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Kathy Belge

Lesbian Vs. Gay Woman

By February 8, 2007

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Here's a question I received today:
I feel really dumb asking this question, but hope you can clarify for me. What is the difference between "lesbian" and "gay woman"? I saw the two options on a webpage profile questionnaire and was totally stumped.
Hmm... Good question! As I understand it, taking on the label lesbian is more of a political statement, like an identity. Gay woman is less political, like someone who dates women, but isn't involved at all in the gay and lesbian community. What do you think? How would you define the difference between the terms "lesbian" and "gay woman?" Add your thoughts to the comments section below.
Comments
February 8, 2007 at 6:23 pm
(1) kim says:

funny you should mention it. you know, i was thinking about this the other night after watching the l word, because jennifer beals did a commercial where she referred to lesbians as “gay women” and the term just sounded awkward and alien to me. maybe it’s a generational thing, but i’ve always thought of “gay women” as something straight people will say to try to not offend anyone (including themselves) by using the term “lesbian,” which i feel far more comfortable with. maybe it is a political affiliation. it’s a peculiar thing, since, after thinking about it for a while the other night, i basically decided “gay woman” and “lesbian” mean exactly the same thing to me. “gay woman” just seems like something that people from another generation would feel more comfortable with. i know “lesbian” is kind of a newer term. i just thought it was odd that hearing a straight woman who plays a lesbian on television refer to lesbians as “gay women” really felt contrived and odd to me. that doesn’t answer your quesiton, i know. :)

February 8, 2007 at 7:02 pm
(2) BlueRose says:

well ya i have agree with kim on this.

but like i think when peopel say “gay woman” they are not saying lebian, they r basicly say a girl who can love another girl like a lover, a “gay girls” r commenly used when not spessafinge if they are bisexual or lesbian,
and well lebian is commently used as a girl who only likes girls
(its joust what i have hurd,)

haha ironicly i was talking to my friends about my gf at luch when one of my friends asked whats the difrence between gay girls* and lebians???
(im a hight school student,im 15years old)
im the only gay* thay know so they ask me stuff like that,
and allot of my friends come to me for addvice and i think i give good anuff advise to let them chos ther own path with a lil more info on what whould probbly come up next

but in this feeld, of being a gay girl i have lil i know, and too Ignorant to have much of an opinion anyways.

guys r easy, im just so bewildered with the gay comunaty

February 8, 2007 at 7:17 pm
(3) BlueRose says:

Sorry for all the typos on the last comment!
1. Well ya I have agree with Kim on this.
but like i think when people say “gay woman” they are not saying lesbian, they r basically say a girl who can love another girl like a lover, a “gay girls” r commonly used when not specifying if they are bisexual or lesbian,
and well lesbian is commonly used as a girl who only likes girls
(its joust what i have herd,)
haha ironically i was talking to my friends about my gf at lunch when one of my friends asked what’s the difference between gay girls* and lesbians???
(I’m a height school student, I’m 15years old)
I’m the only gay* they know so they ask me stuff like that,
and allot of my friends come to me for advice and i think i give good enough advise to let them choose their own path with a little more info on what would probably come up next
But in this field, of being a gay girl I have little I know, and too Ignorant to have much of an opinion anyways.
guys r easy, im just so bewildered with the gay community

February 8, 2007 at 7:17 pm
(4) BlueRose says:

!!!!Sorry for all the typos on the last comment!!!!!!!!!
Well ya I have agree with Kim on this.
but like i think when people say “gay woman” they are not saying lesbian, they r basically say a girl who can love another girl like a lover, a “gay girls” r commonly used when not specifying if they are bisexual or lesbian,
and well lesbian is commonly used as a girl who only likes girls
(its joust what i have herd,)
haha ironically i was talking to my friends about my gf at lunch when one of my friends asked what’s the difference between gay girls* and lesbians???
(I’m a height school student, I’m 15years old)
I’m the only gay* they know so they ask me stuff like that,
and allot of my friends come to me for advice and i think i give good enough advise to let them choose their own path with a little more info on what would probably come up next
But in this field, of being a gay girl I have little I know, and too Ignorant to have much of an opinion anyways.
guys r easy, im just so bewildered with the gay community

February 8, 2007 at 10:00 pm
(5) ~Dawn says:

I go with Gay for myself when I am in mixed company and I use Lesbian when I am not. I’m in my 30′s so it really doesn’t matter to me. Politics has nothing to do with a label for me. It is just what other may be more used to and I’m flexible.
Frankly, I love who I love.

February 8, 2007 at 10:15 pm
(6) Amber says:

Oddly enough, I’ve noticed some women who identify as butch prefer to use the term “gay woman” while women who identify as femme feel comfortable using the term “lesbian.” I have many speculations as well as questions as to why that may be. I’m sure that others may have experienced the opposite. What with all the terms, labels, backlash against labels, old labels, new terms, etc. I’m not surprised that universities are starting to offer gay and lesbian studies as a valid area of study. I’m really glad about it, too.

February 8, 2007 at 10:44 pm
(7) Nessa says:

I really do not know. However, this is rather interesting because I am highly politically active (I am president and founder of my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance) yet I always just come out to people as “I’m gay” instead of “I’m a lesbian.”

Interesting, eh?

February 8, 2007 at 11:20 pm
(8) Rebekah says:

I was going to say the exact same thing as Nessa. I refer to myself as gay. I rarely “introduce” myself as a lesbian. I think there might me an inadvertent connection in my brain equating lesbian to feminist, and I don’t think I am alone. Then again, I think there is a lil’ bit of lesbian in everybody!

February 9, 2007 at 12:20 am
(9) Lillian says:

We were all gay until the 1980′s. The Gay Pride Movement started us defining ourselves by sub-categories, maybe to show that we were not all the same.
The 1st categories were “Lesbians” & “Gay Men”. At that point it seemed that gay=man & most women (or womyn, wimmin, etc, which is what we used at the time) that I knew started calling themselves lesbians. We were already feminists from the 70′s & using lesbian seemed the logical next step. (Of course, this is not to be confused with the Lesbian Separatists of the time!) Collectively, we used “queer” for “lesbians & gay men” as in “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”
If you think about it, what can you call a gay man that is not insulting (other than a gay man)?

February 9, 2007 at 1:47 am
(10) sam says:

I dont think there is a difference between the two, its just a matter of personal preference. My gf and I prefer the term gay woman whereas some of our friends prefer lesbian. I guess its just what you feel comfortable with.

February 9, 2007 at 7:44 am
(11) Terri says:

I completely agree with Amber (difference between butches/femmes). Best example: my GF uses “gay” while I always say “lesbian” ;-)

Terri
About.com Guide to Scandinavia for Visitors

February 9, 2007 at 7:59 am
(12) outsidemymind says:

I have always used the term lesbian. Gay never factored into my label. I know that sounds odd but I always referred to men as homosexuals (then to be pc gays) and women as lesbians. I was big in the Latin and Ancient Greek languages so I took my que from them…

February 9, 2007 at 9:23 am
(13) Laura says:

I had the same experience as Lillian. I came out in the late 70s and we were all gay then. Gradually over the next few years lesbian started becoming more preferred, first among younger women, and then it spread. I remember the first time I heard “queer” as a positive term (somewhere around 1983 or 4? I think.) – it was a woman about 10 years younger than I was and it was such a shock to hear it coming out of her mouth!

February 9, 2007 at 9:27 am
(14) Renee Hogner says:

It’s all the same. Po-tay-to/Po-tah-to

February 9, 2007 at 9:53 am
(15) Pat says:

I use the term interchangeably. For the longest time, I stuggled with the term Lesbian. At the time, I felt it gave a negative connotation. That was back in the 60′s and 70′. Things have progressed and changed quite a bit. I am so much more comfortable with refering to myself and others as lesbian. Either way, I don’t think there is a difference.

February 9, 2007 at 10:10 am
(16) MC says:

Personally i think the use of the word Lesbian comes across more matter-of-factly. Its more of an assertive this is were i stand approach. Gay on the other hand seems to me a little more passive, a more of a general thing. When in the company of strangers, ill usually say im gay, but if, and somethimes they do, dont take me serioulsy or guys say they can fix that for me, I stiffen up, stand tall and say with vigor “NO, IM A LESBIAN” they tend to get the point after that.

In company of friends its different. Ill use all kinds of terms. Lesbo, labia lover but my personal fav. is Big Ol’ Raging Lesbian, usually with a tone of humor. I find using humor makes people more comfortable when they feel apprehensive about meeting or being around someone who is different. They tend to open up and ask questions cause they see that im no different then they are.

Whatever the case, lesbian, gay, queer…its all about love!

February 9, 2007 at 10:16 am
(17) Chris says:

I agree with Amber in that I’ve noticed that the women who identify themselves as “Gay” tend to be “Butch” and the women who seem to identify themselves as “Lesbian” are femme. My GF who is butch, almost always says she’s gay to family and co-workers, yet to me she’ll say lesbian. I noticed I rarely say Gay, but I guess I’m just more comfortable with Lesbian…..in the end, we all share the same love, WOMEN!

February 9, 2007 at 10:52 am
(18) Reese says:

As a few others were saying, in the 70′s we were all gay. We know the literal definition of gay=happy, but the slang definition=homosexual. I think lesbian/gay woman means the same thing, and comes down to a preference of how you choose to refer to yourself, not the difference between butch/femme. My gf and I use both terms. We’re all lesbians, we’re all gay. That’s why I don’t like that we say “gays and lesbians” because lesbians are gay too.
I think both men and women homosexuals are gay, and the terms to differentiate between the sexes are lesbian/fag. However, most find the term fag offensive, therefore we call them gay men. Some women find the term lesbian offensive and choose to refer to themselves as a gay woman.
But in the end, I think lesbian/gay woman mean the same thing.

February 9, 2007 at 12:43 pm
(19) Billie says:

This is all interesting I have always referred to myself as a lesbin…I for some reason find the connection of the word gay with men…I refer to all female to female relationships as lesbian relationships and male to male relationships are gay relationships…but I also understand that everyone has their own comfort levels with each term…I never conseciously thought about what the difference is so out of habit I just use lesbian…weird how two words that I thought ment basicely the same thing could actually hold such different meanings….hope I made sense

February 9, 2007 at 1:27 pm
(20) Jai says:

I identify myself as a Tomboi, when someone ask me if i’m a lesbian i prefer to say i’m gay. Maybe it’s because i identify with my masculine side more than my feminine side. I’m just more comfortable saying i’m a gay woman.

February 9, 2007 at 1:43 pm
(21) Paula Gregorowicz says:

It’s funny but I never really thought of a distinction. For me I sometimes say “gay woman” or sometimes “lesbian” and it is not a political statement either way. It is more semantics of what falls off my tongue in a given conversation.

February 9, 2007 at 2:31 pm
(22) kim says:

someone mentioned the “queer” distinction, which is what i generally feel more comfortable with in mixed company, maybe because it feels like a more all-encompassing word. “gay” does seem like something i associate more with men than women. As someone who tends to sit somewhere in between the “butch” and “femme” labels, I tend to identify more as lesbian or queer.

February 9, 2007 at 9:38 pm
(23) Amber says:

Now that I’ve heard that a few other people have noticed that some butch women prefer the term “gay” over “lesbian,” I am wondering why. This is perhaps a question that could or should never be answered definitively. If anyone is offended by my wondering why, I am sorry; that is not my intention. I’m just very curious. For the record, I am quite the girly girl, a femme. In the lesbian community, I’ve found it very difficult in the past to even get a glance from a handsome butch because I am assumed to be straight when judged by my appearance. When I have managed to attract some amorous attention, I then have found it daunting to wade through the murky, sensitive waters of labels (gay, lesbian, etc.), pronouns (she, hy, etc.) and other terms (butch, boi, etc.) I find it so funny that my mom is in denial that I am a lesbian, because it seems to me that, in the face of aforementioned odds, I have been very determined to find myself a girlfriend. I finally did find someone, and never a happier little lamb was I.

February 10, 2007 at 9:28 am
(24) Sandy says:

I agree w/ Dawn (Feb 8th)– gay when in mixed company and lesbian when w/ my gf. My question is “when does a girlfriend become a partner.” What’s the difference?

February 12, 2007 at 2:52 am
(25) TERESA & CRYSTAL says:

MY GF AND I, WE ARE BOTH POLITICAL AND BOTH SOMETIMES BUTCH AND SOMETIMES FEMMEIS. THAT MEANS WE ARE BOTH GAY.SEE THINK ABOUT IT,THERE ARE ALL TYPES OF GAYS WE ALWAYS USE THE WORD GAY AND ALL THE OTHER LABLES ARE TO DEFINE WHAT TYPE OF GAY PERSON WE ARE.
GAY WOMAN TOP LESBIAN BOTTOM HA HA HA
SLEEP TIGHT LADIES

February 12, 2007 at 4:15 am
(26) juls says:

Its lesbian for me! Gay means guy to me and I aint no guy and I don’t love me no mens! (in a sexual way) it think is a generational thing like wymon- there’s another quandry. DOnt get us started. Peace.

February 13, 2007 at 9:45 am
(27) Claudia says:

We never get questions bout the difference between “straight” and “heterosexual” do we? Why is it that we need to be put in boxes? I don’t get it, I’m Claudia, nice to meet you!

February 15, 2007 at 10:58 am
(28) MJ says:

same thing… i just think “gay” is easier to pronounce and shorter too. but i think “lesbian” also connotes something that straight men would be excited about and we hate it but well, we should redefine it then

February 15, 2007 at 12:09 pm
(29) Alex Orozco says:

“Gay”, to me, is more of a way of combining queer women with gay men. I feel like using “gay” to describe women can be sexist since we are then thought of in relation to men. I prefer “lesbian” over “gay” but “queer” over them all. “Queer” is an inclusive umbrella term that rejects heteronormativity.

February 15, 2007 at 12:20 pm
(30) cmaria31 says:

there is no difference… stop making a big deal out of everything… just preference of wording.

February 15, 2007 at 12:21 pm
(31) Suzy Walter says:

I take pride in calling my self a Lesbian and cringe when I hear the term ‘gay” and I think that we muddy the issue by arguing semantics. The term “Lesbian” has a long and honorable history having it’s roots in the poet Sapho and her artests colony on the island of Lesbos. I resist having the term “gay” applied to me and I’m perfectly happy if it’s embraced by homosexual males. I’m ok with hearing our combined community referred to as the “Gay and Lesbian” community.

Regards
Suzy

February 15, 2007 at 3:30 pm
(32) Shiloh says:

To me and my click of lesbian/gay friends, the words lesbian and gay are two very different words that mean very much the same thing. I have always associated the word gay more with men, but I see no difference in calling myself a lesbian or a gay woman. I do prefer to be called a lesbian, only because it sounds sexy. You may call me a lesbian, and you may call me gay, just don’t call me straight!

February 15, 2007 at 10:41 pm
(33) Kelsey says:

Maybe I’m strange in this, but I typically don’t refer to myself as a lesbian; I prefer gay woman; not because I believe I’m a straight woman who makes love to women, but because I don’t think the word fits me. I don’t mind if someone refers to me as a lesbian, but for me personally, gay is a better fit.

February 16, 2007 at 9:24 am
(34) Goddess says:

I’ve always used both terms interchangeably. Both are the same as far as my friends and I are concerned.

February 16, 2007 at 9:09 pm
(35) aj says:

i basically agree with kim. i am a 55yr old LESBIAN and i have been all my life. i was 6yrs old when i had my first experience. most of the people in the world want to be careful what they say.its because they don’t know what to say. i am very comfortable now with butch,dike,manly,nasty,psycho,bruiser,and and everything else they want to call me. because the world of ignorance is something that we as real lesbians have to live with daily. so kim and i agree that it is a politicly correct thing. people don’t know what i do in my bed so bring on the ignorance and i can take it.

July 22, 2007 at 11:56 pm
(36) whitewillows says:

I think it might also be geographic, I’m living in Canada.

I identify as a “Gay woman,” this means I identify with the GLBT rights movement, whereas “Lesbian,” I see as being more based in the Feminist and Womyn’s movement, as in “womyns community.”

Personally, I think Gay Women are MORE Gay Identified, as in Identify with Gay Male Culture, Butch and Femme, Trans, Bisexuals, etc. And Lesbians, well, for me…that’s all about feminism. Hell! Even a man can be a Lesbian where I come from!

July 23, 2007 at 12:00 am
(37) whitewillows says:

Oh! And I generally identify as “Lesbian,” in straight circles as that’s what they are used to and quite frankly, it confuses them if I bring in any other kind of term. LOL

But in the LGBT world, I identify, well, actually as a “Femme-dyke,” but say generally, I identify with “Gay,” as in GLBT community and not “Lesbian,” and in feminist “woman loving woman,” community/politics. Being feminine for much of the time I’ve been out, Lesbians told me to my face that I couldn’t BE a LESBIAN thus, I eventually agreed with them. I was homosexual, ie:Gay, but not Lesbian. *shrug* Interested to hear takes from women in Europe in regards to the two Identities.

May 27, 2008 at 9:28 pm
(38) Lynn says:

I’m coming in late on this thread – the issue just came up for me today when I got an email from PowerUp (L.A. org for lesbians in movie business) and they announced “2008 Amazing Gay Women Awards” Huh?
In reading these comments I agree with Suzy – there’s a proud history to the word Lesbian and I’m proud to identify myself that way. The word “Gay” comes from the Old French “gai” – ie men who dressed and performed onstage as women, and so came to mean “impetuous,dramatic, loose” But that sounds like the stereotype of gay culture to me, not lesbian women! Gay culture is male – sooo different from lesbian culture in how we live and love. I have tons of gay friends – men – but I know I’m different, so not gay.
Seems to me that if lots of these commentators say that they call themselves gay in front of straight people, but not at home – then they’re using gay as a semi-closeted word – don’t you think?! Lesbians are our own “tribe”, we’re a unique people and studies show that the more we use (claim) a word and the more we come out in the world, the less stigma there will be.
Thanks for this discussion!
Lynn,
proud to call myself Lesbian

PS Queer is fine with me-but as an umbrella for everyone (LGBT etc)
Probably better not to start a discussion on “Dyke” (a lovely fierce word from Boadicea (pronounced Bow-Dyke-ee-a) a fierce warrior queen in Ancient Britain who led her tribe & stood up to the Roman invaders!

December 9, 2008 at 4:11 pm
(39) Roni Eyraud says:

hi all.am a closet w.male 60.in the jail closet at home this last 8yrs.as i have a beachome in surf city Huntington beach ca and would like too find a pen pal gay-woman who would please take me under her wings and please help me get out of this jail closet at home have learned to love life and be with good joy for the love of life.as i so worship are Yoni Goddess and pray and ask are Goddess to please send me a muture gay woman to please be my guiding light and show me the why out of the closet life as am a transgender and dress like a girl.as a appaer in my looks as a girl.and so injoy makeing love to males.but in today life. as small of a man as i am only 5′ 140 lbs very girlish in my looks i stay alone and injoy the beach life at home.as i ask all mature gay women please would you reply and help me to please come out of the closet life in a safe why. as you my reach me at my email thank you all gay women be good ahppy and have a happy new year allwise Roni Eyraud date 1-1-09

December 9, 2008 at 4:21 pm
(40) Roni Eyraud says:

hi many thanks to all the gay women for this. page. and hopes i well find a mature gay women who well save me from the closet life as yes am some what shy. thanks for allowing me to have free speach.be good and happy 12-09-09

December 9, 2008 at 10:58 pm
(41) Dee says:

Wow, this is an interesting question indeed.To be honest, Lesbian and Gay woman have the same connotations to me.It’s like calling chocolate a cocoa bar-it’s a rich, dark brown delight that melts slowly in your mouth, leaving a luscious thick, smooth flavor to linger on your tongue.Now I ask you,would a chocolatey indulgence taste any differently if it were labeled as something else? No, of course not!

The bare essence of chocolate is the same no matter what someone calls it. The same holds true for a woman who is attracted to other women; call her a lesbian or a gay woman, it doesn’t matter as the woman behind the label still has the same underlying characteristics.Good question though!

December 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm
(42) CJ says:

I have to agree with Kathy. My girlfriend
wouldn’t call herself a lesbian for years, just because she hates the word. “Gay” was okay, just not lesbian.

December 11, 2008 at 11:21 am
(43) Stephanie says:

Gay, Lesbian… What’s the differance?! They are words used to lable us. Why do we want to be boxed in by words?

If asked, I’ll tell people my orientation. (I’m still somewhat between Bi and Les, I don’t know for sure) But, its about love, not lables.

December 11, 2008 at 11:34 am
(44) claudia says:

I am not “gay” I’m a Lesbian. It’s a term with historical relevance and meaning with an honorable past. I wear it proudly. On the other hand the term gay just leaves me cold. A guy once said to me “guy sound’s like a limp wristed fagasite” (obviously not gay friendly)and yet to my ear it does sound weak and retreating and I refuse to apply it to my self. I’ll even correct someone who calls me gay by asking them to please refer to me as Lesbian.

Claudia

December 11, 2008 at 12:19 pm
(45) Mickey says:

I use both words to identify myself.
They are just that,words. I don’t care,either way. At the end of the day,I’m just a woman who loves women!

December 11, 2008 at 9:17 pm
(46) Chrissie says:

I like to use the word ‘gay’ to describe myself when I come out to other people. I think it sounds more polite and less likely to offend people.But don’t get me wrong I accept myself as a ‘lesbian’ too but anyway, whats the difference between ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’? Its the same! Whats the difference between ‘straight’ and ‘heterosexual’? Its the same! My girlfriend and I both use the word ‘gay’ to describe ourselves and she’s butch, I’m femme..lol

December 13, 2008 at 3:05 pm
(47) Brianna says:

Well, I think it is not at all related to how politically active the person is because I am very political and outspoken about LGBT rights, and I refer to myself as gay. I prefer gay because you don’t have to put “a” in front of it, as in “I’m a lesbian.” I feel like that makes it sound like some strange kind of animal. I also just don’t need more seperation in my life. So I use the term gay, and I don’t add on the fact woman because that seems unnesecary. But I guess to each her own.

January 30, 2009 at 6:54 am
(48) Lisa says:

I have a related question. I have a friend who always says “I’m lesbian” and I always say “I’m a lesbian” with the “a” in there. It feels different….what do other people say?

May 15, 2009 at 5:47 pm
(49) Lisa says:

diff.. I am gay I believe I can’t stand all the pseudo culture of typical lesbians.. like manly mates.. eww fk I’d rather go live on another planet alone than succumb to one of those concoctions of a biological bi’s idea of sexy that later calls themselves lesbian.
ok I define myself as gay lately due to what I’ve been seeing in the so called lesbian community.. I’m highly UNATTRACTED to masculinity when it goes under the nuetral zone and well neutral isn’t very attractive often but not even into the total opposite looked through several magazines before getting dressed in the morning. I like women say in the eyes of men they see someone with feminine curves but various temperaments or desires/reactions to things no I don’t insist they are frail or fragile or scared of bugs etc or that they wear high heels(although that is way sexy)I need an emotionally open partner and I like to be able to relate to them in more than one category. u won’t see me near any butch at last. androgyn doesn’t make me as nervous/deterred/confused as heck but those stone butches or even close to stone where they just wear pants and shirts all day is a total bore to look at although I do have them strictly as friends.. I don’t identify as either side butch/femme wise. I am sort of mentally androgyn like but have emotions although I tend to hide my negative ones as long as I can. but not scared of much if anything that crawls or looks weird.. anyway.. love feminine curves love emotions love, don’t care if they are maternal or not but its cute when they are. love high heels and dresses and seeing them in them too but I never inssist. and its fine for them to wear pants just not every damned day lol

May 24, 2009 at 9:22 am
(50) D says:

I prefer gay. I’m not sure why. I guess I just feel like it describes me better. I have a hard time identifying as a lesbian because, somehow, in my mind that label carries more baggage.

September 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm
(51) Chuck H. says:

I think the term ‘gay” is a gender neutral way of referring to both men and women. The term “lesbian” is gender specific, referring to females only.

January 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm
(52) T.Jacqueline says:

Well, personally I identify as “gay” or “queer” because I find the word lesbian slighty offensive if it’s not used in a respectful manner. This is because of the negative and slightly sexual connotation that goes along with lesbian. I know it sounds silly, but lesbian is trully linked as a sexual thing that is for stimulating men- which is the true degrading aspect of the word.

March 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm
(53) lauren says:

Language used is more important than most people realize.I’m a woman first and above all else. Therefore, in describing my emotional and sexual orientation, I’d rather be described using an adjective like “gay” than a ugly sounding noun like “lesbian”. It seems society thinks nothing of obliterating a woman’s sexuality by eliminating the word “woman” when referring to her such as in the use of lady or lesbian. The word lesbian wipes out the fact that it’s a woman first being referred to who happens to be gay. It’s always startling to me that gay women are not sensitive to misogynism. Gay women and gay men, come on make it equal and dignified, people.

June 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm
(54) jane says:

How about related to sexuality? Lesbians mostly love oral sex and gay women mostly prefer sex toys. Sometimes lesbians play with toys but its less so than gay women. Gay women sometimes do oral but less than lesbians? Gay women are into techno and fitness. Lesbians are into womyn festivals. Just another perspective.

December 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm
(55) Terry says:

I’m gay. If gender is relevant, then I’m a gay woman. I never call myself a lesbian and prefer that others not use that term to describe me either. The word, lesbian, reminds me of the lesbian activists or the lesbian separatists back in the 60s’. Apart from that, I’m a believer in inclusive language where inclusive words are preferred over those with feminine suffixes. If someone calls me stewardess, then that is some subset of the word, steward, which pre-existed for men. Flight attendant, on the other hand, is all inclusive. Certainly an executrix does the exact same job as an executor so why shouldn’t she have the same title? A word to indicate her gender really has no bearing on the job at hand. In restaurants, language has trended toward use of the word, server, over waitress.

There’s also the noun vs adjective argument…

Some have said that butch women are the ones to refer to them selves as gay. Just so we can compare the demographics, I’m a feminine woman who loves feminine women. Culturally, my tastes and interests probably lie more in the arena of what most might consider the stereotypical gay man to like.

February 23, 2012 at 1:25 am
(56) sunsista says:

HMMM..I think it’s a gay woman wears heels and a lesbian wears boots,,no that’s not it.
Oh it’s a Lesbian likes toys and a gay woman likes to be on bottom,no that’s not it.
Wait I’m sure i can figure this out.
A Lesbian lives the lesbian lifesyle ,a gay woman just like sleeping with woman but hides in a straight world…is that it? NO that’s not it
Although we are women who love women we are all very different and just identify differently…maybe that’s it

Who cares…WE ARE WOMEN THAT LOVE WOMEN!!

June 30, 2012 at 1:03 am
(57) raj says:

I am nearly 70 yoa and the word “lesbian” still carries the old epithets of “lezzie” and “lesbo” and real nastiness. Kind of like the way the word “Negro” degraded into the word “ni**er.”
Lesbian and Negro are both extremely accurate words and have a place and time and political meaning.
My emotional life consisted of crushes for a long time and my first and most important crush in college wrote me once that a word in a letter I wrote sounded like “lesbian” and I should can it — that is, Not use it.
Of course I should alter my sensibilities, but I don’t like the use of the word “bitch” all the time either… unless these are words used in real fun by people who are close.
Sure…. we love women who love women and
I understand that sometimes being picky about words is unnecessary and annoying. If I am at a dance or party, I am not going to argue and get picky.
But choice and election of words can be very important at other times. Words comprise the basis of the “rule of law.” Do not underestimate the power of any word.

July 18, 2012 at 3:34 am
(58) utopianwebsurfer says:

Greetings earthling-

Alrighty then, Now we all know that ‘gay’ can be. male
Or female, or even ‘tranny’ ,(pre-op, post-op,50/50,or Even ‘hermaphrodite’ , whereas ‘lesbian’ is only
‘Femminine homosexual’ or ‘ homosexually female’
Born a female. However where do we classify bi-curious ladies/girls/women/females? Or even bi-curious male?

Utopian websurfer 7/18
Am I rite. Or wrong ? What about Gay beast. Bi-beast
Or even ‘straight beast’? Or even ‘bi-curious beast’ ,
What about ‘farm-sexual’ even. As’ straight’or ‘bi’ or gay’, then what. About ‘zoosexual’ the same way or even ‘allsexual’ the same way?

February 15, 2014 at 10:23 pm
(59) Patricia says:

Actually the answer is simple, and I am surprised that so many people have mixed the terms up respectively have used it in the wrong way.

A homosexual girl or women is called lesbian
and a homosexual boy or men is called gay, simple as that, anything else is wrong!

Therefore it is the LGBT(I) community with the L in it.

There are no gay girls/women or lesbian boys/men that is ridiculous and wrong!

If the term gay and lesbian would be really gender neutral, why then no homosexual boy or man says that he is lesbian? Think over it.

Beside that is grammaticaly wrong to equate the gendered terms it is also politically incorrect because it would also prefere the male term for females and that is sexism and therefor offending to all lesbian females!

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