Straight Talk Advice

Mar 10, 2010

Does same-sex attraction mean you’re gay or bi?

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m a girl and when I see other girls with attractive bodies nude, I sometimes feel a physical attraction. This includes my stepsister with whom I sometimes share a room. She undresses in front of me and has no idea I get these feelings. I like boys and have dated, but I don’t have a steady boyfriend. I have never acted on these feelings toward girls and doubt I ever would, but they scare me and I can’t make them go away. Does feeling physically attracted to someone of the same sex necessarily mean you are gay or bisexual? — Worried in Anaheim, Calif.

Lisa 22, Sacramento, Calif. Ask me a question

Many teen girls go through this stage but it definitely doesn’t mean you are gay. Most people are curious, it’s just whether you act on it or not. I had feelings like this in high school and was scared too. My friends wondered the same thing. I even kissed some of my girlfriends just to see what it was like. It seems funny now. But I’m not gay and never will be. Don’t freak out, you’re normal.

Anjanette 16, Safford, Ariz. Ask me a question

There are really straight girls out there that find girls attractive, but they are neither gay or bisexual. It’s a phase.

Scot 22, San Luis Obispo, Calif. Ask me a question

It is normal to find some people of the same sex attractive. Why have artists been painting, sculpting and drawing the human body since forever? As far as being attracted sexually, this could just be an admiration that you can’t mentally organize. There are times when I find another guy attractive, but I don’t worry about it. It’s just an appreciation of a hot guy.

Katelyn 16, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

You aren’t necessarily gay or bi. It could be an appreciation and/or jealousy of that person. If you like boys better, you shouldn’t worry. Feelings are feelings, and like you said, you don’t have to act on them.

Leif 21, Berkeley, Calif. Ask me a question

Calm down. These thoughts aren’t necessarily bad. You aren’t fantasizing about murder. Besides, people should be defined by their actions, not their thoughts.

Nicole 20, Arcata, Calif. Ask me a question

It’s common for straight girls to be sexually attracted to girls. Much more common than straight men being attracted to men. More people are realizing they are bisexual, rather than heterosexual. There is nothing wrong with that.

Maureen 18, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

Sexuality isn’t black and white, it is a spectrum. It is perfectly normal to feel attraction. You are gay if you feel inclined to act on that attraction.

Molly 18, Fair Oaks, Calif. Ask me a question

We are so preoccupied with labeling everyone’s sexual orientation today and treating them accordingly. Yet I have known straight (or gay) people who changed. To me, it doesn’t really matter. People are people. My advice is to acknowledge that you find some girls attractive and leave it at that. If, later in life, you are comfortable acting on those feelings, fine, but there is no need to act on feelings you aren’t comfortable with.

DEAR WORRIED: You definitely don’t sound gay. Most gay people report the feeling as inborn or noticeable early in life, whereas your letter suggests the feeling is new. Regarding bisexuality, lots of straight girls are confused about this. I trace this confusion to the mainstreaming of pornography. Popular movies and songs now contain what used to be considered soft porn, with lots of girl-girl action. Brain science shows that most females possess an inherent bisexual arousal pattern. Thus, having these popular songs and images “on the brain” is triggering many females to “feel” bisexual (it is indeed normal under these circumstances). But, like you, most girls don’t act on those feelings. After varying degrees of worry/confusion/curiosity, most let them go. Sex is complicated enough just dealing with boys.

Editor’s Web Note: If there is ever a topic that I get boatloads of mail about, it is this. The mail is mostly from girls. If there is ever an topic that I think our culture has it’s head in the sand on, it is in being able to talk frankly about sexual orientation without politicizing (and thus shutting down) the conversation. Whereas most gay people report the feeling being inborn, the current wave of female bisexuality appears, as well as I can currently understand it, to be driven by social influences — the obvious one being the overnight sensation of pornography-gone-mainstream. Which leads to another topic nobody can talk about without flat-out name-calling. (Prude! Slut! Addict!) But if we can’t have earnest, non-judgmental, truth-seeking discourse about the biggest sexual revolution since the 1960s — and how Big Porn appears to be running the show — that’s just plain dumb. I am the first to admit that I have a lot to learn, so please let me hear from you. — Lauren Forcella

  1. By K, age , from Fair Oaks, CA on 03/10/2010

    Dear Worried:

    Thank you so much for writing this letter! Along with the Panel’s responses and Lauren’s response that she gets “boatloads” of mail from others with these feelings, it gives me a HUGE sense of relief. I thought that I was just about the only one who had feelings like this and felt that I was really weird and abnormal and was scared to death that I might be gay, and there was no one I could talk to about it. I feel much better to hear that this is not so abnormal.  Ever since I reached puberty, I have had sexual feelings when I saw other girls nude like in the showers in the girls’ locker room and when having sleepovers and slumber parties.  I share a room with my younger sister.  Like I assume it is (and should be) with most sisters who share a room, we aren’t the least bit shy about undressing in front of each other and being nude in front of each other.  When she started puberty last year, I began having these kind of feelings when I see her nude. It made me feel terribly guilty since she totally trusts me and looks up to me as her “big sister.”  I love my sister and am certain that I would never act on such feelings with her, but it still made me feel terribly guilty to even have these feelings.  I still wish that I could somehow get rid of these feelings, but I feel much, much better knowing that it is not so abnormal to have them.  Thank you again.

    Not So Worried Anymore

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  2. By L. C., age , from Santa Rosa, CA on 03/11/2010

    It’s not just girls who have these feelings.  I’m a guy and I sometimes get these feelings about other guys.  I really don’t think I’m gay, because I’m much more attracted to girls.  However, this sometimes causes me to get a boner (erection) in the communal showers in the locker room after gym class.  Since there is no privacy it’s impossible to hide my boner and guys who have noticed it assume I’m gay.  You’re lucky that as a girl you can at least keep these feelings to yourself as there isn’t the physical manifistation that happens to guys.  It’s impossible to control as trying not to have it happen seems to make it worse.

    L.C.
    (please just use my initials)

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  3. By Nancy, age , from Rocklin, CA on 03/17/2010

    It really surprises me to hear that it is common and normal for a straight girl to be physically attracted to other girls’ nude bodies.  I have always felt totally the opposite and find seeing other girls nude a big turn off. I do my best not to look when other girls are nude in my presence, and it has always been my impression that most girls have no interest in each other’s bodies.  It doesn’t bother me for other girls to see me nude since we’re all the same, but I don’t like seeing them. However, it would bother me if I thought it gave them sexual feelings. I’m comfortable seeing my sister since we’ve been sharing a room and undressing in front of each other our whole lives, but other than that it’s just about the last thing I want to look at.

    Nancy

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  4. By P.G., age , from Petaluma, CA on 03/18/2010

    I read you column for March 14. All the comments seemed to reassure “Worried in Anaheim” that she was not gay, even tho she had feelings about naked girls. NO ONE said, hey, what if you are? That is OK too! She needs to know that if sometime in the future she does decide to act on her feelings, and hook up with a girl, that’s just fine, and she might STILL be attracted to boys.

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  5. By Catie, age , from Amherst, Mass. on 03/19/2010

    I would like to echo what Molly said at the end. It was the closest to how I feel. I was honestly a bit distressed by how many responses called this a “phase,” because I believe that can force someone who is struggling with their sexual feelings to go further into the closet (something common amongst my college friends). I also hesitate to label anyone as gay because of their actions…we may have experiences outside of our general sexual identification, but they do not define us. I think what you said about porn is true, but I think it also is this changing discourse and consciousness about alternative sexualities that is becoming more mainstream!

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  6. By Vanessa, age , from Galt, Calif. on 03/19/2010

    I too, become physically attracted to “good looking” females. In high school, my close friend (who was also a girl) and I simply thought it was amazing how much attention we could get just by making out with each other. It never bothered me because I wasn’t attracted in a sense that I felt the urge to do anything else sexual with her.

    I have been in a steady relationship with my boyfriend for nearly 7 years and on one occasion we attended a party where he jokingly said I should make out with another female. To everyone’s surprise, I did it. I don’t mean to offend anyone straight, bi,or gay/lesbian with my acts being “just for fun”, but to me, it’s not a big deal. I think we are physically attracted to things that we have no control over, i.e., racial background, age, hair color. These are things we do not choose to like, we just do. I’d rather go to a female strip club over a men’s and that doesn’t make me gay, it makes me comfortable with my sexuality. To me, liking the curves of a woman’s body is no different than complimenting her hair or a guy’s eyes.

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  7. By anonymous, age , from kenya on 04/14/2010

    Thank you all for your comments.am a woman i have been like having feelings for this woman.i cant explain it.sometimes i think about her very much.we are both mature girls . I feel guilty to feel this way about her, and i want this feelings to go away.She works where i work. i do all i can to ensure we dont meet.i hate this.i have a boyfriend and i love him, but i cant really know what i feel for this girl.she’s very beautiful.i think about her and it worries me so much.She knows i have feelings for her.she acts like she has feelings for me.when she sees me she does things that make me notice her.i would never act on this feelings but the feelings are not going away .sometimes i cry because i feel like am falling for her but i know its wrong.the harder i try the more i realise in my sub conscience that i have feelings for her.What should i do.i have not seen her for the past two days and i feel like i miss her yet i know this love or feelings cannot be.i understand that.so what do i do to get over her and this feelings? Help

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