Dear Queerie Bradshaw,
I am a mom of two with a wonderful boyfriend. I have always wanted to have sex with a woman though and I am curious how lesbians view straight women who just want it for fun? Do they get offended that we are not ‘real’ lesbians?
Looking for Fun
Dear Looking for Fun,
Note: I use “woman” and “man” here to try to be specific to your question, but I want to point out from the start that, both in queer clubs and in life, you’ll meet a spectrum of gender identities, and that “male” and “female” also includes trans* people. Never assume someone’s gender or the pronouns you use with them. For more information, please read How Not to Be a Jerk About Gender.
In all these years that I’ve been an active member of the gay club, I’ve yet to see someone present me with a legitimate definition of what makes someone a “real” lesbian. People often try, but in doing so they not only fail themselves but they fail the members of their community as well, ones they ostracize by putting a limit on something as abundant as sexual variations.
My advice is to worry less about not being a “real” lesbian and worry instead about being real with whomever you are courting. There is nothing wrong with being bisexual and it saddens me how much bisexuality is ostracized in the gay community. Don’t try to be a lesbian, be who you are: bisexual, pansexual, curious, ally, just some girl who wants to make out with another girl and maybe touch her boobs, whatever it is be authentic, be honest and be respectful of those with whom you have contact. That’s the only realness we can require from anyone.
Knowing who to approach and how when looking for sex is really important. It’s true that a lot of queer people are not going to want to sleep with you because you are in a relationship with a man. It’s not that being with a man is wrong, it’s that 1. with the exception of poly people, we’re often looking for someone who is single, and 2. we’re hesitant about women trying to bring us home to their men.
Take a quick perusal of your local Craigslist “women for women” and you’ll see what I mean. My first ad I ever put on Cragislist looking for another woman to date got me two responses: a woman asking me to have sex with her husband and a cis-man pretending to be a lesbian, a rude shock for me when I showed up to our first date.
Queer women constantly have to wade through the male fantasy of hooking up with a lesbian, and so many have become bitter and jaded against women who help men gain access to our world in shady ways. When we’re out looking for a woman to date or sleep with, we usually don’t want to find a man hiding in the wings. Being honest from the beginning about the role your husband plays in your fantasy, with both yourself and the women you’re meeting, will help ease that tension. Never spring the fact that you’re in a relationship, regardless of that person’s gender, on anyone.
Additionally, a lot of women aren’t going to want to sleep with you because you don’t normally sleep with women and, as you said, this would just be something you’d do for “fun”. The male fantasy is something we’ve grown accustomed to protecting ourselves from, but the female fantasy of a night with a lesbian still often catches us by surprise and hurts even more because of the shock.
When I’m out at a gay club, I’m looking for someone who calls the place home, not a tourist seeking an exotic romp while on a vacation from their ordinary world. Your fantasy is our life, a life that is constantly intruded upon emotionally, politically and physically. When your “fun” is over, you return to a life of heterosexual privilege while we’re still here fighting for equal recognition.
If you are queer and looking to explore that part of you, that’s one thing, but most queer women aren’t going to appreciate being the tick next to the box “make out with a girl” on your to-do list. Women, especially queer women, are highly sensitive, highly emotional beings and we don’t appreciate feeling used, especially by other women.
But, all hope is not lost. You know what theme resonates throughout the stereotypes of straight women looking to have fun with lesbians? Dishonesty and disrespect. I know plenty of women who are in heterosexual relationships that still sleep with queer woman and do so in a way that is physically and emotionally safe, fun and satisfying for all parties involved. It’s all in how you approach the situation.
Here’s what you can do to make the situation a fun one, instead of one that’s hurtful to you, your partner and/or the women you sleep with:
- As with any travel into an unknown land, do your research, respect the natives and recognize that you are a visitor in someone else’s home. Don’t run in, guns a blazin’, expecting to get action from the first person you see just because she’s a lesbian and you’re a woman. Have patience, have respect and have fun.
- While a lot of women aren’t going to be interested in being your one-time-entertainer, there are also plenty of women who, just like you, are simply looking to have a little fun for a night. Focus on finding those women, instead of going to a place where lesbians congregate. Put an ad on Craigslist, create a profile on OKCupid or a similar dating site. State honestly and respectfully what you’re looking for and people will respond in honest and respectful ways.
- Figure out now whether your boyfriend is ever, even if only remotely possible, going to want to join you, and if the answer is yes tell the people you’re attempting to sleep with this from the beginning. Having that conversation as soon as possible may limit your options but it will also limit awkwardness, emotional pain and heartache later. For all of you.
- Be honest, tell the women you’re involved with where you’re coming from straight away, respect our boundaries in bars/clubs/online and recognize there is a major difference between going out to a bar to score a guy and going out to sleep with a woman. Respect our emotional sensitivity in a way you’d want us to respect yours.
- Don’t be a pillow queen. What that means is, don’t just lay there and expect the woman you’re hooking up with to do all the work. Especially don’t make assumptions based on how someone presents their gender. Know what it means to be genderqueer, butch, femme, bottom, top, boi, androgenous, trans*, switch, etc. before you go out. Learn the native language and customs.
So, to summarize, be respectful, don’t make assumptions, be honest, be authentic and use your manners. Treat the women you meet like you’d want to be treated and recognize that, at least until you get your bearings, you’re a visitor in someone else’s home. Do all of that and that’s as “real” as you need to be.
Good luck and let me know how it goes.