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Hello faithful and new readers. In today’s editorial, we will be exploring the simultaneously simple yet complex realm of questioning your sexuality. Let’s cover some basic terminology before we move onto the actual questioning.

Gender vs. Sexuality

For brevity’s sake, we’ll go over superficialexplanations of gender and sexuality.

Gender is how someone identifies — like identifying as a (trans)man, (trans)woman, or non-binary. There are a variety of gender identities that are influenced by many factors in a person’s life — like their cultural and social conditions. The Human Rights Campaign’s “Glossary of Terms” is helpful, especially if you aren’t sure about words like cisgender or transgender. Here’s another good resource from the New York Times.

Sexuality refers to whom you are attracted to. It’s important to recognize that attraction exists across different dimensions — like romantic and sexual attraction. These feelings may not always coincide, so realize the nuance and depth of your own emotions. Allowing yourself to feel and reflect on those feelingswill be a recurring point I make throughout this article. This is your personal journey, which isn’t anuncommon one for young adults.

Look for More Information

Reading this article is a great start to getting more information about questioning your sexuality. I also suggest going to the Pride Center and looking through their library. When I was first questioning my sexuality,“How to Repair a Mechanical Heartwas impactful because of its treatment of religious trauma and guilt. If you have the time, look through the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGS) classes offered at UT. Sexuality is part of a legitimate field of academic inquiry, and learning more about the subject can help you make sense of what you’re feeling.

Watch Porn

Watching porn of whatever you may be interested in can help you decide if you really want to try something. Look into options with two caveats in mind. First, porn is drastically different from real life. These are actors who are being paid to make whatever scene they are shooting look ‘perfect.’ Also, try to pay for your porn — if you can. There’s plenty of exploitation in films and exploited individuals on free sites. Paying for your porn can help diminish that andhelp people receive livable wages.

Use That Phone

If you haven’t used dating apps like Tinder, Bumble or Grindr, they could be potential ways to meet partners to go on coffee dates, message or to hook up with. I caution against having a questioning feeling and deciding to hookup immediately because you would be putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Again, take your time by feeling and reflecting.

Talk It Out

If you have someone you’re close to, it can be helpful to discuss how you’re feeling. Maybe you both have had similar issues and can grow together. If available to you, therapists can also help you work through feelings of uncertainty.

Don’t Fetishize

Something that happens a lot in porn, and can be easily seen on gay dating apps, is fetishization. This isn’t about BDSM; it’s about social and historical hierarchies of power and the discourses that support these hierarchies. Our society privileges white, cisgender, able-bodied, middle-to-upper-class men the most. If you don’t believe that, then please look at the various statistics on wage gaps, political offices held and the enthusiasm with which an official inSevier County can gay bash.

Everyone who falls outside of being white and cisgender has the potential to be fetishized in some way. Black people are stereotyped on falsenarratives that are holdovers from antebellum chattel slavery, and many white people, from a position of power, enthusiastically want to replicate those narratives. Trans people, particularly trans women, are regularly fetishized by men who just “love trans girls.” Remember that your sexuality is influenced by social contexts, and some of our social contexts keep many people marginalized.

Give yourself credit for deciding to pursue some information about questioning or experimenting with your sexuality. It’s not something that’s encouraged for any of us to do. Take your time with this, and do what works for you — so long as it isn’t harmful to yourself or others. Here’s another link to a Refinery 29article on the topic that also has more links! Best of luck out there.

Do you have a question about sex, sexuality, or relationships? You can ask us to find you accurate and reliable information from experts by tweeting @SEATUTK, direct messaging @Sexweekut on Facebook or submitting a question to our anonymous Google form.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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