Dear Uncle Mat

I’ve got a bit of a dilemma. Though I’m only 16 years old, I feel so much older and more mature than most my age (I’ve got a friend getting married!). But that is beside the point.

As most young people my age, I’m oh-so-curious about my sexual orientation. A lot of my friends who I used to think were straight are suddenly coming out as bisexual and homosexual. All of us are girls, and I never felt awkward around any of them, even when I found out one of my best friends had a crush on me.

On the internet, I occasionally pose as a guy just to see how many “girls” I can attract by being able to type correctly and seem rather funny. Up until this past couple months, the internet was my way of life. I gave up pretending to be a guy a couple years ago, though most people assume me to be a guy, anyway.

Over the summer, however, I met this girl who lives far away, and at first I was going to fool around with her and flirt with her and everything, because she told me that she was a lesbian, and I thought I was straight. After a while, things got kind of weird between us, meaning that I thought I was, as most teenage girls call it, “in love.” I thought she was the best darn thing that ever walked the earth. My family was going to take a trip down to where she lives, so I was going to visit her, but as all internet relationships are, we “broke up.” I knew that it wouldn’t last, anyway.

Ever since then, I’ve been noticing girls more and more, their looks and all those types of things. I used to be all for gay rights and all that stuff, but this is kind of scaring me.

My question is, how can I tell if I’m gay or if this is just a phase I’m going through? Sometimes, I want to be the perfect girl a guy wants, and other times I just wish that I were a boy, and girls would notice me. I read that some girls go through phases when they think that they’re gay, but they are not. Everyone in my family is a mega-Christian, but I’m not, and I’m scared to ask anyone about what I’m going through.

— Confused With Her Identity

Dear Confused,

It is very common for many teenagers, both boys and girls, to feel curious and confused about their sexual identities. Don’t worry about having an answer to this one right away. This isn’t an SAT question, you aren’t being timed, and there isn’t a wrong answer.

I am going to pause, though, and scold you briefly. It is not cool to pretend to be someone you are not and play with the trust and emotions of others on the internet. I will also warn you that just as you are lying about your identity and intentions, so could anyone else you are chatting with online. Be careful for yourself and of others.

You can be attracted to girls now, and you may not be later in life. To quote my favorite
sommelier, “Make out with her; it doesn’t make you a lesbian. Have fun. Just don’t tell your mother or everyone that you’re gay.” I support this statement, especially the part about leaving your mother out of it — at least for now. But I’ll add the disclaimer that you should be as honest as possible with any other young women with whom you are experimenting. Let them know you are curious, but not committed to sewing rainbow tags into all of your underwear. Be careful, and know that experimenting sexually with girls and guys carries many risks. Choose your partners carefully. You do not want to be the talk of the school, or just doing the whole school. Practice safe sex.

There are a lot of great books and anthologies about coming out and self-discovery stories that might help shed some light on your experiences and feelings. A simple search at the public library or your favorite online bookseller will produce a tremendous list from which to choose.

Keep an open mind, stay honest with yourself, and try to remember that we are constantly evolving as individuals. Today you’re bi-curious; tomorrow you’ll be an astronaut specializing in extraterrestrial agriculture.

Much love and self-discovery,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at
[email protected] or Your true identity is safe with him.