Question: For my whole life if I have always only ever liked girls, and now I like a boy, does that mean I’m bi rather than a lesbian? As silly as it sounds having feelings for a boy scares me more than anything.
Having unfamiliar feelings can be little a scary, mostly because we don’t often know what to do about them. It may seem like navigating a new city without a map.
We live in a society that places a great deal of value on labels. Labeling actions, emotions and feelings can help us feel in control of them. The unfortunate side of labels, which often comes up when we talk about our identities, is that they are not and can never be perfect, because we are all unique and we all change over time.
No one can predict who they will have feelings and attractions for, and those feelings and attractions don’t come from our identity label. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The labels we give oursleves come from our feelings and attraction. A woman who identifies as a lesbian doesn’t love another woman because she identifies as a lesbian – she identifies as a lesbian because she loves another woman and the term lesbian holds meaning for her.
Identity labels and what they mean are for each of us to define for ourselves. They describe our feelings, our bodies and our attractions. While the label “lesbian” may have a boiler-plate definition, in actuality it means something different to each person that identifies with it.
If you have feelings that deviate from your current defintion of the label you identify with, that’s perfectly okay because you know yourself best. Whether or not you change how you identify is really up to what feels right to you. Your feelings and attractions are what they are – they can’t be changed. Our labels, their definitions and what they mean to us can.
So if lesbian doesn’t feel right for you anymore, play with some other options. If it does still feel right for you, then keep it. If it feels mostly right, then maybe there are some fun adaptations like “lesbian who sometimes likes guys too” or “bi-curious lesbian” or “lesbian who loves who she loves.”