Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teensby Kathy Belge, Marke Bieschke, Christian Robinson (Illustrator)
Teen life is hard enough with all of the pressures kids face, but for teens who are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), it’s even harder. When do you decide to come out? To whom? Will your friends accept you? And how on earth do you meet people to date?
Queer is a humorous, engaging, and honest guide that helps LGBT teens come out/i>
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Teen life is hard enough with all of the pressures kids face, but for teens who are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), it’s even harder. When do you decide to come out? To whom? Will your friends accept you? And how on earth do you meet people to date?
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.
Honored on the 2012 Rainbow Book List
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Read an Excerpt
QueerThe Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens
By Kathy Belge
Zest BooksCopyright © 2011 Kathy Belge
All right reserved.
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
• 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
• 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
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
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.
Excerpted from Queer by Kathy Belge Copyright © 2011 by Kathy Belge. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Meet the Author
Marke Bieschke is the former health and dating editor of Gay.com and PlanetOut.com, and the current senior editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Kathy Belge coauthored the book Lipstick & Dipstick’s Essential Guide to Lesbian Relationships, and writes on lesbian life for Curve magazine and About.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
This book like totally changed my life . Never woulda confronted chad with my feelings! I like luv ya author! Kisskiss!
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.
People are gay, lesbian, trans, pansexual, bi, and everything in between. Embrace who you are guys. Youre BEATUIFUL in your own way. Dont listen to anyone who doesnt like you because of who you are or your lifestyle. Its yours not theirs. If they shove religion at you ignore it. Im a pansexual athiest and Im leading a pretty great life. Surround yourself with people who love you and care about you. The haters can do what they want.~Someone who cares.
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.
I really foun what i was looking for! My girlfriend just became transgender MtF, and shes bisexual, and i am too, and this has been a huge transition for the both of us, an this book helped so much!!! GO LGBTQIAPD COMMUNITY!! stay strong everyone that is a part of the community, and dont let the haters get to you guys!
To the dick who said all gays should die You just told 60% of the world then cuz that percent is all LGBTPQ if u dont know what that means read the book ass wipeing prick
So sorry to dissapoint you but im a 13 year old lesbian and i dont plan on changing or killing myself. I cant and i wont. So sad too bad.
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 pansexual
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 Livewild Hotish
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.
This book has really help accept who i am but im not sure others are going to especially my family
Name- Kellin Ushert // Retzie Lominz<br>Age- 16 // 19<br>Gender- Male // Female<br>Sexuality- Gay // Lesbian<br>Status- Single // Single<br>Looks- Kellin is pale, with a few scars around his collarbone and ankles. He stands at about 5'11 and is a thin twig. He has dark brown hair with a few strands hanging here and there. His eyes are a light blue. He has natural laugh marks and a innocent smile. // Retzie is small, being only 4'11 and weighing less than 100 pounds. She has pale enough skin with a birth-mark on her leg. She has dyed pink hair with an ombre effect to it. Her eyes are dark brown with highlighting eyelashes.<br>Clothing- Kellin wears a plaid button up shirt- though it is unbuttoned- with a band tee-shirt underneath it. He wears black skinny jeans with a batman belt. His shoes are a pair of red converse with pink laces. He has bracelets around his wrists and an ankle band. // Retzie wears a sky-blue tank-top that hangs down and shows her bra, she also either wears basket-ball shorts or grey skinny jeans. She wears a tye-dye bandana in her hair and a pair of nerdy glasses. Her shoes at high-tops.<br>Personality- Kellin may seem tough but he's sweet and innocent, he never can physicaly hurt someone. He likes making friends and is afraid of love for now. I don't know meet him! // Retzie is very tomboy-ish and sporty. She likes basketball and playing with others. She enjoys winning and is very friendly. She also enjoys flirting with people.<p>Now you make your character/characters!
How can i tell my family that im bi? Cuz im scared to tell them but i think i should.
I found out recently that i am a lesbian and i am not open about it. I also ha dated a guy for a month with out any feeling at all. And we broke up today and i felt a wave of relief rushing over my mind and body. I dont know how to approacn being homosexual and i dont know if sone of my family will accept it. I know i have my mom's full support. The only thing is i just cant take the taunting like i did in middle school when i had dated a girl that i still love until this day. She ended up moving and broke my heart when we had to break up after two and a half years. I never thought i would be able to date again and to be honest i haven't found anything like hers. Thrn i start liking a girl i know and swear she is straighter then an arrow. But i just like her alot and i have never felt like this since my first girlfriend. I dont know whhat to do anymore as i go on my lonely homosexual journey. And by the way i am no writing this just to get someones attention i just need advice and help dealing.
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 others
I will stay queer untill i die
She doesnt know that im lesbien but she thinks it and she is wright about that but she told me if i turned out lesbien she would never talk to me again. I asked my dad if he would disown me and he said i dont own you but i do lovw you and tha wont stop even if you are gay. So im stuck i dont know who to tell and who not to tell. I hsve a realy great feiend she is gay she was the first person i told but i haent talked to her in over a month and it kinda freaks me out. Im thinking about telling my parents that im gay when i graduate from high school. In two years. Im also moving to Vancouver when i graduate(for those who dont know Vancouver is in canada). I worried that if i dont leave the U.S. that im not realy going to get accepted so i kinda realy want to start over i love photography and im not realy good in school im make mostly b's and c's and some a's but not many i realy enjoy school but im scared that im not going to get anywere in life. Its going to suck. I need to start over. Im originaly from vermont and that isnt very far from the border of canada. Ive been to Canada once and i was real young but i remember it being realy nice so im hopeing that maybe i can start over. Thats just what i realy need. I need to know that i wont be judged because im gay. And in my family its almost like gays are the devil and im not but my mom said to me its about time i start kissing boys i cant stand watching other ppl kiss(only a gurl and gurl or boy and boy) that esnt make me want to throw up but url and boy makes me want to throw it all up. If anyone has advice on what to do or when to tell my parents and all that wil you please let me know im kinda scared that i wont be able to keep it hidden from my mom anymore. Im not worried about my dad he told me he will still love me but mom on the other hand isnt so loveing about it. My mom also told me to start dating guys again so i did just so she would shut up i hate it guys are all the same when it comes to dating them i like being with gurls and guys i just dont want them in my life i dont need them. Ive bee hurt mentaly and physically by almost all the guys that ive dated. They have all left brusies on my rib cage with do care at all and on my back. But i never told anyone i need help with everything what to do when to tell if someone reads this please put gay gurl as you title Thank you
Im a girl who isnt any of those things. never even came close to havin sex. how does it feel
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 it
Match makervat asterson res one
A bisexual is someone who is attracted to both male and females. I, for example, am bisexual because I like guys and girls.