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Lesbian Visibility Week: All the Obvious Childhood Signs That We Weren’t Straight

This week we’re celebrating Lesbian Visibilty Week , an annual event dedicated to celebrating lesbian women past and present, and increasing awareness of the struggles they still face.

For many lesbians, one of these struggles (and one I dealt with growing up) is how long it takes to actually realise they’re queer at all. This is often a result of compulsory heterosexuality , or how society has been set up for women to view all their interactions and relationships with men as romantic or sexual.

To celebrate Lesbian Visibility Week 2024, we spoke to a handful of lesbians about all the very obvious signs in their childhood that the WLW life was destined for them. From the UK to Australia, we hope these answers show you there’s no normal age to realise you’re queer - and most lesbians across the world are all having very similar experiences!

So, from one lesbian to another, Happy Lesbian Visibility Week!

All the Childhood Signs (We Ignored) That We Were Lesbians

"I used to manually pick boys to fancy just to keep up appearances. I would specifically pick the least fit ones from boybands to show I was a true fan - like, look I’m so straight I even fancy the ugly one! I also just found dating guys such a chore."

Lizzie, She/Her

“My ‘major’ gay awakening was when I was watching the 100. A man and woman kissed and I didn’t feel anything but when two women kissed it felt so different. Looking back I definitely had crushes on girls and teachers in primary school, too.”

Maaike, She/Her

I was absolutely obsessed with Billie Piper in Doctor Who to the point that I was distraught when she left the show and stuck posters around my neighbourhood asking the BBC to bring her back. At the time I honestly thought it was because I loved Ten/Rose together so much, but I also then remember repeatedly watching Secret Diary of a Call Girl a few years later and only ever focusing on her character."

Tilly, She/Her

“I was always so concerned that everyone at school would THINK I was a lesbian for some reason. I also picked a specific guy to fancy and was absolutely infatuated with a friend. When I was really young I remember making my Barbies leave their Kens to marry each other, as well.”

Claire, She/Her

“I was dating a guy in college and he wanted to be intimate with me. Because it was lockdown at the time, I used the excuse of catching covid just to get out of it. I also used to only watch Wizards of Waverly Place because I thought Alex Russo was pretty - I didn’t know at my small age that was called being gay.”

Zahra, She/They

“When I got to sixth form I never had a crush on a boy. I also used to only have crushes on famous gay men or fictional characters. I fancied Blaine Anderson from Glee so much that when I came out my mum asked “But what about Darren Criss?”

Charlotte, She/Her

"I was super close with my best friend in high school to the point that everyone thought we were dating. We would hold hands, spend days in each other’s houses, cuddle, etc. We both genuinely saw it as a friendship. I also only ever had posters of Bella from Twilight, never of Jacob of Edward.”

Daphne, She/Her

“I always had crushes on Disney princesses and female characters in shows. At the time, I thought I was just idolising them, but now I know that was just a way of processing these emotions. When I played with my Barbies I also used to make up entire storylines revolved around all the girls being together - I used to put them into relationships that were romantic and sexual. I never had any interest in the guy dolls at all.”

Heffy, They/Them

“When I was about 4 or 5 years old, this teacher did a love-themed week and asked everyone in my class who they were in love with. All the girls were saying boys' names but I couldn’t think of any boys that I liked in that way. When it came to me, I said Kimberly because I thought she was pretty. My teacher then told me that wasn’t an option which was weird because my parents had friends who were a lesbian couple.”

Anna, She/Her

“I went to an all-girls school, so I was excited to befriend and date men at my mixed sixth form. It turned out boys were gross and mean - I was so confused that this was the gender I was supposed to be attracted to.”

Holly, She/They

“From about 15, I would always make out with girls and thought that was normal - I just assumed girls always made out with other girls at parties. I also fell in love with a girl when I was 16. As I grew up, I realised I only ever enjoyed watching WLW porn and throughout my 20s I would say to people “I’m straight. I mean, I was in love with this girl one time, but it’s because of who she was, not because she was a girl or anything. Then as a ripe 27-year-old straight person, I watched the series ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls.’ During one scene, Leighton admits for the first time out loud that she’s gay. As soon as the words left her mouth, my whole body got goose bumps, I started shaking and I bawled my eyes out. Everything started to make sense from then on.”

Steph, She/Her

A massive thanks to Zahra, Lizzie, Maaike, Steph, Claire, Anna, Holly, Charlotte and Daphne for chatting with me and sharing their experiences.

Resources for Lesbian Visibility Week:

  • Stonewall have a collection of articles and stories about lesbian visibility and representation.

  • Lesbian Herstory is an Instagram account that posts photos of lesbians and related cultural artefacts from times gone by.

  • AKT have a page of online resources for the lesbian community.

What’s on for Lesbian Visibility Week 2024

You can find a ton of live events for Lesbian Visibility Week on this website. You can also keep up with what’s happening on Twitter .

If you’re in London, don’t miss the DIVA Film Festival 2024 and a programme of queer films focusing on independent queer female and non-binary content.

Out in the City , an LGBT+ support group for over 50s, is hosting a drop-in women’s meeting at Cross Street Chapel in Manchester on Thursday, 25 April from 2.00pm – 4.00pm.

Slightly later in the year, Zahra (one of the contributors to this piece!) is performing an autobiographical-musical-comedy based on her life as a queer Muslim at the Greater Manchester Fringe . Catch ‘Jewel’ on Monday 8th July at Social Refuge in Ancoats.

Image of Tilly, a smiling woman with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Tilly Brogan

Tilly is a queer Freelance Copywriter based in Manchester. She balances her time between working  with LGBTQ+ organisations and women’s rights charities - and people watching in various Manchester cafes. She is also a proud lesbian. You can read more of her work here.

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