Carter, 19, Oakland, CA

I don’t know what I could do to make me seem gayer. Even last night, I was talking to a girl I’ve known for a while. I said something about some girl, and she was like “Oh, are you bisexual?” She jumped to thinking I was straight to thinking I was bisexual. I’m like, “No, I’m pretty fucking gay.”

I could cut off my hair, but that wouldn’t be me. I’m not one of those people who can change my appearance at the drop of the hat. I don’t have piercings, I don’t have tattoos. I guess hair grows back, but I have weird things with my hair. It’s like a security blanket. To me, at least, cutting my hair so people know I’m queer would feel like putting on a costume.

I wrote a paper about hair. When I started writing it, the point was going to be that you can’t judge people’s sexuality based on their hair. But then all the research I found showed you can make assumptions on people based on their hair, and it’s been a really helpful way for members of the queer community to identify each other. My paper ended up with me realizing that I am the exception.

I feel like I always have to drop hints when there’s someone I’m into. It is kind of a bummer. But now is one of the first times I feel very comfortable with who I am and who I’ve grown into the past few years. I don’t want to alter that.

I think I first realized I was attracted to women when I was 16. It was interesting; my mom knew me so well that, when I told her, she said she wasn’t surprised because I’m very drawn to feminine things in my artwork. It’s not that my art is necessarily girly, but it’s very female and bold, and maybe delicate. A couple years ago I felt very fragile, and my art reflected that. Now it’s feminine in a more concrete, stronger way.

I identify as queer because I’m not comfortable 100-percent cutting out an entire gender. I didn’t really embrace the word queer before I knew about it at Mills College. I’m majoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies, and I learned a lot about what it means to be queer as not just a sexuality but as a political identity.

Honestly, I can’t imagine myself dating a guy. I’ve never felt an emotional connection to a guy before. Maybe, like once or twice, I felt a physical connection. But if I just want to hook up with someone and don’t like them as a person, it’s probably a bad idea.

As told to Diana Scholl.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in New York, NY, 2012
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