Being a lesbian2
ReachOut fact sheets are written by young people for young people and edited by a mental health professional. Want to discuss the topic in more depth? Visit the ReachOut Forums.
What does it mean to be a lesbian
Women describe themselves as a lesbian when they find that they are physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to other women; an attraction they don’t have for men. It’s not uncommon for women to have experiences and feelings with other women as part of exploring their sexuality. Sometimes this helps women confirm or discover their identity as a lesbian. Others may feel that the label of “lesbian” doesn’t quite fit who they are. They may identify as bisexual, queer, or have a personal definition of their orientation. The most important thing is feeling comfortable with your identity as a whole, sexual orientation included.
Why are some women lesbians?
There is no real explanation of why some women are lesbians and some are not. Some people recognize their attractions at an early age while others don’t identify attractions until they are well into adulthood. Many young women, however, begin to develop feelings and attractions to other women during teenage years.
How do I know if I’m a lesbian?
There is no easy answer to this question. You can’t fill in a questionnaire or take a test to give you a definite answer. What is important is that you explore your feelings and attractions at a pace that makes you feel safe and comfortable. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to deal with your questions or problems by yourself. You might have friends or family members who have had similar experience and can talk with you about your feelings. If you’d rather speak to people who aren’t directly involved in your life, you can also find a support group in your area though the Human Rights Campaign or Gay-Straight Alliance.
If someone tells you that lesbians are just confused about their sexuality, that homosexuality doesn’t exist, or that you can change, look for someone else to talk with.
How do I know if someone else is a lesbian?
Basically, you won’t know if someone’s a lesbian until someone tells you. Lesbian women come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important that you don’t assume that someone is a lesbian based on the way she looks or the group of people she hangs out with. It’s also important to remember that if you identify as a lesbian, how you dress and behave is about your personal identity, not a stereotype.
In most respects, same-sex relationships are not different from straight relationships. Like everyone else, lesbian women fall in love and form committed relationships. Regardless of your sexuality, it’s important to be open and honest with your partner about your feelings and attraction to other people. Beyond that, there are no predetermined rules to follow in any relationship.
For more information
There are many misunderstandings about sexuality and sex, and exploring your sexuality might be a confusing thing to do, whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. If you’re curious to learn more about your sexuality, you might want to check out these additional fact sheets:
- I think I might be gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgender
- Coming out
- Ten things to consider when coming out
- Being bisexual
- Being gay
To learn more about this topic:
Trevor Project and Trevor helpline (1-866-488-7386)
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
The National Day of Silence (brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools).
National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth
Youth Resource, a website by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people
PFLAG, Parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays
Last reviewed: Mar 7, 2013
Thanks for your comment on ReachOut.com! We moderate all comments to ensure the site is safe and supportive. Your comment should appear within 24 hours if it is approved. If you want to see if someone has replied to your comment, please come back and check out this page again.