just be. It's wildly refreshing.

Photo cred: Clare P. Worsley