Anybody who knew me before 2006 has probably wanted to ask me this question: Are you really a lesbian? I don’t know how to answer that question adequately without getting into some sort of discussion about things some people probably don’t want to know. I’m sure many of my friends were skeptical at first. After all, most of them had known me when I dated guys or had been married. For most of my life, I dated guys. And I was genuinely attracted to their personalities. To a point. But I was also attracted to women. I just didn’t admit to that because I wasn’t ready. And I don’t think the few women I had been attracted to felt the same about me. But I was always more attracted to women than I was to men.
Had I admitted to this earlier in my life, some may have questioned my sincerity. Some may have even said I was just going through a “phase.” But to me, I just thought of it as being attracted to a person and not a particular gender. Attraction for me is mostly about who the person is and how they make me feel. Physical attraction is secondary to me. I never talked to anyone about it. Even now, I think there is still more prejudice and judgement for those who are truly bisexual than for homosexuals. I’ve certainly heard comments from people about bisexuality that were downright disparaging. Should people instead be asking me “Are you sure you aren’t bisexual?” No.
Alfred Kinsey’s scale, for me, provides a better answer to these questions. I think we all have a sexuality that is more often than not, fluid. I think the majority of people do fall on the heterosexual side of the scale, but just how far down? How many heterosexual people are willing to admit that at one point in their life they were attracted to someone of the same sex? I think women are more apt to admit to this than men. I also think our attractions change as we get older and discover more about ourselves and what is important to us. Here is what I can say about myself.
I have loved several men in my life. I saw them as friends, protectors, companions. I was attracted to them on some level, though not enough for their liking I imagine.
I dated men exclusively until I met my partner. The attraction I felt for other women over the years, even when I was dating men, I kept to myself.
When I met my partner, I was stunned by just how strongly I felt about her. I can only describe it as a lightbulb going on over my head. I just KNEW. Whenever we spent time together, I got nervous and giddy and excited. I felt alive for probably the first time in my life. Being with her felt right. Being married to a man felt like trying to wear shoes on the wrong feet.
My partner and I have both talked about how we still sometimes find men attractive. I think that’s perfectly normal. Why shouldn’t we, as humans, find people of either gender attractive? Does that mean we want to have sex with them? No. I might find Hugh Jackman adorable and sexy, but that doesn’t mean I want to hop in bed with him. But some people often have trouble distinguishing between being attracted to someone and wanting to have sex with someone. In my mind, these are two very different matters. And that is why talking about sexuality can be so difficult. For some, it is an uncomfortable discussion. They don’t want to discuss sex in such open terms.
I don’t know that if I had come out earlier in my life if I could have talked to someone about these issues. There wasn’t as much acceptance at that time as there is now. And I don’t know how many women are out there, questioning themselves, their marriages, their choices, because they feel like they can’t admit to their loved ones that they are indeed a lesbian. I know I’m not alone in coming out this late in life. And that is one of the reasons I wanted to finally talk about this here. If one person is helped by this, that’s a good thing.
The smartass in me has a very difficult time not answering the “Are you sure…” question without a little snippiness. I try to just leave it at “Yes, I’m a lesbian.” But if someone follows up with “Well, how can you be sure?”, I’m left with two options. I can give them the explanation I just gave all of you above, which would take some time because I’m sure there would be more questions. Or I could answer the question in the most blunt and honest manner I can:
Because I want nothing to do with a penis. You can have them.