Dating After Coming Out as Queer Started Super Awkward

But first, I have more to say about labels.

Dana Leigh Lyons
4 min readOct 28, 2022


Image of author by Brian Limoyo

Note: I’m reworking material on addiction…merging into a chapter on gender and sexuality. Find Part 1 of this latest thread here and Part 2 here.

Since coming out more than two decades ago, my relationship with labels is the same as my relationship with jeans: Too tight in places; falling down in others; all in all, a terrible fit.

While I wear my gay badge with pride, claiming a qualifier is more about external expectations than internal experience.

In the end, “queer” has stuck though I’m equally good with “gay” or simply swimming in the ever-expanding LGBTQIA+ alphabet.

“Pansexual,” “gender fluid,” and “sexual flexible” work but tend to invite unwanted conversation or awkward silence. I do not identify as cis or heterosexual or straight, even when with a male partner.

Not everyone likes this. Many don’t. Many prefer a neat label, a demonstrative claiming of pronouns, a place to put me in the imagined constructs of their own ecology. Or, let’s be real, their own taxonomy.

Everything has its place. I go there, in that box. I am that way now and now and always.

Not much different, really, than my role as an addict or patient or problem. Naming others makes us feel better. Naming others makes us feel different, safe, removed.

In refusing to be boxed, in being awkward to wrap, I instead make it confusing. I make it even more uncomfortable for anyone who was uncomfortable with my coming out or their own coming out to begin with.

That’s fair. I get it.

But also, my gender and sexuality has little to do with most anyone else, and I don’t feel the need to call myself anything. Labels are something I provide to accommodate. Ticking off a box is about identity attachment, performance, and politics.

I know when I’m attracted to someone: Sometimes that person is male. Sometimes, female. Sometimes, they go by he/him or she/her or they/them or tomato/tomahto, for all I care. Sometimes they, like me, are under construction. Pronouns: To Be Determined.



Dana Leigh Lyons

Doctor of Chinese Medicine, Writer, Medium Top Writer in Poetry, Health, Travel, LGBTQ.