Lesbians are women who are romantically, and / or physically attracted to other women. Being a lesbian, or gay woman, is one sexual orientation.
Women have always had romantic and sexual relationships with other women. The Greek poet Sappho is often credited with being one of the earliest known lesbians.
In the 19th century, people used the term Boston Marriage, to refer to women who lived together in independent households. While there is no concrete evidence either way regarding the sexual nature of these relationships, they were indeed intimate.
Lesbians, alongside gay men, embarked on the fight for equality that emerged in the 1960s. Many lesbians were also involved in the feminist movement despite experiencing homophobia.
Here are some key legal issues affecting lesbians:
- Gay marriage is only legal in eight states and Washington D.C. Some other states recognize same-sex domestic partnerships. Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden all allow same-sex marriage.
- Laws vary across the country on issues such as adoption, inheritance rights, and protection from sexual harassment.
- Though it was recently repealed, gay men in the military still must hide who they are under don't ask, don't tell.
Many lesbians come out in their teens or twenties, and lesbian teens have many more support networks today than ever before. Unfortunately, many lesbian teens still face harassment and discrimination at school and from their families. As a result, the suicide rate among lesbian teens is higher than it is among straight teens. A recent study found that lesbian teenagers are even more likely to attempt suicide than gay male teens.
Another issue is that it can be difficult to meet other young lesbians. Using trusted internet sites, and contacting your closest GLBT community center can be a good way to meet others.
There have been many famous lesbians throughout history. Here is a partial list:
- Kate Clinton
- Ellen Degeneres
- Portia de Rossi
- Melissa Etheridge
- Sarah Gilbert
- Billie Jean King
- Heather Matarazzo
- Martina Navratilova
- Rosie O'Donnell
- Elanor Rosevelt
- Gertrude Stein
There is no one way to be a lesbian. Though there are many stereotypes about lesbians, none can represent everyone. Within the lesbian community there are many subcultures and different experiences. These represent the wide range of what it can mean to be a lesbian.
Getting Help & Information:
There are many organizations that serve young lesbians, and it is often helpful to know where to go for information and support.