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Why It’s OK That Your Girlfriend Used To Date Guys

Can we please stop with the gold star standard?
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For a long time, I had a hard time accepting the fact that I was gay. I caught myself looking at other girls in class, but I told myself it wasn’t normal, and that I should “try to be normal” from there on out. Of course, it didn’t work – I was still pretty gay. But, I pushed all those thoughts aside, repressed my inner “demons”, and tackled the world as if my thoughts about females were completely unwarranted and unnatural.

Obviously, they weren’t. We know that being gay isn’t something you can change (even if you’re dedicated to trying). We know that there’s only so long you can push things back before they start to bite you in the ass. And of course, we know that “straight-acting” girls don’t face the same hardships that queer-presenting girls do.

Yet still, there’s an astounding amount of biphobia and gold star elitism within the queer community.

I dated guys for a while when I was young – 7th and 8th grade, mostly. Things never really worked out, and most of the time, it turned out that the guys I picked were actually interested in guys. (True story, my first boyfriend came out about a month after I did… But I had known for a lot longer.) And yet, I couldn’t see the connection.

I tried dating guys again, when I was a little older – the year between 18 and 19, to be specific. (Yes, my “bi-curious phase” lasted almost a year to the day – I think I was about ten days short.) It didn’t work out, then, but for a different reason. I already knew who I was, and I was trying to shove myself back in the closet.

As I’m sure you could tell, it didn’t really work. I was really, really gay, and no amount of man-dating could change that.

It’s a funny thing, though. When I identified as “bi, gay-leaning”, I didn’t have as many problems as I did when I identified as “gay, with a bi past”. The differences between the two are super subtle, at least from my perspective, but they do exist – and sometimes, they make all the difference.

If you’re considering dating a woman who used to identify as straight or bisexual, but is interested in dating women, here are a few things to keep in mind.


Human sexuality is fluid.

Although it doesn’t change for everyone, there is a possibility that your sexuality will change over the course of your life. A woman who once identified as bisexual (or even straight!) may change her mind over time. That doesn’t mean that either identity was untruthful, but it does mean that situations change.


Most people are conditioned to default as straight.

I can remember a saying in my family for a long time: “It’s okay to be gay.” Of course, it was always mentioned abstractly – like don’t judge the gay couple that lives across the street – rather than in a concrete way that made it okay “for me”. By default, people are assumed to be straight – and whether you agree with that assumption or not, it doesn’t change the way most of the world thinks.


Her past is technically not your business.

If your girlfriend tells you something you didn’t particularly want to hear, you need to understand that she did it so there were no secrets. She didn’t have to tell you. In fact, many women won’t tell someone, because of the prevalence of biphobia, even toward women who identify as lesbians. If she didn’t tell you, and instead you heard about it from someone else, it’s probably because she assumed you’d react badly – so don’t prove her right. She is under no obligation to tell you about things that happened before you two got together.


She is not your cheating ex.

I get it – I’ve dated girls who cheated on me with guys, too. It sucks. I don’t know why it’s so much more painful than being cheated on with another woman, but it is for so many of us. But if you’re still stuck on the pain from your previous relationship, it’s not your girlfriend who has a problem – it’s you. If you can’t get over the pain that someone else caused, and it’s severe enough that you’re blaming a completely unrelated party, you’re not ready to be in a relationship.


An identity is just a word (or a few words).

The choice of labels and identity, while largely agreed upon by the large portion of the community, are not set-in-stone definitions. As such, it’s not up to you to decide whether someone’s identity is valid, or if it implies anything about them. (It doesn’t.) She can be a lesbian now, even if she previously identified as straight. And, in all honesty, it could go both ways – you may someday realize that you’re not gay anymore. (I’m not saying that you’re not really gay now – but things can change, due to factors outside our control.)


Curiosity is completely normal.

It’s human nature to wonder what’s on the other side of the fence. Some of us skip past the sexual curiosity, but that doesn’t mean that the curiosity invalidates the eventual conclusion. In my own life, my curiosity went the opposite direction that most people’s did. Do I regret it? Well, yes – but only because of the hateful people who think that I’m not really gay because I’ve got a past that reads otherwise. But, just as a straight woman can experiment with women and, at the end of the day, understand that she really is straight… So can I experiment with men and come to understand that I really am gay. For those who took the more “traditional” exploration path, it’s no different.


Bisexuality doesn’t imply infidelity.

I really don’t understand the assumption that bisexuals (or those mislabeled as bisexuals) are more likely to cheat. Most people are pretty selective with their partners, whether they consider gender a deciding factor or not. The people who are less selective typically tend to get attached easier, making them less likely to cheat, too. Moreover, with the seeds of acceptance for polyamorous culture starting to sprout, more and more poly people are being honest with their partners that they’d rather not be monogamous – giving you the opportunity to decide whether that’s important to you or not.


Our past doesn’t define our future.

If someone used to have sex with men, but now chooses to have sex with you, that means she’s with you. If she had sex with a minor, when she was still a minor, but now she’s an adult, does that make her a pedophile? No – not unless she’s still having sex with minors, right? Granted, heterosexual sex is not nearly the same thing as pedophilia, but I’m hoping my drastic comparison helps to settle the confusion. Who you used to be is not necessarily who you are now.


Because there are a million reasons, and all are perfectly valid.

There are so many reasons a woman might have had sex with a man before. Maybe she wanted to conceive a child naturally (I’ve known women like that). Maybe she was hiding her sexuality from family members (I’ve known women like that, too). Maybe she just doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people think of her life – I applaud women like that! Whatever her reason was, I assure you she had one, and whether you agree with it or not, she shouldn’t have to live up to your arbitrary standards of she “should” be. Don’t take yourself so seriously all the time.


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Author

Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” – an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

9 Comments

  • Claire says:

    I totally relate to what you have mentioned. Thank you for making me feel normal 🙂

  • Barbara Ward Barbara Ward says:

    I’m so glad! 🙂

  • But not bi! You were a young gay person struggling to come to terms with your sexuality. Please don’t confuse the two things as it makes it sound like all of us bisexuals were confused before we realised we were gay. Not so. Also, whilst I support your stance that bi doesn’t mean unfaithful – neither does it mean ‘less selective’ – again, you are perpetuating the myths which Bi people have to try to unpick whenever we are dating. We are not greedy and we don’t automatically sleep with/date anyone. For me, it’s a good job I’m Bi – I’m so picky I’d never have found the few partners I had or the love of my life I am with now. I am MORE selective than most gay/straight people I know. I support your overall argument, but please, be more accurate when talking for the Bi community.

  • Barbara Ward Barbara Ward says:

    Hi! I’m so sorry that my post didn’t sit quite right with you. I never meant to imply that ALL bi women are “confused but still gay”, nor did I mean to speak for the bi community. I also never said that bi people are less selective. I said that the people who are less selective tend to be more easily attached – regardless of sexuality. I personally am not confused about the issue, although perhaps I didn’t explain myself well enough. I never said that bisexuals were greedy or that they had to unpick anything. I apologize for your misunderstanding, and I agree – for you, it’s wonderful that you understand and embrace your own identity. To clarify the point I WAS trying to make, who someone was with before they got with you is none of your business, and to think that their past had anything to do with you is arrogant and selfish.

  • Gran says:

    Can we please stop with the gold star hate already? I swear anyone who thinks “gold star elitism” is really a thing, google gold star lesbian, look at the gold star lesbian tumblr tags, have a conversation about gold star lesbians with literally anyone, and I challenge you to find ONE remotely positive word on the topic.

    Most people are absolutely free to discuss their sexuality and their sexual history and how one might inform the other, or might not be related at all, everyone except gold star lesbians. You can be a stud, a queen, you can #blackmagic, but god forbid a LESBIAN compliments herself? I cannot even comment on how I’ve never been in a relationship with a dude without risking verbal and physical assault from both straight and LGBT people. You’re all out here acting as though the only way to experience homophobia is by having slept with a dude at least once? As though being a woman who has slept with men is infinitely harder than being a woman who has only slept with women? As though somehow the “gold star” label protected me from the violence of men I rejected throughout my childhood? As though a woman not sleeping with men is totally popular and acceptable, and not likely to also get me labelled a ‘prude’, ‘tease’ or ‘dyke’? Do you even understand how homophobia works?

    Being a gold star is an absolutely integral part of my identity as a lesbian. Just like LGBT identity can be closely informed by homophobia, my specific identity as a gold star lesbian is informed by a specific kind of lesbophobia that attacks women who have never slept with men. Just like with LGBT identity I have pride for having overcome that kind of homophobia and for still overcoming it today. My sexuality is solidified by people who tell me ‘you’re not a lesbian until you sleep with a man to prove it’ or ‘all sexuality is fluid so your experiences don’t count’ or ‘you’re entire personal history is actually a big ruse to upset me, because your sexuality is all about me’.

    When people attack gold star lesbians they are attacking my sexuality, my sexual history and my personal experiences. No one is attacking people who have slept with men, literally no one, sleeping with men is the social standard ffs. Stop attacking gold stars, stop making their sexualities about you, stop with your thinly veiled homophobia. So much entitled bs, makes me so mad.

  • Barbara Ward Barbara Ward says:

    With all due respect, Gran, I think you read into something in my post that was never intended or stated. I’d like to take a few minutes to clarify, in the hopes that your resentment towards me might also be cleared up.

    1) I have personally been with women who broke up with me when they found out that I had been with guys before. Gold star elitism might not be the default for those who identify as gold stars, and I’m assuming that you don’t fall into that elitist category, but there ARE some women who refuse to date anyone who is not also gold star. This is what I meant by elitism.

    2) Gold star lesbians are absolutely welcome to discuss their sexuality, and personally, I encourage it. I’d even venture so far as to ask that you speak with the editors of this website in regards to posting your own take on the issue – I sense that you have very strong feelings about the subject, and I look forward to reading a response that has a little less hatred in it.

    3) I never once said that you must have slept with a man at some point in order to experience homophobia. I simply stated my personal experience, in which I’ve been told that I’m “not queer enough” because of the fact that I have, willingly, been with men before. I also did not say that it was infinitely harder.

    4) I apologize on behalf of the people who have talked down to/threatened you because of your sexuality. That is hurtful no matter where it comes from. But please understand that I am NOT one of those people.

    5) Respectfully, I disagree with your statement that no one is attacking lesbians who have slept with men. I have been physically, sexually, and verbally assaulted do to my “grey past.” I applaud you for not having that grey past, and I understand that most people don’t feel the same way I do. But, at the same time, I feel that your comment is attacking MY experience while defending your own – the very same thing you accused me of doing.

    Again… Please take the time to re-read my post, without the hatred in your heart, and please do speak with my editors about posting your views on the topic. I really would love to hear them.

  • T Rea Harris says:

    Hi. So, um…. I generally don’t do this sort of thing, comment on articles, but if something grabs me and says, “No, you need to speak up,” I do. So, here I am. I’m pansexual, and I’m married, I just happen to be married to a guy.

    Please forgive me, I’m still………learning about this part of myself, I’ve only ever gotten brave enough to give into curiosity in the last 20 years. I mean, there was a thing when I was 8, but as I understand it, that (technically) doesn’t count? Maybe? I’d only had sex with a woman for the first time, as in full-on sexual interaction, nudity and all, 20 years ago the day after tomorrow. At the time, I was married, to a guy. I won’t go into how that happened, the encounter with my first girlfriend, as I’m still a bit pissed about that, but whatever.

    I’ve read this, and I’m re-reading as I type this, because I want to comment on every point made here as best I’m able, but please understand I’m coming from a VERY sheltered upbringing, so there’s still a LOT I DON’T know about concerning this stuff.

    Like you, Barbara, I noticed girls when I was pretty young, and like you, I pushed those thoughts aside because “No, that’s just.. not normal! What the crap is wrong here?!” But, from my situation, it was also hammered into my head that homosexuality was NOT okay. EVER. AT ALL. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I’d made an innocent pubescent comment once about Freddie Mercury being “cute” and I’d had a crush on him, and I was told that it could never happen. I mean, duh, he’s much older, for one, for two, he’s famous and I’m from Small Town Nowhere, Idaho, so yeah, obviously it couldn’t happen. I was then informed, “But, I’m saying, though, seriously, it wouldn’t happen, ANYWAY, because, well, he’s gay.” I didn’t know what that meant (this conversation took place when I was … I wanna say 14? See what I mean by sheltered?), so I had to have the person I was talking to about it, basically explain it in brutal, IN MY FACE terms: He likes GUYS. I don’t have the right parts. LOL Well, alrighty then! That’s when I had followed that statement with, “SO? Still hot. I’d still try!” I never have cared the person’s gender. I still don’t. As far as a type, yeah, I guess it’s safe to say I have one: Have to be taller than me, have to be cuddly, make me laugh, and as far as physical stuff? Nice smile, kind eyes, and a cute butt.

    All that aside, it wasn’t until… I think probably 3 or 4 years ago, that I’d heard the term “pansexual.” Whut? I had learned in my exploration over the last 20 years that there’s gay, bi, straight, but as far as these other terms, nope. I barely know what a “polyamorous” relationship is!

    Yeah. Sheltered. Serious.

    I’ve heard some disgusting things being said about homosexuality. Things that even I, with the mouth that I do that could make an Admiral in the Marines blush, won’t dare repeat. Even to my spouse. Things that I, myself, would never say to someone in anger or otherwise. NO. My youngest daughter’s father has said a good majority of these terms…….kinda part of the motivating factor as to why I left him, because I can’t be around people who aren’t tolerant. I just ……….can’t. It’s too…. disturbing.

    Personally, I don’t see the problem with exploring. I really don’t! My youngest came out to me, all on her own, before she outed to her Dad and step-mom. That is something I cherish, because of how fragile things are between she and I right now. I didn’t out myself to my Mom and the old man until I was easily 26. Mom was fine with it. The old man said, “Well, we kinda knew years ago.” Uh, thanks for telling ME? Then he followed it up with, “Just don’t bring whatever partner home, I won’t accept her. EVER. I’ve ‘no use’ for ‘them.'” Yet, I’ve caught my brother going through his stash of pornos and dude had quite the collection of girl-on-girl tapes. Hypocrite much?

    Maybe I’m just having a ditz moment here, but how is it different, “bi, gay-leaning” as opposed to “gay with a bi past?” I don’t get that. I know someone that I’m very close to that I ALMOST dated, she was married to a guy that we both knew from her unit (they were in the Army, in the same unit, that’s how they met), had two children with him, and when their youngest was still in elementary school, she came out as completely gay, not just bi who happened to lean more toward liking women. Her wife doesn’t seem at all bothered by this, in fact she seems like she embraces this part of my friend as much as she does all the other parts of her. Good thing, too, because my friend’s amazing and she deserves to be treated like royalty. I may be biased, but still. 😉

    I’m just confused. Not by what you’re saying that you’ve gone through, I’m just confused why SOCIETY says, “Oh, huh, okay, whatever” about the bi-gay-lean, but it’s this big, ugly scandal when a lesbian says, “Yeah, so I had this phase, briefly, where I explored being with someone of the opposite gender.” SO?!?!?!?!?!! I fail to understand what the problem is, here.

    Sexuality IS fluid! I identified as bi for a long time (Because I’d not heard the term “pansexual” before, I had no idea that there was a name for my …. orientation? Am I using that word correctly in this?), and then briefly as a lesbian, and then I got with this REALLY creepy woman that scared the hell out of me so I stopped talking to her, and had considered not being with ANYONE anymore, because guys had hurt me (there’s a reason I don’t refer to the old man as ‘dad’), and now this crap…. NO. But, I slowly came around again, and decided, just because there’s a handful of creeps doesn’t mean that ALL people are creeps. I’ve dated guys since then, BUT that does NOT mean I identify as ‘straight with a bi/gay past’.

    Conditioning to be straight – OH, ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY. I could write volumes about this, about just my own experiences with this! See statement about the old man when I came out. Bleh.

    Dude. Something we need to understand as consenting adults going into a relationship with ANYONE – I don’t care if the person’s straight, bi, gay, whatever other identifier – we ALL have our own skeletons in our respective closets! If I tell my significant other something about my past, while no, it’s technically not their business, I want them to know because I don’t want them blindsided with that information later on. Ever see “Chasing Amy,” the whole fiasco between Holden and his girl? Yeah. I’d decided, nope, screw that, I ain’t going to have my SO go through that! I’ve made it a point to be very forthcoming with ALL parts of my past so there’s no surprises down the road. Sadly, not all the partners I’ve had in my life have been as generous from their side, and that’s fine, but it still hurt to find some things out the hard way, even though it’s part of their past, but some of them… their past didn’t exactly STAY there, because said partner was still hung-up on their ex(es). Sad, sad, sad. I’d rather just be like, “Yup, I’ve got baggage, wanna help me unpack? We can go over every single thing, you can ask me all the questions that come to your mind, just remember one thing: I am still the same person I was BEFORE you asked me this, BEFORE you knew I had a history, and I’ll still be the same person LONG AFTER the information you’re asking for is divulged. It’s up to YOU if you wanna know, so be careful, I’m not going to hide the truth.” I hate it that significant others punish their partners for their partner’s past. I HATE THAT CRAP. Like, I know my husband’s past, and yeah, there’s things there that I don’t like, nor do I at all approve of, but he is also abundantly aware that I don’t want to be put through those mistakes. Yes, mistakes, because no one’s perfect, and we all make dumb decisions, but it’s entirely our responsibility to make the effort to learn from it and not do it again.

    Cheating exes – Mmmhmmm. I’ve been cheated on more times than I’d like to remember. And each time, it hurt like a bitch. I’ve a tendency to punish the person I’m with for things that my exes have done, even exes that are long, long, long gone. It’s not at all something I’m proud of, either, just putting that out there, but it does happen. Part of it is anxiety, part of it is just simply put: stupidity on my part. I’m working on it, though. I’ve at least identified the problem, now I’ve got to continue to fight through it and knock it off. Not something that happens overnight, but if the effort is made, consistently, it can happen.

    Identity….. I hate labels. HATE THEM. Is it just me, or does it seem like society has pretty much made it a normal thing to compartmentalize EVERYONE? “Blue Collar,” “Redneck,” “LGBTQ+,” “straight,” “goth,” “preppy,” “hipster,”…. WTF with the labels!? WTF. If we’d just let each other be who we are, as long as no laws are being broken (I mean the big ones: murder, r@pe, the big, big ones), wtf does it matter?! If I pay someone to dye my hair orange with green stripes, and I wanna prance around the city calling myself “Banana Queen the Dog Turd,” what the hell is it up to someone else to put me into a box? I’m claustrophobic. Don’t do that. Why do we pride ourselves on being such……micromanagers? I don’t get it. THIS is why the self-help industry is making a killing on “Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin” type books! THIS is why they’re making a killing on, “It’s okay to be x size, x identity, x social subculture.” WTF does it matter?! As I said, as long as we’re not hurting each other, why can’t we back the hell off each other and leave each other to explore ourselves and what makes us comfortable!? Just saying, this is why things are so messed up, because of crap like this right here!

    Maybe this is gonna sound kinda lame (as if the rest of my statements haven’t already, so here we are ha ha), but…… Curiosity…….. If you want to know about something, whether it’s about a topic or an experience, it’s a question, right, and the only way to obtain an answer to that question is to give in and try whatever you’re curious about, right? I still refuse to go, publicly, into my situation how I ended up with my first girlfriend, but I am glad I gave in (in an abstract way, yes, I’m glad) and tried it. Not only has that curiosity been sated, but even if nothing came of it, and I decided being with someone of the same gender as me was not for me, I at least had that experience to draw from should I be encountered by someone who’s debating on exploring that very same thing. And, as said, my daughter’s situation being what it is, if she decides to come to me later and discuss a relationship she may be in, down the road, with someone who’s a female, and she’s confused about something, I at least have my OWN experiences to draw from rather than telling her, “well, I don’t know…” or worse, talking out the side of my neck and making a huge mess of things! I mean, you don’t go to a mechanic for an issue with your body, right? Maybe the wrong analogy, but you don’t go to someone about something who has NO idea what you’re talking about for advice. Curiosity is NOT a bad thing, at all, because if you aren’t curious, there’s something incredibly wrong.

    Oh, yeah, the infidelity because of bisexuality thing…… I died laughing when I read that header. Why? Because my daughter’s father once told me, during a very nasty argument, “Oh, so are you sleeping with [mutual friend, happened to be female]? Is that why you’re doing xyz?” Like, seriously!? Revisiting the “her past technically isn’t your business” and my statement about how I’m pro-full-disclosure about my own past, yeahhhh… That TOTALLY EXPLODED in my face. Like, he used to bring that up all the time. Mind you, I’ve NEVER cheated before. Briefly, years later, had considered it, but I won’t because that is a horrible, horrible thing to do someone! My husband knows all about my history, as I’ve stated earlier. He also knows that I am so enamoured with HIM, that I’m not going anywhere. I don’t even look at other people who are famous. I’ve known him since HS, and I fell in love with him back then, and now that we’ve been back together (coming up on 4 years in December), I only have eyes for HIM. And he is abundantly aware of this. Even though we’re not nearly as young and cute as we used to be, to me? He’s still something amazing. To him? Same thing. Yes, he did do something very stupid last year, and yes, we fought and almost broke up as a result, but he’s making an effort not to do that again, and I’m making an effort to try to forgive him, because we’re too stubborn to toss away 25 years of history because of his stupidity leak………and he knows that I WILL kick him out if he does it again.

    I once had a friend from my old Church (yeah, the big “c”, but I’m not a zealot, PROMISE) bring up about someone I used to date. I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but I’d mentioned casually, “Oh, my ex-girlfriend blah blah blah” and she sat there and stared at me like I’d sprouted a second head and started speaking Mandarin Chinese backwards. I am very, very open about the fact that I’ve had male AND female partners. I really don’t give a rat’s ass what people think of me for that. I’m not here to make anyone happy, I’m also damn sure not going to allow myself to be forced into someone’s narrow-minded view of how things ‘should’ be. EVER. The day that starts to happen, please, someone knock some sense into me! I’m begging you! I caught the look from her and stopped and said, “What?” Like, I LEGIT did not understand why she was staring at me like that! She said, “Hold up. Your……what?!” So, that erupted into a good three-hour-long discussion about my sexual preference. LMAO She didn’t not accept me, but she was a bit…. strange after that toward me. 🙁 She said, “So, you said she’s got kids, though. So, she ain’t bi, she’s greedy.” Like, wtf! NO! I just……. humans.

    I have a saying that I sorta shamelessly stole from the movie “28 Days.” It’s from a conversation Viggo Mortensen and Sandra Bullock are having, and after she’s basically berated and bashed herself, he looks at her and very gently says, “But, those are things you have DONE. They are not who you ARE.” I have watched that movie COUNTLESS times. While no, I can’t relate on the level of their situations that brought them to meet each other (for those who don’t know, that’s a movie about recovering addicts in rehab), I used to watch that movie for the reason of helping me through my depression. I can’t explain it, it just helped. That statement, though, it really stuck with me. Even now, many years later, it’s still something that I have to remind myself, and I share with other people who are doing the self-loathing tirades about “But I’ve done this, and this, and odg don’t get me started on that time…..” I don’t regret anything from my past BECAUSE of this statement! It’s weird to say that, but it’s the truth.

    If my significant other was in a relationship that was not “socially acceptable” in the past, how is it AT ALL okay for me to judge that? They’re with me now, and now is all that matters, so….. It’s really not fair to judge a significant other for what they’ve done before.

  • Gran says:

    Yeah nah, I get real mad about this stuff because I’ve literally never heard a good word about gold star lesbians. There is so much vitriol out there about what gold star lesbians think and do and say, and it’s really baffling because I’ve never met another gold star lesbian in my life, I hazard a guess there aren’t that many, so I wonder where all of these people have gotten these opinions from? Because I doubt all these people who hate gold star lesbians have actually met one.

    It is incredibly difficult to speak about having a history of not having slept with men. I could not write an article about it because while I’m out as a lesbian I’m firmly closeted as a gold star. For a brief time I believed a lot of the queer theory stuff, I believed it applied to all LGBTs and thought I would be respected for my identity and personal choices. I quickly stopped talking about my personal history when I was ostracised, ridiculed, threatened with corrective rape by my own LGBT community. I’ve never seen any mentions of other women who haven’t slept with men anywhere. There are no coming out stories about gold star lesbians, no articles on the unique struggles we face. The closest was Kate McKinnon saying she’d never been with a dude and she was screamed down pretty quickly for that. Basically a few years ago it was ‘oh you’ve never been with men, what do you want a gold star?’ and now it’s buzzfeed articles just flat out saying that reclaimed term should die (because lesbian and die in the same headline looks progressive?)

    So when there is this tiny population of women who have no voice anywhere and are constantly being shouted down for whatever (probably lesbophobic) reason, the idea of “gold star elitism” is incredibly insulting. There is no such thing as gold star elitism. Gold star lesbians have no voice to act high and mighty with.

    What there is are people who for whatever (also probably lesbophobic) reason, see a group of women who haven’t slept with men and decide that they’re uncomfortable with that. You get people who are generally homophobic and lesbophobic. But some people are not content with just abusing women who haven’t slept with men, they also see us as a fetish. Much like lesbians are generally viewed as a fetish by straight men. This particularly disturbing subsection of anti-gold star thought is rather baffling (although most of it is admittingly). A main theme is that gold star lesbians believe they’re better than other women because they don’t think lesbian sex is real, so they think they’re “virgins” who are “clean” because they’ve never had a dick? This is obviously one of those areas where other people tell gold star lesbians what they’re apparently thinking, since no lesbian would ever think like this ever.

    Which brings me to people who, as you mentioned, only sleep with women who haven’t slept with men. I mean, I’ve never met anyone like this (I assume they wouldn’t get much action anyway, gold stars aren’t in great supply), and I’ve certainly never met anyone who was anything less than rude about my history, let alone enamoured. But I assume if women exist who only want to sleep with gold star lesbians, it’s not gold star elitism, that’s what we call fetishisation. Calling our own oppression elitism, also pretty bad.

    But yeah I dunno, it sounds like you just don’t know much about gold star lesbians and the particular struggles we face. I’d say you should probably do research before writing an article about us, but there’s no research to go on (because most gold stars are hidden under the biggest damn rock they can find). So in the absence of any real information on gold stars I’d say probably just leave us out of it, you can talk about your own oppression without belittling women who haven’t slept with men.

  • Barbara Ward Barbara Ward says:

    Hello again Gran, and thank you for agreeing to revisit this issue with me. I will admit that I was a bit offended by your first comment, but I’m now going to assume that my offense was not your intention – just as your offense towards my post was not MY intention. I appreciate that our experiences have been very different, although maybe not as different as you think? I don’t know. I’ve never been in your shoes, so I can only speak from my perspective.
    I’m not sure if there are many gold star lesbians out there – I have met a handful, although significantly less than I have met lesbians with “grey pasts” as I described mine earlier. I think it’s more likely that they, like you, choose not to share that part of themselves because of the backlash it can bring. Again, I personally applaud you and everyone else who has been sure of your/themselves for their entire lives, and in some ways, I think I even envy you. Not because of the vitriol, certainly – but because of the self-assuredness and confidence to be yourself and not to question it, as I did.

    I can also respect that you don’t feel comfortable speaking openly about your identity. Truth be told, until I started writing for this site, I was never “out” in work environments, except for with a few coworkers who I had previously determined were allies and not, as you described, fetishists. Although, I would argue that when someone considers themselves above others – no matter which classification they feel makes them better – I would still call that elitism. Fetishism, from my perspective, is a preference, whereas elitism is a demand. Again, though, my experience has been different than yours.

    I agree that we don’t hear much from the gold star community, and I never associated that it was because of lesbophobia. This was an oversight on my part, and I appreciate you taking the time to inform me of this. I still have a lot to learn, as you said, and unfortunately the only two ways to learn are through experience and education – and experience as a gold star is something I will never have. I also didn’t know that gold star was a “reclaimed term,” as I’ve been hearing it since before I was “out in the open,” but with your explanation I can see how that may be.

    Again I would like to point out that I never meant to imply that ALL gold star lesbians think they’re better than everyone else. In fact, I’ve been with a wonderful gold star lesbian for the past three years, and although it took quite a bit to get to where we are now – after one of my family members “outed” my past to her, a past that I was trying to keep to myself – she has thankfully come to understand that we don’t HAVE to be at odds with one another.

    I, too, assume that the women who refuse to sleep with anyone who has ever been with a man, are in short supply… Or, at the very least, they are basically inviting their partners to lie to them. I also have noted, from my personal experience, that these women generally have the views they have because of someone who hurt them in a previous relationship, and as such have not ALWAYS had those views.

    I’ll also admit that I DON’T know that much about gold star lesbians or the struggles you face, as they aren’t the same struggles that I have faced. I have had my own family members tell me that it would be better if I “got back with men” as opposed to staying single, which is an insult in and of itself. I have had men tell me that I couldn’t “know” that I was gay unless I’d been with a man before – and then, once I tell them that I HAVE been with men before, they tell me that I haven’t been with THEM before, which – as you’ve said – is a fetishization.

    Finally, I’d like to remind you that my article wasn’t ABOUT gold star lesbians. It’s about women who won’t accept anyone who have been with men in the past – which is sometimes even hypocritical. I remember reading somewhere that the openly-bisexual celebrity, Megan Fox, won’t be with a woman who has been with a man… Despite the fact that she, herself, has been with men and continues to do so. To me, that’s a bit unfair, but each person is allowed to have their own preferences, whether or not I agree with them. My experience doesn’t invalidate anyone else’s, any more than their experiences invalidate mine. I just wish that people wouldn’t judge each other’s merit based on their past, but rather who they are as a person, right now.

    (If you’d like to speak with me more privately about this, in order to educate me further and possibly allow for a follow-up to this article, I invite you to do so through the e-mail link in my profile here. No obligation, no pressure, no hostility from my end. I hope that the struggles you and others have faced due to your identity will go away within my lifetime, but as you’ve said – without a voice from that perspective, it’s difficult to remove the stigmas associated. I feel blessed that this site has given me a voice to share MY perspective, and I am grateful to everyone who chooses to further educate me. Thank you.)

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