I’m sick and tired of people asking me if I’m gay. Don’t misunderstand me, I’d be fine with being called gay if I were gay, but I am simply not interested in people right now. I’m a student first and don’t need any complications in my life. But WHY do they think this about me and how do I get people to stop asking? It’s getting kind of annoying.
Hey there, thank you for sharing your feelings about this and reaching out to us!
It sounds like you’re feeling really frustrated by questions and assumptions about your identity, and that is completely understandable. While categories and labels can provide a means of community and understanding, they can also feel confining and misleading – even more so when ones that don’t fit are forced on us. It also sounds like you’re feeling bugged about where people get the idea that you might be gay.
There are a lot of things that people might think gives them insider information about someone’s sexuality, but often these are rooted in stereotypes about gender expression. In our society, girls are expected to act a certain way, and boys are expected to act a certain way – whether that’s how they dress, what they do, or who they choose to spend time with. When people act in ways that violate our society’s norms about gender and sexuality, people start to make all kinds of weird assumptions about their personality, sexual orientation, and/or gender. Masculine women are thought to be lesbians, effeminate men are thought to be gay, bisexuals are assumed to be promiscuous, feminine lesbians and asexuals may feel invisible, non-binary folks are constantly asked “are you a boy, or a girl?”, and trans women are told they are men. These kinds of assumptions are harmful and disrespectful, and can make us feel frustrated, confused, and invalidated.
Would you consider asking people why they thought to ask you about your sexuality? If this is something you feel comfortable with, people’s responses might shed some light on why you “ping” on their “gaydar”. You can thank them for their honest answer and then gently suggest that no assumption is a safe assumption.
While we can’t really say why some people think it’s okay to ask invasive personal questions, we can stress that it’s well within reason not to answer them. Sometimes we feel pressured to answer these kinds of questions, especially in conversations with close friends. But if your friends are respectful, they should understand that your business is your business. You might say “thanks for asking, but that’s very personal and I’d rather not answer”. It might be helpful to be respectful, yet firm in your response. If someone presses you, you might consider asking them why they need to know. If you’d rather not open that can of worms, you could just gently remind them that it’s impolite to pry.
Setting boundaries with peers and friends can prove tricky, especially in close quarters like residence or when you’re living with roommates. One thing that may help is to reflect on what information you feel comfortable sharing, and who you feel comfortable sharing it with. Once you’ve established what feels safe and what doesn’t, you might consider sharing that information with your close friends or people you trust. It may help to communicate that your sexuality and self-identification are not priorities for you and that you find it kind of puzzling that everyone around you feels like they need to know. Once you feel comfortable with the new boundaries you have established with your friends, if need be, you might consider extending these boundaries to other facets of your life, like family, work, or volunteering.
It’s strange how our culture constructs stereotypes and then tries enforce them – as if it’s too much to consider that each person is different. It’s important to remember that we do not have to conform to, or even acknowledge society’s rigid norms about what gay, straight, boy, or girl, looks like. Be yourself!
We hope that this gives you a start on how to tackle this situation. If you’d like to talk about it more or even just vent to someone who’s been there, why not give us a shout? We’re online everyday except Tuesdays from 5-10 pm. You can reach us by visiting our webpage, qlinks.ca/outline, to chat with our volunteers confidentially and anonymously.
All the best,
❤ Mackenzie and Liz