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What Makes Her A Lesbian?
By: Therese Jansen

Today, while looking for a few minutes of relaxation, I wandered into a chat room. A woman came into the room and asked if someone would be interested in talking with her seriously. I sensed she was feeling troubled, so I agreed to speak with her privately.

She explained she was 18 years old, in college, and that she was feeling very interested in one of her professors, who was also a woman, and wondered if this meant she was a lesbian. She explained she'd never felt this way about a woman, but that she hated to leave class on Fridays as it meant she wouldn't see her teacher until Monday, so does that mean she's a lesbian? She explained she didn't feel any sexual desire for this woman, but that she couldn't get her out of her mind, how could she be a lesbian? She'd never been interested in a particular boy, but that didn't mean she was a lesbian, did it?

What this young woman described was so obviously a crush; it was charming, but also heartbreaking. I could hear the panic in her words - the fear that she might be "different" from her family and friends. I suddenly realized how overwhelming coming out to ones self could be at a young age.

Because I'd come out to myself at a later age (early 30's), I felt that my experience wasn't really going to cover her issues. With her permission, I shared with the other women her situation and asked for their input.

Listening to the women share their own varied experiences -- from their first crush to their feelings about sex (with both men and women), I couldn't help but feel that at some point, we all converged into almost the same impressions/emotions. Each of us had experienced something different, but none of us felt regret or expressed negative feelings about our actions. Each of us seemed to accept that it was our process -- and no one seemed to feel there was need for blame. One thing that I found very interesting was that no matter what the experience, no one felt the need to disown it. No one needed to point at someone else's experience and make it wrong.

Happily, no one felt a need to define her personal beliefs in terms of what was bad. Instead it was all based on what was good and embraced. At one point, when the young woman tried to identify something as negative, all of the women corrected her -- it wasn't about what we didn't want -- it was about what we wanted.

It was a really bonding, wonderful moment, and I must say thank you to all of those women...

Until next time...


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