If you are a woman -- or you were raised to be one -- finding out whether or not you are attracted to other women-bodied people isn't necessarily something that's cut and dry.
Society conditions a person in all sorts of ways to believe she can only be attracted to the opposite sex. Particularly, if you have spent your life having close friendships with women or exclusively dating men, it can be difficult to tell whether your attraction is sexual, emotional, or a combination of both.
For me, it was hard to visualize my queerness because most of the stories that I had been exposed to involved hetero love.
Even lesbian stories seemed to be written with women characters as stand-ins for men. It was hard to find a story that resonated with me. Even Blue Is The Warmest Color was directed from a male perspective. And I can only imagine that stories that feel representative to trans folks are even more rare.
Figuring out your sexuality is an important journey of self-discovery, and I think everybody owes it to themselves to explore the limits of your attraction. Why limit your love to only one half of the population unless you are really, really sure?
If you're asking yourself whether you like girls, here are some ways to test out your attraction:
1. Talk To A Queer Woman Or Femme
Questioning is a part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, so if you think you might be attracted to other women, you are already a part of the queer community.
For me, talking to queer women and trans femme friends about my attraction to other women was an important first step.
If you don't feel like any part of the LGBTQ+ acronym reflects you, though, that doesn't mean you aren't attracted to women. Labels aren't really important when figuring out your feelings.
Louis Ortiz-Fonesca, senior program manager for LGBTQ Health and Rights with Advocates for Youth, says, “[The] best way to approach identity or the 'plus' in LGBTQ is to believe and honor someone's truth and identity over any definition and LGBTQ glossary.”
So even if you have only been into a single girl in your entire life, you still owe it to yourself to explore those feelings, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum. When it comes to attraction, I think the Kinsey scale can be a bit irrelevant.
Talking with openly queer people allowed me to parse out my sexual orientation, as well as find validation and emotional support from friends who were already close to me. It was incredibly affirming to be able to talk about the unique complications and specifications of my attractions with people who knew me well.
However, if you don't know any queer women, be warned that it might not be the best idea to ask the first lesbian you come across to sit down and have a chitchat about your sexuality. People might feel like they're being pigeonholed for their orientation or used if you don't know them well.
Try finding out whether there is a lesbian publication in your city or a local queer figure whom you could write to about your identity and ask for some advice. I find that people who have more of a public image are often willing to connect.
2. Think Back To High School
In high school, I definitely had crushes on other girls, but I suppressed them because I didn't realize that my feelings were romantic.
One friend and I would make out during sleepovers, but we always claimed that we were "practicing" for boys. When she got mad at me, I would worry about it just as much as I would a lover, once even calling her phone incessantly because she had stopped talking to me.
It really wasn't until I had met and become friends with other queer people that I realized I had feelings for other girls in high school. Being in a community that normalized and accepted non-hetero attractions helped me see myself more clearly.
If you're questioning whether or not you're into girls, it means you're already open to the possibility. Reflecting or journaling about your earliest intimate relationships with the same sex is a great way to get in touch with yourself.
3. Imagine Hooking Up With Your Girl Crush
I feel like everyone talks about having a girl crush. For some reason, admiring and claiming a "crush" from afar is totally acceptable to most women, but acting on it doesn't seem to be.
This feeds into my theory that one day, we'll give up having to talk about orientations altogether and just accept that people like who they like regardless of gender presentation. But I guess everybody isn't with me on that just yet.
That being said, I know that you have probably talked about having a girl crush in your past. Now, I want you to think about her the way you've probably allowed yourself to fantasize about a guy. Do you want to touch her? Kiss her? Where?
Do you want to go down on her? Do you want her to go down on you? Do you wish one of you had a penis? You know, there are ways to simulate that.
Allow your mind to wander without judgment and explore all the things you might legitimately want to explore. You aren't violating anybody if it lives in your head, nor do you have to act on anything you dream up that makes you uncomfortable. It's your imagination. Let it roam.
Maybe you can even write your fantasy down and make a short erotica piece out of it. Totally your call.
4. Watch Some Queer, Woman-Directed Porn
Mind you, watching and getting off to lesbian porn doesn't necessarily mean that you want to do it with another girl. It can be hard to find lesbian porn that isn't made just to satisfy male fetishes, and you can tell when girl-on-girl porn involves women who aren't actually into other women.
Straight women enjoy lesbian porn, too. A lot of male-dominated porn doesn't reflect what women desire, and porn is all about fantasy, anyway.
Regardless of whether or not you decide to give sex with a woman a whirl, porn is a great low-stakes way to figure out how far other women might be able to turn you on.
The Crash Pad Series, filmed for women and by women, is available online. It's described as "indie dyke porn," and has even won a feminist porn award. It also led to this spinoff site, which shows realistic queer relationships between all kinds of folks.
JuicyPinkBox also has loads of cinematically filmed queer porn, although the cast is not very diverse.
Redtube has some good gay porn, as well as Tumblr. It might take a little sifting through to find what you're looking for, but you'll most likely come across something that is to your taste.
Feeling squeamish about porn? You can take a lower-key route and check out lesbian television shows, instead. The L Word is probably the most famous one, as it is pretty much entirely about women dating other women and wasn't made with men in mind. Fair warning, though: The writing goes downhill after the first season.
5. Read Books About Queer Women
The First Bad Man by Miranda July is an excellent one if you're thinking you might like girls. It's also hilarious and generally entertaining. Even if you decide that you don't want to act on your suspicions, it will be a worthwhile read.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is an important book by one of my heroes, Audre Lorde. It combines biography, mythology, and history in portraying her relationships with women who shaped her -- including her queer identity -- over the course of her life. The descriptions are lush, and the pace is fast.
When Watched is a collection of short stories by Leopoldine Core about all types of relationships. The characters include trans people, close friends, and lesbian couples, and the sex scenes are well-written and feel true to life.
If you're into the classics, try Orlando by Virginia Woolf. Knowing that she wrote it about her lover Vita Sackville-West makes you realize how liberating a relationship with another woman can be.
6. Check Out Lesbian Reddit
Particularly if you don't have a strong local queer community, the internet can be a wonderful tool for making some new gay friends. Browsing Lesbian Reddit can help you tune into what the ladies are talking about and can assist you with finding a community.
Let's face it: Going to a gay bar is super intimidating. Most of them cater to men. And even if your city has a lesbian bar, that doesn't mean the women who regularly go will necessarily be your type. Take it from a queer who spent the last nine years in Pittsburgh, where even the lesbians wanted to drink and watch the Steelers.
On the internet, you don't even have to talk if you don't want to. You can read along and know that there are (or aren't, depending on how you feel) others like you.
7. Switch Your Tinder Or OkCupid Settings
It's pretty easy to switch your Tinder settings so that you can flip through both men's and women's profiles. This is a low-key way to test the waters and figure out how it actually feels to swipe right on another girl.
You don't even have to put any pressure on yourself to meet up with her if you're not ready yet. It took me about a year to actually go on a date with a girl for the first time.
If you are nervous because you don't have any experience with another woman, that's totally OK. Be honest about your background. People are generally pretty accepting and will want to meet up with you even if you've never dated women before.
If you are worried about your friends seeing you on Tinder and don't want to share your feelings yet, then OkCupid might allow you a bit more privacy. The conversations on OkCupid tend to go on longer, too, so you can really get to know another lady before you do or don't decide to meet up.
If you have done all of the above, and you're still not totally sure how you feel, remember experience is not a qualification for queerness, but it might be the thing you need.
Time to get out there and start finding yourself!