What I’ve Learned as a Recently Out Lesbian
Happy Pride Month to all that identify within the Queer community! I appreciate all of you, and I hope that this article partially resonates with you or can help you in the future.
I officially “came out” as a lesbian about 14 months ago, and I was overwhelmingly proud of myself for realizing and admitting my sexuality. Prior to understanding my attraction to women, I interacted with men in an entirely different way. The compulsory heterosexuality I faced when I identified as straight and then bisexual severely impacted the way I carried myself throughout the world, especially in my earlier college years. Even as strong, independent, women, we all struggle with the balance between doing what we want, versus what we think men want. These struggles are often subconscious, but still important. I dressed slightly differently, even though I was not always completely comfortable. I argued slightly less, specifically when it came to topics of misogyny. I bit my tongue in the workplace, as I wasn’t sure how it would impact my future or relationships with coworkers.
Also, I had not yet done the internal work that has allowed me to understand the deep-rooted misogyny of the endless phrases, conversations, and actions of men that may not seem signficant in the moment. When I look back to my past self, I am grateful that my understanding of the world has grown. Although I will always struggle with compulsory heterosexuality, I have been able to detect where misogyny lies within straight and queer communities. The below realizations are common perceptions of the queer experience, both serious and not-so-serious.
- Men don’t care that you’re a lesbian: Unfortunately, wearing rainbow earrings does not act as men repellant, and they will still hit on you. I have always experienced male persistence, but it was shocking to view even more persistence when you tell a man you’re gay. They simply don’t care, and it’s an astounding realization. As I thought about why this is, I understood that straight men simply don’t view my sexuality as legitimate or respect lesbian relationships. Maybe there isn’t enough queer representation, or they can’t fathom an experience they don’t have. Either way, telling a man you’re gay will not convince them to leave you alone and it very quickly becomes unbearable.
- Straight men are annoyingly curious: Within my experiences of revealing my sexuality to hormonal men (in hopes that they will leave me alone), I have been asked endless questions. Somehow, men don’t view my sexuality as legitimate and are still abundantly curious about it. Prepare for questions about lesbian sex, relationship dynamics, and the exact identity of your queerness. Many queer people originally try to answer out of politeness (as I initially did), but as the questions become more abundant, it becomes easier to tell anyone and everyone to leave you alone.
- Dressing “gay” does not make you gay: When I was first struggling with my sexuality, I instantly tried to rediscover my personal style. I even tried to create outfits that I knew would not be appealing to men. I fell into a stereotypical rabbit hole of dressing as gay as possible in order for my sexuality to feel legitimate to myself. Although dressing feminine gains unwanted attention, I have accepted that it’s okay to want to dress ultra-feminine and have fun with makeup. I have also accepted that because I love fashion, I will never have just one aesthetic and instead need to dress based on how I feel.
- The constant battle between feminine vs masculine: Anyone involved in the queer community understands that there are identities within identities, meaning that subcategories exist within sexualities. There are femmes, mascs, tops, bottoms, pillow princesses, golden retrievers, ect. It sounds overwhelming, and that’s because it is. Feeling like you have to subcategorize yourself when you just found your sexuality is frustrating. Personally, this struggle was reflected in my clothing. Still, there is an unnecessary decision to make when deciding on your daily outfit, and how you want to be perceived by the world.
- Having male friends feels impossible: Keeping and making male friends has been a significant battle for me, and is a popular topic within the queer community. Not many lesbians have a positive experience with men in the midst of coming out, and with that comes infinite distrust. All men have misogynist qualities, but obviously that doesn’t mean all men are bad people. But as someone who had male friends and lost them when coming out, it is beyond difficult to make male friends and feel as if they are genuine, even though you so badly want them to be.
- Lesbian situationships are intense: For any queer people who are not yet dating, this is a significant realization to keep note of. Dating as a lesbian is immediately intense because we all have a shared experience, which means that queer women bond quickly (cue the Uhaul jokes). But believe it or not, thinking you’re in love after the first facetime call does not end well for everyone. In fact, it results in repetitive love bombing that is not always intentional. Create boundaries, maintain alone time, and try not to move in right away.
- You will always want a new haircut: Before 2021, the most I did to my hair was a trim and some unfortunate Sun-in. Moments after I realized I was queer, I chopped off my hair and kept going shorter. Even as I am writing this article, I am debating whether or not to get a bob again. Hair grows back, so have with every new haircut and color!
- Don’t always be honest: I have a significant amount of privilege as a white woman from a small, suburban town in Connecticut. That being said, I rarely feel unsafe as a lesbian, including when applying for a job or simply walking around with my girlfriend. However, I have learned that people won’t always think of you the same way when coming out. Realizing that keeping quiet until you are able to be loud (and can afford to do so) is a difficult concept to come to terms with, especially when you have done the work to become internally comfortable with yourself.
- There is homophobia in polyamory: Although I am currently monogamous, I have been exposed to more queer media than ever before (thanks TikTok), which includes polyamory. I knew absolutely nothing about polyamorous relationships before last year, and I have primarily learned that it is healthy for many couples and there are many different types of polyamory. However, I have also learned that many men treat this relationship status as a way to control their partner and illegitimize queer relationships. Men who allow their female partner to only date women while stating that they are polyamorous are inherently homophobic and misogynist. If you are not comfortable with your female partner dating people of all genders/identities (even though you are dating people of the opposite gender), you are not polyamorous. You simply do not view “women loving women” relationships as legitimate enough to be filled with actual love.
- Finding queer spaces is important: Prior to entering queer bars and spaces (including online), I would have never imagined the importance of finding those spaces. The instant feeling of comfortability and happiness is incredible, and a great way to meet like-minded friends. I have never felt safer than when I entered queer bars, and those nights make me wish that I joined local queer organizations sooner.
Although I expect mostly queer people to read this article, I hope that others are interested in different experiences. If you are a straight, cis male that has somehow stumbled onto this piece, take a moment to think about your boundaries with the lesbian community. In order to create a more comfortable society for queer people, those of all identities need to further internalize genuine respect.