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What is lesbian sexuality? Answers to your top questions

Robyn Exton

Mar 10, 2023

What is lesbian sexuality? Answers to your top questions

Let’s talk lesbians — one of my all-time favorite subjects. Depending on where you fall in the generational scheme of things, you might remember lesbian being a bit of a dirty word when you were a kid, while nowadays, many women are proudly announcing their lesbian identities on social media, in the workplace, and to their friends/families, and living openly as their true selves.

Being a lesbian is a natural thing. You can find same-sex canoodling all over the animal kingdom. But if you listen to some politicians, religious leaders, and conspiracy theorists these days, you’d think women loving other women is an intentional plot to destroy the world. But the truth is lesbians are everywhere — in every culture, in every generation — just living their lives.

So, let’s answer some of the most pressing questions I hear about lesbian sexuality.

Where does the word lesbian come from?

The word lesbian has been around since the Victorian era. It literally means “resident of the Isle of Lesbos,” a Greek island. The most famous resident of Lesbos is the poet Sappho, whose surviving poems largely honor her relationships with other women.

Sappho’s erotic love poems about women were legendary — and controversial. In fact, many of them were destroyed during the burning of the Library of Alexandria. But today we honor her by using the terms sapphic and lesbian for wlw (women-loving-women). 

How do I know if I’m a lesbian?

According to Miriam-Webster, a lesbian is a woman who is sexually or romantically attracted to other women: a gay woman

Of course we don’t define our lives based on what the dictionary says. Sometimes Mrs. Webster takes a minute to catch up with how we use a word in the real world. But generally, if you’re a woman (or nonbinary person) who is sexually or romantically attracted to women, then congratulations! You can identify as a lesbian IF that feels right to you. 

The internet is full of lesbian sexuality quizzes, but at the end of the day, how you identify is a deeply personal thing. While there are always a handful of signs you’re a lesbian, the only person who can define your sexuality is yourself.

Source: Reddit

Why are so many women realizing they’re lesbians after being married to men?

For starters, it might have to do with the fact that we live in a painstakingly heteronormative world. That means that the default setting on sexuality is straight. That’s why members of the LGBTQIA+ community come out. People generally assume you are straight unless you tell them otherwise.

Then add in the deeply ingrained bigotry against queer people, internalized homophobia, and the patriarchy… and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the countless women who have convinced themselves that they are straight, get married to men, and then years later realize they’ve been lesbians all along.

Some people find that their sexual orientation is more of a fluid experience and the way they identify changes over time. So coming out as a lesbian later in life might happen after you’ve grown and changed as well. 

Should I put “lesbian” in my dating profile if I used to date men?

If you’ve realized you’re a lesbian later in life — after dating men — allow me to welcome you to the queer community! We’re so glad you’re here.

The answer to this question is a resounding YES! No matter what you might’ve once identified as — a lesbian is a lesbian! Regardless of their dating history and their past. You don’t have to qualify it. You don’t have to earn it. You can proudly and confidently call yourself a lesbian on your dating profile.

Should I tell people I’m a lesbian?

Commonly known as “coming out,” telling other people you identify as a lesbian is not a requirement. If you want to keep it to yourself, tell just a few people, or even shout it on social media, it’s totally up to you. Telling people you are a lesbian is a personal decision. 

Here are some things you may want to consider before you come out:

  •  Is the person I’m coming out to likely to be supportive?
  •  Is coming out to this person likely going to be a positive experience for me?
  •  Is coming out to this person going to put me in danger in any way? 

Remember, coming out is about you. You don’t owe anyone an explanation about who you are or who you love. If you don’t want to make an announcement, you don’t have to.

How do lesbians have sex?

In a culture where the word sex is usually defined by one specific physical act, it’s not uncommon for people to wonder how women have sex with each other. I mean, there’s an important part missing, right? Wroooong.

Sex between two women has nearly limitless options. You don’t need a penis to have sex. Although if you enjoy penetration, there are lots of options in the form of dildos — phallic toys and vibrators. Many of these can be worn with a harness (known as a strap) so one woman can penetrate the other hands-free.

But sex between women is about much more than penetration. There are SO many other things you can do to bring pleasure to your partner with your fingers, tongue, and generally creating friction in a variety of ways.

Lesbian sex can go on for literally hours. I do suggest you take an occasional water and snack break. But there are countless ways for you and your partner to explore and enjoy each other’s bodies. And statistically, wlw have more frequent orgasms than women who have sex with men. Although, at HER we didn’t need a study to tell us that!

If you’re starting to explore this world for yourself, don’t be shy about talking to your prospective partner about what they like. Queer folks are legendary communicators. Since there’s no “default” sexual activity or gender roles, we’re all more okay with the reality that we have to talk about sex before we get started. 

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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