Being queer doesn’t exclusively mean someone is gay or lesbian—there are many identities for people who don’t “fit” into heterosexual norms.
Jessica Chen, a sophomore majoring in business management, is a student who identifies as bisexual. She came out last year.
“I’m more attracted to girls, but I don’t think I’m 100% gay because there are guys out there I would date or have a relationship with,” she said.
Chen sat down with her friends individually and told them she was bisexual, and she said they were supportive. She also found support at Queer Women Education and Supporting Together (QWEST) meetings.
She changed her “interested in” status on Facebook, which is how her sister found out.
Chen doesn’t think that her identity has fully sunken in with her mom. She told her mom that she was tired of her family asking her if she had a boyfriend.
“And she said, ‘Because you don’t like boys?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been attracted to girls,” she said.
Chen has not told the rest of her family.
“When I go back home, I’m a different person and have to hide that I like girls,” she said.
Chen said she feels like she can be herself more at Western.
According to Chen, she identifies as bisexual because it’s a term that people understand.
“Pretty much the label I have for myself is for other people,” she said, “so they understand where I’m coming from.”
Not everyone who is attracted to both women and men identifies as bisexual. Bisexuality is just one of many identities somewhere in between—or off the spectrum—of being gay or straight.
Andrew Holcom is an anthropology graduate student and identifies as queer. He said that he doesn’t buy into gender binaries, and that being queer gives him a chance to explain his identity.
“I can explain myself instead of people putting me into a box for what that word means for them,” he said.
“I look beyond the biological sex of someone that I’m attracted to,” he said. “I don’t necessarily follow gender more than I follow body type or body sex.”
Holcom began exploring who he was four years ago, he said, when he began college.
“I think a lot of people already knew,” he said. “I don’t think I needed to say it very much to people.  Unless it comes up in conversation, it’s not something that needs to be.”
“It’s not part of my social identity,” Holcom said.
Jake Lunden, a senior majoring in Spanish and journalism, doesn’t ascribe to a particular word for his identity.
“My identity?” he said. “How do you even put that into words? One word to describe where you are on the continuum of human sexuality. I’m just me.”
“I think people fall in love much like you fall in a puddle or a tar-pit or off a cliff,” said Lunden. “You don’t see it coming and you definitely don’t expect it.”
Lunden said that he did not have much of a coming out process.
“It was really gradual. I knew that I liked guys when I was 17, but I still felt comfortable with girls so I didn’t have any reason to bring this up.”
Lunden said he’s never had a negative experience. “I’ve never been not hired for a job I’ve really wanted, I’ve never been insulted or had anyone say anything derogatory,” he said.
“There are certain people from my past that I don’t have any desire to be friends with because of their backwards attitudes about things,” he said. “It’s no skin off my back to cut off those ties, especially at a place like Western where at least everyone seems to be at least heteroflexible.”