I still don’t feel like a “real” lesbian. I haven’t gone on dates yet. I haven’t found a girlfriend yet. I haven’t had sex with woman for more than 10 years. In many ways, I still feel like I’m faking it, like someone will find me out.
When I came out as a teenager as bisexual, I did not feel welcome in lesbian spaces. I was mistrusted, and some of the women I most wanted to be with told me I was too straight for them. Over the years, I felt less like a member of the queer community and more like an ally. I’ve been queer my whole life and out in some capacity since age 14, but I still feel like I don’t belong here.
All that was in Florida more than 15 years ago. I know I should not believe that is my only possible experience with the lesbian community. But it is hard to take risks and my fear of rejection from a community is much greater than my fear of rejection from an individual. I can handle being single. Sometimes I even prefer it. But being without community is much more painful, much more lonely, much more isolating.
There are a few things holding me back from seeking out community. There are the practical matters – I don’t have a car or a babysitter or money for a date. But I suspect I use those practical excuses to put off taking emotional risks. If I really wanted to go on a date, I would make it happen.
I’m scared. I’m afraid of not being what any woman is looking for. Afraid of falling in love, of losing myself in infatuation for another. I’m afraid that I won’t be any good at it. What if I’ve forgotten how to flirt? What if I’m awkward and don’t know what to do with my hands? What if I’m a terrible lover?
What if dating women is as painful and filled with abuse as dating men has been for me? I’m still recovering from the damage my final relationship with a man did to me. I’m still twitchy and shy and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I struggle to believe happiness in relationship is even possible for me. Which is ridiculous since all my relationships have been with men.
I’m scared that it won’t make me happy, that I won’t find the joy and true love so many people who were late to come out of the closet have found. I haven’t watched “The L Word” yet because I’m afraid I won’t like it and then I’ll have already used up or wasted all the lesbian entertainment in existence. I imagine contentment is a limited resource.
I have to remind myself that just because I’m not ready to date right now, that doesn’t mean my lesbianism is false or pretend or temporary. At this point in my life, being a lesbian is more defined by not being with men then it is by being with women. But that won’t always be the case. Someday, hopefully soon, I will be ready. I will feel safe enough to take risks. But until then, I am still a real lesbian and I need to give myself permission to believe that.