LGBTA-Q Resource Center
I Think I Might Be A Lesbian...Now What Do I Do?
- What does it mean to be a Lesbian?
- How do I know if I'm a Lesbian?
- Am I normal?
- What is it like to be a Lesbian?
- Who should I tell?
- Emergency Contact Numbers
- How do we learn to like ourselves?
- What about sex?
- What about HIV/AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
What does it mean to be a Lesbian?
Woman who call themselves lesbians are emotionally, spiritually, physically, and sexually, attracted to and fall in love with other woman. As lesbians, we are not alone. One out of every ten individuals is lesbian or gay.
Many famous women in history were lesbians. Lesbians are teachers, doctors, lawyers, factory workers, police officers, politicians, ministers, movie stars, artists, mothers, nuns, truck drivers, models, novelists. Lesbians are White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist. Lesbians are rich, poor, working class, and middle class. Some lesbians are in heterosexual marriages. Some lesbians are disabled. Lesbians are young women and old women. Lesbians live in cities and in the country. Lesbians are everywhere.
How do I know if I'm a Lesbian?
During adolescence, most young women begin to be aware of sexual feelings and take an interest in dating. Many young women feel physically attracted to men. But many other young women feel physically attracted to other women.
You may notice that you feel turned on by other women. You may feel different from your girlfriends, like you do not fit in sometimes. When your girlfriends are checking out men, you may find yourself checking out women. Going out with men may not interest you. You may find yourself wondering, "Why there are not any men like these terrific women I keep meeting?"
You may also feel confused or unsure about whether or not you are a lesbian. Many people will tell you that you are going through a phase, or that you do not know what you are talking about. That is their way of avoiding the fact that there are lesbians.
You may feel confused because you are attracted to both men and women. That's OK. Some women have relationships with both men and women throughout their lives. Some may later decide to be exclusively lesbian or heterosexual. Our sexuality develops over time. Do not worry if you are not sure.
Am I normal?
Yes, you are normal. It is perfectly natural for people to be attracted to members of the same gender. It may seem that it is encouraged in our society. Many people push away these feelings because of prejudice against gay men and lesbians. Most scientific experts agree that a person's sexual orientation is determined at a very young age, maybe even at birth. It is normal and healthy to be yourself, whether you are gay or straight. What is really important is that we learn to like ourselves.
What is it like to be a lesbian?
There is no "right" way or "wrong" way to be a lesbian. Because of society's stereotypes about lesbians that we have all grown up with, you might think you have to be a certain way if you are a lesbian. But lesbians come in all shapes and sizes, from all occupations, and with all levels of education. Your sexual orientation is only one part of who you are. You probably have hobbies and interests that are the same as your straight friends.
Because of homophobia and prejudice, some people do not accept lesbians and gay men. Lesbians and gay men suffer from discrimination and violence. That is why there are many gay and lesbian organizations that work for gay and lesbian civil rights.
Who should I tell?
Coming out is the process of accepting yourself as a lesbian and figuring out how open you want to be about your sexual orientation.
Unfortunately, not everyone you know will think that being a lesbian is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It is hard to know who can handle the information and give you support. Some friends may accept you. Some may turn away from you or tell other people without your permission. Telling family can be very difficult. Some families are very supportive. But some lesbian and gay people have been kicked out of their homes when their parents found out.
It takes a lot of energy to deny your feelings, and it can be costly. You may have tried using alcohol or other drugs to numb yourself against these thoughts. You may have considered suicide. If so, please contact the BGSU's Counseling Center at 419-372-2081 and they are open Monday & Thursday 8:00 am-7:00 pm and Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm.
If it is an emergency, call the police (419-372-3246 or 911). There are alternatives to denying your very valuable feelings.
- BGSU Police Department (101 Commons): 419-372-3246 or 911
- Behavioral Connections , The Link (1022 North Prospect): 352-1545. Crisis Intervention Center , 24-hour Crisis Hotline, Information and Referral, and Victims Advocacy Program (for victims of violent crimes).
- Wood County Hospital (950 West Wooster ): 419-354-8910. Immediate attention for physical crisis; seek attention at the Emergency Room.
- Bowling Green City Police (175 West Wooster ): 419-352-2571
- BGSU Student Health Services : 419-372-2271
- BGSU Wellness Connection : 419-372-9355
- BGSU Counseling Center : 419-372-2081
How do we learn to like ourselves?
All people have a right to feel good about themselves. We are all valuable human beings. Developing self-esteem is very important for everyone. It is hard for gay and lesbian individuals to feel good about ourselves because all around us we may have people who believe that we are sick, perverted, or destined to live very unhappy lives.
When we feel like we have to hide who we really are, it can make us feel like hurting ourselves, like through alcohol, drugs, or suicide. We may feel very isolated, fearful, and depressed, especially if we have had no one to talk to about the fact that we are lesbians.
More and more young lesbians are learning to like who we are. It helps to read good books about lesbians - books that have accurate information in them and that are written about lesbians who are leading very fulfilling lives.
If you do not find what you are looking for, you may want to check out the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) section of the Library, or possibly order books and other material through the mail. Please note that not all books about gay people are supportive. It also helps to meet other lesbians because then we find out that lesbians are as diverse as any other groups of people and that we have been told a lot of lies by our society.
It can help to say to yourself every day, "I'm a lesbian and I'm OK." And try to find someone to talk to who also believes that lesbians are OK. Remember: It is normal and natural to be a lesbian, just like it is normal and natural for some people to be heterosexual.
What about sex?
Deciding whether or not to be sexual with someone is a big decision. You may feel very scared at the thought of having sex with another woman. That's OK. Lots of us do, especially if it is our first time.
Women are not encouraged in our society to talk openly about sex, but tt is important that we communicate about what we like and do not like to do sexually, whether we feel ready to have sex or not, and different expectations we may have about the relationship. And it is important to talk about whether we are at risk for HIV, the virus that is thought to cause AIDS, or other sexually transmitted infections, like genital herpes.
There are many ways that lesbians can be sexual with each other. They can give each other pleasure by holding, kissing, hugging, stroking, stimulating each other's genitals with they tongues and hands, inserting fingers into each other's vaginas, rubbing bodies together to stimulate each other, etc.
What about HIV/AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
All sexually active people need to be aware of HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted infections. Being gay does not give you HIV/AIDS or STIs, but certain sexual practices and certain drug use behaviors can put you at risk. HIV/AIDS and some STIs are incurable, but are preventable.
Lesbians who are at risk are those who:
- Share needles if using IV drugs.
- Have vaginal intercourse with men without using condoms. (It is fairly common for young lesbians to occasionally have sexual contact with men.)
- Have oral sex with an infected woman without the use of a barrier to protect against infected vaginal secretions or menstrual blood.
Safer sex for lesbians includes:
- Use of a dental dam for oral-vaginal and oral-anal stimulation. A dental dam is a piece of latex about 5 inches square designed for use in dental surgery.
- Use of surgical gloves when sticking fingers into partner's vagina or ass, especially if inserter has tiny cuts or rashes on hands.
This webpage was adopted from a brochure written by Kevin Cranston and Cooper Thompson, with help from members of BAGLY, Boston Area Gay and Lesbian Youth. Organizations and individuals are free to reprint and distribute this brochure with written permission from The Campaign to End Homophobia. Write to us at P.O. Box 819 , Cambridge , MA 02139 .