What does lesbian mean?
A female who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to women. That’s it! A lesbian is a woman that is romantically interested in other women. It’s just one aspect of a woman. It doesn’t mean anything else. A lesbian is just like every other woman.
What does it mean to be a lesbian?
Lesbians are women who love women. Lesbians are sexually attracted to other women and their sexual feelings toward women are normal and natural. They may feel emotionally closer to women and prefer intimate relationships with women.
Research estimates that about one out of ten people may identify as lesbian or gay. This means that in any large group of people, there are usually several lesbian or gay people present. However, no one can tell whether a woman identifies as lesbian unless she wants it known. Lesbians blend right in with other people in all our communities, but they often feel different from other people.
Identifying as a lesbian is just one facet of a woman – who they are attracted to. There are women that identify as lesbian in every culture, religion, socioeconomic class, race, ethnicity, profession, age, and all throughout history. Being a lesbian doesn’t mean anything else!
How do I know if I’m a lesbian?
You may not have language to describe your feelings, and that’s ok. Sexual identity develops over time. Some people have a sense or understanding early on about their attractions and some people develop it later in life.
During adolescence, most young women begin to be aware of sexual feelings and to take an interest in dating. Everyone is different. As you mature, you will figure out who you’re attracted to. Girls with truly lesbian feelings find that, over time, their attraction to girls gets more and more clearly focused. You may find yourself falling in love with a classmate or developing a crush on a particular girl. You may find these experiences pleasurable, troubling, or a mix of the two.
If you think you might identify as a lesbian, here are some questions that may help you to figure it out:
- When I dream or fantasize about someone, is that person a boy or girl?
- Have I ever had a crush or been in love with a girl?
- Do I feel different than other women?
- Are my feelings for women clear?
If you don’t have answers to these questions, it’s alright. Time and life experience will help on your journey. Just remember, only you can say whether you are a lesbian or not!
How can I accept my identity?
It’s not easy to discover that you identify as a lesbian. Sadly, some people judge and are uncomfortable being around lesbians. As a result, to be a lesbian can still be dangerous. It makes sense that some lesbian youth might choose to not share their feelings. You might feel this way….you might even choose to keep your feelings from yourself. Maybe you avoid other youth that are out because it doesn’t feel safe to be associated with them.
“Being in the closet” (which means to not disclose your sexual orientation to others) can be a painful and lonely place, especially if you stay there in order to survive. It takes a lot of energy to deny or hide your feelings.
Self-acceptance is a journey; there isn’t anything that will make you feel great about being a lesbian overnight, but here are a few helpful tips:
- Surround yourself with people that care about and love you.
- Be yourself. Identifying as a lesbian is just one part of you, honor all your identities.
- Practice acceptance by supporting and accepting others.
- Remember that you are not alone!
The Alliance is committed to ensuring that all our youth are safe and healthy. If we can support you, let us know. We’ll be there.