A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Not Gay Enough

Guest post by Sara

Sara asked me to help her share this story of coming to terms with who she is and how she feels about the way the world treats her. More about Sara at the bottom of the article.

princessrescueFrom a very young age, I remember being subjected to the idea that I needed a man to “rescue me”, to “make me complete”. We are shown Disney movies in which the princess needs to be rescued, comedies where the leading lady is doing everything she can to nab a man, and movies in which women are portrayed as “lacking” if they aren’t married to a man.

So while I’ve been conditioned my whole life to believe I need “rescuing” and that my life is not full unless I’m sharing it with a man, is there any wonder I’ve hesitated to name myself as gay?

Is it any wonder that I’ve spent my dating life cycling through men, trying to find the one that would fit, yet never been able to be fully happy?

The feelings I had towards women were shameful and disgraceful, according to my religion, my parents, and even society. I wasn’t allowed to be attracted to women. I wasn’t allowed to act on those feelings. I was expected to grow up, get married (to a man of course), and pop out babies.

Yet at the age of 16, I couldn’t deny the attraction to women any longer. I started telling people I was bisexual, because that seemed to cause less revulsion than stating I was actually gay. I truly thought this was the truth at the time, and for many years afterwards, because I believed I was attracted to men. There may even have been a period in my life where I was attracted to men, just not sexually. I just went along with the gender paradigm and did what was expected of me.

I can honestly say that I still find some men attractive. Don’t get me wrong, I do. But as soon as I remember they have a penis hidden beneath their clothes, that’s it. I’m out. I just can’t do it anymore.

I can’t stand feeling disgusted, dirty, and guilty after sexual encounters with men. I can’t stand feeling this way even during these encounters, which happens a lot more often these days.

I can’t deny who I am any longer.

I. Am. Gay.

But, it’s come to my attention that I’m not gay enough for some people.

Let that statement sink into your brains for a few minutes there, folks.

I’m not gay enough.

When I had identified myself as a bisexual woman, I felt like I never really had a place. I wasn’t straight enough to be straight, and now I’m not gay enough to be gay. What the hell?

So, because I’ve had long term relationships with men, instead of women, I am not a viable prospective mate for a lesbian. I’ve been told that they would be too worried that I’m just “going through a phase” and would eventually leave and go back to a man.

It doesn’t seem to matter that during every sexual encounter I’ve ever had with a man, I’ve been picturing a woman so that I could get through it.

Oh, you’ve been raped? Abused? Molested? I don’t want to date someone who’s choosing women just because she hates or is sick of men.

You know what? I’m not sick of men. I also don’t hate men. I’m just not sexually attracted to them. The thought of having sex with a member of the opposite sex literally causes me the most horrendous anxiety attacks.

I’ve been told that early sexual trauma can cause homosexuality. I don’t know how true that is. What about the men who were molested by other men when they were little? Does it make sense that they would choose to be attracted to the same gender that caused them so much heartache? In my case sure, maybe it makes sense. After all the horrific sexual abuses that were perpetrated on me, maybe I do feel safer with my own gender. Maybe that is why I am more attracted, sexually, to women.

I certainly don’t feel like I had a choice in my attraction to my gender. But I’ve stuck with men for all my serious relationships, because I was conditioned to believe that it was expected, nay, required of me. I wanted to get married and raise a family, and God forbid I try to do that with a woman!

So I stuck with what I knew: Men. Even though I wasn’t attracted to them sexually. Even though I had to close my eyes and picture a woman every time I had sex. Even though by doing this, I was shutting away a very large part of myself in the process, and causing problems in my relationships.

I remember actually saying the words to my first long-term ex, “I think I might actually be gay.” I can’t say that I remember his reaction to that, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a positive one.

But finally, I’m ready to admit the truth. No matter how much easier it would be for me to be straight, no matter how much I wish I could be straight, I’m not.

I. Am. Gay.

I brought it up at a very small prayer meeting the other night with a few other women and my pastor. They were so loving and supportive, and told me that they will love and accept me no matter what. That means so much to me.

I got the strength that same night to finally admit it to my husband. He was shell-shocked and very discouraged, but he didn’t get angry with me, and he didn’t say that he hated me. He did say that he wished I knew this 4 years ago before we met, or at least 2 years ago before we got married. I feel badly because I know this is hard for him, he doesn’t know how to handle everything, and I wish I could somehow make it easier on him.

But then on my way in to work this morning, I remembered these conversations I’d had with openly gay women in the past, and it bothered me. A lot. Which is why I’m writing this.

You don’t have the right to judge me just because I’ve always dated men.

You don’t have the right to tell me that I’m not gay, or that I’m not gay enough.

You don’t know my story, and it’s not fair for you to jump to conclusions about me before you do.

Hasn’t the gay community suffered enough from discrimination? Why would you want to put me through the same things that others have put you through? I deserve to be loved and accepted too, flaws and all, just as I would do for you.

But if I’m not gay enough for you, then maybe you’re just too narrow-minded for me.


Sara blogs at Ruffles, Roses, and Lace. You can also follow her on Twitter.
Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.

21 responses

  1. I’m so sorry that people have treated you this way. Maybe bisexual women would be more accepting? In my own case, I know my spouse did not reject me from the get-go even though I’d started out engaged to a cis-male because xe’s female-bodied, male-identified, rather than straightforwardly lesbian. I’ve always felt really lucky about that.

    I wish you the best!

    April 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    • I’m still not really sure about all the nuances of the gay community, such as “cis-male” and the “female-bodied, male identified” stuff. So that part was a bit confusing for me! But I appreciate your comment, and am sending virtual THANK YOU HUGS your way! :)

      April 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

      • Whoops, didn’t mean to be exclusionary! Basically, I meant that my old fiance is not transgendered, but my spouse is–so me being bisexual in some tiny way just fit in with hir male identity. I’m not sure xe would have felt comfortable with the idea of dating me if I’d said I only liked women.

        So maybe your Mr. Right is a mister with a vulva (or at least a very butch woman who is somewhat genderfluid), or maybe your Ms. Right is bisexual like you are.

        April 10, 2013 at 10:04 am

        • …I may have had reading comprehension fail–if you said you aren’t bi, but gay, my apologies. I’m a bit distracted!

          April 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

          • Hahaha that’s quite alright! There are times I still feel attraction towards a man (as I mentioned in the article) and as soon as I make myself remember the penis part, it just gets shut right down. So yeah, I’m definitely gay now, lol. :) But thanks for the explanation!!!

            April 10, 2013 at 1:42 pm

  2. Sara! I absolutely LOVE this post! You seriously hit this topic right on the nail!!…I am myself am a lesbian, always have been, always will be. However, if you’re in a six year sexually,mentally and emotionally abusive relationship and someone (a man) saved you from that trauma….Wouldn’t you still have feelings for them and love them, but still be a lesbian? That’s exactly what happened to me. I’m with someone who saved me, saved my life, and got me back on my feet to do amazing things, even though I’m a lesbian…But that’s not good enough for some people, I’m not “gay enough”. I’ve had one lesbian tell me it was “offensive” to her I even said I was gay.
    I adored when you said ” I don’t want to date someone who’s choosing women just because she hates or is sick of men.” I HATE that! I am NOT gay because of my abuse or my past!….I am gay because i’m mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to women. DUH. Just as any straight person would be.
    Thanks for sending this in!!

    April 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

  3. “But if I’m not gay enough for you, then maybe you’re just too narrow-minded for me.” That is just an awesome line. And this is a great post. It never ceases to amaze me that people can be bothered to be so judgemental about other peoples sexuality. And that we keep on placing each other in pigeon holes and rank us on some kind of acceptance scale. I guess a lot of people are just very insecure about their own sexual feelings, and feel threatened by people expressing other ways of living. As if there isn’t room enough for versatility. *sigh* Silly humans.

    April 7, 2013 at 12:14 am

    • Thank you! :) I’m glad you liked my piece, and appreciate the comments. I never understood what people gain by judging other people, whether it be on their sexuality, religion, race, etc. Why can’t we all just hug and love each other? :) Lol

      April 7, 2013 at 7:18 am

    • Exactly!! I have this problem every single day, people not understanding my situation…..but WHY does everyone care so much about each other’s personal lives? If you’re happy, you’re happy, you know?

      April 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

      • EXACTLY. Why does my sexual orientation bother people? How does it have anything to do with anyone else? I just don’t get it.

        April 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

        • Hi Sara – just read this post now (haven’t been keeping up with blogs as much as I’d like to in awhile), but I wanted to say I enjoyed this piece, and this comment in particular. This exactly! I mean, let’s even say the ‘accusations’ you mention above are true – I don’t believe they are, but for argument’s sake, let’s say that your sexual preference is somehow dictated by your past abusive experiences, ‘a fad’, and perhaps subject to change. Even if that WERE true … who cares? If you’re open, honest, and playing safe, you could sleep with a man tonight, a woman tomorrow and some little green martian the third night, and that is no one’s business but yours in the first place. Then feed back in the realities that this is your truth, these are your feelings to sort out and this is your journey which comes with enough baggage as it is … and it’s doubly unfair for others to judge. Good luck on this journey.

          May 21, 2013 at 6:35 am

  4. So much obnoxiousness would be avoided if people could just resist the urge to try to define other people’s experiences for them.

    April 6, 2013 at 5:07 pm

  5. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind comment!!! It means the world to me! Things are difficult and scary right now, but I have every hope that it will get better and easier once I’m able to get my own place and start my new life. I’m lucky to have a soon to be ex husband who is understanding and supportive about this (tho it wasn’t always so!), who is a great dad and will continue to help raise our son. :)

    April 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm

  6. lindsaygreenthumbs

    Awesome Sarah @ shearstar! Took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you for writing this!

    April 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm

  7. Shearstar

    Narrow minded people exist in every community including the gay and lesbian community. Have some patience and you will find the right woman. Personally, I am a lesbian and I always have been. I’ve slept with men and enjoyed it. A shocking thing in the lesbian community and not something I share outside of a small circle of friends. I’m in a committed relationship with a woman who was married once. Previously I was in a 13 year relationship with a bi-sexual woman. But the reality is there are many women who think they are gay and then decide they are not or that they can’t handle the public perception and stereotyping that comes with being gay. People remember those and not the other 80% who transition successfully to their new lifestyle. It’s a shame because we should celebrate the women and men who discover their sexual identity later in life and have the courage to change their entire reality post husband/wife/children. I remember a statistic from a college women’s study course that talked about the increasing number of women over 40 becoming lesbians post kids and marriage. I believe (and hope) that number will continue to increase as the world becomes more open to it. Once you are divorced and living outside of your marriage you will likely find it easier to find a partner. From one lesbian to another- I embrace you and welcome you!

    April 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    • Fran Stewart

      Hells to the yeah. VERY much this. Also, I suggest you read Erika Moen’s wonderful comic, Dar:

      http://www.darcomic.com/

      You’ll laugh, and you won’t feel so alone. And personally, as a transwoman and lesbian, who you are is up to YOU. Name yourself and love who you love, hon. :)

      April 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      • So she started out as a lesbian and ended up marrying a man? Interesting! I’m glad she’s happy though, that was a neat comic to read! Thanks for sharing! :)

        April 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm

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