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Research suggests ‘late-blooming lesbians’ may change sexual orientation

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  1. Not sure that the mention of Portia di Rossi in this article is particularly appropriate, she married Mel Metcalfe to get a green card. And even a cursory search of the internet reveals interviews with Portia saying that she always knew she was gay all along.
    She’s 37 now and been with women for at least the last 10 years of her life, which doesn’t exactly make her a late bloomer. A bit of fact checking would not go amiss.

  2. Mihangel apYrs 12 Jul 2010, 3:31pm

    I always worry about this type of research. It can be turned too easily into an excuse for pressing the “ghey” cure

  3. So heterosexuality is just a phase some people grow out of as they mature?…

  4. So both women and blokes have slept and have had relationships between members of their same sex and different sex and both sexes may switch partners in their lifetime(the same sex or different) and both sexes have difficulties coming to terms with it and leaving the undeniable security of a straight relationship – why is this news and why is it restricted to lesbians and why to older people and why for heavens sake does it lump all lesbians into a category….What a terrible researcher, just headline grabbing I guess!

  5. And cue the “Proof that it’s a choice!” comments from fundamentalist Christians… Ugh. Don’t really know what to make of the studies though as the methodology isn’t really described at all in this article. All we know is that 200 women got interviewed by one person and 100 others were “tracked” by another. I’m not utterly convinced that this really proves any kind of fluidity in sexuality.

    “She claimed that many women who came out in middle age or after marriage were wrongly dismissed as having been in the closet or having repressed their feelings.”

    Perhaps not consciously, but on some subconscious level? I mean come on, how many gay teens manage complete self-denial for a few years and even date those of the opposite sex on occasion? Quite a few. Maybe it’s the same for these women. I really don’t know without some actual detail on the study.

  6. Another 'maybe' Study 12 Jul 2010, 4:09pm

    They really like studying lesbians these ‘scientists’ don’t they. Their names in all the press around the world again. *sigh* Sexuality like gender can be fluid, but that still doesn’t make it a choice. A strong desire for the same sex is a choice how? I hate this black and white approach to sexuality, it’s just not that simple. Utah University is also in Salt Lake City so lacks credibility in regards to intention straight away for me. They do have over 3,000 LGBT students there, I looked at their diversity pages, but I’m sure the Mormons will give them regular lectures about their ‘choice’ of sexuality. Religion needs this to be a choice because homosexuality goes against their teachings. The Mormon religion itself is based on Jesus going on a US tour. Of course Jesus had to be in America lmao. And they are trying to find logic about us? :D

  7. Another 'maybe' Study 12 Jul 2010, 4:30pm

    Just double checked as I thought that figure was a bit high. The 3,000 students are for all diversities together, not just LGBT. So don’t actually know how many attend Utah University.

  8. I don’t believe that their sexuality has changed. Maybe women have different priorities (ie children – and I don’t mean they deceitfully married a man, I mean they acted subconsciously); maybe they lack confidence (not so many visible gay women about in many areas); maybe they put a lack of enthusiasm for straight sex down to some fault in themselves (women can be good at blaming themselves).

    In my opinion, all that happens is a latent desire for women *that’s always been there* shows itself later in life. They don’t change, they bloom.

  9. Some disinformation from the Mormons to sow doubt in the LGBT Community and give fuel to the religious crazies – ignore it – basically a non story

  10. I read Diamond’s book – her study was a longitudinal qualitative analysis, and its findings rang very true to me. One conclusion that’s of crucial importance, I think, was that in the popular imagination sexuality has been understood according to a model that more readily fits male sexuality. However, Diamond says that repeated studies since the 1970s have shown that female sexuality is different, and more fluid. Recognising that queer women (for whatever reason: social structures, different life histories) have a different experience to gay men needn’t give the converters and bigots ammunition at all, if gay men are in solidarity with women while respecting that our stories and needs show some differences.

  11. Oh and Iris – I completely agree with what you say about subconscious priorities, too, and about the list of reasons you give for a woman starting out life with a man – as well as economic security, because after all women earn much less than men on average.

  12. Good point about the salaries of women, glitzfrau. I’d also add that if a woman were to marry a man, have children, then soon after realise she’s a lesbian, then leaving could be difficult because of guilt and also because she’d be financially disadvantaged then probably too.

    In general, I don’t like the idea that there’s ‘one kind of gay person’, if you know what I mean. Yes, some people know they’re gay from the age of 5 and there’s never any doubt in their minds, but for others it takes much longer to realise. This isn’t because they’re in denial, it’s a lylonger path of discovery for them. I mean that for both men and women.

  13. Sorry – keyboard stuck! Last bit should say:

    – This isn’t because they’re in denial, it’s a genuinely longer path of discovery for them. I mean that for both men and women.

  14. I’m reminded of vita sackville west’s diaries – she was of course bisexual, but it always seemed to be an either or process – never fancying both genders at the same time.

    The message ‘look not everyone is like you’ is something every community can need reminding of. It must be hugely annoying for transgendered people listening to the section of the gay community who say ‘you’re just queers who can’t accept yourselves’ .

  15. Dr Robin Guthrie 12 Jul 2010, 9:58pm

    This is yet again more toy town alleged research attempting to state that what gay people are is a life style choice.

    I knew I wanted more than a friendship with my childhood friend
    when I was 5 years old.

    I did not know what it meant, I just knew.

    This is yet another precursor to explain us away and doctor us out of the equation.

    A sample of 200. Whoopie do….

    Shampoo makers can get away with that whereby 70% of the 200 agree that it makes there hair look good. The other 30 percent suffering scalp burns due to chemical reactions.

    This is not research.

    Anyone got a Burger King vacancy for this balloon.

  16. Deeside Will 12 Jul 2010, 10:06pm

    I can see three conclusions that the “reparative therapy”/ “ex-gay” brigade may try to draw from these data:

    (1) That if some or many women’s sexual orientation is fluid then all, or least most, women’s must be.
    (2) That this shows that sexual orientation can be altered at will.
    (3) That what applies to women’s sexuality must equally apply to men’s.

    Irrespective of the validity of the data, none of the above conclusions follow from them.

    That notorious fringe organization NARTH dishonestly cited Lisa Diamond’s research in support of conclusion (2) above. Diamond stated in an two interviews:

    ‘I want to make it clear that just because some women exhibit fluid sexual attraction, it doesn’t mean that sexual orientation is a “lifestyle choice.”’ [Note the word 'some'.]

    ‘The women … are quite clear about the fact that they don’t experience those changes as wilful, and if anything they sometimes actively resist them, so the notion that they’re chosen simply because of their variability simply isn’t consistent with what I find. If NARTH had actually read the study more carefully they would find that that isn’t supported by my data at all.’

  17. Interesting study but I think someone should collate alot more studies and show the world why we have a rainbow for a flag. Sexuality is most the time, not as simple as putting someone into one of the three catogories, bisexuality itself is hugely complex and more of a huge range of different sexualities, then you have difficulty when you have to try to draw the line between bi and gay or bi and straight, it’s really not surprising that alot of people who are bisexual or appear bisexual would rather not to label themself. And then to add to the complexity sexuality can change over time though I do hate the word fludity, it makes it sound like sexuality can change that quickly, the study showed that women can change sexuality over decades. What we do need is a study to show what is consistant throughout people and that is sexuality isn’t a choice, even if it changes, the change is not a choice.

  18. SOME people may make a choice, however I think it premature to conduct research of this sort. Most of the people who are in this study never had the opportunity to be exposed to same sex couples earlier in life.

    If a child is never exposed or aware that such relationships are possible, they might live life feeling strange and the need to adjust to social norms. Once they have become adults they face the stigma behind homosexuality and face going against family beliefs as well as being socially accepted among their peers. If these individuals can get past the above challenges then they might “Come Out” in this society, where it is just now semi-acceptable among the public. I feel this research is deeply flawed and doesn’t take into account many variables that are necessary to take into account given the STRONG bias that this article is giving towards choice of sexual orientation.

  19. This sort of research is always open to challenge, especially regarding studies of women, since patriarchy makes their sexual and emotional needs still invisible and subservient to others in a way it does much less those of men. What people say or even consciously understand or are willing to say to researchers about their sexuality is also very problematic in a basically homophobic culture.
    Choice and non-choice provoke a lot of anxiety among LGBT people because of our enemies’ deeply rooted homophobic assumption that ‘if you can choose, you must choose straight’. We need to keep challenging this for the nonsense that it is. The value of human experiences has nothing to do with where they come from, nor with the basic human right not to face discrimination on the basis of them.

  20. Sue Kentlyn 13 Jul 2010, 10:54pm

    Methodological questions aside, these research findings are very welcome to women like myself who a) have genuinely changed their sexual orientation in mid-life and b)see their sexual orientation as a choice, an extremely good choice, and a choice they are very proud to have made. It may not work that way for you, but please don’t insult the rest of us by assuming you know better than we do how our sexuality works. Just becasue it is more or less fluid for some, doesn’t mean that it is for all; sexuality works differently for different people. I used to be a christian and even if you convinced them that sexuality is always innate, they would still say God could do a miracle and ‘heal’ you, so we really shouldn’t be condemning our sisters because of how the christians will view us.

  21. To Sue. I would first like to say I am not assuming I know your sexuality better than you, I hate arrogance and I hate it when others’ assume they know my sexuality better than me so I do believe what you say and will say about your sexuality and I am sorry for the assumption in my post. This said, I just can’t get my head round how someone’s sexuality is a choice, I think about what sexuality is and I would say it’s the thing that defines the people you get that special feeling for and then when I think about that feeling, I just don’t understand how someone can choose to feel this feeling or even any feeling, in my mind, I see them as these pure and natural things that just come to people without any choice involved. So please could you clear up anything I got wrong because I can see me spending ages trying to work this out.

  22. Unless those scientists can read telepathy, there’s no possible way to interpret a woman’s true sexuality by doing qualitative researches that base on what a person says, especially about delicate and sometimes stigmatized topics. Perhaps they should focus more on “clinical” trials.

  23. SusanGabriel 2 Aug 2010, 4:31pm

    I think it takes a lot of courage to live an authentic life, whatever that looks like. I am a professional writer and wrote a novel called Seeking Sara Summers about a woman who falls in love with her best female friend. From the feedback I get from readers, a lot of women–both gay and straight and in-between–can relate.

    Susan Gabriel
    author of Seeking Sara Summers
    (a novel about falling in love with your best friend)

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