HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE A LESBIAN?One of my clients, a young woman aged nineteen, had been questioning her sexual orientation since she was a teenager. She had been attracted to girls since she was at high school, but had had sex with both girls and boys. She now believed she preferred girls. Her question to me was how could she be a lesbian when she had also slept with boys? Her friends had told her she must be bisexual, but she was not so sure.
It is quite common for lesbians to first have relationships with men. Bisexuals are sexually and emotionally attracted to both men and women. If my client decides she prefers women and doesn’t find men attractive anymore, she can rule out being bisexual.
But is it that important to label yourself before you figure out your sexual orientation? And how do you know if you are a lesbian or not? Answering some simple questions may help: Are your sexual feelings for women stronger than for men? Do you prefer being kissed by a woman or a man? Are you physically more attracted to women’s or men’s bodies? Are your sexual fantasies about women or men? Would you like to settle down with a woman or a man in the future?
There is a lot of information available about what straight couples do in the bedroom in magazines, papers and the movies, but not much about girl-on-girl sex. Most lesbians find it really annoying to be asked what sort of sex they have, as in “what do you actually do”?
The all too commonly posed question of ‘who is the male’ in the relationship shows how deeply ingrained gender roles are. ‘Butch’ and ‘femme’ are terms used to describe individual gender identities. Butch is usually defined as a lesbian who dresses and presents herself in a masculine way. Femme refers to feminine-looking lesbians, who may also be known as lipstick lesbians. Many people think of a lesbian as the stereotypical image of a butch lesbian with baggy pants and short hair.
One of my other clients who identifies as a lipstick lesbian complained about the comments she receives when she tells people she is gay. They say, “You don’t look like a lesbian; you are too pretty to be a lesbian. It must be a phase,” and straight girls have on occasion asked her out to ‘experiment’, which she finds infuriating.
So is there much difference between lesbian and heterosexual sex? The way lesbians have sex is as varied as straight couples; they also have all kinds of positions, and roles can be switched. They may have toys, but these are no more a necessity for lesbians than they are for other couples. Interestingly, lesbian women are much more likely to orgasm during sexual activity than either straight or bisexual women.
Getting back to the question of: How do you know you are a lesbian? When you find that mutual attraction and spark with someone, you will know.