Ask Professor Foxy: How Do I Know If I Am Bi? Straight? Lesbian?

This weekly Saturday column “Ask Professor Foxy” will regularly contain sexually explicit material. This material is likely not safe for work viewing. The title of the column will include the major topic of the post, so please read the topic when deciding whether or not to read the entire column.
Hi Prof. Foxy,
Someone asked a sexuality question in the Feministing comments, and it got me thinking about my own sexuality. I’m trying to figure out what I am–bisexual or straight–and am having a hard time. When I think of a guy I find attractive (I’m an 18 yr old female), I think about being in a relationship with him, but I can’t really imagine having sex with him. If I think of a girl I find attractive, I can’t really imagine being in a relationship with her, but I can imagine the sex. Is that weird? Honestly, I don’t have too much experience in hooking up with guys or girls, so maybe I just have to try and then see how I feel? Or is this something I can figure out on my own? Perhaps I am not straight or bisexual, but something else?
Thanks so much,

Hi Confused –
Glad to know the column is spurring you to think about your own sexuality. We live in a world obsessed with two things: either/or and labels. Regarding sexuality and sexual orientation, we are told we must choose: gay, lesbian, straight, or bi? Which one are you? YOU MUST BE ONE OR THE OTHER. Actually, no you don’t. You can be queer, you can be non-identified, you can be attracted only to 5’9″ tall redheads who play basketball but are either male or female, you can be all or none of these things.
Part of this may be figuring out that you check or don’t check certain boxes during different parts of your life, by that I mean sexual desire, orientation, and identification is fluid. You may date men in your 20s, women in your 30s, both in your 40s. Your figuring it out may mean becoming comfortable with being attracted to a wide variety of genders.
As to only being able to picture yourself in a relationship with a guy, I question how much this has to do with sexual orientation and how much this has to do with what you see in the world around you. Where do we see healthy, stable same-sex relationships? Where do we see happy same-sex couples achieving in this world? Ellen and Portia? And the second one is. . . . . .
Or you may have serious relationships with men and great sex with women. What actually matters in this process is getting to a place where you feel comfortable with who you are. Take time to do this and there may never be a box you want to check. You may have a multitude of experiences and relationships that feel right.
If this all feels too loosey-goosey for you, focus on what you want in a partner regardless of their gender. Funny? Tall? Bookworm? Chocolate lover? And then focus on finding that. When people ask you what you are (cause they will ask), it is ok and fine to say “I don’t know,” queer, bi or you can say figuring it out. You can say these things for the rest of your life and be quite happy, which is actually what matters after all.
If you have a question for Professor Foxy, send it to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.

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