10 mars 2009

Am I bisexual or lesbian?

For the longest time I knew I was sexually attracted to both men and women, no questions asked. I have an incredible girlfriend, Chelsea. We have been dating for about seven months, and my feelings for her increase every day. I love her to death. Yesterday my friend asked me if I was bisexual or lesbian, and I didn’t know what to say. I have had one serious boyfriend before but I broke up with him after he cheated on me. I don’t really notice guys anymore. I mean, if my friend asks me if I think a certain guy is attractive, I might say yes, but there isn’t really any sexual attraction. Do you think I am a lesbian, or do you think that I am just more attracted to women than men because of the bad break up experience I had with my only boyfriend? I know there isn’t a certain yes or no answer but any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Hillary Greer

Hi Kelsey, thanks for sending your question to Alterheros!

From what I understand, you are trying to find the right label for your sexual orientation, and also trying to decide if you are finding yourself more attracted to women because that is what’s natural for you, or because you’ve had a bad experience with a man before. These are questions that many people take years to navigate. Many people have no idea why it is that they are, or aren’t gay. Most people believe they were born that way, but there are others who believe that

something in their life has brought them there. At the end of the day, does it matter? If you are bisexual or a lesbian because you were born that way or because for some reason you’ve just decided you don’t want to be with men, isn’t it the same in the end? You are who you are right now, and you seem quite happy that way. So try not to analyze it and find all the answers , and just enjoy your happiness and love right now.

I can see how it is scary not to know why you are a certain way and if you are going to stay that way forever, or if you might change your mind again one day. But the reality is that sexuality is fluid, it also often doesn’t fit into one of the typical categories that society generally tells us it does (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual). There is an entire spectrum of diverse sexual orientations. Although some people may know when they are 4 years old that they are gay and always

have been and always will be, for lots of people it is a life long journey of self discovery. A journey that never ends because as you grow and change, your sexual desires and preferences will change and grow too.

In regards to your friends asking you ‘what are you- bisexual or lesbian-?’ you can tell them what you want. If you don’t have an answer for that question yet, then tell them that. You can tell them that you love women, especially your girlfriend, but you aren’t sure how you feel about men. Try not to feel pressured to make decisions and label yourself for other people. This is something that is completely about and for you, it affects your life, not theirs. Labels are complex. They can be empowering and comfortable but they can also be constricting and can feel like a sort of contract. Some people like to have a label for themselves because it is nice to fit into a community and can contribute to a sense of solidarity. However, other

people choose to never label themselves (labels are for clothes!) because they don’t want to limit themselves to being and loving only one kind of person.

If you need further support, it might be a good idea to seek some counseling (depending on where you live, you can probably find some free confidential youth counseling in your city). You could also consider joining a community youth group that could help you meet people and be exposed to certain things that you might not usually experience, and these experiences could help you discover yourself

some more. There are lots of web resources and books also about labeling and defining sexuality. I recommended checking out the following if you are still curious: ‘Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love’ by Lisa Diamond; as well as ‘The End of Gay’ by Bert Archer. These could get your mind working a bit, and in different ways. Go easy on yourself, there is no need (and no way) to know

everything right now. Give yourself time and enjoy exploring and learning!

Let us know if you have more questions!

Hillary, for Alterheros.