What is a lesbian?
Lesbian is a sexual orientation to describe a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual attraction towards other women. Since non-binary identities are vast, some may also identify as lesbians. Other ways to describe this form of homosexuality would be WLW (women-loving women) or sapphist, from the Greek poetess Sappho who wrote extensively about her attraction to women.
All the above terms accurately describes the same experience. While some people may be ambivalent about the words they use to describe themselves, for others there are important distinctions. Unfortunately, because many people identifying within the LGBTIQ+ community have suffered from poor social, political and media representation as well as bullying and/or harassment, certain labels have come to carry trauma with them. We advise you to respect how someone identifies by using the terminology that they use for themselves!
Representation of lesbians in media
A lot has changed since the first airing of The L Word! Several shows and movies have included storylines showing lesbian couples and attraction, such as Orange Is The New Black, Grey’s Anatomy, The Fosters and more.
While some of these portrayals are realistic, stereotypes still persist about gender expression, gender roles and sexualization. This contributes to erasure by misinformation. The poor media representation of women-loving women impacts them with sexual harassment, alienating laws around motherhood and marriage, as well as inaccuracies on the fulfillment obtainable in a loving lesbian relationship.
Sexuality and being a lesbian
Sex involves intimacy, sensations and physical reactions of, but not limited to, genitalia. It may seem like a vague criteria that involves many possibilities, but that’s because there are lots of ways to have sex! There are many erogenous zones, orgasm spots and ways to stimulate each of them. Due to poor or nonexistent LBGTIQ+ sex education, including women having sex with other women, it is normal to ask yourself these questions (although searching for this information on the internet is the right way, not asking someone to describe their sex life to you). It is important to understand the breadth of sexual experiences possible to everyone as well as the methods of achieving them to fully grasp sexuality.
That said, the mystery around sex between women has been tainted with projections of heterosexual expectations, which do not paint the entire picture. While some people do really enjoy it, the over-representation in erotic lesbian scenes of acts like scissoring or use of dildos or that the couple must assume a masculine with a feminine partner dynamic should not be generalized. People are individuals, and the same goes for their constellation of sexual fantasies. Check out our pleasure category for more stories on the diversity of pleasures ;)
What type of lesbian am I?
The type of lesbian you are is yourself! You may find that you fit within a sub-identity (femme, butch), or you may find that none of those work for you. Either way, there is no shame in “fitting the stereotype” or departing from preconceived notions altogether. This goes for clothing, mannerisms, ways of speaking or acting, or even your interests. There is nothing to prove.
Get some inspiration from famous lesbians that show off their personalities and their myriad of ways of being themselves: soccer player Megan Rapinoe, Master of None actress Lena Waithe, Orange Is The New Black actress Samira Wiley & Lea DeLaria , writer and comedian Hannah Gadsby, Great British Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins or model and actress Ruby Rose. The list doesn’t stop here though, these are just a few suggestions.
Meeting other lesbians
It can be really difficult to meet other people in the LGBTIQ+ community. It can also be dreading to make a step into meeting new people. Despite seeming daunting, there is always the chance of something great happening. To meet other lesbians, there are two main options: going online or going IRL. Online is a bit easier; there are forums, social media pages and other online community spaces dedicated to helping people meet one another and find support in each other. There may even be an online group local to your city that organizes safe meetups. For dating, there are of course dating apps that can sometimes lead to fruitful encounters. Meeting people in real life can be trickier, but there are a few ways to find them: schools and universities tend to have clubs that organize events for queer people (or lesbians more specifically), advocacy community organizations may have a chapter in your nearby city and host various events that anyone is free to join, and finally there is Pride. This huge event will most certainly bring out the local LGBTIQ+ community out and will facilitate you meeting new people. Bonus points if you decide to volunteer.