Clarifying Lesbian Choice

I want to clarify something from a previous post. I often say that I choose to live a lesbian lifestyle, but it occurred to me that many people may not understand what that means. For some people, lesbian lifestyle means lurking in bars, being addicted to drugs and alchohol, subscribing to butch/femme roles, stalking straight women, and trying to convert young girls. Since my life doesn’t include any of those things, I figure that I need to clarify what I mean by lesbian lifestyle.

I believe that sexual orientation is on a continuum that ranges from heterosexuality to homosexuality. I believe that people fall somewhere on that continuum. We fall close to one end or the other. Rarely are we pure heterosexual or pure homosexual. I lean more towards homosexual orientation which means that I’m mostly attracted to women. I believe that sexual orientation is predisposed genetically with some environmental influences that help seal the deal.

Sexual orientation isn’t the same thing as sexual behavior. That is, one can engage in heterosexual sex while being oriented primarily towards people of the same gender. Sexual behavior is how one chooses to act. Since sexual behavior is a choice, I often say that I choose to be a lesbian and that it’s a valid lifestyle choice. I believe that it’s OK to act on one’s sexual orientation. Could I act straight? Yes I could with cognitive and behavioral modification therapy. Could I be happy? Probably, although I’d probably always struggle with attractions to women. In other words, I’d probably always struggle to stay straight because it’s not my true nature. I don’t have that problem with being a lesbian. Could someone act gay or lesbian? AGain, with therapy I believe they could. I don’t know why anyone would. It’s not that being gay or lesbian is sick; it’s that society doesn’t accept gays and lesbians in the same ways that straights are accepted.

The astute reader would catch that I base “lesbian lifestyle as a valid choice” on the claim that sexual behavior is a choice. So essentially, I’m justifying my lesbianism on sexual behavior. That’s not good, because I don’t want to be defined by sexual behavior. As Mel can tell you, our relationship is not defined by sexual behavior. We are in a caring and committed relationship with each other. We take care of and support each other. We are partners in life. Yes, we’re sexually attracted to each other and the expression of that love has physical outlets, but it doesn’t define our relationship.

So I want a new way to define us. I’ve always identified as a lesbian, and I have hard time rejecting that label. I don’t believe that I should reject that label simply because it has stereotypes associated with it. At the same time, Mel and I live a normal life and most people don’t associate “lesbian” with “normal”. In reality, our life is not much different than the lives of our heterosexual counterparts. Even in terms of sexual behavior, we engage in the same kinds of sexual activities that heterosexuals engage in. The only difference is gender. Of course, from a political standpoint lesbians and heterosexuals aren’t the same (similar to how gays and lesbians aren’t the same). So I want to keep on saying that I’m a lesbian. Yes, I choose a female life partner, but it’s about so much more than sex.

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3 Comments

Filed under The way the world works

3 responses to “Clarifying Lesbian Choice

  1. I dunno. I pretty much fall at the all gay end of the continuum. I’m not sure that’s unusual. I can look at men and see that they’re aesthetically pleasing, just like babies are cute and spring flowers are pretty. But I have no desire to boink any of those things, and the thought of it is squicky.

    I define my sexual orientation by who I’m attracted to/fall in love with, not what I do. I’ve always said that I could marry a man and have a monogamous relationship with him, but that wouldn’t make me heterosexual. It would make me a lesbian living an unhealthy and probably dishonest life. It wouldn’t be fair to the guy, and probably wouldn’t be good for me, either.

  2. I fall closer to the middle. I’ve dated or contemplated dating a couple of very nice men to whom I’ve even been attracted, but none of them have made my heart sing the way that Vanessa does. I get sick of the whole “I was born this way” argument. Lesbians spend too much time trying to convince people who don’t deserve our energy that we can’t help the way we are. Who cares if you can help it? For many women, devoting their lives to other women just makes sense. Women can understand and support each other in ways men can’t or won’t. I think that, in general, women make better “partners” than men in every sense of that word. If it’s a choice, it’s a perfectly valid one, for which there are logical arguments.

    I’m not going to try to sway others to my way of thinking, but I’m not going to apologize for who I love by expending energy trying to prove to people who don’t deserve the explanation in the first place that I love women because of a genetic defect. I’m not going to change their minds anyway, and I’m perfectly happy the way I am.

    I do not call myself a lesbian because I believe I was “born this way,” even though I am attracted to women primarily. I call myself a lesbian because I make the choice to offer myself to someone who gives me exactly what I need in return.

  3. I enjoyed reading.

    I never call myself a lesbian usually I refer to myself as being gay. When it comes down to it I love women. You’ve definietly opened my eyes, thanks for sharing.

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