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Queer is a humorous, engaging, and honest guide that helps LGBT teens come out to friends and family, navigate their new LGBT social life, figure out if a crush is also queer, and...
Queer is a humorous, engaging, and honest guide that helps LGBT teens come out to friends and family, navigate their new LGBT social life, figure out if a crush is also queer, and rise up against bigotry and homophobia.
Queer also includes personal stories from the authors and sidebars on queer history. It’s a must-read for any teen who thinks they might be queer—or knows someone who is.
If you’re a teen, you have a lot on your plate: school, family, social drama, body issues,
how to get that relative who perpetually smells like onions to stop sitting next to you at every family gathering. As if that weren’t enough, some of you have one more thing to deal with—the possibility (or reality) of being queer. This realization is definitely not a bad thing—but it can throw you for a loop.
To best grasp what may be going on, you’re going to have to spend some time looking within. That doesn’t mean staring at your belly button, pondering the cosmos, the existence of God, and what Lady GaGa’s going to wear next—though if any of that is helpful, go for it. But you will need to do a little soul searching.
Lots of teens—straight or queer—have questions about their sexuality. It doesn’t always feel clear cut from the jump. Have you ever asked yourself any of the questions below
• I am a girl and I have a boyfriend. But I fantasize about kissing my best girlfriend. Does that make me bisexual
• I think anyone can be sexy, regardless of gender. What does that make me
• I am a girl and sometimes I feel more like a guy. Does that mean I’m transgender
• I am a guy and I keep having dreams about my girlfriend’s brother.
Am I gay
If so, you probably want answers. Well, here’s the good news: You don’t need an answer to this today. Here’s the even better news: Whatever the answer is, it’s completely fine. Being straight or queer doesn’t define who you are as a person. It doesn’t say whether you’re a good friend or a complete jerk or whether you should do ballet or go out for varsity football. It’s just about who you are attracted to and, in the case of transgender people, what gender you want to live as. Any answer is the right one. And it’s also OK if that answer changes at some point. It’s all good.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE QUEER
To identify as queer means to see yourself as being part of the LGBT
community. That means you consider yourself to be lesbian, gay, bisexual,
or transgender. Here’s the breakdown.
Lesbians are women who are emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. The Greek poet Sappho, who lived during the sixth and seventh centuries, wrote about loving other women. She was born on the island of
Lesbos, and this is where the term lesbian comes from.
There is no “typical” lesbian. Some lesbians consider themselves to be butch lesbians (also known as studs), which means they express themselves in what society might consider a masculine manner. Butch lesbians might feel more comfortable dressing in men’s clothing, playing aggressive sports, working a traditionally manly job, or being the person who is more chivalrous in a relationship. Femmes (also known as lipstick lesbians), on the other hand, usually dress in a more feminine manner, wear make-up, have long hair, and enjoy activities more associated with girly-
girls, like maybe shopping or watching chick flicks.
Of course, not all femmes wear lipstick, and not all butches work in construction. And some lesbians call themselves futch, a combination of femme and butch. There are also blue jean femmes (a femme who doesn’t wear dresses) and soft butches (those who consider themselves a less hard-
core form of butch). Boi is another term, which can indicate a hip, youthful butch who may or may not identify as trans. But remember that all of these are just labels that help lesbians clarify their social identity, and the definitions are changing even as we write this book. Not everyone uses these terms, and some people find that their relationships to masculinity and femininity change over the years. If none of these labels feel appropriate for you, feel free to make up one of your own—or go without a label altogether. These identities are really about celebrating yourself and your queerness, not bogging you down.
Gay men are men who are emotionally and sexually attracted to other men. (The word gay is also used sometimes to mean homosexual in general.) Back in the day, the word gay meant “happy” or “carefree” and also the more negative “licentious,” which means “lacking moral and sexual restraints.” Gay began being used to describe homosexual people in the middle of the last century, though it’s not totally clear why. (Maybe people thought gay people were happy to supposedly have no moral restraints!) Today, gay is usually used to describe homosexual men.
It can seem like there are as many kinds of gay men as there are kinds of music. Gay men who are into alternative rock and punk, underground art,
and hipster fashion call themselves alternaqueers. (Lesbians and trans people can be alternaqueers, too.) Many large, hairy gay men refer to themselves as bears. Some younger men who pride themselves on being thin and clean shaven call themselves twinks. Gay men with feminine qualities might consider themselves queens, and when those qualities are really exaggerated, they might be called flaming. Gay men who work out a lot are often referred to as muscle queens or gym queens and, if they fly around the country to dance all night to circuit techno music, circuit queens.
Wealthy gays who often dress in preppy styles are sometimes known as
A-gays, and gay men into leather are leathermen. Though you’ll find evidence of a lot of these subcultures online and in most major cities, you don’t have to belong to any of them, and you could also create your own.
Remember, these identities are only to help gay men say a little about who they are to the world. Never take on an identity if you don’t want to, or let others label you against your will.
People who can be attracted to either sex are bisexual. Sometimes people think bisexuals are equally attracted to both sexes, but this is not necessarily the case. If you’re open to dating both men and women, even if you prefer one sex over the other, then you can identify as bisexual (or bi).
Sometimes people identify as bisexual during a transitional stage before coming out as lesbian or gay. For others, it truly is an identity that sticks with them their whole lives. For some people, coming out as bi is easier because it offers hope to their homophobic parents and friends that they’ll end up with an opposite-sex partner some day. For others, coming out as bi is harder because people might want them to “choose” one sex or the other. If you think you may be bisexual, know that bisexuality has been around forever. Some cultures, like ancient Greece, celebrated bisexuality as a great way of life.
A little different than bisexuals, pansexuals people are attracted to not only boys and girls, but people who identify as transgender.
People who feel there is a difference between their birth gender and the gender they truly are inside consider themselves transgender or simply trans. They often choose to live life as the gender they feel they are, or, in some cases, they don’t identify as any gender at all. Transgender people sometimes opt for medical treatment—like hormones and surgery—to actually change their sex so that their bodies appear on the outside more like what they feel on the inside. People who undergo these medical procedures sometimes think of themselves as transsexuals, though often they prefer to be thought of and referred to simply as the gender they are living as (male or female) since transsexual is sometimes seen as an impersonal medical term. There are also abbreviations for people who change their sex, like FTM (female to male) or MTF (male to female), which are sometimes used.
People who feel they don’t fit into either gender may use the terms gender queer or gender fluid to describe themselves. They may feel that they are neither male nor female, both male and female, or somewhere in between.
They may also feel that even saying there are only two genders is too restrictive, and may identify with one of the various genderqueer terms out there like transboi, bi-gendered, or third gendered.
It’s important to understand that while the identities of lesbian, gay, and bisexual refer to one’s sexual orientation, being transgender does not. It is specifically about gender. People who are transgender can be straight,
gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Queer can describe people who are any of the above or people who don’t want to use any of the these labels but know they fall somewhere along the
LGBT spectrum or that they don’t fit into the heterosexual norms.
If you find yourself wondering if any of the terms in this chapter describe you, you might be queer. Of course, you might also just be questioning—
and that’s OK, too. These days, we often see the acronym LGBT with a “Q”
at the end (LGBTQ). That “Q” stands for questioning, which means people who are still figuring it out. (And aren’t we all just trying to figure something out) The “Q” can also stand for queer. Sometimes people even write the
LGBT acronym as LGBTQQ or LGBTQQI, where the I stands for intersex
(see page 24). With all those letters to keep track of, sometimes it’s easier to just say queer!
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M QUEER
You may have simply always felt different from other kids. Maybe the words other people use to describe themselves just don’t seem to fit you,
or you don’t feel comfortable dressing or acting the way that society says you should. If you’re a boy, maybe you’re into “girl stuff.” If you’re a girl,
maybe you’re into “boy stuff.” Maybe you don’t feel like you’re a girl or a boy but that you’re something unique that doesn’t really have a name.
Maybe you’re a boy into boy stuff or a girl into girl stuff, but you feel attracted to other boys or other girls.
Even if you relate to any of the above, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are LGBT. Plenty of straight people are into things that most of society doesn’t consider “normal” like heavy metal, contemporary art, or raspberry granola, and you certainly wouldn’t base your sexuality on what you like to eat for breakfast. Besides, you’re in a stage of your life right now when love can feel a bit confusing, and you may not know if you want to kiss that cute soccer player or just want to be her. You’ll probably get crushes on all kinds of people, from teachers and best friends to celebrities and star athletes. You may even go through a period of trying out different things to find out what’s right for you. Some days you might feel one way, and other days, another. Just because your friends aren’t talking about conflicting feelings around sexuality doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling them, too.
That being said, if your feelings persist, then you may decide to start identifying as queer or as any of the related identities. If so, embrace it!
Being part of the LGBT community is great, but it does mean that, yes, you are a little bit different than most of the people you know. Being different,
of course, is something to celebrate. But it also means that sometimes you might feel like you are from another planet. If so, think of us as your tour guides to Planet Queer!
DO I HAVE TO HAVE SEX TO KNOW
Lots of questioning teens think they need to have sex to know if they are queer, and often older people will doubt a teen’s assertion of being queer with a response like, “How could you know? You haven’t had sex yet!” But the truth is that you don’t have to have sex to know if you’re LGBT. Most of the time, it’s something you’ll just have a sense about. For instance, if you’re a guy and you consistently have crushes on other guys, then you might be gay. You don’t have to act on those attractions sexually to know how you feel. Straight kids have crushes all the time and they don’t need to act on them to know they are straight. It’s no different for queer kids.
Some people do say that they discovered they were lesbian, gay, or bisexual after experimenting sexually. So that is possible. But most people say that if you are queer, you’ll know it on a much deeper level. It becomes a part of your identity and how you see yourself. It’s more about who you are and who you have feelings toward rather than simply who you’re getting busy with.
On the flip side, just because you’ve had sex with someone of the same gender, you’re not necessarily gay or lesbian. Sometimes people experiment just for fun and still don’t consider themselves queer because they don’t want to actually date or have relationships with people of the same gender. Or you might have fantasies or dreams about having sex with someone of the same gender, but in real life you don’t feel the same way.
Obviously, sex is part of the queer equation, but it’s definitely not the whole thing.
WHY ARE PEOPLE QUEER
That’s the multimillion dollar question. And it’s one that no one’s really been able to answer yet, probably because everyone, queer or straight, is different. For years, scientists have been trying to discover if there is a
“gay gene” or something in our brains that makes us prefer the same sex.
So far, the studies have been inconclusive, and we don’t know exactly what makes one person gay and another bisexual or trans or even straight, for that matter. There are any number of things that make you the person you are.
For some queer people, it seems like they were just born that way. For others, it’s the way our emotions and sexuality developed as we grew up and our personality began expressing itself. And other people say that somewhere along the way, they just changed and suddenly started liking people of the same gender.
But though you may come into your queerness at any stage, it’s not a choice. It’s something that naturally happens. You can’t “train” yourself to be straight any more than you can train yourself to have three eyeballs, fly like a bird, breathe underwater, or like listening to the Rolling Stones as much as your parents do. You have no control over your sexual orientation or gender identity. Be authentic and you’ll gain the respect of others and yourself. You’ll also be way happier in the long run.
WHERE ARE YOU ON THE SEXUAL SPECTRUM
Back in the 1940s, a sex researcher named Alfred Kinsey asked people to be honest about their sexual activities, fantasies, and romantic attractions.
After thousands of interviews, he found that it is rare that a person is solely homosexual or heterosexual. People’s desires and preferences fell all along what he called a “sexual spectrum” (also known as the Kinsey Scale)
between gay and straight. What he interpreted this to mean was that most humans have the capability to be attracted to or to fall in love with both men and women. We think that the idea of viewing sexuality as a spectrum is a great way to look at it. It means there is some fluidity in our preferences, and everything is totally acceptable.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t prefer to date one gender or the other. You probably will. But if you’re not sure how to label yourself or where you fall on the spectrum of straight, bi, or gay/lesbian, we say don’t stress about it. Even though it may seem like everyone around you has it figured out, they proably don’t. Instead, see all of your questions about your sexuality as something that makes your life more interesting and will give you more personal insight and confidence.
Want to try a little experiment? Look at the scale below and locate where you think you are on the spectrum. Make a note of what you think today, and then see if it’s the same a year from now.
(Image not shown)
WHEN DO I NEED TO DECIDE IF I’M QUEER
There is no time limit. Like we said, it’s natural to go through a period of questioning and experimenting before you know what’s right for you. You may spend some time being bi-curious, which means you wonder a lot about what it would be like to get with someone of your own gender. You may try out dressing as the opposite gender or explore your feelings by looking at photos or movies to see what appeals to you. It’s your life. Only you can decide when and how to express your gender identity and sexuality—no one else.
In Marke’s words
My Big Gay Revelation
For me, the signs were probably there from the start. I was the kind of little
kid who played dress-up in his mom’s clothes, ran around singing show tunes
at the top of his voice, and pretend-flirted with other boys. (My parents even
have pictures of me kissing one of my boy cousins on the lips when we were
in diapers!) In grade school, I also fooled around with some other boys in my
neighborhood and from my school. But I didn’t really think about it in terms
of whether I was gay or straight or whatever. I knew lots of boys who did
stuff like this, and it didn’t seem like a big deal.
It wasn’t until around sixth grade, when I started developing deep crushes on
other boys, that I started thinking I might be a little different. But I still
couldn’t put my finger on it. I had never even heard the word gay until some
older boys from another school tried to insult me by calling me that. I did a
little research in the library to find out more and discovered a whole history
of people who not only had sex with people of the same gender but had
passionate romantic relationships as well. In fact, there was an entire
community of people who felt the same way I did; it was a delicious
wonderland of queerness! I realized it was OK to like other boys in “that
way,” and even though it took a little while to find other boys who liked me
back, I knew that I wasn’t “abnormal” or “weird”—just a little bit different.
In Kathy’s words
Uh, That Explains It (How I Knew I Was a Lesbian)
As a kid, I kept falling in love with my best friends. Sure, I had crushes on guys,
but when the opportunities came to be with them or a girlfriend, I always chose
the girl. When I go back and read my old journal from high school, I have to
laugh at what I wrote. There are entries that say things like, “I’m not queer or
anything, but I don’t want Lisa to get a boyfriend because we wouldn’t be able
to spend as much time together” or “We’re not queer or anything, but I’d just
rather be with Jenny than with Joe” or “I’m not turning to girls, I just really
want to be close to Kim.” Seriously.
It’s pretty obvious to me now that I was trying to justify what I was feeling
because I was confused. At the time, I didn’t really understand what it meant to
be a lesbian, and the thought scared me. Lesbians were something we made fun
of, and I didn’t really know anyone who was openly gay.
When I got to college and started meeting other lesbians, I was finally able to
admit to myself that I was queer. It was no longer some big scary thing because
I was meeting some really amazing women who were lesbians. I got to see
what lesbian relationships looked like and started going out dancing to lesbian
bars and seeing lesbian movies. I became more and more comfortable with
other lesbians and with myself. So by the time my first girlfriend, Lori, leaned
in to kiss me, it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Posted July 13, 2012
You've just got to accept it, it's not going away. I like other guys and this is the first time I've ever said those words, verbally, or otherwise. I've not had the best life but this book has really helped. Two thumbs up on everything but the cost.
11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 7, 2012
This book like totally changed my life . Never woulda confronted chad with my feelings! I like luv ya author! Kisskiss!
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 8, 2012
I only read the sample but this book seems to b really informative and helpful. I like it. When i read to the end of the sample i was disapointed because i wanted to read on because it was so interestingg!!!!!!! It gives so many facts about gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2013
Listen guys you no what? You gotta make ur life better. Dont let anyone make fun of u or call u names or boss u around. Tell them whos boss. You are. Who cares if ur bi or gay or a lesbian. Its okay to be different. Trust me someday the world will be a better nicer place with no regrets. Dont let anyone tell u that ur not loved u dont belong here or anything. There just saying that to act cool. It will get better someday
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 20, 2013
Posted December 16, 2012
This book helped me come out to my parents and friends that I am bisexual. My family and friends were very supportive. Now I am proud of who I am and not afraid about people say to or about me.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 1, 2012
Posted March 7, 2014
Everyones like the bible says its wrong and stuff. Yeah but if God created us he knew what our sexuality would be. He would love us no matter what it was. I mean love isnt about what gender you are its that you and that person have a special connection. We shoukd be able to choose who we want to lve. So what if society doesnt agree? Well theyll just have to get friggin used to it. Im bisexual and i go to church. I know God loves me just the way i am. So all those people against it why the hell are you even looking this stuff up? Get a life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 28, 2014
Posted December 24, 2013
Posted December 22, 2013
Posted December 21, 2013
Posted December 17, 2013
Posted November 13, 2013
Hey look I know I may seem rude but I am trying to help you not make bad decitions. Being gay and bisexual is not good in my opinian but just try not to be. You may want to but just try and say to yourself I dont have to. I am not trying to piss anyone off here but I think it will be better this way for you. Just keep trying people.
0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2013
Please add me if you have this book on your nook so i can borrow it. My mom wont let me buy it but i would love to read it to learn more about my sexuality and others. I am pansexualWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 7, 2013
He has a crush on me. But im not bi.
But i was kinda wondering if i cshould talk to him and ask him on a date just to see how it would work out. Does tht make me gay or wat cause i dont find men sexualy attractive but i am curious how it would turn out. Plz respond to
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2014
People like u r the reason my friends cut and kill themselves u need to shut the he!l up if u dont like gays or anyone like that sjtop looking it up and keep crap like that to ur self cus people like u r gonna go to hell cus god loves us all and tells us not to judge othersWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 15, 2013
Posted August 1, 2013
Just read the sample and realy want to buy it it also made me realize i might be pansexual instead of bi i mean if ur nice it really doesny matter to me what gender u r or which one u look like already love itWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 6, 2013