Bisexuality / Gender / LGBT

Is this a date? Or are you a lesbian?

Hey friends, it’s Throwback Thursday and this is a vintage column from March of 2009.


status: unclear

Question to the Sexpert:


“Recently I’ve become friendly with a lovely, attractive girl who, from my limited experience with her, appears to be highly sociable and friendly with just about everyone she meets.  Then a few days ago she wrote me an email asking if I’d be interested in “kicking it” after a concert this coming Tuesday night.  I am indeed very interested in “kicking it” with her, but I’m having a great deal of anxiety about what the hell “kicking it” might mean.  Given the few details I know of her life, I’ve been under the assumption that she is a lesbian.  However, if I should happen to be mistaken, and she is in fact interested in “kicking it” in a potentially-more-than-platonic sense, I would be more than thrilled to take the romantic plunge.  So my question for you, the sexpert, is, how in the hell do I broach a subject like, “Hey, chick, are you a lesbian or what?”


Fortunately, thanks to the latest in genetic testing, all that is required is a relatively painless blood draw and a 2 week wait for lab results. I suggest casually dropping a napkin to the ground while you’re out together, enabling you to get in a quick jab with a hypodermic needle to her lower leg. During the wait for the results, you can continue “kicking it,” and periodically asking if she has any interest in a Tegan and Sara concert or shopping for collared polo shirts.


Yours is a reasonable concern. Much like the awkward battle to ascertain whether or not someone is single and whether “single” means  “really single” or just “my girlfriend isn’t in town this week” or even “my girlfriend has temporarily left the room but i think I can get your number in the intervening minutes,” the quest to determine the sexual orientation of a target of interest is dangerous ground. Inaccurate assumptions lead to awkward moments.


We’ve developed a shared idea of gaydar, those details about a person’s appearance and behavior that will indicate team membership. This is usually a check-off list of stereotypes and small signs of gender discrepancy- that is, when something seems particularly effeminate for a male or masculine for a female. And, despite the large number of exceptions, people actually do pretty well at guessing the sexual orientations of people, especially if the guesser is lesbian, gay or bi. 


We can pick up on small cues in appearance: hairstyles and clothing trends that are more popular among the LGBT set, longer-than-necessary glances at either men or women, physical gestures that are more commonly performed by the opposite gender (like softer wrist movements in men or women wearing pants and sitting with legs wide apart). So you always have the option of relying on super keen detective skills and watching her like a hawk… and still not knowing for certain.


There are plenty of other small indicators that you can look for: rainbow or pink triangle decorations on anything, discussions about LGBT concerns, being a big fan of gay culture, or if she happens to mention any women with whom she has had sex. That might also clue you in.


Obviously none of these are for sure. Without asking outright it’s really impossible. Straight people work at gay bars, lesbians can be far more feminine than most straight girls, someone might just be liberal and open-minded rather than personally invested in gay rights. Making it even more complicated, someone’s dating history may even lead you astray. Most lesbians have an ex boyfriend or two and plenty of straight girls have dabbled in sapphic action.

And even then, it doesn’t tell you if she’s into you. Being the gender someone usually/sometimes digs is a bare minimum threshold for knowing if they’re feeling you in particular. 


If you’re loathe to accidentally hit on a lesbian, find a way to finagle the conversation to a place where you can freely discuss sexual orientation, bringing up the topic in a non-judgmental way so that she can out herself if she wants.  Or just let the “kicking it” go down as you would if you were on a full-on date, paying attention to her, being complimentary, putting in plenty of casual touching and other flirty behavior.  If she’s not feeling it, whether from being a big lezzer or not, it’ll work itself out the same way.


And I’d like to also remind you that there’s always the best case scenario: maybe she’s bi.

Questions? Comments? Violent reactions? Email or tweet @timaree_leigh See more at and

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