I think there's a lot of people in the same position as you, debspa. There's loads
of women on GB who didn't come out till their thirties, forties, fifties, some after having been married to men.
I came out pretty young comparatively, but I still understand where you are coming from. From childhood, I can see in retrospect that the signs were there, I just never interpreted them properly. I spent my teenage years fucking as many boys as I could, assuming that one day I'd lose this feeling inside me that it was fundamentally wrong
. That I'd stop feeling utterly disgusted with myself every time I had sex. That I'd stop thinking about doing it with girls. I can single out women I had crushes on from about the age of five onwards, but I don't think it ever occurred to me that that was what my feelings were, or when I was older and was able to interpret certain feelings as sexual, it didn't really occur to me that that would mean I was a lesbian. I don't know why. I wasn't brought up by homophobes or anything like that.
I felt very shy about coming out onto the scene (at the ancient age of 21!) because it seemed to me that every lesbian I met had known
she was a lesbian from the moment she was born, had come out at 12 and never even seen a willy. I worried that because I hadn't been like that it either meant that a) I wasn't really a lesbian and I was making a horrible mistake by telling everyone I was and it would be really embarassing when I had to retract my coming-out, or b) other people would think I wasn't really a proper lesbian and I wouldn't get a girlfriend or any lesbian friends. I think there was a bit of cognitive distortion going on for me then!
I think something like 70-odd percent of lesbians have had sex with a man in their lives. I don't know what the stats are for gay men shagging women, but I think it's a lot lower. And this is purely anecdotal, but it has always seemed to me that you meet more gay women who have come out later on than you do gay men. If I'm right, I wonder why this is? Is it because women are under more pressure to conform to societal ideals? Or because women are less black-and-white in their thinking and more open to exploring the possibilities?
Anyway, try not to dwell on whether you have or haven't wasted time. Just make the most of it now you've figured it out!