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    Hi there.  Hearing what’s going on in your mind really touched me because I have had similar struggles. So thank you for sharing your truth.

    For years I have been trying to figure out my sexuality.  I think about it every day.  Gay, lesbian, and queer fit closest, but there are still occasional times when I find myself attracted to men (I’m a woman… well, more gender-fluid..) and it’s confusing.

    I grew up in a “liberal” but heteronormative town where I didn’t know or see any lesbians, and being lesbian was taboo.  I thought lesbian was a bad word.  I thought being gay was for other people. From my family, friends, and culture, the understanding was that I am a girl so I will one day have a boyfriend/husband.

    I remember in 5th grade my cousin (girl, same age) showed me that you can look up videos of people making out.  It felt secretive and exciting.  I honestly don’t remember what (hetero) videos she showed, but I remember taking the iTouch and searching “Girls kissing girls” and later “Girls having sex with girls.”  What I discovered was captivating and I remember feeling tingles in my vagina and thought it meant I had to pee.

    So even though I was watching lesbian porn from about middle school on, it genuinely never occurred to me that I might not be straight.  I just assumed I was.

    It got more complicated in high school when people started “hooking up.”  When it was just kissing/making out, it was fine… I didn’t particularly like or dislike it.  It was a new sensation to explore.  I do remember feeling tense and sort of anxious though; very much “in my head,” not sensual and in my body.  Now that I have kissed women I know how very different it feels to be kissing someone as my full, true self.

    But when sex came into the picture it was a problem.  I always felt that something was missing in sex.  I thought something was wrong with me that I wasn’t enjoying it.  I would enjoy kissing a boy, but then as soon as we got naked and a penis was involved, I was totally turned off.  But I would still go along with it, because I thought that was what I was supposed to do, it’s what normal people do, and how could I explain how I was feeling to someone else when I couldn’t understand it for myself?

    Overall to date I have had sex with 6 different boys/men, several times each for most.  None of them made me orgasm.  For years I was tortured about why it wasn’t clicking.  It didn’t feel like a little issue that would sort itself out in time; instinctually I knew that figuring it out was important.  I thought maybe it’s me, maybe I need to communicate more, maybe he’s being too selfish, maybe we’re incompatible, maybe I’m just one of those rare people who can’t have an orgasm with someone else…

    A switch flipped one night in my senior year of high school when I was in bed watching TV with a boy (a friend, but there was a mutual intrigue and so on this night we were hanging out alone and were probably going to hook up for the first time).  I remember laying there thinking, “WHY can’t I get myself to WANT to do this?  What is WRONG with me?  Why is it so easy for OTHER girls to want to hook up with people?” and having a total crisis inside my head, alone, silently, next to this boy.  I ended up deciding to leave and had what I can only describe as a panic attack on the drive home as the words “Am I Gay?” entered my psyche for the first time.  It felt like a dam broke.  It was terrifying.  I journaled about my thoughts and later read what I had written to my therapist, saying “but everyone questions their sexuality from time to time, right?”, thinking it must be no big deal but wanting to get it off my chest.   She suggested that maybe it means nothing, or maybe it does mean something.  She told me that she had a client who had questioned her sexuality like I was and then a few years later came to feel/realize that she really is gay.  I remember feeling SURE that that would never be me.

    I feel like I could write a whole book on my experiences and the inner journey it has been and continues to be.  For the sake of brevity, here are a few more things I want to share that have helped me:

    – I moved to California (from Massachusetts) for my first year of college and was able to start fresh.  No one there had any expectations of me, which felt like a pressure lifted.  Also, it was more normal, acceptable, and celebrated to be queer there, so it really impacted me seeing queer people and queer relationships around me.  That was big.

    It was there that I had my first kiss with a girl, which to this day was one of the most profound moments of my life.  After pressuring myself into so many wrong-feeling “intimate” interactions with boys, it was INSANELY freeing and blissful to kiss someone and stay feeling like myself.  No feeling of being in a shell, with a mental/emotional wall up between me and the other person.  No, I was me.  Here.  Kissing this beautiful and incredible other person.  It was absolutely life changing.  After years of questioning my sexuality in my head, it meant a lot for it to be affirmed by a physical experience.

    – Then I transferred schools to an “all-women’s college” (actually it’s a gender-diverse women’s college — there are nonbinary and trans students too) where almost everyone is queer.  THAT has been profoundly healing: to be surrounded by other queer people who have each had their unique but relatable journeys of coming into their queerness.  It was there that I really began to see my queerness as beautiful, not shameful.

    So meeting other queer people and living in more queer places has helped.

    So has speaking my truth about my queerness.

    At the end of the day what I think we truly want is closeness, to feel like someone really knows us.  and in order for someone to really ‘see’ us, we need to share our truth with them.  This summer I started having a sort-of crush on a male coworker, but it really weighed on me that he didn’t know I was queer.  So even though we were kinda flirting and becoming better friends, I still had this fear inside that if I told him I don’t like having sex with men that he would stop wanting to be friends — and I didn’t want to lose our fun and interesting connection.  I knew he was attracted to me. and I knew I needed to say something.  Eventually I did, over text. And guess what?  He didn’t have a problem with it, and our connection was able to change courses into a pure platonic friendship.  Which is honestly a relief and even better than before.  Because I don’t feel like I have to hide or censor myself around him.  I can tell him about my queer thoughts and experiences.  I have a new friend who knows the real me 🙂

    Where I’m at now is that I identify as queer, which for me means gay/lesbian with occasional physical and/or romantic attraction to men, but no sexual attraction to them.  I’ve made out with a (femme) girl and a trans boy, but I still haven’t had queer sex yet, because I haven’t yet met someone who I really click with in a special and spiritual way.  I have been single in these recent years as I’ve been figuring all this out.  Personally I’m not interested in casual sex because this whole journey around sex, sexuality and intimacy has been so complex and important, that for me to be intimate with someone would require emotional intimacy too; that they understand me deeply.

    I have been writing a lot about myself and my experiences with the hope that hearing my truth might help you too.  Now I want to address some specific things from what you wrote:

    – About your problem keeping an erection during sex with a woman: it sounds like this feels like a significant issue to you.  Listen to your instincts saying “this is important, pay attention!”  Sure, it’s possible that this is strictly a physical/biological issue.  But our bodies are wise.  Something is off.  You know that in your body and your heart.  I think that you are on the right track with the soul-searching you are doing.  I wonder if things might be different if you had sex with someone with a penis.

    – It can be so confusing to feel emotionally close to someone (like your exes) yet still feel like something is off.  I have been following Instagram pages like The Holistic Psychologist and others about trauma, healing, and relationship dynamics that have shown me how the types of partners/relationships I attract can teach me about what I may still need to heal in myself.

    – Part of the queer experience, I think, is recognizing how LIMITED the “menu” of options for the future we’re shown is, and realizing that there is more out there.  What if you didn’t have to choose between sexual compatibility and having a family?  What if you fell in love with a trans woman whose soul matches yours like puzzle pieces fitting together and you have a beautiful, unique, and powerful relationship and family together?  What if you find a cis woman who is loving and beautiful, who you’re able to share your innermost thoughts with, who wants to co-parent a child with you as best friends, but have separate sexual lives?  What if there’s not a singular ultimate soulmate but a series of unique relationships that teach you more about love and life?

    Anything is possible.  “Normal” is B.S.  In this life the most important thing we can do is follow our heart’s unique longing.

    I suggest reading about (or just google) heteronormativity, compulsory heterosexuality, queer kinship.

    You are valid.  Follow your instincts.  Be brave.  Be vulnerable.  Trust that everything is unfolding in divine timing.  Trust that love that fits like a glove is possible for you, and that the most important thing you can do to prepare yourself for it is to keep peeling off the layers of what does not serve you anymore.

    “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

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