First-Time Lesbian

Friday, March 20, 2009

Question

I read your letter from the lesbian who is in love with her straight friend with great interest, hoping to find something that would help me with my own situation. But as usual, it's a problem nobody talks about.

I am a straight woman who is in love with my best friend, another woman. Well—maybe I'm not so straight, since I feel the same idealism, hope, and desire for her that I've felt for men in the past. But all of my sexual experience is with men so what else can I call myself?

My lesbian friend knows perfectly well that I want her and would be happy to give up everything for her. I don't care what my other friends or my family would think. I love her so much that it makes me dizzy to be around her. If I can't see her for more than a day or two, I feel as if I am going to die inside. Whatever she wanted, I would move heaven and earth to give her.

But she won't have me. She says she loves me too. That's the crazy part. But then she tells me that it is just too hard to be gay, and she doesn't want to bring that upon another person. Once we got as far as kissing and she even took my shirt off. But she wouldn't undress or let me take her to my bed. I honestly don't care—it seems to me that when you love someone else, that's the most important thing in the world. How often does anybody find love with another person? I believe we could find a way around any obstacle, if only we were together.

Is there anything I can do or say to convince her to just give in and enjoy being together? She says I will go back to wanting men again, or that I don't know what I want and I am "confused" about sex. Believe me, I am not confused at all! I don't know how or why this happened. I've turned down men who wanted to go out with me because I feel that I have to be faithful to her to persuade her that I do know what I want. Doesn't every lesbian have her first time with a woman? Please help me, this is causing a lot of pain and even depression when I think she will never feel the same way that I do.

Answer

I am so sorry that you've fallen for a woman who has so little self-esteem and gay pride that she actually believes she ought to shut you out because "it is just too hard to be gay, and she doesn't want to bring that upon another person." Homophobia is still an unpleasant reality. But I'm on your side here: When two people love each other, nothing should keep them apart. Love is not that easy to find. And when you know that you have an ally, facing discrimination or even violence becomes much, much easier.

Of course every woman who loves other women has to experience lesbian sex for the first time! But you sound like a passionate person with a great deal of sincerity. The idea that "bringing somebody out of the closet" is doing something terrible to them comes straight out of the 1950s. First times are opportunities to bond; they release an amazing amount of joyous energy. A first time can be a celebration, a rite of passage, and a confirmation of the enormous value of fantasy even as it shifts into reality.

One of the worst things that can happen to a lesbian is to have a female lover take off after a man instead. It's crushing. It validates every self-hating thought and every societal message that lesbian sex is inherently inferior to heterosexuality. It's easy to forget that guys often have the ego-destroying experience of women leaving them to be with other women. The fact is that people learn, grow, change, get curious, and often want to put their speculation about various forms of sexual pleasure to the test. There's nothing wrong with this. It ought to be supported instead of treated as a suspicious endeavor. Relationships end for all kinds of reasons. There's no guarantee you can hang on to anybody—you just have to show up every day, treat your lady love to the best of your ability, and have an open heart.

Virtually every lesbian I know has experienced sex with men in the past. And not all of them disliked it. It's just that they preferred sex with women more. Whether you are lesbian, bisexual, or a straight woman who's making an exception because you found your soul mate in the "wrong" body, you have a right to be treated with respect and as an adult, not like a child who doesn't know her own mind. The lesbian community has some weird self-defense policies that I don't think work very well. And one of them is this idea that there's some way to screen out and turn away women who aren't serious enough about sticking with the tribe.

Besides, you aren't coming to your friend and asking if she'd join you in a light-hearted experiment. You are expressing heart-scorching, breath-stopping, world-halting love. By shutting you out of her life, your friend gets nothing but loneliness and a false sense of security.

Are you sure you want to continue to pursue somebody who has treated you this way? Despite my bias as a rabid romantic, I'm not sure you ought to keep knocking on this particular door. Show her this letter, let her know she means everything to you, but perhaps you should tell her that you can't wait forever. Sometimes when a person turns you down, it means they are being stupid and if they just gave in, everything would be great. Sometimes it means they are an asshole, and if you do get them to give in, you'll just wind up with a miserable relationship. If she continues to be a condescending and withholding person, do yourself a favor and pull away. Look for someone who will give and receive the intimacy and sweetness that you've so poignantly expressed in your beautiful letter.

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