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Feeling weird about calling yourself a Lesbian? Lets talk about it

It’s no secret that the label “Lesbian” stirs up many mixed emotions for most of us who want to identify with the term, the negative connotations that come with it spans back generations and still to this day even with a more accepting climate young people will still actively talk about wanting to be called Gay rather than Lesbian even if they feel it’s the term that best describes their sexuality.


Lesbian Is Not A Dirty Word:


Popular young creators and stars that have a strong social media presence like JoJo Siwa and Tik Tok creator Libby Mae have both talked publicly about not feeling comfortable with calling themselves a lesbian. In an interview with Yahoo Life Jojo commented “I don’t like the word itself." "It’s just like a lot. But I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what I am. It’s like the word moist. It’s just like…ugh!" You can read the the full interview here JoJo Siwa on being a 'gay icon' and misconceptions about lesbian culture: 'You can be queer and be girly' (yahoo.com)


These comments were soon met with backlash online but I personally feel that instead of slating a young person who has survived the highs and lows of being a child in television and who then had to face coming out so publicly, we should instead perhaps focus our gaze on why as a society we’ve made young queer people feel so repulsed by the term that best describes them.


Big Fat Lesbian Crush:


I came out around the age of 19 or 20 and I can still vividly remember the word Lesbian being used as an insult all the way through secondary school. It was probably one of the worst things you could’ve been called because even your friends would start to feel uncomfortable around you as if you were some kind of predatory individual whose entire existence was based around having a big fat lesbian crush on every single female you encountered. I had a friend that openly would tell me their suspicions over who they thought was a lesbian and it was agreed that I should never leave them alone with them as they felt so unsafe and uncomfortable in their presence. Now as an adult woman who has reclaimed the label I feel so ashamed that at 14 or 15 years old I still couldn’t see how damaging and wrong those comments were, but also to keep this semi light-hearted lets not miss the irony that I was in fact a Lesbian, albeit it not being on my radar yet but not the poor girl in question and so my friend unknowingly spent a good portion of her high school years growing up alongside the scary woman loving woman predator she so feared, god knows what she thinks when she’s stumbled across my social media now...


The Gay & Lesbian Divide:


All of this goes to show that the negative connotations that we still feel now were probably planted way before we even registered ourselves that we were Lesbians. It’s widely known and experienced within our community that we just aren’t as widely accepted as maybe gay men are especially among straight women. You’ll always find an abundance of gay bars in major cities, but you’ll most probably only find one lesbian bar if any. You’ll then hear countless stories of lesbians, especially femme presenting ones being turned away by door staff as they state, “members only tonight”. I can remember being at work once and hearing my employer say that she wouldn’t “have a problem with her son being gay but she couldn’t deal with her daughter being a lesbian” this was followed by everyone unanimously agreeing that lesbians were in fact “gross” but they all adored working with our favourite gay Florist and flourished in his beautiful campness. I feel it’s important to note that this by no means takes away from the very real struggles and homophobia that gay men and the gay community faces, but you can’t talk about the negative connotations associated with the lesbian label without giving space for the Gay and Lesbian divide that’s sometimes felt.


Back in the 1980’s when the AIDS crisis hit it was found that any divide between gay men and lesbians was put to one side. This was mainly because when so many others backed away, the lesbian community came to the front and instead stood by and helped the gay community in any way they could. They donated blood, set up food banks and worked in hospitals to help nurse so many in their hours of need. The gay and lesbian community really came together in what was such a devasting time and it’s been said that this is when the decision was made for the “L” of LGBTQ+ to be the leading letter.



The Over Sexualisation:


It's no surprise really is it that so many young lesbians feel mixed emotions with the label. Now more than ever you’ll also find that a lot of us steer clear from the term because of it’s over sexualization. I’ve said time and time again, especially as a feminine lesbian myself that lesbianism isn’t for the consumption of men. The reality is that being a lesbian couple out in public especially if showing any kind of affection will always run the risk of you being the centre of a hate crime and being on the receiving end of real physical violence primarily from straight men however one look at a pornography site will show you that the “Lesbian” and “Girl on Girl” category will always be most viewed and most often than not produced and filmed by men for men. You’ll also see commonly that feminine presenting women are thrust together in other forms of media like styled shoots and campaigns to give a look of inclusivity but really this is again to please or rather not offend a heavily heteronormative audience. There's a strange mix of both lesbians being sexualised whilst also being presented and included but only as the straightest looking version and as such the most digestible form of queerness so that any straight and cis gender audience feel more able to accept us.  All of this can really lead to lesbian relationships feeling invalidated and being reduced to some kind of shallow and superficial performance for attention from others. Pretty much every single lesbian will be able to tell you how they’ve been met with responses like “You just haven’t found the right man yet” and “you just need some real D in you” and again this leads back to not only feeling incredibly disrespected and somewhat violated but also shines a light on the fact that we still aren’t safe anywhere.



The Peace & Power In Calling Yourself A Lesbian:


This all clearly shows why so many of the younger generation still feel so separate from the lesbian label but despite all of the above struggles that identifying as a lesbian can bring, I hope that you can one day both see and find the joy in our community and celebrate the power in our love. I’ve been on a journey to reclaim the word for years now and I often call myself a raging lesbian because there really isn't a straight bone in my body and I refuse to feel shame for that. Our love is both intense and beautiful and there’s so much to be proud of in our queer history, there’s always more that could and should be done, we know allyship is a commitment but this week I hope you can find some peace and power in the lesbian label and if you are struggling remember my DM’s and email are always open if you need a chat or a raging lesbian rant!

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