DEAR ALEX: What do I do when I’m struggling with my sexuality?

Dear Alex: Do you have any advice for students struggling with their sexuality?

– Compassionate and Concerned

Dear Compassionate and Concerned: As high schoolers, we experience many changes within ourselves; many of which we don’t understand. The case with many is that the people around us don’t understand either. It is important throughout the process of self discovery that you understand your circumstances, in some way, are going to be different and therefore you can’t be expected to do what your friend did, or what plays out in the movies. There is no result that is definitie.

I’ll introduce several pieces of advice:

Do not force a label to fit you until it feels right.

It can be overwhelming to think of all the labels. Gay? Bisexual? Asexual? Demi-Sexual? With so many labels out there it may be best to learn and understand them first before choosing one. It is encouraged that you do some research on these labels when you are ready, because one may feel like home.

Check yourself for internalized homophobia.

Internalized homophobia is when you project either mentally or physically some sort of disconnect or negative connotation towards aspects of the LGBTQ+ community. If rainbows are “too gay” or you could never see yourself going to a pride festival, then you may have internalized homophobia. We are all conditioned to fit the societal norms, and if you do happen to come to a certain conclusion on your sexuality of which is a part of the LGBTQ+ community; no one is expecting you to slap a rainbow on everything you own or to change your masculine/feminine or non-binary appearance. Following this rule, and being diligent overall, not only makes you a better ally, but puts you on a healthier path when discovering yourself.

Take your time.

As intense as working through the confusion of sexuality and becoming your authentic self may be, you are not on a ticking-time clock. You could come to a conclusion about your sexuality in a year, a week, or a month and there would be no difference; so why rush? Be kind to yourself and make the process a little easier through patience.

Don’t tell anyone you don’t want to.

Especially living in Kentucky, it’s known that not everyone supports those who are LGBTQ+. Everyone has experienced or witnessed homophobia and/or some form of hate expressed towards the community. Whether it is your parents, a couple of friends, or the neighbor down the street; you don’t owe anyone an explanation. It is your business and yours only, therefore no one has to know, until you believe they should and you are safe to tell them. This doesn’t mean that everyone will react negatively for some if not most of the people you know would react positively. If you feel safe then talking it out with someone and expressing your internal world may benefit you.

Be open to change.

If you are already questioning then odds are, something within you is conflicted or confused. Sexuality is very complex, and is on a spectrum, so it makes sense for your thoughts and feelings to not click immediately. Yet, it is critical you don’t repress these conflicts and you build up courage to face your fears. Doing this doesn’t for sure drive you towards any conclusion, but it is only to implement healthy habits when exploring your thoughts and feelings. While this doesn’t eradicate the anxiety that may occur during the time, it makes the journey somewhat easier.

No matter what conclusions those who are questioning come to, whether you become an ally or a member, there is a beautiful and loving community awaiting.

– Alex