Social Question

prolificus's avatar

How would you describe a healthy lesbian?

Asked by prolificus (6552points) May 14th, 2010

LifeLube (NSFW) advertises: “Gay, Sexy and Healthy.” Its audience, of course, is gay men. I’m trying to find information that describes all aspects of “Lesbian, Sexy and Healthy.”

What is the picture of a healthy lesbian? Where can one find resources that talk about healthy lesbians as individuals, not just about healthy relationships?

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80 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

The “healthy” is a response to HIV/AIDS. There is no equivalent in lesbian culture.

Kayak8's avatar

Here at the National Lesbian Health Project.

Blackberry's avatar

I am sure they are the same as healthy heterosexuals…except…they like women…...Seems pretty simple to me :)

liminal's avatar

What do you mean by ‘healthy’?

prolificus's avatar

I’m thinking in broad terms, not just physical health. See topics listed in question.

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s like asking what a healthy heterosexual looks like. Why would there be a difference?

prolificus's avatar

@tinyfaery – because… in some communities, a lesbian (or anyone not heterosexual), is not considered “normal” or “healthy” or “whole.”

FutureMemory's avatar

How would you describe a healthy lesbian?

One that is not sick.

Blackberry's avatar

@prolificus Anyone who makes this assumption is simply an idiot who should not be taken seriously. Period. This includes whole communities; I bet those communities also read the bible as well.

Aster's avatar

A healthy lesbian is the same as a healthy straight person. What else could it mean? Or they’re saying the woman doesn’t have an STD?? Not sure.

prolificus's avatar

Okay… maybe I should have prefaced the question a little more… More preface: If someone has been exposed to homophobia most of her life, and has elements of internalized homophobia, how would she discover what is a “normal, healthy, and whole” lesbian if there is no basis for understanding this?

ubersiren's avatar

A wet nose and a shiny coat.

tinyfaery's avatar

You need to be a healthy and whole person. Yes, accepting your sexuality is a part of that, but there is no one way to be a healthy lesbian.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

First of all, a healthy lesbian is someone who doesn’t care what other people think and is happy being in public and doing all the things that a woman and man do!
A lesbian is supposed to have sex and do whatever they want haters can hate, by if you are a lesbian what do you do?-ignore THEM!

Hope I helped:D

Blackberry's avatar

@prolificus Uhhmmmm, wouldn’t that mean that the homophobic person has to change their own ways themselves instead of meeting some super awesome lesbian to help them instead? If it was that easy, the homophobe could just change anyways, right?

You could immerse yourself amongst a community that is not ignorant for starters, like a cool lesbian community or just people that aren’t prejudiced. But ultimately, a person has to decide to change over time.

Nullo's avatar

I would say that lesbianism is an aberrant behavior, and thus “healthy lesbians” do not, in fact, exist.

Blackberry's avatar

@Nullo Are you serious (that is a serious question lol)?

FutureMemory's avatar

@Blackberry

He is serious. Check a random sampling of his answers on other questions to get the full fundamentalist picture.

LOL!

liminal's avatar

@Nullo assuming your opinion is right (which I don’t) whose to say aberrant behavior is unhealthy?

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@Nullo , stfu Nullo, I have the experiance of people thinking I was a lesbian since 7th grade and I just moved to the country. I felt so bad

Nullo's avatar

@Blackberry, @liminal, @FutureMemory I believe that I explained myself in a thoroughly secular manner around here someplace. I’ll link it over when I turn it up.
And yes, @Blackberry, I’m serious.
Here’s my argument.

@Thesexier, your feelings quite simply aren’t the determining criteria.

liminal's avatar

@nullo I am interested, please do.

liminal's avatar

I think part of being surrounded by homophobia and internalizing it is having a sense of “us” vs “them”. The person with homophobia is sometimes obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of their own opinions and are prejudiced against those who hold different perspectives or practices. One starts to step towards healthy when one starts to step away from “us” vs “them” thinking. As @tinyfaery suggests there are only healthy and whole people. While it is easy to say one is a heterosexual or a homosexual it is seems an inaccurate statement because it identifies a person apart from their personhood. We are surrounded by healthy role models, the romantic attractions of said role models are irrelevant. A woman who is attracted to other women looking for healthy role models need only look for healthy people. Now defining that is an entirely different question.

I am guessing from the other things you have written on fluther that you may be talking about yourself. Is this fair to assume? If it is I admire you for being honest with yourself about these things. If it is about someone else, well, I admire them too.

prolificus's avatar

@liminal – yes, I’m talking about myself. How does one get out of “us” vs “them” thinking when it has been ingrained since childhood?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

One that doesn’t experience homophobia in threads she asks.

prolificus's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – are you saying I’m not a healthy lesbian?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@prolificus Yeah, my response was much more about somebody else not being a healthy heterosexual – you are healthy just as you are.

prolificus's avatar

[Removed by me.]

liminal's avatar

@prolificus First I want to say that I realize I haven’t fully answered your question. Given the link you supplied I take it you are wondering what the “intersection of Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health” is in the life of someone who identifies as lesbian. I think I resist answering this question directly because I don’t think there is anything distinctly lesbian about that sort of intersection. But I understand that there is value in talking about such things in the context you ask. It is my own hang-ups that kept me from wanting to go there.

Btw, I think what you just asked about “us” vs “them” would make a great question for the collective.

Laureth once posted a link to a great analogy about “us” vs “them” thinking called Monkey Sphere. It is a bit long, but well done. It does a good job of pointing out that we all can and do fall into “us” vs “them” patterns. It does a better job than I can of explaining what we are up against when trying to break out of “us” vs “them” thinking. The first step is simply realizing that we are doing it. It is most obvious when we start thinking in black and white or binary ways. For me, as soon as I start thinking there is a simple answer at hand I know I am probably starting to slip into the “me” vs “you or them” world.

janbb's avatar

I think a healthy anyone is someone who is happy with who they are and the choices they’ve made in life. What else could it be?

prolificus's avatar

@liminal – yes, but… the definitions of health have almost always been based upon the typical male and female within a heterosexual environment. You mean to tell me that there are absolutely no differences between the heterosexual female and a homosexual female?

liminal's avatar

@Nullo I see you found the link. I looked at it. It still isn’t clear to me if you understand that aberrant behavior doesn’t equate with “unhealthy”.

liminal's avatar

@prolificus I need a little help. I am not sure what your “yes, but…” is referring to.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@prolificus Difference doesn’t mean sickness. You may have health concerns that you’d want an LGFT sensitive provider to help with because you don’t want to deal with that crap but your body and mind are not different in that you are an individual and that’s all that matters. Saying a healthy lesbian is the same as a healthy heterosexual speaks to the first word of each phrase rather than the second.

alive's avatar

the site you posted seems to be pretty much like any “healthy lifestyle” type website. it just talks about “physical health,” “sex and drugs,” “web links,” “relationship and emotional health,” and “spirituality” there doesn’t seem to be anything unique here except that it is aimed at gay men. minus penises, i would assume all that pretty much applies to lesbian women also… as it would also apply to straight people too (esp. if they are into anal).

prolificus's avatar

@liminal – RE: “Given the link you supplied I take it you are wondering what the “intersection of Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health” is in the life of someone who identifies as lesbian. I think I resist answering this question directly because I don’t think there is anything distinctly lesbian about that sort of intersection. But I understand that there is value in talking about such things in the context you ask. It is my own hang-ups that kept me from wanting to go there.”

Yes and no. Yes, healthy is healthy no matter what gender or orientation. No, I think there are some differences that warrant a sincere discussion. For example, I wouldn’t want to pick up self-help books or spiritual guidance books geared towards heterosexual women dealing with heterosexual relationships. What could those books teach me about the nuances of being a homosexual woman in a homosexual relationship? I know I could just substitute “husband” or “boyfriend” with “wife” or “girlfriend,” but there are subtle nuances that aren’t captured in heterosexual narrative.

By the way, what is so wrong with saying there could be such a thing as “healthy lesbian” without making it about “us vs. them?” I wouldn’t pick up a book on the healthy male if I wanted to understand more about my female body. Does this make it “us vs them” (men vs women) if I choose not to pick up such a book?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

By “healthy” they mean that in the past, a lot of gay culture has revolved around drugs, AIDS/HIV, unsafe and promiscuous sex, and generally having the lifestyle of Courtney Love and Lindsey Lohan – or what most people call “unhealthy”. What the site is promoting is caring, loving, safe relationships based on mutual respect and trust and healthy activities like cycling and cooking health food together, instead of relationships that revolve around barebacking and sextacy and then destructive, downward spiral that often happens when you find out you only have 1 year to live (which tends to happen when you have AIDS).

Because lesbians weren’t really part of the 80’s epidemic of AIDS in gay men, there isn’t really an equivalent, as the site implies that there is an obvious alternative. However, that is not to say that lesbian relationships don’t cover everything from healthy to unhealthy to just freaking weird – just like hetero relationships.

liminal's avatar

@prolificus like I said in what you quote from me: I understand that there is value in talking about lesbian health. I brought up the idea of “us” vs “them” in the context of your preface talking about homophobia and internalized homophobia.

prolificus's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – You’re right when you say different doesn’t mean sickness. Four quarters and dollar bill are equal, but different. They’re handled differently. As a homosexual woman, my needs (not the basic Maslow stuff) are different than a heterosexual woman, even though we’re equals. How would I understand if my needs and how those needs are satisfied are healthy, if I don’t know the definition of a healthy lesbian? If I go by the definition of a healthy woman, then some things won’t match because we have two separate wants, needs, and desires and how these things are satisfied.

prolificus's avatar

@liminal – okay. So, let’s take out homophobia and internalized homophobia. What’s your definition of a healthy lesbian, given that you understand there is value in talking about lesbian health?

liminal's avatar

@prolificus First, you’ve pricked my curiosity: how are the needs of a homosexual woman different from the needs of a heterosexual woman?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@prolificus I am against these kinds of definitions – they feel limiting to me. You can identify your sexual identity and your health status the way you want to and that’s good enough for me.

prolificus's avatar

Ugh. I quit!

liminal's avatar

@prolificus why quit? We are just getting started. Let’s get through the muddle and see this through.

edit: I am asking you about the difference because it is information that I think informs the discussion. We could end the discussion with my saying what janbb said “someone who is happy with who they are and the choices they’ve made in life. What else could it be?” But I am hearing you say that you think there might be more and my question to you is getting at that. I think it would give the conversation more depth.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

all right, I’m sorry for not being helpful. hope someone else can do a better job…you can’t do better than @liminal

prolificus's avatar

@liminal – it really fricken irritates the hell out of me when no one fricken hears my perspective and i feel like i have to spend more energy explaining my perspective than getting an answer to my fricken question! FRICKEN A!!!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@prolificus Not for nothing, but explaining your perspective when you have a non normative sexuality or gender identity is what comes with the territory. The only reason we’re asking for more explanations is because we make an effort to understand everyone’s different ideas when it comes to trigger topics such as these.

liminal's avatar

@prolificus I wish you could hear that I am trying to hear your perspective. Please read up to my edit if you haven’t. I am sorry this is frustrating.

prolificus's avatar

It has been my experience that when I share my perspective around here, I get picked apart like a vulture picks apart its dinner. It doesn’t feel good to have to explain every excruciating detail and having to defend myself or made to feel like what I came from is wrong. I hate (underline hate) that approach. It does nothing but make me feel worse for coming from my background, or it makes me feel badly toward those in my background. If there could be another approach, that doesn’t involve picking me apart, I’m all ears.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@prolificus Okay, try to hear me – there’s, at this point, you and @liminal and me – all of us aren’t straight – we are on the same team in that we have identities that feel different from the majority and we are all on a journey (albeit at different points on that journey) of learning about ourselves and how to explain ourselves to others. We see your question and want to help. That goes without saying but let’s say it anyway: we want to help because this is personal to us, as well. But before we can help we need your help in explaining your perspective because we are not coming from the same place, as you can see in that we have our own personal ideas about sexualities and health and what have you. This ‘disagreement’ doesn’t make any of us wrong and least of all you. You are asking about what a healthy lesbian is – both ‘healthy’ and ‘lesbian’ mean different things to different people and that’s why it’s hard to accept one single definition for both. Therefore, my approach was to allow you to provide your own definitions of each so that you may feel more empowered and so that the results feel true to you. I don’t know what else to say other than please don’t be upset.

liminal's avatar

@prolificus Truly, I am not trying to pick apart. I am realizing that responding from my presumptions isn’t answering your question. I am trying to climb into your view so that maybe I can answer more directly. I second @Simone_De_Beauvoir in that I am not seeing this as a discussion about what is right or wrong. For me, I am trying to get a grasp on all the perspectives and layers that are being brought to the table. I want to answer this well because I see the value of it and I like you.

edit: I am heading off to bed, not abandoning the thread. I am cool with moving things to pm if it would be more comfortable. Peace and hugs all.

prolificus's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – Ok. I hear you need my help in explaining my perspective. I grew up in this church, with these influences: Focus on the Family, Gary Smalley, and a general attitude of “homosexuality is an abomination” (this attitude was affirmed by allowing various ex-gay ministries to preach from the pulpit and for other ex-gay folks to give their testimonies). I was taught that a healthy woman obeys Scripture, is modest and chaste, and develops her life skills in preparation for marriage (to a man). For a woman to deviate from this general path meant that something was wrong with her (this attitude was affirmed by various family-oriented and women-oriented ministries at church). So, even though I have processed these opposing ideas in various ways (through counseling, through personal and academic study, through spiritual development, etc etc etc), I still have in the back of my mind the image of what a healthy heterosexual woman looks like, and how I, as a homosexual woman, am not healthy because I don’t mind my place within the heterosexual world. It seems like I have to label my background and all those associated as “wrong” in order to say I am healthy just as I am. It is confusing to me to see both perspectives – to hold my background as the foundation for everything I know and to reconcile it with everything I’ve come to believe. @Simone_De_Beauvoir – I used to be one who was outspoken about such things as you are. I am going through another process of integrating my past with my present, because I’m experiencing more intense family issues and personal stresses, so it is not as easy as it once was. I can’t say “fuck off” to my background. It is a real part of me.

prolificus's avatar

AND… one more thing… It feels like all these things are coming to the surface more and more, the distinction between healthy heterosexual female and healthy homosexual female because I continue to associate with my peers from my background, and they seem to be living a full life as defined by my background (e.g. most are married, with kids, are actively involved in church, have healthy friendships with others who are in similar situations, etc.).

tinyfaery's avatar

@prolificus You might want to consider talking to a counselor. There are people who specialize in these issues. There are also many books about reconciling Christianity with one’s sexuality.

What state are you in?

prolificus's avatar

@tinyfaery – I am skeptical of a counselor who specializes in these issues, unless they are able to gently handle one’s background without annihilating it, and aren’t biased against my particular background. Do such counselors exist?

tinyfaery's avatar

Where do you live? Counselors are supposed to be unbiased.

prolificus's avatar

@tinyfaery – I’ll pm you and say.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@prolificus – I understand what it is you’re asking and where you are coming from. My longest relationship was with a woman who was raised in a devout Catholic home that bordered on zealotry. When she and I first met, she was sorting out her sexuality after being engaged to a guy for 3 years. Over the time I’ve known her, she has really struggled with this issue and how to reconcile everything she was taught growing up with this whole other conflicting way of being that felt right. It was hard sometimes to listen to her because I could feel the homophobia in some of the things she said, and it hurt. She used to point out that a lot of lesbians have abuse in their histories, and this made her question whether we are lesbians because of this abuse. I kind of wish I could hook you two up for a chat because I think you’d have a lot to talk about on this topic.

Anyway, I agree with what people have said, in that a healthy lesbian isn’t much different than a healthy person in general. Basically, I think of a healthy lesbian as one who is comfortable in her sexuality, who has relatively healthy self-esteem, who lives a balanced life free of abuse, abusing, violence, substance abuse, and excess drama.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

I’ll send you my picture and you can see for yourself what a healthy lesbian looks like.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@prolificus Exactly, they seem to live full lives, you’re right. That, of course, doesn’t mean much nor will it ever prevent you from living your life the way you plan it. That image of a heterosexual woman you painted – that’s not even healthy to many heterosexual women themselves and they would never agree to be that way.

shit's avatar

A healthy lesbian is one that doesn’t sleep around with different women all the time, doesn’t harrass heterosexuals for their sex life and don’t ram it down peoples throat!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@shit bitter past experience?

shit's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Not at all. I’m straight. The only lesbian I ever knew was quite a nice girl, then she kissed my then boyfriend!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@shit What a fun story! What does that have to do with anything?

shit's avatar

Nothing, I was just telling it you. Lesbians think they are cool because men would like to watch.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@shit Uhh, no…lesbians don’t think they’re cool or uncool – this isn’t high school, we’re adults and we don’t do shit for anyone’s sake…but while we’re on the subject of doing everything for men, how’s it being straight?

shit's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I enjoy being straight thanks.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@shit But you do realize it’s ridiculous to link any sexuality to that of man’s pleasure?

liminal's avatar

@prolificus I think you and I have had enough private and public exchanges to understand that we have much common ground and experience. At least I hope you would say that I ‘get’ where you are coming from. When you say ” I still have in the back of my mind the image of what a healthy heterosexual woman looks like, and how I, as a homosexual woman, am not healthy because I don’t mind my place within the heterosexual world” I feel sad. I feel sad for the many people in that culture who probably didn’t fit. It brings me back to something we talked about on a different thread: sweetie, it sounds like you are grieving. I have been there and even still have moments of revisiting the sadness of outgrowing what I was raised in. I deeply respect the intensity of what has brought you this far.

To your original question: How would I describe a healthy lesbian?

I start with describing a person who is content with themselves. She is someone who understands that the value of her personhood is rooted in who she is. She chooses what tools she uses to evaluate and measure her self by. She understands that what makes her a self, while different from everybody else, isn’t right or wrong -she simply is who she is.

As you have noticed, I do not think there is homogeneity in lesbian experience, anymore than any other people group who adopts a given label. One lesbian may find her health in aerobics, meditation, and knitting. Another may find her health in therapy, yoga, and rotary. Like you say, four quarters and a dollar bill are the same but different. The differences are not found between people groups but rather in individual persons. Sometimes these ’persons’ share things like romancing women. I am not saying this because I think you disagree, I say this because I think it is an important preface to answering the other thing I hear you asking:

I hear in your question and subsequent statements a belief that, even so, there must be shared experiences and concerns amongst those who identify as lesbian. I agree, but would not say they are limited to the lesbian community, even though they can be found there. I think these folks in Montana have developed a philosophy of wellness for lesbians that is far more robust than anything I can tackle in a fluther answer. I hope it answers your question better than I have been doing ;-)

I don’t advocate the cessation of using identifiers such as lesbian, gay, or straight. I believe they have there place. I personally receive care and support from a health center that targets the LGBTQ community while also seeing clients who don’t identify as such. The irony of why I go there though is that I feel like I am being treated as a person and not a lesbian.

prolificus's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir and @liminal – I agree with you and I think I’m not going to continue participating in this question because I’d like to focus on grief and loss. I might be back. Idk. Thank you for your words and support.

shit's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir What a silly thing to say. Just because you are a lesbian doesn’t mean for one minute men straight women can’t appreciate a man.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@shit Oh dear dear…I’m not a lesbian…but I ain’t straight either…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MissAnthrope yeah, but they’re on fluther…it was just another user masquerading as a new one

liminal's avatar

oh well, shit happens

liminal's avatar

@prolificus I’d seriously consider being done with you if it was =P

prolificus's avatar

@liminal – are you kidding? i was sooooo scared straight that i changed a few degrees of my orientation! Homey don’t play that shit no mo’!”

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