Melissa Vital ('23)
The other term that “Q” stands for is questioning. This word, much like queer, is a blanket statement that can describe people who are in the process of discovering and exploring their sexual orientation, sexual identity, and/or gender identity. Questioning one’s sexual orientation and gender identity has no time constraints, because who you are and how you identify can constantly evolve.
It is important when discussing the term “questioning” to provide clear distinctions between sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender identity. Sexual identity encompasses both sexual orientation and gender identity and refers to how one thinks of themselves in terms of sexuality. Sexual orientation is who you are attracted to romantically, sexually, and emotionally. This coincides with other terms such as gay, straight, lesbian, questioning, and many others. On the other hand, gender identity is how someone feels in regards to being male, female, neither, or both. One might identify with how they were assigned at birth, making them cisgender, while others who identify with a different gender than assigned at birth are transgender.
Those who are questioning their sexual identity often feel a lot of pressure to define themselves with labels. It is important to ask those who identify as questioning specifically what that word means to them, since its meaning depends on the individual.