Questions Answered: How do I feel comfortable with my new identity?

This question came to me from someone on the message board for married women attracted to women: how do you feel comfortable with your new sexual identity when you’ve spent all of your life identifying as heterosexual? Well, it takes time and effort to make any change seem more normal, so let’s explore some ways to help you in your process.

Who Am I?   As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to sexual identity, many get caught up in the labels given to gay people. But it’s worth it to think about how you want to describe yourself–are you comfortable with calling yourself a lesbian? Queer? Bisexual? Pansexual? Just plain “gay?” Try on these different words when talking about yourself and see which ones resonate with you. Deciding how you want to define yourself will go a long way towards helping you figure out the borders of this new identity.

How do I look?  Yes, I know it’s stereotypical and a bit superficial to focus on “looking gay,” but you can’t escape that this is how many people identify others in terms of gender and sexual identity. At least there are more models for lesbians today than the simple “femme/butch” dichotomy of the past. You might want to think about your look and how making some changes might help you feel more comfortable with your new identity.

Have you always wanted to try out shorter hair, but you were worried before that it might make you look “too gay?” Well, now’s the time to experiment! Tired of wearing makeup every day? Try a few days without it, and see how that feels. Of course, it’s perfectly fine if you want to keep your long locks and red lipstick, too. Or if you want to change it up on different days. The point is that it might be a good time to think about the image you present to the world and if it’s one that represents your true self. If you want some ideas, Qwear is one of my favorite sites for all things gay girl fashionable!

At Home/At Work: Here are some ideas to help you ease into your new identity at home and at work:

  1. Post-It notes: I’m a huge fan of these! Post notes on your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, next to your coffee pot, at your workstation, or wherever you automatically look every day. The notes can be bits of inspirational writings about being your true self, or even reminders to say “I’m gay!” three times in the mirror before brushing your teeth in the morning. Studies show that it takes 21 days to make a habit stick, so try this for 3 weeks and let me know if it works for you.
  2. Reading lesbian novels, watching lesbian TV shows, subscribing to lesbian magazines: Who knows how many women have realized their true identities while watching “The L Word?” I have no idea, but it’s a fun show, that’s for sure! Check out Netflix and other sites for lesbian-themed movies. Subscribe to lesbian magazines like Curve or Out . Read websites like LGBTQ Nation or Human Rights Campaign to stay up-to-date on issues affecting lesbians around the world. The more you immerse yourself in the gay world, the more you will feel at home there.
  3. Even simple things like changing your computer password to something gay-related as a daily reminder or changing your phone’s ringtone to a song that reminds you of your coming out can help you gel with your new identity. These little things add up over the course of weeks and months.

Where is my community?  My last suggestion for how to feel comfortable with your new identity is to find your community! I know that this can be very challenging for some, especially those who are more introverted or less social. But finding community is really key in feeling at home with yourself, I believe. One of the best tools for this is Meetup.com–go there to look for lesbian groups in your area. Chances are that there are more than a few out there. Usually, these groups are organized around events like movies, dinners, or happy hours, so pick the event that appeals to you and go meet some new friends!

If you are in a more rural town with no Meetup groups, there are online forums and other places to find gay girls. You can also join our online support group for women coming out later in life!

Leave me a comment about how you learned to feel comfortable in your new identity, struggles you might still be having, or anything else. I look forward to hearing from you!

8 thoughts on “Questions Answered: How do I feel comfortable with my new identity?

  1. laspring

    So true Andrea, it does help you feel more comfortable with who you are by reading and

    seeing other gay women. I am not out so I dont have that many interactions with other

    gay women.

  2. Anonymouse

    Well, I am using my coming out as I enter middle age as a chance to embrace my femininity – and while I’ve had short hair for years, I rarely wore earrings with them as this made me look ‘too gay’. everything I wrote off as being for girly girls is now something I’ll try, now that I know what I am!

  3. Amazing Sweetness

    So much great info here Andrea!! I like the idea using the post it notes. I also want to check out the magazines you mentioned. As for my look, I am mostly feminine, I will usually wear make up when I go out with friends. I used to feel I needed to wear it to work everyday but I don’t anymore. I haven’t had the desire to. I recently pierced the upper cartilage on one of my ears because I love the look of it, my exgf had one and that is what sparked my interest with getting one myself. I have been looking up the meetups in my area, trying to see which one will be a good one for me to go to, and of course trying to be brave enough to actually sign up for one of them. Thank you again! Looking forward to more of your wonderful blogs!!!!

  4. Candace

    Andrea, thank you for making this blog. It is exactly what I was looking for. I am really LATE life lesbian – in my late 50’s. I’m separated after a 30 year marriage, which I entered because I was deeply in love, sexually and otherwise. Prior to that I had an off and on relationship with a woman but dated mostly men. Now I find myself attracted to women more than men, and it is not really comfortable. I have signed up for lesbian meet ups but haven’t gone to one yet. I tell myself this is because I have a psychiatrically disabled son to take care of, but it is also because of shame. Thank you for providing a forum to try to look at things differently! So many other coming out sites are for young people.

    1. Candace: Thank you so much for your comment and for reading the blog! You are exactly the person that I’m writing this blog for–women who are coming out later in life, usually coming from opposite-sex marriages. I’m so glad that you have found some useful information here. Please let me know if there are topics you’d like for me to cover in future blog posts!

  5. Anonymous

    Hello everyone,

    I came out in 2014 as a 33 year old woman. I’ve always had boyfriends and it wasn’t until I met my current girlfriend at work that I realised I was actually also very attracted to woman. I always found woman very interesting and was sometimes physically attracted to a girl, but it just didn’t seem to fall into place in my head.
    Anyway, we fell in love and are now living together. I am still working out if I am bisexual or gay. I do find that very difficult to think about. Since I am ‘new’ to the LGBTQ+ community and I am quite feminine most of the time, it is hard to feel at home anywhere right now. I have now been with my girlfriend for over a year and she was the first woman I have ever been with, so I don’t have a lot of experience. It makes me a bit scared and anxious sometimes that I feel like I missed out on something by only coming out later in life.
    Is this something that anyone has any experience with? I feel so alone sometimes, like I don’t fit in anywhere.

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