Questions Answered–How do I know that I’m really gay?

Here’s the next question for this series: “How do I know this is for real–how do I know that I’m really gay?”

My short answer to this question is one that I’ve given here before: straight girls don’t lie awake at night worried about possibly being gay. But there’s so much more to this issue than that quick answer. Let’s explore this further, shall we?

Labels that we give ourselves and others are merely that–words that we use to describe parts of ourselves. There is no way we could ever describe the totality of our fabulous selves with one or two words. Even within the gay community, there is disagreement about which words to use when.  Gay? Lesbian? Queer? These are all words that I use to describe myself, depending on the situation. I also identified as bisexual for a whole decade when I was in my coming out process.

Whether or not you want to label yourself as “gay” or “bi” or “questioning,” the fact of the matter is that some feeling or experience has brought you to this point. Either you have fallen in love or found yourself attracted to a woman, or something has awakened feelings in you that you have labelled “not straight.” And that is something that you want to give attention to as it is clearly real.

As to your question of whether you are really gay or not, that is a question only you can answer for yourself. That’s why coming out to yourself truly is the first step in the process. I know that I struggled with that label for a long time, until it finally hit me in a very deep way that I was indeed a gay woman (read my upcoming book to learn more about this story!). From that moment on, I had no doubt that I was gay.

Did I find that truth uncomfortable, inconvenient, and difficult to live with at times? Absolutely. But that is very different from the deep knowing and acceptance of your own sexual orientation. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that it is not true. In the coming out process, there may be times when you want to wish it all away–it’s too tough to handle. I get it. But I promise that facing those truths inside of you will be worth it once you get to the other side.

Ways that I suggest getting to know that deep truth within you and accepting it:

  1. Meditation practice or other quiet contemplation: Whether it is a daily practice or a few quiet moments to yourself here and there, meditation can be a great tool for listening to that deep voice inside of you. For more information on how to start a mediation practice, try this link.
  2. Journaling: For some, writing is a good way to get at the issues in your mind. Start a journal devoted to figuring out your truth. Keep the inner editor at bay, and let your truth pour out of you.
  3. Retreats or time away from your regular life: While this isn’t feasible for everyone, if you are able to go on a retreat (a spiritual one or simply a weekend getaway to a nearby cabin in a state park), this is an ideal time to contemplate your deeper truths. Also, being out in nature tends to heal us, which helps us to see things more clearly that are difficult to accept in our everyday lives.
  4. Therapy: A good therapist is worth her/his weight in gold! Therapy is an amazing gift to give yourself, and it’s a great way to face those truths with the help of a trusted, professional listener.

Leave me a comment about how you knew that you were gay, how you’ve struggled with this awakening, or perhaps what has helped you in your process to accept yourself. I look forward to hearing from you!

11 thoughts on “Questions Answered–How do I know that I’m really gay?

  1. Amazing Sweetness

    Thank you for writing this blog. It could not have come at a better time. I have been writing some of my thoughts down this morning which I don’t usually do, but for some reason I had to writ down what I was feeling in my head. A couple of the things that I wrote was “is this real”, “am I making things up in my head”, so I thought I had accepted the idea that I am gay, but I can still see I am having a hard time truly accepting this as my truth not because I don’t want to be gay. I am fine with it, it explains a lot of things for me. trusting myself and my thoughts, second guessing is driving me crazy. Something else that I wrote this morning was ” I just need to get out of my own head for a while”. Your blog could not have come at a better time, thank you.

  2. I’ve always been attracted to females. I first noticed when I was 7 and playing house with the girl next door. As a teenager, if I found a Playboy, I’d look through it and enjoy it. But I’m also attracted to men, so it made it easier to ignore the attraction to females. A few months ago, I noticed I was attracted to a female friend. I asked my bisexual male friend some questions. He was actually the first person I came out too. It took me 46 years to figure out I am bisexual. I always knew the attraction was there, I just never labeled it.

    1. Congrats on your new understanding of yourself! It’s amazing how whole we can feel once we open up to our truths. Good luck on your journey & here’s to your very best second half!

  3. Pingback: When Family Members Don’t Support Your Coming Out | A Late Life Lesbian Story

  4. missykat

    I am 39 years old, married to a man (together for 20 years) and we have 2 kids together. I had expressed my attraction to women to my husband several years ago. I never got to experience being with any women before my marriage but now looking back I realize I have always been attracted to them. After I told him, we began to experiment sexually with other couples who wanted the same. We stopped experimenting with other couples because it wasn’t healthy for our relationship and I also did not feel comfortable with it any longer because I wasn’t into the men but was expected to reciprocate if I wanted to be with the woman. It made me feel dirty, and I still had a lot of questions about my sexuality. One particular couple we were with, I was strongly attracted to the woman and sex with her was amazing. I even had a secret, brief encounter with her alone after a night of drinking. After that encounter it was as if I shut it out of my mind. I didn’t tell my husband about that encounter. My husband and I didn’t talk about my feelings at all for a long time. He is never one to bring it up either.

    Our sex life has suffered for such a long time because of our disconnect on this and many other issues. I am no longer attracted to him, and I feel our relationship will never be mutually respectful and loving. We haven’t had sex for greater than 3 months. I tried sometime last year to brooch the subject of my having a girlfriend but no matter how much I talked to him about how I felt he wasn’t open to it without him being present to at least watch. I was not comfortable with that nor did I think anyone I wanted to be with would be. I can understand his feelings and I also realized it would just be the demise of our marriage either way because from what I understand, if communication isn’t healthy to begin with, poly-amorous relationships seldom work out.

    I still had so many questions about my sexuality and I wanted to be free to figure it out. Selfish I know, but I wasn’t happy in my marriage and have tried very hard to make it work with my husband. I don’t understand what led me to do this, but I placed an ad in the personal section of CL for a discreet relationship. A woman, who is also married to a man answered my ad. We had an affair that lasted about 6 months. It was amazing and it was like I came awake. We talked about everything and sex was more amazing than I had ever dreamed possible. I couldn’t believe it. Then the shame and guilt set in and I had all sorts of other feelings I couldn’t sort out. It made me have more questions than answers. So I broke it off with her. We still talk once in a while, but the sexual part of our relationship is over. I still fantasize about being with her and find myself looking and wondering about other women too.

    Since then, I have thought hard about leaving my husband and have begun making plans for that. I need to be able to figure out who I am and what I want for my life and I want to feel safe in doing so. I feel like I am still questioning whether this is a midlife crisis or if I am lesbian or bisexual or what. I am scared shitless and thrilled at the same time. How can I figure this all out and cause the least harm to my family? How do I know if I am making the right decision? How can I find a support group/counselor who deals with this kind of situation. I think the hardest part is not being able to tell people what I’m going through.

  5. MJW

    I recently had an unusually deep and caring conversation with a close friend during which I was asked some questions that I had never really honestly probed before – about my life, why I had followed the course I had, and so forth. I am a widow and/but I began to remember and realize, well, that those years were not really happy – not for either of us. We were both very much a product of the times, and I was certainly a product of the expectations of my parents, esp. my mother. I never had a lesbian relationship, but I had a long friendship in HS/college with someone who was brave enough to identify herself as a lesbian and felt pretty convinced that I was too, and was deluding myself. I was very confused and anxious. The fact that I had never been attracted to boys I always saw as a personal failing. I asked a college counselor for help and she told me to get a boyfriend. Ah, well. My husband was intelligent and thoughtful and I thought that was the answer. Unfortunately, I was never able to be the woman that I know he wanted. I have had numerous attractions to other women and have fantasized about relationships, but never acted on any of them. I believe that at this late date I have maybe achieved the self-awareness that I have avoided for so long. I guess that is the first step. But what now? I haven’t a clue.

  6. DK

    I just wanted to leave a note to say “thank you” for this space and for the ability of others to share their experience. I’m a married male coming to terms with same-sex feelings and all of these posts and stories are still relatable and helpful. Thank you!

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