Straight Lesbians or Denying Bisexuality?

Politically active lesbians marrying men. Lesbians insisting that though married to men, they continue to self identify as lesbians. Should you question them, they become offended. Are you as confused as I?

I watched the news/entertainment show 20/20 one night when they did a story on Joann Loulan. Ms. Loulan is a woman — self identified as lesbian — who has been very politically active for some 15 years. According to statements by Ms. Loulan, she has identified herself as a lesbian for the last 20 years. However, becoming bored and lonely between relationships, she started dating a male friend. The relationship progressed to a sexual relationship, and then to living together. When asked about her feelings for this man, she admitted to being in love with him.

As a woman who came out to herself at a late age — 33 — I can identify with facing changes in ones sexual identification — even re-assessing a contradictory history. There is a great deal of reconciling memories with what one feels to be right and true in the present with what was right and true in the past. However, I did not continue to self identify as a heterosexual woman after becoming romantically involved with a woman. It may be silly, but I felt I would have appeared foolish trying to identify as a heterosexual woman, while walking arm-in-arm with a woman. Call me a purist.

I admit that I am the first to say a hand is a hand and a mouth is a mouth and if one were to let go of all of their personal inhibitions, one could enjoy sex with either gender. I also do not feel that sex has anything to do with a person’s sexual orientation. After all, gays and lesbians have a long history of closeted folks who have married, bore children and died without anyone close to them having any idea about their relationships on the side. And in fact, when pressed by the interviewer, Ms. Loulan explained that she believed sexual orientation is based upon a spirituality, the heart and a certain emotional bonding — not sex.

Ms. Loulan did not claim her relationship with her male friend was merely sex however. In fact, Ms. Loulan stated she was in love with her male friend. Perhaps I am missing something, but I thought in love withmeant a spirituality, the heart and a certain bonding. So, with Ms. Loulan’s own words, did she not state she was at the very least, bisexual — a label she claims to find offensive? She says emphatically, no, she is not bisexual. She claims that if the relationship with the male friend were to end, she would expect her next relationship to be with a woman, and because of that, she is still a lesbian.

I do not want to appear to be picking at Ms. Loulan’s words — And I have no intention of condemning her — but she is a perfect example of what I have been observing in LGBT politics lately. In my personal opinion, these women should get off their self-enforced attitudes and identify their orientation for what it is — bisexual.

Bisexual. There, I have said it again. I suspect you survived reading it as well. I am very curious why this sexual orientation is so despised. Or at least avoided. Or is it more than just a word or label? The 20/20 story indicated that identifying gay or lesbian is more powerful politically, simply because the lobbies for homosexuals have been around longer, and have more clout. Is that it? Lesbians marrying men; gays marrying women, and everyone wearing the wrong label just for politics, power and money?

I thought we were fighting to have straight folks get over the labels — but perhaps we need to start with our own first. My vote is — anyone who wants to help everyone attain the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals – be they gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, transgendered – is welcome. But please — if we are going to wear labels, let’s wear the right ones.

Until next time… 

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