Sometimes, you can feel like an invisible part of the LGBT community. If you’re not actively dating someone of the same gender – which happens to singles and bisexual people alike – other people might call your identity into question, even people from within the LGBT community. This is especially true for gays and bisexuals who’ve never had an experiencing dating someone of the same gender, whether you’ve been single all your life, you just came to terms with your identity, or you’re a bisexual person in a committed relationship with someone of the opposite gender. It’s natural, then, for other people’s comments to affect you and make you wonder about defining yourself as gay or bisexual.
Experience Doesn’t Equal Identity
Doubting relatives or out and proud members of the LGBT community may not always agree, but the majority recognizes that experience doesn’t equal identity. Being bisexual or gay is about the people to whom you’re attracted, not the people with whom you’ve engaged sexually. Some people experiment with others of the same gender only to realize they’re definitively heterosexual, so it’s not true that anyone who’s had a sexual or dating experience with people of the same gender is gay or bisexual. The opposite is also true: not having had an experience with someone of the same gender doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not gay or bi.
Bisexual people often have to cope with what’s commonly referred to as “bisexual erasure.” When they’re dating someone of the opposite gender, some people, both straight and gay, insist they must actually be straight. (Similarly, when they’re dating a person of the same gender, people insist they must be definitively gay.) You don’t have to be dating people of both genders to be bisexual; it’s not even possible if you’re monogamous, or if you find your long-term partner after dating only a few people of the opposite gender. As long as you’ve experienced attraction to multiple genders, you’re bisexual or pansexual, whichever label you prefer.
Homoromantic or Biromantic Asexual
It’s possible not to have had sex with anyone at all or not to actively seek sex, and still be gay or bi. But in this case, you may be homoromantic or biromantic asexual. In the asexual community, sexual desire is separate from romantic desire. It’s also possible for an asexual to be aromantic and not desire any form of romantic intimacy with other people. It’s also possible for asexuals to be romantic – heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, or panromantic – and desire an emotional, romantic connection with someone. You may be on the asexuality scale and still experience sexual attraction. Demisexual or “gray ace” people only experience sexual attraction after they’ve experienced a meaningful connection with someone – so they may date them for months or even years before they’re ready to engage sexually. If you have found people of the same gender attractive and formed crushes on them, you are a form of gay or bi, even if you didn’t immediately want to have sex with them.
Don’t Pressure Yourself
Don’t feel pressured into rushing into a relationship or experiencing a one-night stand, just to prove to others and maybe even yourself that you are “truly” gay or bi. There is no litmus test for being a member of the LGBT community. If you feel like you belong there, you do. You’ll have an experience with a member of the same gender when and if you’re ready. Even if you never actually get to that point, it doesn’t negate who you are.
Many people don’t recognize their attraction to the same gender until much later in life. Some were stifling how they really felt; others simply hadn’t felt that way until they met a specific person. Sexuality is fluid for many, and if you consider yourself gay or bi today but don’t in a few years (or vice versa), that doesn’t negate what you once were.
No one has the right to question your identity. If you feel attraction to people of varying genders or the same gender, you are what you identify yourself to be – even if other people make disparaging comments and insist that you “prove” yourself. You don’t need to have any experience to be gay or bisexual, nor do you have to ever have such an experience to be a deserving