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Fact Sheet

Being a lesbian

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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.

Lesbian relationships

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:

To learn more about this topic:

Trevor Project and Trevor helpline (1-866-488-7386)

GLBT National Resource Database

National GLBT Talkline (1-800-246-7743)

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

Other resources

The Human Rights Campaign

Gay-Straight Alliance

Last reviewed: Mar 7, 2013

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Comments

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  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    natessa

    Hi well to say this you should move on start a new life ahead of you it doesnt matter whether you straight or not all that matters is you being inlove again and find happiness to your life ...

    “However, it is important to remember that just because at some point in your life you experience an attraction for the same sex, you don’t have to label yourself as a lesbian. It is your choice.”
    You know that really pisses me off.. Because it’s not a choice. If it was a choice, I’m sure most of the closeted lesbians and bisexuals and gays wouldn’t have to be closeted! Because I’m sure they’d chose to be straight.
    Some who are opened about their sexuality, wish they weren’t the way they are. That they want to like the opposite sex, like how    it’s “suppose to be”. It’s. Not. A. Choice. If it was, I sure as hell would be straight right now. I’ve tried. And tried. To go for guys. But I just can’t get the emotional and sexual attraction like I do with girls. I embrace it though, at least I try to.
    It isn’t a choice, guys!

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Hey natessa,

      Thanks for your comment and your valuable perspective. To clarify, we absolutely agree that sexuality is not a.choice. However, it does exist on a spectrum. In the fact sheet, the choice we are referring to is the label of lesbian. Some people may embrace it, others may feel that it doesn’t quite fit who they are. They may simply identify as queer, or something else entirely. This can also change over time. Either way is okay. The most important thing is feeling comfortable with your identity as a whole, sexual orientation included. That said, we welcome your point and will definitely look at revisiting the wording in this fact sheet to clarify for the future.

      —The ReachOut Crew

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