Lesbianing with AE! This Week: Packing in public and people who don’t believe you’re really gay

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Today on Lesbianing with AE! writer Lindsey Danis helps you handle those people who want you to “prove you’re really gay” and pack in public without having a wardrobe malfunction.

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I’m 21 and never had sex or even kissed anybody, female or male. And not because I didn’t want to, I just never had the opportunity. I’m really shy, rarely go out, live in a small town and don’t have a lot of friends. Plus I’m not really confident and my self-esteem isn’t the greatest. When I was younger I was really into boys, but that was before I realized what sex with guys really consisted of. About five years ago I started to realize that I’m attracted to women and a lot of things from my childhood started to make sense, like the fact that I was obsessed with Mulan and that I had weird feelings while watching Cameron Diaz dance in her underwear in Charlie’s Angels. Also the fact that I think I had a crush on my best friend was I was 6, because what I felt for her was different than what I did for my other friends. I never imagined myself dating, having sex, marrying or living with a guy and that solidified once I realized that I’m into women and that I can see myself doing all those things with one. My mom is my best friend and embarrassingly she knows that I still haven’t done anything. I told her I’m gay but she constantly denies my sexuality and how I feel, saying she’ll only “believe me” if I kiss and have sex with a dude first. Just the thought of it seems like torture to me and I don’t wanna have to do it just to say that I did it, to prove something to her. I just think it’s ridiculous and I don’t see the point when I honestly just know in my heart and mind that I like women, I’m just waiting on the opportunities to be with one. Plus, since I had to wait so long, I want my first kiss and first time having sex to be with a woman. I don’t wanna have to “experiment” with men first. I guess what I’m asking is your opinion on my situation and how can I deal with all of this? Is there a consensus regarding having to at least kiss men first? Please help,

Unicorn in Trouble

Hi Unicorn,

There’s no “consensus” about having to kiss men first. Or at all. You get to decide who you want to kiss, who you want to date, and who you want to have sex with.

That said, I understand your mom’s point of view. You’ve never fooled around with or kissed anyone (have you dated anyone? it’s not clear from your question). Gay rights have come a long way in recent years, but there’s still a presumption of heterosexuality. You’re assumed straight until proven otherwise. Straight is default; it’s what you are until you can show (i.e. by being with someone) that you aren’t straight. This is much bigger than your mom not believing that you’re a lesbian, this is how the heteronormative paradigm works.

I wonder if part of your mom’s uncertainty that you are the lesbian you say you are is that you aren’t doing anything with anyone, and you’re also not acting like you want to do anything with anyone soon. Your mom might think that “I’m a lesbian” really means “I’m too shy and awkward to meet guys, so if I say I’m a lesbian then no one will wonder why I’m single.”

Your mom could also be in denial, secretly hoping you’ll change your mind because she wants grandbabies, or even taking her time acclimating to the idea. Even the most supportive and loving parents tend to assume their children are straight, like them, so it is an adjustment for some parents when their kid comes out. Your mom will get used to it. Every coming out story isn’t Up-worthy, so if your mom didn’t bake you a “duh, you’re gay” cake, it’s fine. She can be the loving mom of a lesbian child (we know… you’re an adult but you’ll always be her little baby), but she isn’t there yet.

In the meantime, set boundaries with your mom, and don’t engage with her when she starts her “kiss a guy so I know you’re gay” campaign. You’ve come out to her, she’s communicated that she won’t believe you are gay until you provide proof, you know you are not obligated to provide any such proof, so now you are free to focus on living your most fabulous lesbian life.

Set boundaries with your mom, and don’t engage with her when she starts her “kiss a guy so I know you’re gay” campaign. You’ve come out to her, she’s communicated that she won’t believe you are gay until you provide proof, you know you are not obligated to provide any such proof, so now you are free to focus on living your most fabulous lesbian life.

This is going to be difficult for you — you said your mom is your best friend and you are a total introvert (I am too!). However, right now she is not supportive of you for you, and her behavior is stressing you out. Don’t go to her with frustration over being single or lonely. She’s not going to be there for you in the way you want right now. She’s probably going to suggest something related to dating guys that you don’t want to hear. If she brings it up, tell her that you don’t want to talk about that. Say, for instance, “Thanks for your concern, but if it’s alright I’d really rather not discuss why I’m single right now” or “I know how you feel about that.” Then change the subject.

Unfortunately, your mom is not going to be the last person to question your sexuality. Your friends, coworkers, random dudes at the coffee shop, and even other LGBT folks will question your identity or your choice of crushes. If you like a feminine woman and then you crush out on a non-binary hottie, people will comment on it. If you get into a butch girl only to find out they’re really a transman who isn’t taking hormones, you yourself might question your identity, even for a second.

If you’re so worked up that it “seems like torture” when you’re being asked to prove your gayness, you gotta relax. You can’t have a meltdown any time someone makes a guess about your sexuality and gets it wrong. Not to mention, straight people will ask you stupid and invasive things, like “which one of you is the guy?” or “how do you, like, even have sex?” It comes with the territory of being a lesbian. Right now, I don’t think you have the coping skills to handle your identity being challenged by misconceptions or micro-aggressions, and I encourage you to cultivate them because doing so will only improve your mental health.

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Since you are shy and trapped in a small town without a large dating pool of lesbians, use the magic of the internet to connect to gay ladies, make new friends, practice your flirting (no one can see that you’re dying inside over the internet), and game plan your way to a big city where you might be able to kiss a girl and cause a tsunami that wipes out Mar-a-Lago. I’m not saying you need to move to a queer mecca like San Francisco to explore your identity (though feel free, if you can afford it), but meet lesbians online who live in your state or a big city near you. Then book an AirBnB and go visit for the weekend, or road trip with your existing friends (who, I hope, support you in your lesbian glory) to Gay Pride to find your community.

I suspect part of your agita is because you know you’re gay, but you don’t know gay people in real life and you don’t have gay or lesbian role models who can show you what it’s like to be out and proud, how to confront homophobia in all its forms, and how to pick up chicks even when you’re introverted and shy AF (we got you covered on that).

When you make those first lesbian friends or go on that first date with a woman, you’ll gain inner confidence that comes from being appreciated for who you really are.

You say “I’m really shy, rarely go out, live in a small town and don’t have a lot of friends. Plus I’m not really confident and my self-esteem isn’t the greatest.” Honey pie, that is a PILE of excuses as to why you don’t need to/don’t want to/aren’t ready to/don’t believe you deserve to find love. Or even friends who validate your small-town queer existence. I’m officially calling bullshit.

Stop holding yourself back by waiting for first love to tap you on the shoulder. You don’t wait for the opportunity to have a girlfriend to come to you. You go out there and make your own opportunities.

Go out there, have some new experiences, and write back and tell us how it’s going!

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