I think I might be Lesbian!
First of all, don’t panic!
For many young women who feel they might be lesbian, it can seem like the end of the world. Well, good news….it’s not. You can leave a happy, fulfilled life.
As lesbian women, we are not alone. One out of ten teenagers is lesbian or gay. Many famous women in history were lesbian. Lesbian women are teachers, doctors, lawyers, factory workers, police officers, politicians, ministers, movie stars, artists, mothers, nuns, truck drivers, models, and novelists. Lesbian women are White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and Buddhist. You name it, we are it.
A famous study called the Kinsey Report was done in 1948. It found that approximately 10% of the adult male population was homosexual. A more recent study estimates that LGBT people comprise about 3.8% of the U.S. population.
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 feel different from your girlfriends, like you don’t fit in sometimes. When your girlfriends are checking out boys, you may find yourself checking out girls. Going out with boys may not interest you.
You may also feel unsure about whether or not you’re lesbian. Adults tell us that we’re too young to call ourselves gay, or that we’re going through a phase, or that we don’t know what we’re talking about.
You may feel confused because you’re attracted to both men and women. That’s OK. Some women have relationships with either men or women throughout their lives. Our sexuality develops over time. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure.
Yes, you are normal. It’s perfectly natural for people to be attracted to members of their own sex. Many people push away these feelings because of prejudice against lesbian women and gay men.
Most scientific experts agree that a person’s sexual orientation is determined at a very young age, maybe even before birth.
It’s normal and healthy to be yourself whether you’re gay or straight. What’s really important is that we learn to like ourselves.
There’s no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way to be lesbian. Because of society’s stereotypes about lesbian women, you might think you have to be a certain way if you’re lesbian. But lesbian women come in all shapes, and sizes, from all occupations, and with all levels of education.
Because of homophobia and prejudice, some people don’t accept lesbian women and gay men. Lesbian women and gay men suffer from discrimination and violence. That’s why there are many gay and lesbian organizations that work for gay and lesbian civil rights.
Coming out is the process of accepting yourself as a lesbian woman and figuring out how open you want to be about your sexual orientation with other people.
Unfortunately, not everyone you know will think that being lesbian is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Some of your 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 youth have been kicked out of their homes when their parents found out.
Maybe there’s a guidance counselor or social worker at your school, or in a local youth or counseling agency that you can trust. It’s important to have someone to talk to because it’s not healthy for young people to have to keep secret such an important part of their lives.
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’s our first time.
It’s important that we communicate about what we like and don’t like to do sexually, whether we feel ready to have sex or not, and different expectations we may have about the relationship. And it’s important to talk about whether we’re at risk for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases, like herpes.
There are many ways that lesbian women can be sexual with each other from kissing, hugging and stroking, to intimate sexual acts. We can use our imaginations.
All of us should know about HIV, the virus believed to be the cause of AIDS – how it’s transmitted and how we can prevent ourselves from becoming infected. You and your partner should discuss your risk factors for HIV infection and decide what, if any, safer sex methods you should use.
Lesbian women who are at risk are those who:
Safer sex for lesbian women includes:
All people have a right to feel good about themselves. We’re all valuable human beings. Developing self-esteem is important for young people. It’s hard for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth to feel good about ourselves because all around us are people who believe that we’re sick, or perverted, or destined to live 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 isolated, fearful and depressed, especially if we’ve had no one to talk to about the fact that we’re lesbian.
More and more we, as young lesbian women, are learning to like who we are. It helps to read good books about lesbian women – books that have accurate information about lesbian women who are leading very fulfilling lives. It also helps to meet other lesbian women because then we find out that lesbian women are as diverse as any other group of people.
It can help to say to yourself every day, “I’m a lesbian woman and I’m OK.” And try to find someone to talk to who also knows that lesbian women are OK. Remember, it’s normal and natural to be lesbian, just like it’s normal and natural for some people to be heterosexual.
Most big cities, even some smaller ones, have programs like Hatch Youth. Google "LGBT youth" or "GLBT youth" and the name of your city and see what pops up.
Maybe your high school or college campus has a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or support group. You might have to ask a teacher or student you really trust to get more information on this. If there isn't one, consider starting one! GLSEN has lots of GSA resources on their website.
Look for a LGBT newspaper or magazine in your area to see what youth organizations and events you can attend. You'll most likely find these in coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants and other businesses in or near the "gay part of town," though every city has a predominantly LGBT neighborhood.
Be careful when trying to connect online. Not everyone is who they say they are. If you decide to meet up with someone you met online, meet in a public place where there are plenty of other people. NEVER agree to meet someone at their home or in an unfamiliar place. If you are minor (under 18), NEVER trust an adult stranger who chats with you privately or wants to meet you. What they are doing may be illegal, and it is dangerous to you!