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Coming out - What does it mean to come out as a lesbian?

Identifying yourself as a lesbian and disclosing this to other straight people is being called coming out. Most lesbians find coming out a positive experience. Coming to terms with being a lesbian however, might be confusing. We are here to help.

Lesbian Teenager: Coming Out as a Lesbian

How to Come Out As Lesbian Teen. So you're a lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered teen, and you haven't told anybody yet? You do not need to worry. Think of how many lesbian girls all around the world have gone through the same process as you are going through yourself.

They all have one thing in common: All lesbian teenagers are glad that they have come out. No more hiding.
If you want to talk about your coming out with other lesbian teenagers we suggest you visit the lesbian forums on the SHOE Lesbian Online Community.
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Lesbian Mature Women: Coming Out as a Lesbian

Better Late Than Never: Coming Out as a mature woman. Are you married and have just recently discovered you are lesbian or bisexual? Are you wondering how do you tell your husband? Coming out later in life can be tricky. You might know you’re a lesbian, but if you’ve been circulating exclusively in the straight world for decades how do you really know you’re a lesbian? Maybe you have questions on coming out as a lesbian at work? Whatever may be the case: Do come out. You will live a much happier and free life as a out and proud lesbian. Don't hide in the closet. It's too dark in there. Come out, tell the whole world that you are a proud lesbian, that you love women and that you are happy about it.

If you need help or wish to talk about you being a lesbian and your coming out, make sure you pop into our lesbian forums.
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Coming Out Stories from other Lesbians or share your own

Of course our multiple lesbian chatrooms offer an excellent way to share your coming out story with others and interact with other lesbians, getting to know them better. Make sure you use the SHOE Lesbian Community to it's fullest advantage to share your coming out story or read about other coming out stories from other lesbians. Do join our lesbian chat rooms, read the different stories in our lesbian forums or write your own blog and share your thoughts on coming out as a lesbian. It's all for free, it's all for you - to empower and connect you to the lesbian world.
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You are not alone!

Here are some coming out stories which might help you along the way:

Lesbian Coming Out Story #1
I came out a couple of years ago, just under 40, having been married to a man for many years. I married a woman in October. I too have been trawling the web looking for stories of older women coming out, to relate to. I'm particularly interested in those who've come out of strict religious backgrounds, like myself, who suppressed their sexuality for religious reasons. I'm finding so few stories to relate to, and like other posters, have felt rather disconnected from the lesbian community. My partner/wife feels the same, and we live in a rather conservative village in England, and therefore rarely meet other LGBT people. I feel a desperate need to find books, movies etc. with lesbian stories, with which I can relate, but so far, have not found my experience mentioned anywhere. It seems the general rule is that if you're a lesbian, you either come out young, or you live a celibate life until you come out. My own experience of "faking straight" (marriage, children etc) seems rare, although I find that hard to believe. I've heard enough annecdotes of women "turning gay" in their 30s, 40 or 50s. Maybe we should write our own book? About women who discover or rediscover their sexuality late in life? Women are so good at conforming to their environment, like emotional chameleons. I think I was good at suppressing my emotions, until even I believed I had none. I had therapy last year and it was quite a shock to realise just how much stuff there was going on inside my head, that even I wasn't aware of.

Lesbian Coming Out Story #2
I came out to my mom at the supermarket. O_o We were just about to pay for the stuff and leave when I saw the front page of the newspaper, something about lots of children not having parents and needing adoption. I was like "if homosexuals could adopt, there would be less children in that position". Of course she had the nerves to say "those shouldn't adopt kids!" and to counter-attack I threw it in her face. ;) "So you don't want me to have kids?" YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN HER FACE. XD There were lots of people around but I doubt anyone was listening. After a while she whispered "YOU'RE A LESBIAN?!" I think I was 18 or something (now I'm 20). She started asking me tons of questions about girlfriends etc. I didn't have any experience so she decided not to believe me. Now, 2 years later, she's seen pictures of me and my girlfriend where we're kissing and where you can clearly see that we're two persons in love. Oh, but she still doesn't think I'm a lesbian!

Lesbian Coming Out Story #3
friend. She lives in an apartment with two other girls, so I suggested we get in the car and go somewhere. I was trying to be calm and not let on that I wanted to actually talk about something, but less than a minute into the ride she says "Are you going to tell me that you're gay?" And I just look at her (still driving mind you) damn near sideswipe a parked car, almost turn into a barricade, and tell her that she nailed it. She offered to take over driving, apparently I was scaring her just a wee bit. Haha. So far I haven't had any problems with coming out. My sis and best friend took it well, and my mom had known all along. When I told her she didn't act any different than if I had said we were out of shampoo in the guest bathroom. She hugged me, I asked her if she knew and she said yeah. A few of the friends that I have told wouldn't believe me right away, but after reading the forums, I suppose that isn't all that uncommon. My sister apparently has NO gaydar whatsoever. we we're talking about it a couple of weeks later and she said "I had no idea, you're SO feminine." I laughed my ass off at that. Well, I hope to hear some more funny stories, and I'm sure I'll have a few more with the friends and family that I have yet to tell. Good luck to everyone who is coming out, or planning to.

Lesbian Coming Out Story #4
Thought I should introduce myself, I recently came out to my family and found this website, I am thankful that there is somewhere to get to know others like me and to be able to share stories and vent sometimes! I am almost 34 and have been with my gf for almost a year. (Long fantastic story) It's been the happiest, most trying year I have ever had, but so grateful to finally have a chance to live and be me. Telling my family was hard, but they reacted so much better than I expected and I still have a pretty decent relationship with them, so for all of you who are struggling, you will hear this over and over, but give them time and show them you are happy. :-)  

Lesbian Coming Out Story #5
Am i a lesbian?
I am a married girl with 2 kids. I get turn on, hot,vaginally wet when romantic,sexual thoughts with a girl come to my mind. Am i a lesbian/straight? iam confused. please advice. 

Lesbian Coming Out Story #6
What am I? Am I a Lesbian? I am in my early fifties and have always thought I was straight and have only had relationships with men in the past. However, this year a woman I know who works as a counsellor (tho I have never seen her professionally) helped me with a problem and I have completely fallen for her. I feel so much love towards her and am also having very strong, x-rated sexual fantasies about her. As she is married with children and grandchildren and my feelings are so strong, I have to avoid her for a long time, till hopefully my feelings will die down, becuase otherwise I would end up getting in a state and crying all over her every time we meet. The whole thing has made me think I might be bi or gay. I had always thought that being gay was a physical attraction alone, but now I am thinking that, in my life, I have felt more affinity emotionally and psychologically for women than for men, and that they are far easier to talk to, and that maybe this means that I should be looking for a woman rather than a man. With men I have always felt that I have to put a mask on and pretend to be more 'together' than I really am. Am I straight, bi or gay, or am I just confused and mixed up? 

Lesbian Coming Out Story #7
Well. Coming out can be reliving, for sure. But it's also scary. I've come out to my close friends. They've all accepted me, but I'm still afraid when I tell somebody new. Maybe because I think they wouldn't accept me, that they would look at me differently, that they would constantly ask me about it, that they would know too much about me (I'm more of a private person). I've came out to my friends before me or my family. Just lately, I'm coming to terms with my sexuality. I guess I've accepted myself. I'm in some aspect, glad I'm lesbian, I wouldn't wanna be any other way, 'cause that's just who I am. But I'm not quite there yet. My family.. maybe I'm not ready, don't have enough courage or am just puting it away. Which is unfair to my family and me, I know. I also really want to get involved in a queer community. And I hope someday, soon hopefully, I'm going to find enough courage in me to actually go to the LGBT meeting or something like that. I can't say I've completly came out. I can't say I'm as brave as I would like to be. I have my flaws. I just hope someday, even though I coming out is a process through the whole life, I will be able to live free, without obsticales.

Still. I think every person knows when it's the right time to come out for them. And sometimes coming out is not the answer. For the most time it is though, which is awesome. Y'all just gotta know that there's nothing wrong with you, that you're special (and i really meant that, since I'm noticing LGBT people are genually 'good at heart' people).

Be brave. Be strong. And love yourselves. And contact me if you need a shoulder to cry on. ;-) Love you all!  

Lesbian Coming Out Story #8
Thinking about it, I don't think I was ever exclusively 'in'. I've always known, and throughout high school it seemed to be common knowledge between myself and my friends.

I don't think coming out to my parents was difficult either. My dad is a very old fashioned bloke, and we never really got along, and although he obviously knows i'm gay, I have never told him forthright (Until he found out i had a girlfriend) I came out to my mom in a nightclub when I was 16. We were with her two best friends (who already knew) and it just kind of came up in conversation. And it was no biggie - she just made a joke about me not turning out 'butch'.

I probably had the easiest 'out'ing of anyone I know. Sure, I still get judged by some people, and neither of my parents are TOTALLY okay with it yet, but hey. I can be myself :)  

Lesbian Coming Out Story #9
Ellen DeGeneres doesn't regret coming out as a Lesbian. U.S. talk-show host and the worlds favourite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres says she doesn't feel she made a mistake when she revealed she is a lesbian more than a decade ago.

The Emmy Award-winning star of "The Ellen Show" discussed in an interview to air on Tuesday's edition of the "Today" show her decision to publicly confirm her sexual orientation in 1997. Asked by co-anchor Ann curry if she thought she had made a mistake in doing so, Ellen replied:

No. Absolutely not. It's the best -- because I am free. I am completely able to be exactly who i am" ellen said. "Everyone knows who's gay in this business. Let's face it. I mean, we could sit here, if the cameras weren't rolling and name all the people that we know are gay in this business. So if it wasn't public knowledge, and I was sitting here having this interview because I am selling my book, I would be scared to death that you were gonna catch me in something. I'd be scared to death that you're gonna ask me and I'd be figuring out how I'm gonna dodge that, and what I am gonna say. And just, it's so ridiculous. And so to have to hide anything is just a horrible way to live. And I think you're selling your soul to the devil to just hve fame and have money and have, you now, whatever."

Lesbian Coming Out Story #10
Just want to say thanks to the Shoe Lesbian Community and to all its members for helping me come out! Your input in the Forum helped and the support of a few friends that initiated the first contact (you know who you are!) and are with me throughout the journey!

Still an ongoing process but the cobwebs have been dusted off and the key thrown away!

So thanks heaps Shoe and Happy Coming Out Day to all! Cheers! 

Read many more coming out stories here: - lesbian forums or chat in one of our Lesbian Chatrooms

An interesting article on:
More older women coming out as lesbians

Meredith Baxter recently went public about being a lesbian — at age 62, after three marriages and five children. Instead of reacting with shock, many people thought, “Oh, there goes another one.”

As being gay gains more acceptance in the culture at large, far fewer gays and lesbians have felt the need to be closeted. But we seem to hear a lot more often about middle-aged women who have married and raised families announcing they are lesbians than we hear about men in the same situation coming out as gay. Census-data analysis from UCLA's Williams Institute found that 36 percent of women in their 40s with same-sex partners previously had been married to men. That percentage grew to more than half for lesbians in their 50s, and 75 percent for those 60 and older.

Recent media attention to the topic includes a More magazine story headlined “Over 40 and Over Men,” dubbing older self-outers “the gay-and-gray generation.” Oprah dedicated a show to late-blooming lesbianism, as did an episode of the WE reality series “Secret Lives of Women.” The documentary film “Out Late,” by Beatrice Alda, one of Alan Alda's daughters, looks at the lives of five women who decided to live gay lives after age 50. Baxter, who has been with her partner for four years, came out at a later age than most, but her experience is typical of the most common pattern: She met someone and fell in love, rather than suddenly realizing she was gay after all those years.

While evidence is anecdotal, “the consensus in the field is that these late-life transitions are more common for women than men,” said Lisa Diamond, a professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. Her book, “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire,” posits that women's sexual feelings are more complicated than straight or gay, and may change over a lifetime. The book is based on her study of 100 women over 10 years.

“It rarely happens in a general way,” Diamond said. “The awareness of the feelings comes in the context of a specific relationship. Women in the throes of transition will say it was totally unexpected, that it happens to you like the weather, not like something you can control. A lot of them have actively tried to resist it and failed. Our society equates change and choice, suggesting that all change happens willfully, which defies everything we know about development.”

More to lose
Eli Coleman, director of the University of Minnesota's Program in Human Sexuality, speculates that the reasons more lesbian women than gay men have been married previously include a general cultural suppression of women's sexual desires, especially stigmatized desires. Drawing on his own research and that of others, Coleman said that most men who decide to leave their marriages have been aware of their same-sex feelings all of their lives. But that is not as often the case for women, who in the past also have felt less free to start new lives.

“Back in the '80s, when I looked for women who were married but bisexual or lesbian, you couldn't find them,” Coleman said. “Support groups for gay fathers have existed for 30 years, but there wasn't similar awareness and support for women then. Women would do it more privately. They tended not to reveal it until they were out the door, because of the economic dependency that they had on their husbands and a great fear of losing custody of their children. That's not as much of an issue today.” Diamond's research indicates that for women, desire is more likely to be complicated. “It's not that women don't have a sexual orientation — it's just not the only thing structuring their attractions and behavior,” she said.

Growing to love her
Gardening experts Mary Henry and Margaret Purcell like to joke that “we slept together for years before we realized we were lesbians,” Henry said. For this couple, who recently moved from Minneapolis to Tacoma, Wash., a longtime friendship developed into something more — but not right away. They first met in 1977 as Girl Scout volunteers in their small Kentucky town; both had been married to men for more than 15 years.

“We knew we had a special friendship; we just didn't know what it was,” said Henry, now 70. “Later, I was afraid of what would happen to my husband if I left him, because I was his total emotional support, and we had two children.” Purcell, however, did leave her husband, and moved into a trailer on a farm Henry's husband had bought, where the two women grew plants for a small garden center they ran together. “As a woman raised in the South in those days, I barely knew the word 'lesbian,' let alone have any role models,” Henry said. “We just thought of ourselves as really, really good friends who had the best of both worlds.” Feeling her marriage was in trouble, Henry started therapy. At the same time she got to know two young lesbians who worked for them.

“After I was introduced to the concept, I figured it out,” she said. She divorced in 1994, and moved with Purcell to Minneapolis, where they worked for Bachman's Garden Centers. “My daughter beat me to it,” Henry said of coming out to her family. “She came home from college and announced she was a lesbian. When I finally told her about me, she said, 'Well, yeah, Mom.' If you think you're fooling anyone, you're not.”

Truth, twice resisted
For Nancy Edwards, the switch from straight to out lesbian came after two marriages to men. Edwards, 67, is a psychologist who “grew up in Indianapolis in the 1940s and '50s and didn't know any other way to live,” she said. “And even if I had, in the age of McCarthyism, you didn't want to step outside the box.” Married at 21, she raised four children with her first husband. After they divorced, “I got sober, and thought maybe my feelings for other women was from drinking too much,” she said. “What the drinking was really about was keeping those feelings under wraps.” Edwards and her second husband ran a resort near Grand Marais, Minn., where she got to know the North Shore lesbian community. Finally, at age 45, she told him. “We were lying in bed one night and I thought, 'I can't die not knowing,'” she said. She now lives in Minneapolis with her partner of 18 years, Barbara Bradford. As for her second ex, he “met the love of his life,” she said.

Inspired to broader study by her own experiences, Edwards did her dissertation for the University of Minnesota School of Social Work on lesbians coming out later in life. She interviewed 10 women for the project, most of whom are now in their 60s to 80s, and plans to turn her findings into a book. “All of them either fell in bam-knock-your-socks-off love, or came to it through feminism,” she said. “Newer generations don't have to do what we did. In the '60s, we were trying hard to show that girls and boys aren't that different. But really, lesbians are more like straight women than we are like gay men. Men go for sex first; women go for emotion first. It doesn't mean women don't like sex and men aren't emotional. When men come out, a lot of times they sort of crash out — you know, 'So many boys, so little time.' Women tend more to be serial monogamists. But from conversations I've had with younger women, maybe that's just generational.”

Maybe. But it can still take longer for them to define their own sexuality than it does for men, said Joanne Fleisher, a clinical social worker in Philadelphia who treats many women coming out in their 30s and 40s. She has a message board for married women attracted to other women at her website,

“Many women still don't come into a true sense of their sexuality until at least their late 20s or early 30s,” Fleisher said. “Some may have had an inkling about same-sex attraction when young, and thought it wasn't important or that they could make it unimportant. The more accepting our culture is of varying approaches, the less likely people are going to be to get married without experimenting.”

Read many more coming out stories here: - lesbian forums or chat in one of our Lesbian Chatrooms

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