Stereotypical lesbian?

Originally Published: January 23, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: October 5, 2007
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Dear Alice,

I've recently told a couple of my friends that I'm a lesbian, and they responded with a comment like, they already knew, or that they weren't surprised. I guess I have two questions. First off, is there a stereotype for lesbians, and if it's that obvious that I'm gay and a lot of my friends know, then how come I can't find a girl that I can share pleasurable experiences with?

Dear Reader,


There is a stereotype of lesbians that some women fit; however, there are many gay women who don't sit comfortably at all in these generic categories. With stereotypes — of gays, straight men, Jews, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Minnesotans, New Yorkers, athletes, and almost every other group you can think of — some people fit them, but many do not. The fact that your friends were not surprised when you came out to them may not have anything to do with stereotypes. Could this response have resulted from you being more yourself to them? Perhaps you have been more open than you suspect about who you are: your values, priorities, and what you want and don't want in life.


Your second question ponders the connection between your "obvious" sexual orientation and your search for a partner. Being obviously lesbian has nothing to do with having or not having a partner. Think about the obviously heterosexual people you know who don't have partners. Remember that lesbians are women — women who grew up with suggestions that they be passive, and patient when waiting to be asked out by someone else. If you have two women who are interested in one another, doesn't it follow that each one may be waiting for the other to "make the first move?"


It is important to put yourself in situations where you can meet other lesbians. Some ways that lesbians can meet others are to take a class or attend a group dealing with something they are interested in. For example, on many campuses, there are various gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender organizations that have discussions, social activities, and events. Additionally, there are many kinds of community groups and events, including Dykes on Bikes, speed dating, and Lesbian Cinema Arts to name a few. Attending or working on events gives you opportunities to meet other lesbians with similar interests who may want to be friends with you or even explore the possibility of something more intimate.


It may feel intimidating, but you have to seek opportunities as well. If there is someone you are interested in getting to know, invite her for coffee, a walk, a museum visit, or a concert. Someone has to make the first move and it very well may be you, not her. 


You clearly have the courage to come out to your friends. Continue using that courage and take the next steps to making new friends and much more.


October 5, 2007

So the stereotype? Be yourself not the world's idea of what you are. Some people identify as gay strongly, like as one central conflict or part of their life. Other gay people (and any other...
So the stereotype? Be yourself not the world's idea of what you are. Some people identify as gay strongly, like as one central conflict or part of their life. Other gay people (and any other demographic, I presume) think of themselves as, for example, an artist first, black second and then gay. It depends how much you think about it. This also pertains to gender roles and being transgender. If you're gay and if you feel you're truly a girl are two very different things, although the stereotypes can sort of overlap. As for girlfriends, check out your local GSA. Even in sort of not-gay-accepting places helping the GSA can be "coming-out" to the right sort of people while keeping the excuse "hey, I'm just trying to help! I'm straight!" It'll help you feel good about you.