How to Let People Know You're Gay

Teens talking in hallway at school
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Sometimes people realize you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc right away. Other times it is clear they just don't get it or just don't believe you when you tell them your sexual orientation. Here are some tips on how to navigate these situations.

How to Explain

So what can you do in situations like these? You have a few options:

  1. Make a point of mentioning your sexual orientation early on in conversations, so that there is no confusion.
  2. Remember that a lot of people won't get your subtle hints. Be direct.
  3. If you have a crush on someone, let them know how you feel.
  4. If there is one person who simply refuses to believe that you are LGBTQ+, consider coming out to someone else who you trust and who you think the person respects, and ask that person to talk to the disbeliever.
  5. Get involved publicly with LGBTQ+ causes, like a GSA.
  6. Consider adding some rainbow to your wardrobe.
  7. Accept the fact that you know who you are, even if other people don't get it.

Fighting Stereotypes

We still live in a world that has a lot of pretty set views about what it means to be gay or lesbian. A lot of these have a lot more to do with appearance and mannerisms than they do with the gender of the person that you are attracted to. If you think about it, that is pretty ridiculous.

However, more and more of these old assumptions are being challenged. These days, an openly gay actor, like Neil Patrick Harris, can play a straight ladies man on the popular sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. And while old-fashioned terms like "lipstick lesbian" are still used to describe gay women who wear typically feminine clothes, plenty of lesbians, with plenty of different styles, can be found in all areas of life (think Ellen Degeneres, her wife, Portia de Rossi (now Portia Lee James DeGeneres), Wanda Sykes, or Cynthia Nixon).

Keep in mind, that some people who are heterosexual get mistaken for being gay, and some that are gay get mistaken for being straight. And while for LGBTQ+ teens this can be a frustrating example of heterosexism, it is often one that is easily cleared up.

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