QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I find myself in a very odd situation. I'm a heterosexual man and I've met a woman on-line who is a lesbian. However, she and I have had cyber sex and she says she really likes it and it makes her feel great. It feels pretty good to me, too. Is this normal for a lesbian?

Answer

Thanks for writing. I can see why you'd find this situation confusing. Part of the problem is the human desire to make sense of things by creating categories.

We identify people as heterosexual, bisexual, or lesbian or gay and then assume the members of each category never act like the members of the other categories. That assumption doesn't hold up very well in real life. Heterosexuals do sometimes engage in sex with members of the same sex, and lesbian and gay people do sometimes engage in sex with members of the opposite sex. A lesbian who has sex with a man has not changed her sexual orientation anymore than a heterosexual man who has sex with another man has changed his.

People who study these issues are now making a distinction between orientation, namely the enduring pattern of attractions we feel, and identity. Identity refers to how we label ourselves. For instance, some people who have always felt attracted to both men and women may initially identify as heterosexual but later start identifying as bisexual.

You'll notice I've not used the word "normal" in my comments. That is deliberate. It has too many possible definitions and too much emotion attached to it for me to find it very useful.

Hope this helps.

3/14/98


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.

 

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