Lady-on-lady relationships: by design or by loser dudes?

A recent survey published in Psychology Today said women are three times more likely to be gay than men. Josh Fernandez investigates the reason.

joshua fernandez

The sun wasn’t the only thing to come out last month. HBO’s award-winning True Blood actress Anna Paquin came out as bisexual during her cameo for the “Give a Damn” campaign, a public service announcement by Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, an organization founded by Lauper to raise money for LGBTQ rights.

“I’m Anna Paquin. I’m bisexual, and I give a damn,” she said in the PSA.

Paquin aside, any celebrity involved in the campaign PSA was already “out” or known to be a straight ally.

Despite her flashy method of coming out, Paquin is now among a large population of women in the United States who indentify as lesbian or bisexual.

In a recent post, Psychology Today “Sax on Sex” blogger Leonard Sax, a family physician and psychologist, cited a recent survey’s findings that approximately 15 percent of young females today identify as lesbian or bisexual compared to the smaller 5 percent of young males, prompting the question and, thus, title of his blog post: “Why are so many girls lesbian or bisexual?”

Anyone who knows me in any capacity knows I love queer women.

I’m more likely to be entertained drunkenly bellowing karaoke with my queer ladies at Sisters than I am drunkenly surrounded by a plethora of obnoxious gay men at Woody’s. I’d rather go to Stimulus – a “diverse monthly LGBTQ party” according to its Facebook page, which doesn’t mention its queer-woman slant – to surround myself with fun female strangers than go to the over-priced and most often esteem-killing Voyeur at 13th and Chancellor streets. I’m more apt to listen to my friends Tegan and Sara or Ani DiFranco than my ex-girlfriend Lady Gaga. (Although when I workout, Gaga and I kiss and make up.)

Despite the stereotypical descriptions, I love queer women – plain and simple. The only way I could even begin to explain this is by saying that from what I’ve observed, there’s this camaraderie between queer women that doesn’t exist in gay-male groups I’ve seen and been a part of. But to chalk it all off to this female camaraderie would be unfair to my queer sisters.

As Sax notes, women do seem to more often identify as queer in some capacity as opposed to their male counterparts. Every famous self-identified bisexual person who comes to mind, in addition to Paquin, is female: Angelina Jolie, Margaret Cho, Drew Barrymore, Gaga. The only bisexual male famous persons who come to mind are Mike Manning from The Real World: D.C. and Oscar Wilde.

Sax’s post is then relevant in pegging a trend, right? No – although Sax’s curiosity in answering “Why is it OK for girls to be gay, but not boys?” seems sincere, his attempted argument is poor.

In his April 3 post, Saw wrote: “If a straight boy kissed another boy, perhaps to amuse some girls who might be watching, he would be unlikely to undergo a change in sexual orientation as a result.

“But, as Professor Roy Baumeister at Florida State University and others have shown,” the post continued, “sexual attraction in many women seems to be more malleable … [if] a teenage girl kisses another teenage girl, for whatever reason, and she finds that she likes it – then things can happen, and things can change.

“Especially if all the guys she knows are losers,” he added.

I know what you’re thinking: Where do we even begin? Well, let’s talk about the sexuality factor. Sax acknowledged the trend of girls making out with each other to please a male audience and wrote: “Pretending to be lesbian or bisexual doesn’t explain why a growing proportion of young women are lesbian or bisexual.”

He then backtracked with, “Or does it?” and noted that sexuality is different in males and females. His attempt to explain the growth of queer young women ignores that sexuality is complex in and of itself.

I know many a girl who has made out with another girl, and neither one’s sexuality has changed – the girls were lesbian, bisexual or queer to begin with, or they are still happily in relationships with men. Maybe some women experience this, but a majority of young women don’t just kiss each other in front of guys and decide, “I like that. Let’s be soul mates.” More often than not, a kiss is just a kiss.

My other issue with his argument is with the cynicism of men, ironically by Sax. I agree that men are less likely to participate in a similar situation as women, seemingly forced to make out with someone of the same sex to entertain the opposite one. But who’s to say that a guy wouldn’t kiss another guy in that situation and not feel anything? The whole argument around that scenario stereotypes gender roles.

Sax also cited an incident in which one girl became bisexual and entered a relationship with another young woman shortly after her boyfriend suggested she shave her pubic hair so that she would resemble a pornographic image that aroused him.

To Sax: The girl didn’t become bisexual as an alterative to her loser boyfriend. She may have found herself attracted to women beforehand. But her jerk of a boyfriend had very little to do with it.
Bottom line: More research needs to be done, and not by Sax. “Losers” can’t possibly activate sleeper queer cells in 15 percent of young women.

Josh Fernandez can be reached at josh@temple.edu.

2 Comments

  1. Josh, from one queer woman to another…GREAT article, sister! Us women can come together in so many safe, self-affirming ways and we couldn’t do it without men like you who free us from judgment and gender-expression-requirements! Thanks, as usual, for being incredible!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*