Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-06-24
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Health & Fitness: Lesbian Identities

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

What does it mean when a woman calls herself a lesbian? On the one hand, the answer may seem pretty obvious: a woman who identifies as lesbian loves and has intimate relationships with other women. But once we start asking more in-depth questions, the answers may not be so clear-cut: is a lesbian a woman who is only attracted to other women? Is a lesbian a woman who has never had sex with a man? Or a woman who doesn't want to have sex with a man, even if at some point in her life she did? Is a lesbian simply a woman who calls herself a lesbian?

These are just some of the complex questions that the Chicago Health and Life Experiences of Women study (CHLEW) explores. The nearly 450 women who are part of CHLEW offer some very interesting answers. Nearly all identified as lesbian when they were first interviewed—this was the major criteria for being in the study. However, once we asked questions about sexual attraction and behavior, answers tended vary, indicating that 'lesbian' means different things to different women.

For example, about one-half of the participants said they could be attracted to 'only women,' but most of the remainder (40%) chose the response 'mostly women,' indicating some level of attraction—or at least potential attraction—to men. The remaining 10% indicated they could be equally attracted to men and women. In contrast, most CHLEW participants (75%) have had at least some sexual experience with men. Nearly one-half (44%) of women in the study reported that their sexual partners have been mostly women and about one-fourth (27%) reported having had sex only with women; 14% reported sexual experiences with an equal number of women and men and another 14% reported sex with mostly men in their lifetimes. Reports about gender of sexual partners in the past five years were more consistent with sexual attraction, although a full third of respondents had at least one male sex partner in the past five years.

African-American lesbians were more likely than white and Latina lesbians to report sexual activity with a man in the past five years. In addition, younger lesbians (18-29 years old) were more likely to have had only female sex partners in their lifetime—38% compared with 16% of women who 50 to 59 years old. However, women under 30 were also much more likely to report sexual activity with a man in the past five years. This seeming inconsistency may have to do with older lesbians being more likely to be in long-term committed relationships and the greater tendency of younger women, especially younger women today, to be open to a broader range of sexual experiences.

These results from the first round of CHLEW interviews provide a brief glimpse into the complexity of women's sexuality. The information we gather in the second wave of interviews should provide even more insight into how sexual identity is shaped and experienced by our sample of Chicago lesbians. .

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.