23 Takes on How to Be Queer: Advice for Young LGBTQ Folks


This week I got a question at my Redeye advice column from a 17 year old, who had recently come out. “Please warm me of the complexities,” she said.

I did. You can read that here.

But while I was at it, I put the question on social media, since, lez be honest, my friends list is approximately 85% smart, queer people. Their advice was amazing and poignant and sweet and funny and I thought I would share that, too, because we could all use a little guidance, even when we’re older and “wiser.”

Do you have advice? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

advice queer women youth young lgbt

Allison Moon

Be bold. Almost everyone else is looking to each other for signs and cues. Be the person who initiates, crosses the room, says hi.

And be kind to one another. Women have to deal with so much bullshit in this world. Queer community should be a chance to escape that and heal, not remake the same shitty hierarchies present in the straight world.

Dara Nai

Don’t loan her any money, no matter how cute she is.

Trish Bendix

Just because you have the same parts doesn’t mean you like the same things. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about what you want or need or to tell her you’re on your period. Processing is real and can be exhausting but also helpful with a partner who is willing and ready to listen. You can be that partner, too. Dating women is never easier or less complicated than dating men. Enjoy all the orgasms.

Brooke Shelby Biggs

Communicate. It’s ok to ask what turns her on and there is no one right way to do The Sex.

Molly Priddy

If you can’t talk about sex with someone, you probably shouldn’t be having it with them!

Nicole Pasulka

You are queer.

Anaiis Flox

Dear Teen Self,

There are going to be moments that you think that men are “easier” than women.

This is wrong. Men only seem easier because they’re socialized to approach and to set the pace of the relationship and you’re a bit of an introvert and somewhat lazy, so that seems like a reasonable trade-off. It’s not. You already suspect friends and lovers are forged in different furnaces. This is true but only because you can’t be friends with toddlers.

The sooner you realize that men aren’t really taught how to self-regulate, the sooner you’ll liberate yourself from masculinity’s death-grip on women’s emotional labor. Or at least the sooner you’ll start charging for your bother. (Seriously, do this. Your labor has value. Your time has value. You have value.)

You live in a culture that is going to do its damnedest to make you believe that women are crazy, needy, unreliable, and untrustworthy. We’re not. You’re not. Please internalize that. Question everything, except that.

Women are going to show up for you in ways that you could never have foreseen, and you’ll show up for them, too. The fun you’re going to have together, the wrongs you will avenge, the capers you’re going to pull—whether lovers or friends or both—will stand in memory brighter and more satisfying than any of the proposals you’ll receive.

Mark my words. Now get to it. The sooner the better.

Kate Sassoon

Only you get to define who you are and what you want – and whomever you are is OK. Everything that turns you on, whatever happens between your ears – no matter how “taboo” or “weird” or “uncomfortable” – is sacred, and it is not your or anyone else’s place to judge it. Be ready to laugh at sex – its silly and absurd and transcendent, but only if you don’t try to force it into a box or take it too seriously.

And, beware the Lesbians. Some of them are more oppressive and discriminatory than the straight folks they’re rejecting.

Shana Glennon

I’d tell me, “You’re queer. Rethink that Catholic college and consider a women’s college maybe?”

Shana Rose

You’re valuable. You can have whatever you want as long as you believe in your own worth. Reach to satisfy yourself first in every endeavor. It’s ok to not know. Having many feelings at once is a sign of super intelligence. It’s ok for things to be hard and make your head hurt; that means you’re learning. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever even THINK of settling. Never dim your light for another. Never kowtow to what you think others need or want from you. Care for yourself first. Care for yourself most. and Don’t Fake Orgasms. They’re not the goal. The goal is connection. You can never connect if you’re faking. Now go have some fun and try to be sober for most of it. Also, don’t worry about labels, go after (kindly, graciously, patiently) anyone who makes you jiggle and spark inside (even if the only person who does that is YOU).

Butch Prandium

Put more value in yourself before you have sex with everything that walks by you. Understanding self worth would have saved me a lot of trouble.

Dana Piccoli

I would say, try to have fun. Sex doesn’t have to be this intensely serious thing every time. Ask what makes her feel good, and vice versa. It’s ok to talk and giggle and even cry if that’s what comes naturally.

Sweet Thunder

You may be a Two Spirit.

Jolie O’Dell

Fuck everyone you want to fuck. Ignore everyone else’s opinion, but pay close attention to the people you’re fucking. See them for who they really are, and when they hurt you, run. But mostly fuck everybody.

Grace Chu

Everyone until around age 30-35 is a twit. Including you. Yes you. Don’t take dating seriously in your teens or 20s. That’s when everyone is trying to figure themselves out.

Vanessa Shakalaka Viruet

Take it slow and be friends first. It allows you time to see if your actually like spending time with someone and makes communication sooooo much easier. Also regarding body image issues—in the words of Klawdya Rothschild, “She has an imagination so she can imagine your naked body. If she she still wants to fuck you, fuck her.”

Melissa Melissa

It’s ok to like chicks. Don’t waste any time with men. Honestly, didn’t know much about being gay and didn’t really realize it was an option till I was older. I just did what was expected of me.

Alice Marsh-Elmer

Be brave and ask for what you want.

Katherine Harte DeCoux

Don’t worry too much about labels. Honor your impulses and be honest about what you want. Acknowledge that your actions may cause someone pain; it doesn’t make you a bad person to not want to date someone. It also doesn’t make someone else a bad person if they don’t want to date you.

Joshanna Robinson

It’s not a phase, no matter what anyone tells you.

Genevieve Williams

If you sleep with that married woman who visits the little gay bookstore where you work, even though she will a conversation about it with her wife beforehand, all the lesbians at Whole Foods and all the lesbians at PetSmart are going to hate you. And then it will be really hard to buy your probiotics.

Don’t keep being the “other woman.” You deserve a balanced relationship.

If your gut says no, don’t do it. If after that fight in the parking lot, on the balcony, in the back of the car, you think that’s it, I’m done, maybe you really are done.

Cadence Case

If a lesbian is really into you and you’re really into her, give it a go. Even if you’re not sure you’re a woman.

Shannon April

Own it more. I definitely *did* the things I wanted to do – I just knew better than to talk about it! I *was* the queer community in my life. I didn’t know anyone else, so I guess I felt embarrassed about some stuff that I did, internalized shame, etc. I had a good deal of inner-conflict about my desires and curiosity. I guess i’d like to go back and console/validate that person and tell her there are SO many other folx that feel the same way. They will be known as “the” queer community (because obviously this existed, I was just isolated and unaware) that will accept you. They’ll find you relatively tame and boring even: They’re just in 1st grade right now, so give ’em a minute.

It seemed like all of my classmates were going on to the heteronormative life path, and going on to college, etc. and I was secretly having group sex and tripping. I didn’t have much to show for my life with the fam at holidays, but was having the time of my life! #gapyears

Honestly though, these years were when some of the most important parts of my identity were formed due to my experiences, and I have so many good memories. I wouldn’t take any of it back.

I actually want my kids to grow into their own autonomous, sexual beings and experiment with sex and self-discovery; to know they’re loving and lovable. Queer Mom goals directly from my experiences. So in this regard: no regrets.

Meg Ellison

Learn to get yourself off. Practice it and own it completely. Jealousy is disease. Partner not good enough for your BFF = same for you.

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