When I first came out and started telling people I was a lesbian, oftentimes they would respond by asking “How do you know?”
When I was first coming out I hated that question!
Especially because I came out before I ever kissed a girl. So a lot of people doubted whether I really was a lesbian, or whether it was just a phase or something. And I really hated it back then when other lesbians would ask me how I knew, because I felt like they were doubting my “credentials” or something.
My client Jane says she felt, when she first came out, that she had to “earn her stripes” and prove to the women in the lesbian community that she really belonged there. She said that some women in the lesbian community gave her even more "push-back" than her own friends and family!
It still happens a lot though. People ask me all the time "How do you know you're really a lesbian?" But it doesn’t bother me anymore.
In fact, I really appreciate when someone unexpected asks me – like old, conservative white men with southern accents, who I can just tell has never had the opportunity to openly ask this question to another lesbian before.
Instead of being annoyed at him for asking, I see it as an opportunity to have a real, honest dialogue.
I consider myself lucky that I’m in a place in my life where I know who I am and I can talk comfortably and confidently about it, even to people who don’t understand and might even disapprove.
The truth is that our friends and family members tend ask us “how we know” when we first come out because they’re just trying to understand what’s happening.
And other lesbians ask “how we know” because either they’re scared you’re just a curious straight girl who’s going to break their heart (or one of their friends’ hearts) or otherwise they’re just trying to hit on you and it seems like a good conversation starter.
Either way, we don’t have to respond defensively or take it personally.
It doesn't really matter...
There’s no “magic measuring stick” that we can rely on to tell us for sure if we are homosexual or bisexual or pansexual or heterosexual or fluid (or whatever other label is currently being thrown around.)
And it really doesn’t matter.
Because if you are in a place in your life where your heart and intuition are calling you to be with a woman, then you owe it to yourself to go and follow that calling. And nobody else has the right to force you to label it or to tell you it’s wrong.
And don’t forget, if someone asks a question you don’t want to answer, you can always deflect it back to them.
You can say: “Interesting question, why do you ask?” or “Interesting question, how do you think about it?”
There’s almost no question that can’t be re-routed into a conversation starter with the other person, as long as you’re awake enough in the present moment to not get triggered or take it personally or react defensively.
Now I want to hear from you. In the comment section below tell us the most annoying question you’ve been asked while coming out.