Ever since I was a little kid, it seemed like the whole world knew I was gay. Well, the whole world except for me. It took me a little while to become comfortable and confident in my sexuality, and after 16 years of figuring things out and some awkward pre–teen phases, I finally came out to the world and confirmed the news that they had already known. Still, I was proud, and that was what mattered. But after announcing my homosexuality to the world, new questions began to circulate in my head, with the most pressing one being: Am I too gay, or not gay enough?

Often times, I feel that the terms “homosexual” and “queer” are associated with flamboyance and assuming personality traits of the “opposite” gender. Yet, I feel like I have landed in the middle of it all. While I spend more time talking about boys than to boys themselves, and can’t go a sentence without saying the word “tea” in it, I also love competitive sports and have never seen an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race in my life. The most difficult part of my sexuality has been navigating how I interact with others, because I’ve gotten into this internal tug of war with myself. 

I am proud to be gay, and my friends support me, yet there are still times when I feel like my sexuality has to be almost toned down because it doesn’t fit in. For example, when I get really frustrated or excited, my voice goes up an extra pitch, and if I get a little too tipsy, I start dancing like I’m in a Beyoncé music video,  and I can tell that my friends start seeing me in a different light—it's as if my sexuality takes over and makes me someone else. In scenarios like this, I feel on edge, and like I need hold some of my more “gay” tendencies back—and I’m not the only one who struggles with this. 

As a bisexual woman, EJ Carlson (C '20) shared that she is more than familiar with the notion of having to tone down her sexuality, especially her attraction to other girls. “It’s not that people wouldn’t understand what I’m feeling, it’s just in my social circle, the norm is to be heterosexual and every activity revolves around being heterosexual,” she said. “If you’re at a frat party, you’re not really going to find other girls to hook up with there necessarily, and if you are pregaming for an event, it is usually gendered.”

It's a struggle to feel “too gay” sometimes, but other times it can feel like I’m “not gay enough” when I do tone down my sexuality. Part of me asks myself whether I am letting down my fellow LGBT community members, because I consciously choose to not fully embrace myself and don’t make an effort to be heavily involved with the gay culture on campus at times. However, I just don’t feel like that it is necessarily who I am, or who I want to be.

EJ shared similar feelings of not feeling exactly connected with the LGBT community as a whole on campus. “It is something I would have to go out of my way to do and outside of my established social circles,” she explained. As a member of Penn Dems, she also talked about a group called Queer Dems, a smaller community within the student organization that aims specifically to promote conversation between LGBT members. She emphasized that having more groups like this on campus, such as Queer Dems, would help her feel more connected with her sexuality and the LGBT community, as it serves as, “a natural community that I don’t have to seek out,” she said. “It could be something that is already embedded in the social circles in my life.”

When it comes to being a member of the LGBT community, it’s hard to have a smooth path in life. Even after getting over the fear of coming out and self–acceptance—if you’re like me—it seems like the challenges never clear up completely. There are still some times when I find myself checking the back of my mind for whether or not I am being "too much" with my sexuality, and I still push myself to make an effort to get to know my fellow LGBT community members when I feel like I haven’t done that enough. 

But if I’ve learned anything throughout my 18 years, it is that no matter what, you’re always going to have times when you feel like you’re being too much or too little. The important thing to remember is that you are you and you should never have to change yourself completely or hide a whole part of your life from the rest of the world. Whether you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, genderfluid, or straight, we all have our own tendencies, and while it can be hard to be okay with that at times, those tendencies are what make up you. And the last thing you should ever be ashamed of is being yourself. 


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