by Giulia Castagnaro

How to navigate your first queer relationship

Relationships are difficult. They are especially difficult if you are a queer person trying to navigate your first queer relationship. Here I explore my journey with my sexuality and what has helped me navigate my first queer relationship.

About half a year ago, I started dating my girlfriend, who is coincidentally also my roommate. I am in my early 20s and I think this is the first time I have ever felt comfortable saying that I am in a committed relationship. Emphasis on committed. I have been in relationships with men before. However, I never found myself truly committing to them. While I now identify as queer, I used to label myself as bisexual. Bisexuality is a very real sexual identity. But for me it felt like a way to assure my friends and family that there was still the possibility I might end up with a man, especially considering my mother held many homophobic beliefs. I thought of it as such a privilege. I got to be in a heterosexual relationship and experience all the advantages that come with it. This is especially obvious now as my girlfriend and I get harassed by men, who are likely straight and presumably fetishise lesbians. Nevertheless, the straight privilege I thought I had remained very superficial. The love which was given to me by my previous partners felt empty because I knew I was never going to truly love them back.

When it comes to my relationship with my girlfriend, as cliché as it sounds, communication and emotional availability are key. We have had some ups and downs in our relationship and what has helped us navigate through them is how open we are with each other. While I value our differences, we come from different cultures and are at different stages in our relationship to our own sexual identities, which comes with a lot of difficulties. Discussing these issues made for many emotional nights spent crying over our insecurities and fears about the relationship. Some other issues arose due to the fact that we are both relatively new to being in a queer relationship and the realness and commitment of it can feel quite scary at times.

Nevertheless, while there are difficulties, the beauty of being in a queer relationship is that you both are brave enough to love one another. Despite social norms of heteronormativity and personal struggles with internalised homophobia, you choose to prioritise the other person, inherently embracing and to an extent loving your queerness. This is why for me being in a queer relationship will always feel more fulfilling than pretending to be in a heterosexual one, no matter how many advantages that can come with. Essentially, choosing to be with my girlfriend and loving her allows me to express myself in a queer way which I was never able to do before.

Every queer individual is unique in their own way and my experience as a white queer person should by no means speak for all queer-identifying people. I simply hope that outlining my personal experience with my sexuality and with navigating my first queer relationship, it may give someone else an insight into how a queer relationship can be.