“How do you know you’re gay?” I get questions like this all the time. I’m all for open dialogue, but when my identity is constantly called into question, it can take an emotional toll.My girlfriend and I were sitting in the back row of a BART train. We were goofing around: laughing, chatting, and sneaking kisses. Then, a middle aged guy turned around and began questioning us.“Excuse me, how old are you girls?” He asked.At first, I thought he was about to hit on us and I wanted to make sure he knew we were underage.“We’re 16,” I told him.But then the conversation took a different turn. “ You’re so young, how do you really know that you’re gay?” he asked us. “Have you ever been with a man?” We put up with his meddling for a while, until my girlfriend finally said it was none of his business.That’s not the first time a stranger has asked me about my sexuality. Every time someone persists with: “Who’s the man in the relationship?” “Are you just doing this for attention?” a part of me gets furious. I mean, the audacity of them not believing me. It’s like they need some sort of scientific explanation about who I like!Of course I never tell them exactly how their questions make me feel or how tired I am of explaining myself. I just calmly say why it’s not okay to demand an explanation of someone’s sexuality.When I hold my girlfriend’s hand in public, it’s not an invitation to ask me questions about my personal life. I’m not a spokesperson for the queer community.I get that in order to break down barriers you have to engage in conversations that may not be comfortable---that’s how progress is made. But when I’m put in the position of being an ambassador for the queer community, it feels less like a conversation, and more like an invasion into my personal life.
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