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Is it easier for lesbians to act straight?
Kathy and I run a support group for women who are coming to terms with their sexual orientations. The question came up if it is easier just to act straight than to tolerate homophobia. Since many women were interested in our take on this, we thought we'd share our response: I'm glad this topic came up. This is basically what Kathy and I have seen lesbian women do in this situation:

1. Choose to act "Straight"
These women choose to be something they are not to conform to society. Sometimes it is purely society that forces them into being who they are not, or their life up to that moment forces them to decide that they are going to be straight no matter what. They may be married with kids, and they choose to be straight for the kids' sake, or maybe they have been raised with "Hell and Damnation" religion and they are terrified of who or what they may be. The women we have met who are in this situation tend to not be the happiest people in the world, as they are denying their authentic selves. They not only make themselves unhappy, but also their families because they are not really present in their lives.

We have met so many depressed men who wonder why their wives do not love them, or why their wives will not be intimate with them. We've also met lots of kids who wonder why Mommy is so sad or angry all the time. This can go on for a woman's whole life, where she never really is who she is meant to be, and it makes everyone around her miserable in many ways.

A lot of people who live like this, both men and women, are the ones who are so homophobic that they make everyone who may be different than they are miserable. When they find out someone around them is lesbian, they will run that person into the ground, and make her life as miserable as possible. These are the people Kathy and I refer to as "The Real Closet Cases."

Now don't get us wrong. Some women can live this way and be fairly happy. Many times they fulfill their true needs with other things. They may be great mothers to their kids, and OK with their husbands. They can do a lot of good for many people, but they have to choose to push the energy it takes to hide their real selves into other avenues that are more positive for them and society in general. Sometimes women do this, but other times that energy goes into negative things like alcohol or drug abuse, or sadness and depression.2. Choose to act "Straight" to the outside world, but screw around with women on the side.
This is very detrimental to everyone involved for the woman who chooses to live like this, because her whole life is based on lies to everyone around her. She will lie to the woman she is having sex with to keep that part of her life intact. She will lie to her husband to keep him in her life. She will lie to her kids, her family, and her church to make sure she is accepted by them all.
Sometimes, the woman who is living like this, will use a lesbian to have sex with, and then throw her away when the going gets rough. I know about this behavior personally as I was involved with someone like this when I was young, and it was the worst time in my life. I've never seen anyone who was truly happy being this way, besides maybe some women are both married and sneak time together, living what they believe is "The best of both worlds."3. Choose to never have intimate relationships with men or women.
These women used to be called old maids, and some do great in this lifestyle. They fill their lives with friends, jobs, hobbies, and/or community service. Some become nuns, or celibate ministers in a religion that accepts women in that position. Some are pretty happy, as they are independent and live their lives to the fullest. They may be lonely at times, but they usually have a nice group of friends for social activities. They don't have to put up with making love to men, which would really make them ill if they had to do it, and they are living their lives how they see fit. Most of these women can provide for themselves with no problem, and many are very happy living on their own.4. Choose to be who you really are.
Sometimes this is the hardest thing to be, because it's tough to have to work and fight for who you are. If a lesbian chooses to be honest about her life, to be who she is no matter what, it can be rather scary and full of lots of change. You have to be the one who decides if you need to change who you are to be happy in your life, like where you live, and your plans for the future.

You may have to move to a location where there is more of an accepting community that will help you with your new life, and you may have to leave your old life behind. You have to be willing to reach out and get help and support from people in your new community. Standing in the truth of who you are can be hard, but it can also be the best thing you've ever done for yourself, because you are free to be who and what you were born to be.

There are probably about a million other ways to be a lesbian in this world, but these are the basic ways we've seen that women cope with who they are. We can not stress how important it is for women to get good educations, so that they are never forced by lack of money to be something they are not. There are many women who stay in their straight lives because they can not afford to do anything else. Some are controlled by either their husband's or their family's money, so get the best education that you can afford so you can be free to be the real you. Take time for yourself to weigh out all the options, and before you choose, make sure that you think about what your choices could cause you, or other people in your life, in the future. It's your life, and it's up to you to do what you think is best and right for you, and to make yourself as happy as possible.
Tracey Stevens and Cathy Wonder are the co-authors of
“How To Be A Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide”
“Coming Out Advice for Lesbian and Bisexual Women"
“Relationship Advice for Lesbian and Bisexual Women"
“Lesbian Sex Tips: A Guide for Anyone Who Wants
To Bring Pleasure to the Woman She (Or He) Loves”

“Sex tips para lesbianas/ Sex tips for lesbians" (Spanish Edition)
“The Lesbian Big O: Over 100 Sensual Illustrations"

Their website,,
provides more than 1,500 free community services for
lesbian and bisexual women worldwide.

Contact Tracey and Kathy at

The advice in this column is the opinion of the writers and is not intended as a
substitute for medical or psychological treatment from a health care professional.

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