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Things you need to know if you’re questioning whether you’re lesbian or bi

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Jan 25, 2022

Things you need to know if you’re questioning whether you’re lesbian or bi
  • If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve discovered you like the same sex, but are not quite sure whether that makes you lesbian or bisexual. Although we shouldn’t feel pressure to label ourselves, it can be beneficial to explore our identities. 

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    For many queer people, figuring out one’s sexuality is not always an easy process. Sexuality is complex and can often get confusing (and even downright overwhelming!). Your sexuality may not be so black and white, and you may find yourself being attracted to multiple different genders. On top of this, being raised in a heteronormative society can make figuring out one’s sexuality all the more complicated. 

    For women and nonbinary folks, it can sometimes be even more difficult to distinguish where we fall on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. We grew up with little to no representation of queer women and nonbinary people in the media. In addition to no women-loving women romance to look up to, we’re ingrained from a young age that our purpose is to fall in love with and serve a straight man– it was all around us, even in children’s movies! Can we start to see how we could end up quite confused, especially as we begin to notice our attraction to the same sex? 

    Yeah… our heteronormative society really did and still does us a disservice, but we are here to help! If you’re questioning whether you’re lesbian or bisexual, you’ve come to the right place.

    Why am I so confused about being bi or lesbian?

    If you are feeling confused about whether you are lesbian, bisexual, or something else altogether, know that you are not alone! This can be a very confusing, complicated journey for many people. 

    One main reason why this process can be so puzzling is being raised in a heteronormative society. Heteronormativity is the attitude that heterosexuality is the most natural way of being and the norm. Essentially, we live in a society in which being straight is seen as the default, and this ideology is present all around us and pushed onto us. This makes figuring out one’s sexuality especially confusing when it goes against the roles we’re expected to fit into.    

    Also, as children, our brains learn various ways to keep us safe. Many queer people pick up from a very young age that queerness is not the norm nor fully accepted, and we may have suppressed certain feelings to keep us from being different and, thus, safe. When repressed thoughts and memories begin to resurface in early adolescence or adulthood, it can even feel a bit disorienting!

    Remember that there is nothing to fear when coming to terms with your sexuality. It’s exciting to discover new things about yourself that may have been hidden away as you blossom into your truest self.

    What is the difference between the two?

    Lesbian and bisexual are two valid sexual identities, but some may have a harder time deciding which label they identify most with. Know there is never any pressure to label yourself! Not everyone adheres to a label, and some identify with more broad labels like ‘queer’ and ‘pansexual.’ 

    So what are the differences between lesbian vs bisexual?

    The term ‘lesbian’ defines a cis or trans woman or nonbinary individual who is sexually attracted to other women. ‘Bisexual,’ on the other hand, means someone who is attracted to more than one gender (learn more about bisexual and bi-curious and bisexual dating here). It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between the two because of all the stigmas and stereotypes that come along with them. 

    For example, bisexuality in women is often stigmatized as a ‘phase,’ a stepping stone to ultimately becoming a lesbian, or as having a preference toward men. Also, lesbians are often only represented in a stereotypical, more traditionally-masculine way– when in reality, someone can be gay no matter what they look like! Ultimately, whatever label feels most aligned to you is what’s valid.

    How to know if I’m bisexual or if I am a lesbian?

    If you’re trying to figure out if you’re lesbian or bisexual, there are some distinguishing factors that can help you determine your sexuality. Some of you may have heard of the Lesbian Masterdoc, which has been a great resource for many women and queer folks to understand if they are lesbian or bi. 

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    The doc dives into the phenomenon that prevents many women and nonbinary folks from labeling themselves as lesbian– compulsory heterosexuality (or comphet for short).

    Compulsory heterosexuality is a product of that darn heteronormativity, essentially meaning the ways in which we (subconsciously) force ourselves to be straight. It is so ingrained in us that it can be hard to dismantle, but here are some common signs of lesbians dealing with comphet:

    • Only liking unattainable men such as gay men, famous men, fictional characters, etc.
    • Deciding on someone to be attracted to; selecting your newest crush as if your attraction can be turned on like a switch.
    • Liking a man only to feel repulsed when they start to like you back.
    • Feeling grossed out thinking about being in a relationship with a man.

    Ultimately, feeling uncomfortable by your attraction toward men, feeling off-put by the sound of being in a relationship with them, and not seeing yourself being truly happy with a man are common signs of actually being a lesbian. In addition, just because you’ve dated men in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be a lesbian, and just because you’ve experienced attraction to men doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be with them. 

    Additionally, just because you feel an attraction toward women doesn’t always mean you don’t also feel attracted to men. Identifying as bisexual doesn’t mean you have to fit some made-up criteria, such as having a certain percentage of attraction to men/women/etc. It also doesn’t mean you believe in a gender binary just because of the ‘bi’ part.

    Everyone is different, and observing your attraction toward different types of people can help you discern how you really feel.

    What if I don’t quite identify as lesbian or bisexual?

    If you’re still feeling confused, we don’t blame you! Figuring out your sexuality doesn’t have to mean confining yourself to a new box. Sexuality is a spectrum, and it does not require strict guidelines. 

    Some people who don’t quite fully identify with the labels ‘lesbian’ or ‘bi’ may resonate more with other labels such as ‘pansexual’ or ‘queer.’ Pansexuality defines someone who is attracted to any person despite their gender/genitalia. Queer often refers to someone who is divergent from heterosexuality without a distinct label. 

    Some people even choose to not label themselves with a sexual orientation at all, not wanting to be confined by another identity. No matter what you may or may not identify as, being different from societal norms is a beautiful and courageous thing that should be celebrated!

    Make new friends or even find your one on HER

    One thing we do know for sure is that HER is the safest platform to meet fellow LGBTQIA+ women and nonbinary individuals, where you can connect with open-minded folks and find your perfect partner that truly feels right for you.

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    Katie is a writer and creative person based in Seattle who is passionate about the arts, environmental justice, and all things vintage fashion. She celebrates queerness as a natural yet radical state of being, and she strives to make the world a more inclusive place for all. You can find her taking meditative strolls in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest channeling her inner Bella Swan, or just on IG @ktmarieeee.

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