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All About Being a Lesbian

This web page provides information and links to resources for lesbians, their friends and family.

All about being a lesbian

  • A lesbian is a woman who is sexually and physically attracted to other women.
  • A lesbian may feel emotionally and spiritually closer to women than to men.
  • Not all lesbians refer to themselves using the term lesbian.
  • Sometimes this is because women do not feel comfortable calling themselves a lesbian, and other times women would prefer to use a term such as gay.
  • Each person has to find a word that is comfortable for him or her to use for himself or herself.
  • Approximately one in 10 people are gay or lesbian.
  • This means that in any large group of people, there are usually several lesbian women present.
  • But just like anyone else, you cannot tell a woman is a lesbian just by looking at her.
  • Lesbian women, like everyone else, blend in with other people but they often feel different.

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How do I know if I'm a lesbian?

  • Some women say that they knew they were lesbians when they were quite young; other women report that they did not recognize these feelings until they were middle age or even older.
  • As teenagers, lesbians may not be able to specify just why they feel different.
  • They may remember as children having feelings about girls rather than boys.
  • During adolescence, most young women begin to become aware of their sexual feelings and take an interest in dating.
  • Some girls or women might notice that they feel turned on by other women.
  • They may feel different from their friends, like they don't fit in sometimes.
  • When their girlfriends are checking out boys, they may find themselves checking out the girls.
  • They may not be interested in dating boys and may wonder why there are not any men like the terrific women they keep meeting.
  • A woman may feel confused or unsure about whether she is a lesbian.
  • Often times people try to rationalize lesbianism by saying: "you're too young to call yourself gay", or "you're just going through a phase", or "you've just been hurt by a man".
  • Our sexuality develops and changes over time so feeling confused is okay.

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If you think you might be lesbian, ask yourself:

  • When I have sexual fantasies or dreams is it about males or females?
  • Have I ever had a crush on, or been in love with a girl or a woman?
  • Do I feel different from other girls?
  • Are my feelings for girls and women true and clear?

If you cannot answer these questions now, don't worry; in time your sexual orientation will become clearer to you. You and only you know how to label yourself correctly.

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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.

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If I feel so different how can I learn to like myself?

  • All people have the right to feel good about themselves.
  • We are all valuable human beings.
  • Developing self-esteem is very important, especially for young people.
  • It can be difficult for lesbian youth to feel good about themselves because many people say that they are sick or perverted or destined to live unhappy lives; the same is said to gay bisexual and  transgender youth.
  • Hiding who you are can be difficult and hurtful.
  • Young lesbian women can feel isolated, fearful and depressed especially if they have no one to talk to.
  • More and more, lesbian women are learning to like who they are. It helps to read books about lesbians; it can also be beneficial to talk to and meet other lesbians. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Youth Line (1-800-268-9684) can offer support. Some youth like to attend social and support groups, or speak to a counsellor.
  • The most important thing to remember is that it's okay to be a lesbian; if it helps say this everyday, "I'm a lesbian and I'm okay".
  • It also helps to find someone to talk to who believes that lesbians are okay.
  • It's normal and natural to be a lesbian, just as it's normal and natural to be gay or straight.

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What about sexual activity?

  • Deciding whether or not to be sexual with someone is a big decision.
  • You may be scared about the possibility of becoming sexually active.
  • This is normal for everyone.
  • No one should have sex until they are ready and feel they are having sex for the right reasons.
  • Sex should only happen between mature individuals who care for each other.
  • You will know when the time is right.

We all choose to have sex in different ways, whether we are lesbian or straight. There are no sexual practices that are exclusively "lesbian".

  • There a lot of sexual activities one can be involved with; masturbation (either alone or with someone), kissing, hugging, holding, stroking, inserting fingers or sex toys into each other's vaginas, oral sex, rubbing bodies together to stimulate each other and anything else you both feel comfortable with.
  • Remember that you are in control over what you do sexually and you always have the right to say "no" to any sexual practice.

All sexually active people need to be aware of  HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. Certain sexual practices and drug use behaviours can put you at risk for catching HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Lesbians who are at risk are those who:

  • Share needles if using IV drugs
  • Have vaginal intercourse with men without using a  condom (it's fairly common for lesbians to occasionally have sexual contact with men)
  • Have oral sex with an infected woman without the  use of a barrier to protect against vaginal secretions or menstrual blood.

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How do I keep myself safe?

  • Use a dental dam for oral sex (dental dams can be obtained at the Sexual Health Clinic , from dental supply stores or can be made from a condom cut up one side to form a square of latex). For extra fun try flavoured condoms that you can purchase.
  • Using surgical gloves when sticking fingers into your partner's vagina or anus.
  • Don't share sex toys, and be sure to wash them with soap and warm water between uses.

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