Author Topic: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian  (Read 1349 times)

Offline aka

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Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« on: Jun 13, 2016, 03:20:41 AM »
This feels like coming out so late at life. I'm 32 and have identified myself as bi for a few years. When I was a teen I identified as straight, I could find women attractive but never gave myself the freedom to tell me I might actually date one, which is kinda weird in a way because my family is very liberal and I have gay relatives... though no one at my school was openly gay, I never had openly gay friends for most years in high school. This changed throughout college. And I know that now I have a lot of supportive friends, including tons of gays, lesbians and bi friends.

I've dated men, but it always felt like something was missing, I never felt love or a deep attraction like they seemed to have about me, but I always thought that was just not the right man. But when I started dating women, it felt different, even when it was nothing serious, it felt much better. I haven't dated a man in three years and noticed that for the last 1-2 years I have had no attraction to men at all. I can look at a man and find him good looking, but no attraction whatsoever, no sexual desire, etc. I don't see myself open to dating men in the future either.

I have talked to two friends (girls) one is bi and the other is lesbian. The bi girl just said 'maybe you're just a lesbian", but the lesbian girl had an interesting insight and I'd like to know other people's opinions, especially from lesbian girls if possible. She said I've dated men, you simply cannot put men in being lesbian, it'd be wrong calling myself a lesbian. So I don't know. I know a lot of people don't care about labels, but I think they can be important, to me it can bring a sense of belonging, and I don't feel that as a bisexual. What do you guys think? I understand what my friend is saying about previous men and calling myself a lesbian, but you know, why "hold on" to calling myself bi if I'm no longer interested in men... Am I giving too much unnecessary thought to what other people would think? Maybe I'm just feeling insecure, but also wouldn't wanna offend any lesbian by calling myself that as well.

Sorry for anything, this is my first post. I've been searching for this kind of forum today because I've been really questioning myself this past week.

Offline nismat

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #1 on: Jun 13, 2016, 07:55:35 AM »
Hi there aka, welcome.

Obviously you can use whatever labels you want! There doesn't have to be a single label that applies for life; I think your lesbian friend has got a bit of a hang-up there!

I define myself as lesbian now; I've had relationships with men in my teens/early 20s. I can't say I would absolutely definitively never ever have a relationship/sex with a man again, but the chances are so darned small, and it is most certainly not what I am looking for.

Things change over time, as you become more self aware. And your sexuality isn't just about what you have experienced; it's about how you feel. You can be a lesbian without ever having been with a woman (as indeed straight people are straight without ever having had a relationship). It's not just about who you've actually had sex/relationships with.

I think it's perfectly valid for you to say that you identify as a lesbian now. It's about what YOU feel. Not other's perceptions of you.

(Oh, and 32 isn't old for it at all!)

lil_moomin

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #2 on: Jun 13, 2016, 01:57:55 PM »
Yeah I don't agree with this personally "She said I've dated men, you simply cannot put men in being lesbian, it'd be wrong calling myself a lesbian"

I think it's about how you identify at the time - it's what feels right to you. Don't let anyone try to tell you how you should or shouldn't label yourself... things can shift over time surely?

I think the 'never dated men' thing is sometimes used as a bit of a way to look down on people or to make them feel superior... oh, you can't be a lesbian if x y z. Bit of a load of crap in my opinion and quite outdated. Just go with what you think is right.






Offline Musette

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #3 on: Jun 14, 2016, 12:38:49 AM »
Yup, what nismat and mint said.

Your friend has no right to tell you whether you are a lesbian or not. If that's how you feel and how you want to identify then that's entirely your call.

Lots of lesbians have been with men, while others have never been with a woman.

I came out in my mid-forties, so 32 really isn't old to be doing this.
And I did feel that I would be judged for having been in relationships with men in the past. But eventually I worked out, as so often in life, that the people who would judge me like that weren't people I'd want to know.
I identify as lesbian and that's that. Nobody else has the right to decide for me.

It's like saying you can't call yourself a vegetarian if you've ever eaten meat ::)
"U r a multifaceted dark horse. Oh yes you are..."

a wise and helpful soul, Musette  ;D

Offline aka

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #4 on: Jun 14, 2016, 11:27:42 PM »
nismat, mint, Musette

Thank you so much for your comments. It's nice to have other people's perspective on this. I know I should care a bit less how others try to define my own sexuality, I'll work on that  :)

Offline Musette

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #5 on: Jun 14, 2016, 11:49:40 PM »
To be fair, aka, it can be a tricky one and I think a lot of people struggle with it when they're first coming out, or realise that what they feel is changing - working out who you are, where you fit and so on. Plenty of people continue to struggle with it.

So, yes, try to worry about it less. I'ts entirely your decision - go with whatever you are comfortable with. And it's not set in stone either. You are allowed to change your mind! :)
"U r a multifaceted dark horse. Oh yes you are..."

a wise and helpful soul, Musette  ;D

Offline Bewilderbeast

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #6 on: Jun 15, 2016, 03:44:18 PM »
I too agree that the ďfriendĒ who is telling you canít be a lesbian if youíve date men is totally wrong and probably in some pain about all of this herself. Itís also not up to her, itís up to you.
I was very very confused when I was coming out for exactly this reasons you say. I assumed that if I was a lesbian Iíd know and I would definitely, totally, not have any attraction towards men AT ALL. If I did I must be bi and I too didnít want to offend anyone so that was my label. Iíd like to make clear here that I totally respect peopleís right to identify as bisexual, I am just saying I personally was using it as a cover, not that it is itself a cover.

What it took me ages to realise is that social conditioning makes or tries to make us (all genders) de-value our feelings towards other women and over-value our relationships with men and this makes reading your own attractions harder. Because I wasnít completely repulsed by men (which is what I would be if I were a lesbian right?) I tried relationships with them, because despite my liberal hippy background that was still the norm I was exposed to. Because these relationships were not awful and some of the sex was really quite ok, I counted that as evidence of actual desire and assumed I must be bi.

I am not though, I really am not. What I feel towards women is instinctual, gut driven and very strong. I like men, I still get my head turned by the odd one but it is not the same, it is not desire. Nothing in our society teaches us to listen to and value womenís desire or any desire that is not male in the narrowest sense and womenís desire for other women is it seems especially undervalued. It takes time to really tune into it in oneself,  for most of us, and when you do you wonder how you could have missed it!

The argument that you once dated men so you canít be a lesbian is laughable (actually itís quite offensive), I was a goth as a teenager and in my early twenties and by that logic I have no right to be wearing blue jeans and coloured clothes right now as I type this. Itís also the same argument that was recently used against a friend of mine who is fighting for asylum in this country because she cannot return to her birth country where she will be killed for being a lesbian. Apparently because she has a child with a man from a previous relationship when much younger, she canít be a lesbian.

Itís who you know yourself to be right now that matters, not what you did along the way to find that out. If you knew from the start and didnít need to learn by trying out then you are lucky not better. Anyone actually offended by you identifying as lesbian when your past has included men is being unreasonable and like most unreasonable people, this probably due to pain, not that that is your responsibility.

Offline Suzi

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #7 on: Jun 15, 2016, 04:52:21 PM »
I too agree that the “friend” who is telling you can’t be a lesbian if you’ve date men is totally wrong and probably in some pain about all of this herself. It’s also not up to her, it’s up to you.
I was very very confused when I was coming out for exactly this reasons you say. I assumed that if I was a lesbian I’d know and I would definitely, totally, not have any attraction towards men AT ALL. If I did I must be bi and I too didn’t want to offend anyone so that was my label. I’d like to make clear here that I totally respect people’s right to identify as bisexual, I am just saying I personally was using it as a cover, not that it is itself a cover.

What it took me ages to realise is that social conditioning makes or tries to make us (all genders) de-value our feelings towards other women and over-value our relationships with men and this makes reading your own attractions harder. Because I wasn’t completely repulsed by men (which is what I would be if I were a lesbian right?) I tried relationships with them, because despite my liberal hippy background that was still the norm I was exposed to. Because these relationships were not awful and some of the sex was really quite ok, I counted that as evidence of actual desire and assumed I must be bi.

I am not though, I really am not. What I feel towards women is instinctual, gut driven and very strong. I like men, I still get my head turned by the odd one but it is not the same, it is not desire. Nothing in our society teaches us to listen to and value women’s desire or any desire that is not male in the narrowest sense and women’s desire for other women is it seems especially undervalued. It takes time to really tune into it in oneself,  for most of us, and when you do you wonder how you could have missed it!

The argument that you once dated men so you can’t be a lesbian is laughable (actually it’s quite offensive), I was a goth as a teenager and in my early twenties and by that logic I have no right to be wearing blue jeans and coloured clothes right now as I type this. It’s also the same argument that was recently used against a friend of mine who is fighting for asylum in this country because she cannot return to her birth country where she will be killed for being a lesbian. Apparently because she has a child with a man from a previous relationship when much younger, she can’t be a lesbian.

It’s who you know yourself to be right now that matters, not what you did along the way to find that out. If you knew from the start and didn’t need to learn by trying out then you are lucky not better. Anyone actually offended by you identifying as lesbian when your past has included men is being unreasonable and like most unreasonable people, this probably due to pain, not that that is your responsibility.


All this ^

I agree with everything you say. Really well put  :)

Offline Musette

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #8 on: Jun 15, 2016, 05:38:16 PM »
Yes, well said Bewilderbeast.
"U r a multifaceted dark horse. Oh yes you are..."

a wise and helpful soul, Musette  ;D

Offline Grey

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #9 on: Jun 16, 2016, 11:17:03 PM »
Bewilderbeast's posts are always worth reading  8)

Offline aka

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #10 on: Jun 23, 2016, 02:29:53 AM »
in this facebook-era, I was looking for a "like" button so I could like all of your comments haha

again, thank you so much for all the input. Ever since I first posted this here, I got a lot of thinking about this and other people's experiences have also helped me find myself, and I can see now how using bisexual label was much more of a cover too. Sometimes I'm still surprised at myself it took this long considering my family is pretty liberal like I said, but I guess society as a whole is still mostly ruled by heteronormativity and my country can be very sexist, which doesn't help.

Offline Bewilderbeast

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #11 on: Jun 30, 2016, 02:49:29 PM »
Oh I can't believe how long it took me too!! I had a friend who came out when we were at secondary school and my parents had gay friends so my world was gayer than for others growing up in the 70's and 80's but it still took me to 30+ years to take my own feelings for women seriously. I should add that the school friend was male and the gay friends  of my parents were male, so though my world was a bit gay it wasn't exactly lesbian....

I do think though that identifying as bisexual was an important stage for me, however once I knew myself more I realised that it wasn't accurate. It's precisely because I have total respect for bisexuality as an identity that for me it's important not to use that label anymore about myself.

« Last Edit: Jun 30, 2016, 02:53:00 PM by Bewilderbeast »

Offline billie-jean

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Re: Questioning if I'm bi or lesbian
« Reply #12 on: Jul 03, 2016, 06:52:01 PM »
I believe I was born born gay, but had no idea. Was 'straight' into my teens, then briefly bisexual after a very bad relationship with a guy, then gay for a decade. Now after recent world crashing events (dramatic I know but actually true ffs) I don't know what I am, and I don't care. I did care.
Being gay and thinking you might be bi is just as stressful as coming out, actually coming out was gravy for me, but being gay and then not being sure was what was actually hard. Now I feel like a 13 year old in some sort of exploration phase, it's hilarious but you know what, it's fun and exciting.
I hated all sexual experiences with men when I was young, now I've allowed myself the freedom to know boys can be fun. I'm still gay though. If people don't get that, I'm okay with it now, finally (almost)
I like the term Pansexual x