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Ask E. Jean for DearSugar: Am I a Lesbian?

Dear E. Jean,

I’m wondering more and more lately if I’m a lesbian. I recently graduated from college and I’m back home — the worst! — living with the parents. Two months ago, a couple of my friends from college dropped by for a visit and we hung out in my room. When they left, my mother stamped into my room (she was shaking she was so upset) and literally screamed at me: “I’m allowing you to live here until you find a job and an apartment. While you’re in my house you’ll abide by my rules. You will not invite another lesbian into my home. And, furthermore, if I ever find out you’re seeing lesbians outside my home, or engaging in sick lesbian conduct, your father and I will disown you!”

Believe me, what I just quoted is a much more rational version of what my mother actually said to me. She was hysterical. Crying and yelling and sputtering. (She’d also drunk about four martinis — and was calling her minister for his opinion at the same time she was yelling at me.) Now here’s the strange part. Neither of my friends who visited were gay.

However, I myself had a couple of flings with girls in college. And, weirdly, since my mother went on her gay-hate binge, I’m finding myself more and more attracted to women! (In the past I’ve had two serious relationships with guys.) I’m not certain if I’m suddenly attracted to girls because my parents are such close-minded people and I want to do whatever they tell me not to do ... or if I’m genuinely attracted. Am I gay? Or just very confused. — In Lesbian Limbo

To see E. Jean's answer

MISS LIMBO, my luv:
Oh, please, we’re all lesbians. According to the latest research by Dr. John Michael Bailey — best known for his breakthrough work in sexual orientation — which was reported in Scientific American (among other stately publications) women’s “sexual arousal seems to be relatively indiscriminate — they get aroused by both male and female images.” Yes, yes, we all know this; but here’s the zest in Dr. Bailey’s zipper: “I’m not even sure females have a sexual orientation. But they have sexual preferences. Women are very picky, and most choose to have sex with men.”

Many researchers disagree with Bailey; but, come on. . . It would be odd if you hadn’t made out with girls at some point in your young life. So lose the labels. They limit you. You may feel kinda gay today. . . . So what? Tomorrow you might meet a lad who lights up your lingerie. Go read "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" by Tom Robbins (who I plan to marry in my next life). It will show you all the great Queenhell possibilities!

But the main thing I want to tell you is this: Get the hell out of your mother’s house! The woman is a harpy; a depraved, warp-brained bigot. MOVE OUT! Crash at a friend’s place. I beg your pardon for speaking frankly about the woman who brought you into the world, but she is poison.

To see more advice from E. Jean visit Elle Magazine and

Lourdan_Hazei Lourdan_Hazei 9 years
It sure is frightening how a simple discussion can elicit such violent responses. *shudder* It worries me that knee-jerk reactions are so commonplace. Anyway... I absolutely agree with Jean (and the majority of the commenters here) - do what you can to get out of that house. Its not a good situation. And as far as the big label goes? Pfft. Labels-schmabels. Life is too short to be miserable. Find your bliss and pursue it.
Kaiyo Kaiyo 9 years
Wow, I couldn't agree with this more. I'm finding out more and more that its hard to label myself with a sexual orientation. I'm very affectionate by nature towards both men and women. I plan on marrying a guy sometime in my future, but to be honest...women are most successful in arousing me sexually. I don't know what it is. However, I agree with E. Jean. This woman needs to get out of her mother's house. I know what a person like that can do to someone...and with "Miss Limbo" just out of college and ready to make a place for herself in the world, her mother's vicious attitude can only harm her development as a stronger person. I also agree that labels only hold us down...stop trying to define yourself through society's standards. Break free! =)
candace117 candace117 9 years
hehehehheehhe. well here's another aspect: A lot of philosophers have the idea that sexuality isn't polar, it's actually a continuum, and we can continually shift along the continuum at any time. Good use of the ad hominem argument, but I think it was permissible in this case because she was wondering who would say such rude things about people.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 10 years
Oh wow, people are getting really defensive about "BUT I DON'T LIKE GIRLS!!!!!" Way to totally ignore the point of the question/answer, everyone. To the gal in Lesbian Limbo, you've got to get out. Your mother seems like she has some issues with drinking and morality. While I believe that as long as I live in my parents' house, I'll follow their rules to an extent which keeps us both happy - verbal abuse is never part of the equation, ever. Your mother clearly shouldn't be around you if that's how she's going to be treating you.
theboyslover theboyslover 10 years
@ wingedklaire ummm...I haven't. Yeah i've looked at female celebs like 'oh i'd love to look LIKE her' not 'oh i'd love to MAKE OUT with her'. personally i love men, ALOT. there isn't a female in the world that could make me think/feel/be any other way. I'm straighter than a ruler and always have been. if i'm 'weird' because i've never 'expirimented' or thought about a female in sexual way at least once in my life then call me weird al yankovich.
pintsized pintsized 10 years
Sounds like mom has lesbian tendencies of her own.
Dream-Angel Dream-Angel 10 years
Being Bi or a Lesbian is the new black. Everyone is. Seriously though the Mom has issues and if I was the daughter I would run far, far away. Now.
RebeccaAdele RebeccaAdele 10 years
Exactly what I would have said!
wingedkiare wingedkiare 10 years
I think that E.Jean's point is that unlike men, women are attracted to other women (admit it - how many of us have had a sort of girl crush on a celeb?). It doesn't matter whether you'd follow through on it, it's an attraction on some level. But that doesn't mean that every woman wants to make out with another woman...
dragonbaby dragonbaby 10 years
How sad your mother is so focused on your potential sexuality that she is unable to see her own behavior as inappropriate. While she is entitled to her own opinion and even her rules in her own house. The way she handled the matter is inexcusable. I echo E.Jean as well as others. It is time for you to be out of your parents home. Run don't walk. You ask about your sexuality. My question is why allow your Mom or anyone to apply a label to who you are when you don't know who you are?? Labels are incredibly limiting. Possibly you enjoy the company of both sexes. If so, it certainly ups your chances of finding someone fun to navigate this crazy world.
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 10 years
LOL @ remedios I think that maybe she meant girls are able to admit when they find another female attractive...I've never made out with a girl either, but I can admit that I do find Angelina Jolie to be very sexy and attractive...would I make out with her? hmm no probably not lol... there isn't a real sexual connection that I feel toward females...thats why I'm straight! haha :D
remedios remedios 10 years
Wait a second... so I'm odd because I've never made out with a girl? Damn it! I hate being left out. Anyone available?
onesong onesong 10 years
jeepers creepers. okay, so she generalized about the boobie loving tendancies of all women. not need to get our panties in a twist. the most important thing is her last paragraph--sweetie, get OUT of there. being verbally abused is never okay, and it seems like this is nothing out of the ordinary, based on your matter-of-fact-ness. skedaddle and let your mom deal, and if your a lesbian...then, you are!
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 10 years
ad hominem [(ad hom-uh-nem, ad hom-uh-nuhm)] A Latin expression meaning “to the man.” An ad hominem argument is one that relies on personal attacks rather than reason or substance. (I'm posting this because its not a phrase I had heard before and I wanted to understand what it meant...and perhaps theres others who aren't sure either...hehe...sorry it was above my head :) )
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 10 years
SugarPrep - are you the poster?
SugarPrep SugarPrep 10 years
So I'm a lesbian. Cant wait to tell my bf that!
vanyvrgs vanyvrgs 10 years
Sorry my computer froze and I started hitting all the buttons and it posted... anyway, I was saying that I do not need to check another pair. However, wanted to be clear that although I have never had the urge to be with a woman in any sort of sexual way, being confused at your age is not unheard of and be happy with who you are is what is important. I think you are just paranoid because of what your mom has said, but if in the future you decide you prefer only women, basically screw your mom and her judgement.
vanyvrgs vanyvrgs 10 years
I think your mom is abusive but agree with the posters who say that not all women are attracted to other women and/or have experimented. I have not and have never wanted to. I got my own vajajay and breasts don't need to check out another outpair.That is ab
theboyslover theboyslover 10 years
your mom is an idiot, but i must disagree: i've never ever in life made out with another girl... i prefer penises and flat chests please :-)
lily3484 lily3484 10 years
Good but harsh Advice. It can be really difficult living with someone who has views that differ from your own. I live with my grandma who obviously has very traditional views (as do most older people) and it can be very hard for me to keep my mouth shut, especially, when my best friend is gay and she tends to discriminate a lot. I think that you need to remember that your mother did bring you into this world and deserves to be respected but that doesn't mean you have to agree with her. The best thing to do is move out. Otherwise, your relationship with your mom will be hindered in a lot of ways. As far as being a lesbian, I agree with Dear sugar. I could be wrong but I think that gay/lesbian people know indefinitly that they are gay/lesbian I dont think its really a questionable thing. Good luck with everything and move out!
scoop45 scoop45 10 years
hottpink hottpink 10 years
Just like everyone else said....GET OUT! And are right on!!
blondewithbangs blondewithbangs 10 years
Um, i dodnt think the problem is isn who you like, its your mother! Ack, get out fast! How sad to live with such a close-minded woman.
facin8me facin8me 10 years
lemassabielle, you're so ironic. responding to an ad hominem attack by launching an ad hominem attack of your own...
facin8me facin8me 10 years
I think the main problem here is the mother's verbal abuse. Abuse from a parent is poison at any age and the writer of this letter needs to remove herself from this situation before she can seriously reflect on her her sexuality and her life situation. Sure, parents can set their own rules in a house...but that usually covers "put your dishes in the sink" or "be home by 2 am," not "don't be a homo or your father and I will disown you." I'm shocked to find that I am odd simply because I haven't bought into the Girls Gone Wild culture of making out with other chicks. I'm not saying that there aren't people that don't engage in honest experimentation, but it's fashionable now to make out with other girls. And usually it's for the benefit of a male rather than having anything to do with curiosity.
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