How to Be a Lesbian

Four Methods:Recognizing your SexualityFinding a Queer CommunityDating And Sex With Other WomenComing Out

Learning how to navigate relationships and sexuality is hard enough when your desires are part of the mainstream, heteronormative culture. But, as lesbians, finding role models and examples for how to navigate the dating world, coming out, and understanding your sexuality is still difficult if you don't know where to look. Being a lesbian does not make you different from other human beings. However, there are some unique challenges and lesbians face when navigating relationships and sexuality.

Method 1
Recognizing your Sexuality

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    Understand what it means to be a lesbian. Lesbians are women who have natural and normal attraction to other women. They feel deep emotional bonds with women and prefer the romantic company of another lady.[1] Being a lesbian is not a choice that you've made, but a part of your personality.[2][3]Just like some people are born tall and others short, some people are naturally heterosexual and some homosexual and many in between. You are the way you are for a reason.
    • Recognizing and accepting your feelings is all that matters when accepting yourself as a lesbian. If you feel attracted to women, then there you are. There is no need to judge that attraction in any way. You should simply accept it.[4]
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    Know that sexuality is a spectrum. There are many boxes that people can be placed in when it comes to sexual orientation. You may have feelings for both men and women, for just women, or for very few people at all. You may also swing and shift from desire to desire. All of this, however, is perfectly normal. Because there are no boxes to fit in, there are no "right" ways to be lesbian, straight, bisexual, or any other sexual or gender identity.[5]
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    Explore your desires without judgment. If you start to feel attracted to women, don't shy away from the feeling or try and hold it down. This doesn't mean that you need to go out and start dating girls right off the bat, but you should take the time to examine your own feelings. But in a world where every movie, show, and song says that girls should date boys, these feelings can be confusing. However, you should trust yourself and think about your feelings honestly instead of repressing them.
    • Do you feel nervous or out of place with your girlfriend/s?
    • Do you find yourself looking at women and girls more frequently than men?
    • Do you constantly think "why can't the guys I date be more like the awesome women I know?"[6]
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    Know that your sexuality is just one facet of your personality. Being a lesbian does not make you a different person, after all you were born this way! There is no set of beliefs, hobbies, or interests that you can or cannot enjoy because of your sexuality. You should never ever feel like you need to change because of your sexuality, or that you're going to be pigeonholed once you tell your friends and family.[7]
    • Your identity is not determined by your sexual/romantic orientation. If you do not want to be known as "just a lesbian," you should introduce yourself on other terms.
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    Remain confident in who you are, even when people are cruel. Luckily, you live in a world that is slowly realizing that being a lesbian is not a curse or decision and that it is a part of life. Unfortunately, there are still people who cannot accept that others are homosexual. Kids, in particular, can be merciless bullies when someone is not like them. That said, you must remember that these people are just confused. They lash out or act angry because they have not had the chance to meet you and are instead basing their attitudes on stereotypes and ignorance. People who don't accept you are not, in the end, worth your worry, and they are missing the chance to get to know an incredible person. That's their problem, not yours.quoting Dr. Suess, "those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind!"
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    Let people know your sexual orientation when you are ready. Coming out is an incredibly difficult and nerve-wracking process. You can never be entirely sure how someone will react, and you shouldn't feel obliged to tell someone if you're not comfortable yet. Take you time and bring up the conversation when you're ready!.
    • Studies have shown that people who come out are happier and healthier as a result of decreased worry, stress, and anxiety! [8]
    • Be honest and direct with your words. You shouldn't feel ashamed about your sexual orientation, even if your feel nervous about telling people about it.
    • Start by telling close friends that you know will support you. These people will help you through the tougher conversations. And most of all, DON'T BE SORRY!!![9]

Method 2
Finding a Queer Community

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    Know that joining your queer community is a great way to find similar people to discuss issues and relationships in the lesbian world. Having other people with whom you can discuss sexuality and dating honestly is a great way to explore your own feelings in a safe environment. It is also a great way to find potential partners. While sexual orientation shouldn't be the main way you find friends, everyone likes to talk to someone who "gets it."
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    Get to know your neighbors and coworkers. Being gay is not an obvious, flamboyant lifestyle choice. Chances are good that, if you get to know the people in your office, a few of them will be lesbians as well. Take people up on drink offers and group dates or parties, and let yourself get to know everyone. The queer friends will pop up when you least expect them.
    • Once you've made a few lesbian friends, ask them if they'd introduce you to anyone else.
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    Find gay, lesbian, and/or queer groups in your area. Almost all college campuses have LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) alliances and groups that are safe places to meet other men and women. Cities the world over have similar groups, and you can often find brochures and information in bookstores, at gay clubs or restaurants, or searching online.
    • Roller derbies, bike co-ops, and DIY workshops are a great place to get out and meet people, lesbian or not. These locations have a reputation for being popular gay destinations.[10]
    • There are often gay/lesbian newspapers in major urban areas that list events, meetups, and news on the nearby gay community.
    • Contact the National Organization for Women (NOW) if you need support or help finding a nearby group.[11]
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    Ask your close friends or family. People can't resist playing a little matchmaker, and close friends are often the best people to help. This doesn't just mean finding you a romantic partner necessarily. <any straight friends are happy to help your find other lesbians to hang out with, and social networking is the best way to expand your friend group.[12]
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    Check out gay or lesbian concerts and events. Usually marked by a rainbow flag or LGBT tag, many queer groups coalesce around music and events just like any other social group. All-female bands, though it seems stereotypical, are often a good, safe place to meet other lesbian friends. You can also check out your area's Pride conventions/parades, or The Femme Conference.[13]
    • Musical venues have the added benefit of easy conversation -- "How'd you like the show" becomes a perfect conversation starter.[14]
    • Many bars, especially gay bars, will advertise a "Lesbian Night" once a week.
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    Meet people online. The internet is a fantastic place to meet people from all walks of life. Head to lesbian or queer issue blogs and start commenting, making friends with people and seeing if anyone lives nearby. Put "LGBTQ-friendly" in your next posting for roommates, and check out forums and sites about queer culture in your area. Even if you can't meet in person, there are tons of sites where people just want to get to know each other. You only have to put yourself out there.
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    Find lesbian-supportive media. Having positive media depictions of people like you can make a huge difference in your self-image, and it provides a great conversation starter when meeting new people. Luckily, things have changed a lot in the last couple of years. You can find positive portrayals of lesbians in everything from The Fosters to Glee, Orange is the New Black to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, But I'm a Cheerleader to Imagine Me and You.
    • Many cities have gay-themed art shows, film festivals, and more. These are not only a great place to meet people, it is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the vibrant and incredible queer subculture of your town.

Method 3
Dating And Sex With Other Women

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    Know that dating lesbians is just like entering any other relationship. The essence of a date doesn't change depending on your sexual orientation. Dating is about getting to know someone one-on-one, flirting, and having fun no matter who you are with. If you remember to be polite, learn to listen instead of talk, and try and have fun, you're already a dating professional.
    • Don't feel like you need to change who you are or what you do once you've identified as a lesbian. You should still be yourself on any date.
    • Dating is always a little awkward, nervous, and weird at first -- no matter what your sexual orientation.
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    Be confident when asking people out. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if someone is also gay without asking upfront. But the signals of attraction are mutual across all sexualities. If, during your conversation, you see the following signs and feel attraction, you should go for gold and ask her out on a date:
    • Strong eye contact.
    • Touching you, especially on the arms and shoulders.
    • Laughter, nervousness, and frequent smiling your way.[15]
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    Be supportive and open about each other's sexual needs. Again, sex between two women may be physically different, but need for open communication is something all relationships share. You know your body, and you know what feels good, so you should communicate those needs to your partner as well. Find what works for you, learning how to best please each other over time.
    • Let her know when something feels good, or when she should try something else.
    • Gently ask her if she likes something you're trying. Don't be afraid to laugh, smile, or make a quick joke if something doesn't quite work out. Sex is intimate, but that doesn't mean it's all serious.
    • Porn is not a great place to look for advice. Porn is designed around what looks good on camera, not what necessarily feels the best in bed.
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    Remember to have safe sex. Youmainly hear about safe sex between men and women and between men and men, and it is easy to forget that lesbians need to practice safe sex too. Lesbians can spread STIs and STDs between each other. You need to take the necessary precautions to stay safe and happy.
    • Use condoms or dental dams when using sex toys to prevent sharing fluid.
    • Know that certain STIs, like herpes, can be transmitted through skin to skin contact.[16]
    • Be sure to get tested for STDs at your local health clinic if you see multiple partners or don't know a past partner's sexual history.

Method 4
Coming Out

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    Decide for yourself if you are ready to come out. To "come out of the closet" about this major discovery can be very enlightening and/or burdening for people. It is not necessary to disclose your sexual orientation if you do not want to do so. Tell only the people you want to tell, on your own terms. It is your life and being forward and honest about your sexuality is a personal choice.
    • You do not have to tell everyone at once, nor should you.
    • If you are confident in yourself and your sexuality, this will become much easier.
    • It is totally normal to feel scared, exhilarated, anxious, or even confused when coming out to someone.[17]
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    Know the pros and cons of coming out. Unfortunately, unlike straight people, you will eventually have to choose between telling people and not telling them. This decision will make you stronger and more empowered by your sexuality, but it is still a difficult decision to make. Some pros and cons include:
    • Pros:
      • Living an open and honest life, without feel like you have a secret.
      • Ability to connect with other LGBTQ friends and groups.
      • Show friends and family that it is okay and amazing to live with a lesbian friend and family member.
    • Cons:
      • Some people may react with confusion or even anger.
      • Permanently alter some relationships, though often for the better.
      • Potential for harassment, bullying, or distance from family, friends, and acquaintances.[18]
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    Find a quiet, comfortable time alone with someone to break the news. You may want to tell your whole family at once, or individually. Either way, you should choose a time when everyone is relaxed and calm, not right after a fight or during a stressful evening. This will help you feel comfortable and in control of the conversation.
    • Start by talking to the friends and family members you know will support you. Having this support system is crucial for feeling secure.[19]
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    Bring up LGBTQ issues or ideas generally to test the waters. You can try tentatively introducing the idea to them before telling them if you're very unsure of how they will react. Try watching a movie or show related to lesbian issues and see how they react. Bring up queer politics, like the Supreme Court's decision to allow gay marriage, and feel out their responses.
    • If they seem hostile or aren't respectful, take some time and think of another way to bring up the topic. Have someone else with you for support, like a mutual friend or family member, to help them see your side of things.
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    Explain your feelings. When you tell them, be sure to explain your feelings in terms they can understand, especially if you know it's a difficult topic for them. Just be honest, clear, and to the point. Help them identify with you and your sexuality, letting them know how this decision has made you much happier.
    • Be clear and direct when talking to them.
    • Tell them that this is who you are. You came to them because you trust them and want their support.
    • Enlist them to help you as you tell others and support your new lifestyle.[20]
    • People will take their cues from you. If you seem nervous, upset, or anxious, they will feel the same way. Be confident and assertive about yourself.
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    Let them ask you some questions. Having questions is normal. Don't be offended if they have questions and don't try too hard to avoid questions. Don't get upset if the questions are offensive, as any offense usually comes from a place of confusion and curiosity, not anger. This may be a new topic for people. They likely have a limited view of things until you help them see more.
    • Be sure to ask if they have any questions and answer them gracefully. This lets them feel like they are part of the conversation. It also eases the shock of a sudden announcement.
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    Be persistent, and yourself, if they have any holdups. Many people will unlearn the dangerous stereotypes and myths they have about lesbians once they know one. It took you some time to accept your sexuality. It will also take some time for some people to change their view of you and of homosexuality. While you shouldn't take abuse, you should be there for them and keep on being your normal, kind self. In time, most people will turn around.[21]
    • People may react to your decision with anger, confusion, or misunderstanding. Many people, however, react with happiness, honor to feel trusted, and acceptance. Never assume you know exactly how someone will respond.


  • Being a lesbian is like being any other type of person. Just be yourself!
  • If you meet a guy and he hits on you, tell him you're a lesbian so that he doesn't get comfortable and gets mad when you tell him.


  • Refrain from using alcohol or mind-altering drugs when experimenting sexually. If using a substance is the only way you feel comfortable in your lesbian relationships, you need to stop and take a hard, sober look at your sexuality and preferences.
  • Be aware that not everyone may accept your lifestyle. Be prepared for comments that may offend you. Not everyone will like everything you do. Take this bit of knowledge and carry it with you. Support your own choices/feelings and only deviate from them when you see room for change.

Sources and Citations

  2. Bailey JM, Pillard, RC (1991). "A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation". Archives of General Psychiatry 48 (12): 1089–96.

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Categories: LGBT