Alex Blaze

Study: Women's sexuality fluid later in life

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 13, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: lesbian, study; coming out age

We've known for a while that lesbian women generally come out later than gay men, meredith.jpegand now one researcher is saying that the difference isn't due to just the coming out process, but also that some women's sexual orientations change:

Following interviews with more than 200 married lesbians, Moran concluded that there is "great potential for heterosexual women to experience a first same-sex attraction well into adulthood."

She added that late-blooming sexuality was often wrongly dismissed as repressed lesbians finally coming to terms with their true feelings.

Most research ignored "the possibility that a heterosexual woman might make a full transition to a singular lesbian identity ... in other words change their sexual orientation."

Describing the emotional torment suffered by many late-blooming lesbians, Moran added: "To leave a heterosexual marriage in favour of lesbian identity is to abdicate enormous and undeniable privilege."

Lots of women read Bilerico; do you feel like that's an accurate description of your experiences?

No doubt this study will be used by the religious right to prove that somehow it's OK to punish queer peopel for coming out and living their lives honestly because some people's sexual orientation changes randomly. Obviously, if it changes randomly in some people, then a change can be induced in everyone through the use of legal and physical punishments, and such instruments should be used. It all makes so much sense.

For my part, I welcome all information about sexuality because this movement is supposed to be based on truth and freedom, not creating narratives to make us seem more sympathetic to conservatives. That some people experience their sexual orientation differently from me is exactly the point - everyone should be free to express themselves because consensual love and sex are never wrong.

And anyway, we'll never win at the "manipulate sexuality and love lives to fit a construction" game against the Religious Right. They invented it and they'll always win it. Fortuantely, we have reality on our side, so we might as well embrace it.

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VĂ©ronique | July 13, 2010 8:23 PM

...Moran added: "To leave a heterosexual marriage in favour of lesbian identity is to abdicate enormous and undeniable privilege."

And it happens to women who stay with their transitioning partners as well. I think my partner had somewhat less difficulty with the changes I was going through than she did with the sudden insecurity of being part of a same-sex couple. Even in a jurisdiction with equal marriage, the status of a lesbian couple is different than that of a male-female hetero couple. We've both had to come to terms with that.

I've pretty much felt that fluid sexuality is a sexual orientation in it's own right, much like bisexuality, or maybe even a particular type of bisexuality.

To be clear, my feelings on self identity is you are whatever you say you are. I wouldn't say later in life lesbians or even bisexual women who want to identify as lesbians aren't allowed to. Traits are highly variable from person to person. But social groups are made by people...they are whatever we make them.

That said, when we are talking about sexuality as a trait, not a political identity, I would describe mine as statically homosexual.

A lot of the time when I go into the over 30 lesbian forums, it'll mostly be women who are just coming out and they're experience is wildly different from mine because I came out when I was 17. And unfortunately a lot of them will explain their experience by basically saying women's sexuality is fluid. At which point I have to leave because that hasn't been my experience at all. I'm sure it totally makes sense to them, but it doesn't to me.

But I also know from experience that you can't tell a person who has just come out anything that they're not ready to hear.

I am 52, married and still sexually active. Except for two isolated, (pleasurable), experiences with the same sex, I have always been heterosexual. Lately I have been noticeing a recurring attraction to other women. Discussing this with my husband, he just tells me that I am bisexual and that he is OK with that.

I have never thought of myself as anything other than hetero. I think that maybe I am just evolving....

I fell in love with my best friend at age 43 while married to a wonderful man. 7 years later, i'm divorced, and with another woman partner. i thought maybe i was bisexual before age 43, but mostly straight, until i fell in love. and then i completely switched over. and yet, on occasion, i can appreciate the look of a beautiful man.

fluid is a good word for it. btw, i identify as lesbian even though bisexual seems more accurate. its easier all around, and less hurtful to my ex-husband and to our teenagers we're still rearing.

I agree with this study. It certainly reflects my own story, and that of the many women I see come through a coming out group I run. For many women, sexuality is more fluid. It's back to the Kinsey scale on where we all fall. The interesting question is why so many men are either at one end or the other, but women tend to fall all over the scale.

I am a late bloomer too. My experience though is more an early denial of my sexuality and having to fit into the societal norms projected by family and community. When I look back at who I was then, who I am now is very understandable.

Most of the lesbians I knew while an undergrad are now, 15 years later, bi or straight or ftm (like me). So the drift seems to happen in all directions.

Well, needless to say, this has happened to me, as well.

I think it takes a lot of courage to live an authentic life, whatever that looks like. I am a professional writer and wrote a novel called Seeking Sara Summers about a woman who falls in love with her best female friend. From the feedback I get from readers, a lot of women--both gay and straight and in-between--can relate.

Susan Gabriel
author of Seeking Sara Summers
(a novel about falling in love with your best friend)