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Of Life & Randomness

Some Personal Insights on Living the Lesbian/Bisexual/Queer Life

The following message popped up in my inbox a few days ago:

I think I just figured out that I’m gay or maybe bi? I’m not sure what I am. I don’t really expect you to figure it out for me. I was just wondering though if you had some advice for a girl just starting out in the gay world? Anything would be helpful!

Mostly I wanted to reach through the screen and hug this person. I wish there was some sort of Welcome Package.

I’m iffy about giving advice, because advice is usually just an opinion and an opinion is entirely shaped by a person’s personal experiences. And my experiences may not be your experiences and what has worked for me may not work for you. That’s my longwinded way of saying I don’t really feel comfortable offering advice. At least not in the “this is what you should do” kind of way.

But I’d recommend sites like Autostraddle, and Lesbicanarias as good starting places to find information, like-minded people, articles of interest, and things that may lead you to other great and wonderful things. That’d be my “Too Long, Didn’t Read” answer to the question.

The long answer is that I’m always happy to share whatever nuggets of wisdom I’ve acquired while fumbling my way through life these past 31 years. And I shall share these insights with you now at no extra charge.

We’ll call them“Ing-sights.”

 

Ing-sight #1: You define the label – the label doesn’t define you

The first question we tend to ask ourselves is: What does it all mean? What are we? Are we gay? Are we straight? Are we bisexual? Are we transgender? Queer? Where do these feelings of mine fit in?

I think that labels are beneficial insofar as they help us find each other and help us find relevant material and information out there in the world. They help us create movements and communities and unite and march and fight and protest and ignite change. They give us common ground. All of that is incredibly important and should not be overlooked.

But I think that labeling ourselves and each other is problematic. These labels are meant to describe our sexuality, not define the entirety of who we are. That’s asking too much of a simple word. We’re not static objects. We change constantly. We are not all the same. And to expect each other to choose a label and shape our lives to match whatever expectations fall under that label is counterproductive to our entire cause. We shouldn’t be trying to make our lives harder.

We spend our whole lives collecting labels. We’re slapped with a label the second we’re born: “It’s a girl!” Then the rest start piling up: race labels and skin color labels and hair-color labels and family labels and religious labels and financial status labels and nationality labels and labels based on what school we go to and what grade we’re in and what social group we fall into and so on and so forth. Each label comes complete with its own list of expectations.

By the time we notice that we just checked out a girl and thought she was hot, we’ve already gathered three tons of pre-determined labels that are dragging behind us, slowing us down and keeping us from self-awareness. No wonder we’re all so confused.

I think that we, as people who don’t fit into the pre-cut societal mold (regardless of the individual label that you assign yourself) should work on making things easier on each other. We’re a community that struggles daily to express and convince others of the boundlessness of love. That love should start with ourselves and each other.

The truth (as I see it) is that labels are unimportant in the grand scheme of our lives. You are not the label. The label doesn’t define or control how you feel. If you are a girl who likes a girl then you’re a girl who likes a girl and that won’t change whether you call yourself a lesbian or bisexual or queer or whether you call yourself a chicken or a hippopotamus or a gnome.

We’re all born wonderfully, beautifully different. That’s the greatest of gifts and it should be celebrated, not contained. Dare to be embrace your differences. Be forever proud that you dance outside the lines.

Ing-sight #2: People will always find reasons to hate you

If the Internet has taught me anything at all is that people really want to dislike other people and they feel a desperate need to vocalize this dislike in public using CAPITAL LETTERS and poor grammar and lots of exclamations points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111ONE

Your sexuality is but one of the many, many reasons people may dislike you. I am sure there are people out there that hate me because my name is Ingrid and it reminds them of this other girl named Ingrid who spit on them when they were five and that led to a traumatizing experience involving the cops and maybe public urination.

I read an article the other day where a commenter used six long, rambling paragraphs to express their hatred for the article’s author because the author was not concise enough. And they, as a published author of many authorly things, felt offended that anyone giving writing advice should use more words than necessary to express a point.

There is a lot of unhappiness out there in the world. People will want to share this unhappiness with you. No one wants you to be happier than them or be perceived as superior to them in any shape, way or form.

My point is that worrying about people hating you for your sexuality is pretty useless. If they don’t hate you for your sexuality they will find some other reason.

You can’t control how other people will react to anything you do or say. All you can do is speak and live your truth. Some people may resent you for it, but it’s my experience that more people will respect you than hate you.

Plus, really, it’s the best way to make a difference. And making a difference feels really good.

Ing-sight #3: Only you can decide what’s right for you

Here’s the #1 thing I’ve learned over time, which I think can be applied to basically everything in life:

There is no one way to be anything.

For every person telling you to do it this way, there’s another fifty telling you not to do it that way.

The thing about life is this: you have to find your own path. Time is always going to push you forward whether you want it to or not. Only you can decide which way to steer it.

You can be silent. You can be loud. You can listen to other people’s advice or you can make things up as you go along.  You can be closeted or you can be “out.” You can wear your hair short or you can wear it long. You can shave it all off. You can have an army of gay friends or an army of straight ones or a mixture of everything under the rainbow. You can blend in or you can stand out.  You can make logical choices or follow your heart. You can change your mind a thousand times or make a choice and stick to it.

There’s no one way to live your life. There’s no right way. There’s just your way. Your mere existence makes a difference in the world. And you shouldn’t forget that. Decide what’s right for you. Be happy with you. Go forth into the world and be a person who’s proud to be a person. Be proud to love.

Be you.

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38 comments… add one
  • Alba

    Hi!
    Maybe is a little late, but I just start reading (well, a few months), so there are so many thing I haven’t read yet.
    And everyone before me is so so right… this article is amazing!!
    There are so many things that trouble us when we come out and reading things like this are really helpful, if only to not feel so alone.

    I love this paragraph:

    “The truth (as I see it) is that labels are unimportant in the grand scheme of our lives. You are not the label. The label doesn’t define or control how you feel. If you are a girl who likes a girl then you’re a girl who likes a girl and that won’t change whether you call yourself a lesbian or bisexual or queer or whether you call yourself a chicken or a hippopotamus or a gnome.”

    That’s so truth…
    What it is with people?
    Unfortunately labels can be the reason for discrimination…
    Like your entire profile depends of your sexuality…if the word LEsBIAN, GAY or another word different from Heterosexual pops up, then that is the only thing that is worth to see.
    The rest is just ignored.
    It is sad.
    And teach us a lesson… we must start to look, really look. without judgment, in every aspect of life.

  • christy

    this article is absolutely wonderful! i am in awe of your insights and wisdom, basically your writing in general. i just spent hours reading your las aparicio recaps…they’re brilliant! and absolutely hilarious. you are truly an inspiration:)

  • Sara

    Son posts como estos los que me hacen querer ir hasta Lyon en mi pobre Seat Ibiza abollado y darte un súper abrazo y una postal tamaño 2mx2m que diga “GRACIAS POR ESCRIBIR!”

  • Cris

    Hola! Soy una chica española que acaba de descubrirte, y aunque no he leído mucho de tu web, todo lo que he leído me ha encantado :) Especialmente me ha gustado este post, porque no estoy pasando por unos buenos momentos y me ha animado mucho, así que gracias ;). Te seguiré leyendo. Un saludo desde España!

  • Alejandra

    Dado que no puedo añadir nada nuevo porque todas mis ideas están perfectamente expresadas por la gente que ha pasado por aquí, me limitaré a decir GRACIAS (en mayúsculas y gritando) por compartir estas joyas con tod@s los que nos sentimos un poco perdid@s en este mundo donde señalar con el dedo y tener el desparpajo de decir si algo está bien o mal es vicio. Donde nos creemos con derecho para juzgar y criticar cuando no sabemos nada de la otra persona y muy poco de nosotros mismos, donde tenemos que formar parte del rebaño y, si no, estamos perdidos.
    Me quedo con muchas cosas de lo que has escrito, pero subrayo que cada uno vive su vida como puede y quiere, y no hay fórmulas mágicas que nos funcionen a tod@s por igual.
    Un abrazo.

    • Un abrazo a ti, Alejandra! Estoy muy de acuerdo contigo. Gracias por compartir tus ideas. :)

  • Sonia

    Tengo poco leyendo tu pagina y me gusta mucho, pero ahora simplemente tengo que decirtelo, me encanto este articulo!!
    Gracias por escribir tan bien y como dicen arriba, tan sabiamente.

    • Un millon de gracias, Sonia! Me alegra mucho que hayas encontrado mi pagina. Espero que sigas por aqui. :)

  • Oliv

    awesome post, really inspiring

  • Darya

    i once read a sunday secret telling something like that: “i dont tell my lesbian friends that i hate cats because i am afraid to be a bad lebsian.”

    • I actually know a few lesbians who hate cats!

  • Lish

    Your Ing-sights are awesome. I <3 this post.

    • I <3 that you <3 it, Lish. Lish. Is there an echo in here? Here.

  • It’s good to know that someone like you exist. Even if you’re continents away from where I am, I felt that message you were trying to send, even if it wasn’t directly for me.

  • AMO EL HECHO DE QUE ME INSPIRES TANTO, Y LO HAGAS GRACIOSO A LA VEZ, POR EJEMPLO #lol con esto:

    “Your sexuality is but one of the many, many reasons people may dislike you. I am sure there are people out there that hate me because my name is Ingrid and it reminds them of this other girl named Ingrid who spit on them when they were five and that led to a traumatizing experience involving the cops and maybe public urination.”

    Gracias por este bello articulo *.* You are too awesome
    Y cada vez q pienso en q no puedo admirarte mas, escribes algo asi
    Y cada vez que escribes algo asi me pongo *.*
    Y estoy de acuerdo con Cherfy me senti abrazada leyendo este articulo :)

    • <3 Gracias, Angelica!! Me alegra mucho que te inspire. :D Tus poemas me inspiran a mi!

  • Angie

    Woww!

  • Cherfy

    Bravo…you continue to express in that uniquely Ingrid way those universal truths…the ones that speak to the heart. Keep it up my friend…in the end, your words become that “hug” you wanted to give in the first place.

  • beans

    “the boundlessness of love” I like that.

    Regards! ^^

  • Ana

    Welcome Package! Suena maravilloso, quiero uno, ¿cómo hago? jaja Puede incluir un par de Ing-sights, ya ahí vamos bien :)

    • Jaja! Verdad? Alguien deberia hacer algo para que todas reciban un welcome package al salir del closet. :D

  • wrldpece84

    You are an incredibly wise person for being so young. Usually people don’t get that kind of wisdom before senior citizenship. Kudos.

    • Thank you!! Although according to the book “Pages For You,” wisdom comes at age 28. Along with sophistication and well-traveled…ness. ;)

      Actually, I think I want to reply to all of your comments from now on with pictures of Naya Rivera:

      • Azo

        I turned 28 yesterday! And feel no wiser…

      • wrldpece84

        I will accept pictures of Naya Rivera anytime, any place as a form of communication. I’d even accept it as a legal tender! We should get the Federal Reserve on this because I totally see the “American Rivera” shooting up in value; pulling us all out of this recession. I do believe we’ve just solved the world’s economic crisis! :)

        • GENIUS!!!! I’m off to invest in American Riveras right now. I bet it will tower over the British Pound in no time.

  • Amber

    Great post, Ingy. So very true.

  • Nela

    Damn you are hell right.
    Tanks for your words.
    Love this article.

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