No One Is The Guy: Responding to Questions About Lesbian Sex

by: Elyse Dawson

I realized that I was a lesbian when I was 14 years old.  It was terrifying, liberating and a myriad of other things.  So what was the first thing I did?  I took to the internet of course!  I wanted to know what being a lesbian entailed.  What music seemed to have a great lesbian fanbase (Tegan and Sara, Ani DiFranco, Sleater-Kinney), what movies would give me an idea of how scary or sexy it can be to be a lesbian (Lost and Delirious, Bound, But I’m a Cheerleader), and what kind of lifestyle roles were associated with my new found sexuality.  It was overwhelming and exciting.  At this point I had never kissed anyone and while the idea of having sex with a woman was alluring, I was clueless about what it would feel like.  But I never once asked myself what numerous friends, acquaintances and even strangers at bars have for the past ten years:

“What is lesbian sex?”

“How do you, ya know… do it?”

“Do you use a strap on or what?”

The teenage game of “Never Have I Ever” became difficult.  “Never have I ever had sex with a woman” or “Never have I ever had gay sex” or “lesbian sex” became this nebulous question.  I had to ask my closest friends what they meant or what counted in their eyes and then adjust my response accordingly.  Luckily, it didn’t take me long to to decide that I needed to decide what my own personal parameters were.  I decided that lesbians were “a base short”, for lack of a better term, in the eyes of society. In our heteronormative society, penetration defines intercourse.  The porn industry targets heterosexual males by presenting “lesbian” scenes where there is generally a penetrative toy involved or the women do not climax until a man enters the scene.  This reaffirms the very upsetting idea that sex can only be considered tried and true sex if a phallus is involved and, as a result, that lesbianism is not real.  I realized that I was going to have to defend my sexual relationships because the majority of people I encountered, did not consider them to be valid.

There were numerous occasions during college where I would be at a bar with my partner and we would often strike up conversations with men.  I am generally very careful in these situations.  I love socializing and meeting strangers who will tell you their life stories before telling you their own name.  However, if I were a betting woman, I could have made a killing off of how many times I anticipated that once our relationship was revealed, how the conversation would proceed.  There is a blatant amount of disrespect toward committed lesbian relationships.  Men have invited themselves into sexual encounters with us, sometimes in order to prove that we just need the right man.  I have even been told that all I needed was “a good deep dicking.”  The conversations turn more intimate than I feel they would with their own heterosexual friends.

Also, while gay men face this issue as well in their dialogues with heterosexuals, I feel that their sex is more understood due to the presence of male organs.  In fact, I’ve had the same “lesbian sex” conversation with gay men.  My gay roommate often jokes with me that he doesn’t have to worry about me because I “can’t have sex really anyway, right?”  We’ve established a healthy relationship and I know that his comments are in jest, but I’ve felt lesbian shame in Boystown, here in Chicago from absolute strangers.  Comments have included “Oh leave the dykes alone, their just going to go home and scissor” followed by laughter.  Again, my most intimate and physical connection with someone, is reduced to a joke.  It feels like being given a pat on the head and told “Bless your heart.”

I have never asked any of my friends “Have you had straight sex yet?”, “Vanilla sex?” or “Anal gay sex?”  I ask if they have had sex.  Then depending on how close I am to them, I may ask about the health of their sexual relationship, but never will I ask “How deep?”,  “How often do you switch positions?” or “How does it feel to have abnormal sex that I don’t understand?”.  Nor do I suggest that they simply haven’t been fucked good enough if they’ve never been with someone of the same gender.  These questions are invasive and degrade their intimacy with their partner.  When you ask me “who’s the guy in the relationship?”  I know that you’re asking me who wears the strap on that we presumably have to use so that you can justify why my sexuality is acceptable.  And quite frankly, you’ve just violated me with your imagination and taken my privacy.

My sexuality does not prevent me from having sex.  Being a lesbian does not limit me from having unique sexual experiences.  I can still explore kinks and sex subcultures that are not gender or orientation specific.  I find that what limits my sexual interaction, is this idea that sex is simply sex and must be defined as a specific act or a particular finite moment.  I would like to challenge anyone who asks “What is lesbian sex?” to ask themselves what sex means to them in regards to their own relationships and previous partners.  I could tell you my favorite position or thing to do during sex but I can’t speak for everyone.  All I can tell you is that lesbians are simply having sex.  And from personal experience, it’s pretty awesome.

Elyse Dawson is just working to afford her acting habit.  A graduate of Wright State University, she moved to Chicago post graduation to see how the other half lived and liked it better.  She occasionally dabbles in her blog as American Psychette, ( and often charades as an Administrative Assistant.  Her main sources of sustenance are pizza and puns in mass quantity so that she can maintain her bubbly and dark personality. And she can totally whoop you at Sega Genesis.

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