Am I a lesbian?

“Well am I or aren’t I… a lesbian?”

This is a question that many young women might ask themselves as they grow up. Part of growing up is discovering your sexuality and learning about yourself – as all young people grow up they start to become aware of other people – and start to find them attractive. While most young women will be physically attracted to men, many may also feel attracted to other women. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a lesbian, though.

“I first starting thinking I was bisexual in 4th-5th grade. I never told anyone cuz I thought it was something everyone goes through.” – Michelle

“When I was young I always wanted to grow up and live with my best girlfriend, and that feeling never changed as I got older.” – Tammy

For some teens, these feelings might come from being really close to someone – a special friend, for example. These feelings could change after a while, and they find that they’re attracted to boys, after all. Other teens might find that they’re attracted to both boys and girls – which can be really confusing! And some girls find that they just keep on fancying other women. This is natural too, although working through these feelings is rarely easy it does get better.

“I have known I was a lesbian since 5th grade… I was sitting in class trying to have a fantasy about this guy everyone thought was soooo hot… but instead I started thinking about this girl Angela who I had known since pre school and I had always felt connected to her for some reason… in my fantasy I kissed her… and from then on I sorta realized my feelings and knew…” – Tricia

When you’ve been brought up to expect that you’ll be attracted to boys it can be quite a shock to realise that you’re interested in other women. Many teen lesbians say that they dated boys for a while, before they realised that they really wanted to be with a woman.

“I am 21, I have known since I was 16 even thought I have dated guys. I always knew being with a woman with more intimate and somehow, it always felt right. I loved the warmth and closeness you feel with a woman” – Kayla

All these things are perfectly natural – but dealing with these feelings can be difficult. Don’t worry, though – it does get easier!

“We had so much fun just playing around and flirting, I stared to really like her but I was like ”omg I can’t like a girl”. I was really scared at the beginning but then things got easier.” – Linda

“What does it mean to be a lesbian?”

A lesbian is a girl who is only attracted to other women. A woman who fancies women and men might identify herself as bisexual.

It’s not at all unusual for young people to wonder about their sexuality. And if you do see yourself as being a lesbian or bisexual – there are lots of other girls thinking the same thing – you’re not alone!

“I felt alone and isolated. I still feel this way, but I don’t let people know this, it’s not their problem.” – Zak

“I felt so alone; I was ready to give up. Then I met my angel, I know she must have been sent to save me. I met her over the Internet and we immediately clicked.” – Charity

“Is being a lesbian ‘normal’?”

“We’re told that it’s sick, or perverted, or sinful, or abnormal. But the people who tell us that are the same ones who say that women belong in the kitchen and that black people are inferior, and that handicapped people are useless. Who’s to say what’s normal?” – Terry

Although being attracted to other women is natural, society does not generally approve of women being lesbians. However there are support groups and helplines, which can provide support and help make you feel more comfortable with your feelings.

“My school’s really homophobic”

Unfortunately, not all people are sensible about sexuality. Some people are prejudiced against lesbians, or are scared of them – that’s often where these jokes come from. This sort of prejudice against gay people and lesbians is called homophobia, and unfortunately, it’s quite common in some parts of the world.

“I still have not told my parents for their strong religious beliefs has made them homophobics… but I will someday… I already came out to my friends… they were all cool with it” – Jodie

Sometimes, people use their religion as an excuse for homophobia – this happens with all sorts of religions, not just Christianity. If you’ve been raised to believe in a particular faith, and then people tell you that your faith says people like you – lesbians, or bi girls – are bad, then it can be very upsetting and hard to deal with. But try to see it sensibly – no religions should be about hate, and the homophobic people are just reading it wrong.

“I used to wonder if it was my fault I’m this way… and I wondered ‘Why me?’ – then I realized I wouldn’t be like this if God didn’t want me to be. He made everyone unique. God meant for different people to like same sex and opposite sex. He doesn’t’ want everyone the same. That is what I believe.” – Michelle

It can make you feel terrible when people judge you and dislike you before they even know you – just because they can’t handle what you are. Really, there’s no easy answer to homophobia – try to remember that there are lots of people who aren’t homophobic, and lots of parts of the world that aren’t.

“To all those people who have a hate for gay people. Take a look at what I just said, but strip away my sexual orientation and who I choose to spend the rest of my life with in private. You’ll see I give to the same charities, I work just as hard as you and I smile, cry, laugh and love just like you do. The only thing that makes me different is I don’t hate you for falling in love with someone.” – Alison

“Was I born a lesbian?”

This is a question that’s been asked for years and years – and it’s still being asked now. No-one knows what makes someone a lesbian. Some people believe that lesbian, bi, or gay people choose their sexuality – and could choose to be straight, if they wanted. This belief is the one often associated with some religious and homophobic views.

“I’ve always know that I liked girls but I was never brave enough to come out and say it. I dated many guys hoping that would help to hide who i really was.” – Lynda

Some people suggest that people ‘become’ gay as a result of something to do with the way they were brought up, or because of something that happened in their childhood. This is also something that parents of gay people seem to worry about.

“Although I was born a lez, I didn’t come out until I was 22.” – Chrislya

Many people wonder whether there is something that ‘makes’ people lesbian or gay. Although there is no concrete evidence that there is a ‘gay gene’, many people believe that lesbian or gay people are born lesbian or gay.

“How can science tell you what I am? I mean I’ve had boyfriends, and was happy with them, had girlfriends and may have boyfriends again for all I know. If it’s a gay gene what’s going on? Is it just turning itself on and off in my head? It doesn’t feel like biology it feels like love.” – Jo

“I’m not sure about telling people…”

“You shouldn’t feel pressured to tell anyone at a
ll until you are comfortable with the idea of being a lesbian yourself. Be prepared that people’s reactions will vary.” – Salima

If it is hard enough to accept that you are attracted to other women, it can be even harder trying to decide who to talk to about it. ‘Coming out’ is the process of accepting that you have lesbian or bisexual feelings and every lesbian and gay man can choose how open they are about their sexuality.

“Only tell someone if you feel you have enough support to face what may happen. Try to tell someone if you think you can’t deal with these feelings alone anymore. If you think your family might flip out, tell someone who might be more impartial.” – Emma

However, because some people are prejudiced against lesbians and gay men, many lesbians put a lot of thought into who they first talk to about their sexual feelings. You may have a close friend, or a member of your family, who you feel could give you the support you need. But it’s a good idea to be sure of their views on lesbians or gay men before you talk to them.

“When I told a couple of my friends, I told them I was no different now than I was five minutes before I told them, except that now I wasn’t keeping a big secret from them.” – Nicki

You don’t have to tell your parents if you don’t want to. (We know this is easier said than done.) If you do tell them, there’s the risk of causing problems. If you don’t tell them it can feel like you’re pretending to be someone else all the time.

“I told my parents I was gay when I knew that I couldn’t change who I was or what I was going to be for the rest of my life.

“But I don’t think I had really approved of my lifestyle when I told them. They threw me out. I still talk to them. But my brother hasn’t talked to me in 6 years. Now. Well now I have the most beautiful girlfriend I could ever ask for I run a young lesbian group through a youth programme. I’m back at school and I have a lovely house and the cutest puppy in the world. This Christmas my mum and dad bought my girlfriend a present and got her a lovely card. Time heals all. I have never been happier in my life.” – Alison

Being a lesbian is not a way of life, it’s a part of life. Straight people are not defined just by who they are attracted to, so there is no reason why you should be. Lesbians can be of any nationality, personality type, have many different interests and jobs and may spend time in lesbian or gay pubs and clubs or not spend any time on the scene at all. Stereotypes don’t really define anyone – you can be exactly the person you want to be.

“I know i want to spend the rest of my life with women and I think it is a big step coming out, but when you have done it then nothing can stop you. Life is so full of possibilites for lesbians now… go out and make the most of them, making your life just as you want it” -Kayla