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've finally admitted to myself that I'm more attracted to women than to men. This is very scary and confusing for me. When I was dating men, most of them expected me to let them take the lead, whether it was to ask for a date, pay the check, initiate sex.

Will lesbians expect me to play a male role or a female one? How do I know which I am? I can't go by the things I like: I like to cook and I like to work on my car. Please help.

Answer

Thanks for writing. The world is full of stereotypes, and you're struggling with one of them.

Contrary to popular myth, lesbians and gay men do not all play either male or female roles in their relationships. Gays and lesbians are just as varied as heterosexuals when it comes to characteristics considered stereotypically feminine or masculine. There are some lesbians who wear leather and chains, and there are some who wear lipstick and heels. Some are athletic and some do needlework. The more versatile among us do all of those things. The same can be said for gay men, bisexuals, and for heterosexuals of both genders.

If you feel more comfortable engaging in what is usually thought of as male behavior, that's ok. If you identify as feminine that's fine too. And, if like so many of us, you are a combination, that's completely acceptable.

You may find JoAnn Loulan's book, The Lesbian Erotic Dance: Butch, Femme, Androgyny and Other Rhythms, helpful. Above all, don't let anyone else dictate your behavior. What's important is to treat yourself and others with respect, regardless of gender-stereotypes.

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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