The “Lesbian Until Graduation:” Now A New York Times Most Emailed Article!

Before I start telling you about the article the New York Times wrote about LUGs, I should tell you two things:

1) I have never believed LUGs really exist

2) I think the NYT is frequently unintentionally hilarious. Disclaimer.

In other news, though, the New York Times wrote an article about LUGs.

The “lesbian until graduation” is the cultural archetype of a [usually white, privileged, overeducated] girl who “experiments” with same-sex relationships in college either as part of a rebellion against her parents/hometown/former life as a high schooler with a curfew or as the result of a newfound feminist political consciousness that can only truly be manifested by touching another girl’s vagina.

Its pervasion of mainstream consciousness can maybe be traced back to the 2003 New York Magazine article “Bi For Now,” which uses the term “hasbian” a lot but is otherwise a lot fairer than I would have assumed, focusing more on the lesbian community’s rejection of bisexual women than mocking those women itself. Although there are gems like this:

If there are more hasbians today than ten years ago, Sharpe thinks, it may have to do with the excitement of the gay-positive early nineties. “The aesthetic of gay politics was really cool. There was that whole act up thing, and it was easy to be gay. You had k.d. lang on the cover of Vanity Fair with Cindy Crawford, and there were all these lesbian movies like Go Fish. The gay community felt more exciting back then, and there was something alluring about entering into that scene… It’s like a junior year abroad to Gay World,” says Sullivan.

Maybe more familiar are the tropes of this popular Onion article:

An ambitious student who was active in student government at her Mamaroneck, NY, high school, Oppel first showed signs of an emergent lesbian identity in September 2000. That fall, shortly after enrolling in an Intro To Women’s History course, she began wearing Birkenstock sandals and listening to Ani DiFranco. She quickly rose through the ranks of Oberlin’s progressive activist scene, becoming a fixture at Student Empowerment Network meetings… According to friends, [Oppel’s girlfriend] started getting “weird vibes” from Oppel upon her return from a December trip to Barbados with her father, investment banker Jonathan Oppel, 55, and his new wife Cassie, 31. Sources close to the Oppels report that Amanda, who had been distant from her father prior to the vacation, “really bonded” with him on the trip. She also reportedly spent a great deal of time with fellow travelers and close family friends Greg and Karen Garner, and even more with their son Brad, 23, heir to the Garner office-supply empire.


The thing about both these articles is that while they’re ostensibly discussing the phenomenon of “LUGs,” neither of them really take it seriously – NY Mag references them skeptically in the opening paragraph, and then spends the rest of the article highlighting the lives of real women who are being ostracized and castigated for the genuine emotional attachments they’ve made. The Onion is a humor magazine, dedicated entirely to the discussion of things that are not real. This is the thing about the NYT article, though: it seems to have missed the memo on both those things? So, really, there’s two different stories here: the story that the NYT was actually trying to report on, which is that same-sex relationships actually have a higher incidence among women who didn’t finish high school than women with higher educational degrees. But then there’s the second story, which is that the New York Times apparently thought gay relationships in college really were just about “experimentation.”  Both deserve to be talked about.

First of all, the facts:

…according to the new study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on 13,500 responses, almost 10 percent of women ages 22 to 44 with a bachelor’s degree said they had had a same-sex experience, compared with 15 percent of those with no high school diploma. Women with a high school diploma or some college, but no degree, fell in between.

Six percent of college-educated women reported oral sex with a same-sex partner, compared with 13 percent who did not complete high school.

There are a few reasons this could be. If I had to guess – and I shouldn’t be allowed to, because I am not a social scientist – I would guess that these women have been there in some population all along, but haven’t been sampled properly before.

As Amber Hollibaugh of Queers for Economic Justice says, “the results of the federal survey underscored how poor, minority and working-class lesbians had been overshadowed by the mainstream cultural image of lesbians as white professionals.”

Basically, poor minority queer women with less than a high school education are about as invisible as it gets in America, and of course you’re going to overrepresent an activity in a population if it’s the only thing you’re looking at. It may also be an economic shift that just makes sense: Barbara Risman, a sociology professor, says that “the new findings may reflect class dynamics, with high school dropouts living in surroundings with few desirable and available male partners.” [Sidenote: this is NOT about the stereotype of bisexual girls choosing to date whichever gender is “easiest,” it’s about the way that economic realities shape our relationships. Because gays should know at least as well as anyone that relationships are economic as well as romantic bonds. (DOMA you guys!)]

And so, yes: this is interesting! Which is more interesting, the new statistic significance of a heretofore ignored population or the receding of a (possibly imaginary the whole time) different one? Is this about homosexuality becoming less associated with privilege? Is this about smarter researchers? Is this about Papi? They’re interesting questions but hard to answer right now, without more studies.

Also hard to answer: Why is the New York Times so weird about this?

The popular stereotype of college campuses as a hive of same-sex experimentation for young women may be all wrong. To the surprise of many researchers and sex experts, the National Survey on Family Growth found that women with bachelor’s degrees were actually less likely to have had a same-sex experience than those who did not finish high school. “It’s definitely a ‘huh’ situation, because it goes counter to popular perceptions,” said Kaaren Williamsen, director of Carleton College’s gender and sexuality center.


It’s like someone told them Kissing Jessica Stein was a documentary? Anyways, the NYT’s seemingly genuine shock throughout the whole piece is weird, but it’s only one of many disparate points of view they bring in here. It’s like good cop, bad cop, sex researcher cop, and economic injustice cop up in here. I feel like they didn’t know how to handle this study, had a nervous breakdown about it over lunch and then just decided to interview EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has any kind of insight on gay or sex stuff ever. I mean basically, here’s what we’re working with:

We Are All Special Snowflakes: “It’s like a Rubik’s cube of sexuality, where you turn it a different way, and the factors don’t fit together,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “It may be that the commonly held wisdom was wrong, that people just liked to imagine women in college having sex together, or it may be that society has changed, and as more people come out publicly, in politics or on television, we are getting a clearer view of the breadth of sexuality.”

The One I Personally Agree With Most: “I always thought the LUG phenomenon was overblown, in the context of it being erotically titillating for young men,”[special note: and/or comforting for young men in that it reassures them that our desire for each other isn’t real and that their sexual prowess is the only thing we will ever ever REALLY want] said Barbara Risman, an officer of the Council on Contemporary Families and a University of Illinois at Chicago sociology professor. She added that the new findings may reflect class dynamics, with high school dropouts living in surroundings with few desirable and available male partners.

The Realist: “Working with a gay-rights group is now something you’d put on your résumé,” said Ms. [Amber] Hollibaugh [of Queers for Economic Justice], who did not attend college. “Lesbians who aren’t college-educated professionals are pretty much invisible.”

The One From The Intro: “It’s definitely a ‘huh’ situation, because it goes counter to popular perceptions,” said Kaaren Williamsen, director of Carleton College’s gender and sexuality center.


The One Who Is Dan Savage: Dan Savage, a gay sex columnist in Seattle, said the LUG phenomenon may be overrepresented in the national imagination because so many students sought attention for their sexual exploration: “A lot of them are out to prove something and want their effort to smash the patriarchy to be very visible,” he said.

The One Who Watched The Oscars This Year: Lisa Diamond, a professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, said that with gay relationships so much more common throughout society, college campuses may have lost their status as the “privileged site” for women’s exposure to different kinds of sexuality. “Maybe our stereotypes are just behind the times,” Ms. Diamond said, adding that while lesbian and gay couples raising children were still assumed to be sophisticated white professionals, as in the movie, “The Kids Are All Right,” the latest parenting data showed that “holy-moly, it’s less likely to be upper-middle-class same-sex couples than ethnic minorities and working-class couples.”

The Franky Likes People Award: “It’s becoming more acceptable, at least in some parts of society, to see your gender identity as fluid,” said Joan Westreich, a Manhattan therapist. “I see women whose first loves were women, who then meet and fall in love with a guy, and for whom it seems to be relatively conflict-free.”

So what this means is: no one knows what this means.

Or everyone does, but it all means something different. Maybe this is just one more person talking crazy on the internet, but: there are, again, two things happening here. There are turning out to be more women with same-sex experiences in more places than we thought, and it’s apparently less of a big deal to them than people had assumed it would be. And in response, people are kind of freaking out, pulling confused faces that there’s a kind of lesbian that isn’t painting “END PHALLUS SLAVERY” on her breasts and marching in circles around the Women’s Studies building. Maybe that’s the simplest and most accurate way to put it, maybe that’s the real news here. Girls being with girls is normal, or at least more normal than it has been before; for the first time, we’re becoming aware of a group of women who are seeking each other out and it’s not because someone taught them about The Lavender Menace in their $7000 freshman seminar. And consequently the people who had convinced themselves that that kind of woman could never exist are weirded out and kind of scared. It’s about where they’re at, not us. It’s about growing pains. You’ll know that they’re over and we’ve made it when you don’t see any more headlines in the New York Times announcing “Women Have Sex With Each Other, No Cherry Chapstick Involved?”

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. >It’s like someone told them Kissing Jessica Stein was a documentary?

    This article was awesome. You make the writing seem so natural, like it’s just a conversation you are having. I bet you are awesome on coffee dates.

  2. I love your take on this article, Rachel. One thought I had in addition is that perhaps the “experimentation” and militant, man-hating stereotypes of college lesbians according to 1990’s popular imagination have had a backlash in the following generations. That is, women may be less inclined to actually experiment with their sexuality in college for fear of being labeled as such.

    Or maybe that was just me… :)

    • and me. Specifically, I feared that maybe I just wanted to experiment and so I didn’t because I was afraid of finding out that I was wrong and then having to label myself just an attention seeking difference craving asshole.

      Um but no. totally gay. college/high school me was so so dumb.

      I just don’t like to be wrong and this one backfired? eh.

      • YES. I made a few half-hearted attempts to come out in college but all my friends dismissed them. I didn’t manage to get up the courage to be me until college was over.

        Being me is much better.

        • AGREED. And actually, maybe it’s all for the best because it has now been extensively proven beyond all shred of doubt that I do not like sex with or dating men. I mean, I am definitively not into it, and I was persistent in my efforts. So now I can be absolutely sure about myself forever. I guess that’s a good thing.

      • That is EXACTLY how I felt in university and why it took me so long to come out. I was way too hesitant to date or sleep with girls for fear I would discover I wasn’t gay and would then just be an experimental straight-girl who fucks with people’s heads and hearts. But I was also certain I couldn’t be sure I WAS gay until I sucked it up and dated/slept with girls.

        In the end, I slept with a guy and realized it was so not for me. All that worrying for nothing.

        • Know what you mean…similarly first time I slept with a girl I knew for certain. It was totally different than when I was with boys. With a girl, I could give 100% of my head, not just my body.

          Up to then I was pretty sure I was gay since I was always attracted to girls but I wasn’t sure if the sex would confuse me, it didn’t, and I never looked back.

  3. “And in response, people are kind of freaking out, pulling confused faces that there’s a kind of lesbian that isn’t painting “END PHALLUS SLAVERY” on her breasts and marching in circles around the Women’s Studies building.”

    i laughed so hard i had to hide in the bathroom.

      • Especially with how expensive tattoo removal is. Maybe you should just keep it, but start wearing shirts.

        • Ugh, that means I’ll actually have to start washing my Lavender Menace commemorative t-shirt.

          • An honorable undertaking, to be sure, but everyone knows the best shirts say “AUTO” on the front and “STRADDLE THIS” on the back. Getcha one of those! ;)

  4. This article hits the nail on the head. Our economic situations which are based off of our level of education which then determine our social environments definitely dictate who we date. In terms of attraction, that might greatly depend on the type of people we are intellectually comfortable with. There is still much to be said about topic though.

  5. This article reminded me of another one in the NYT, titled “Gay Parents Find the South More Welcoming:”

    Considering the common perception, this was another total shocker. “We’re starting to see that the gay community is very diverse…We’re not all rich white guys.”

    The people profiled are mostly southern folks of color. Really lifted the lid off of some myths we (or I should say “I”, as a Smith grad) have about gay communities. We all need (and need to write) more articles like these. Thanks for your contribution!


    • That title is misleading, though; it’s not so much that queer parents are flocking to the South, but that queer people who live in the South are more likely to start families than northern queers are. Which actually makes perfect sense that in conservative areas, there’d be more pressure for queers to conform to norms re: relationships and families, and to seek out mainstream acceptance.

      • Well, or the types of LGBT people who want to stay in the South are the types who are more likely to want kids. (It’s not always about conforming to heterosexual norms!)

      • It was also because they were more likely to have children from previous heterosexual relationships.

        Also, wooo Smithies!

        • I live in a small town in Texas with a population of 6,000, Ive been out since I was 14, and the south is really not so bad, I mean sure there are a few people out there who are judgmental and are ass wholes. The idea that the south is full of conservatives, and the fact that you say we are conforming to heterosexual norms is quite insulting. Maybe its just because unlike California and New York, the Southern states have better taxes, better rate of living. I mean in Dallas you can rent a 2 story 5 bedroom house for $2,000 a month, also it is easier to find jobs in the south because companies are fleeing to the southern states because again taxes arn’t as high. Or did you ever maybe think that people are people, you cant define a single group of people.

          • Yes, you can rent for cheap, but once you buy a property the taxes are HUGE. Because, surprise surprise Texas is a no income state therefore it has to get all it’s income from property taxes.

            Plus, you probably have noticed that in Dallas there are toll roads everywhere, yes there are no extra taxes to keep road maintenance (awesome right?), but you have to pay through toll roads.

            Lower taxes is just and illusion, people end up paying one way or another and in some cases even make up for unpaid taxes by corporations.

            The reason the companies are moving to Texas is not just the lower taxes. It has to do with less employee protections and rights. For instance in Texas you can get fired just for being gay or by being gender non conforming.

          • First of all, property taxes may be high, but compared to the price to buy a house here and to buy a house in say California it is way way cheaper.

            The law you are referring says that you can fire someone if they are affecting business, and in court they have to prove that the employee in question was affecting business in a negative way, that is if the employee presses charges.

            There is only 1 toll rode in Dallas, and is very easy to go around.

            Other things about Texas; gas here is nearly half what it is in most big Cities. Right now it is only 3.20-3.39 it can even be 3.19 if you live in more rural areas. Also almost half of the green energy used in America is generated from Texan wind turbines.

            I am not trying to argue about where it is better to live, I am saying dont just assume that we conform to heterosexual norms because we have children. It is offensive, I live everyday being who I am, and being proud of it, in a place where who I am is not accepted, while all of you cower in the corners of the east and the west. Homophobia is worse here yes, but it is not as bad as some people make it out to be, at least not for me. I have learned how to deal with homophobia. It is nothing like Glee, the few times I was ever made fun of in high school or threatened the teachers would send the student to the office, or the other students would report them for me. Intolerance is not as prevalent as you think, but the only stories you ever hear are the ones about some gay kid getting beaten up. Not about the ones where students get a teacher fired for not allowing a kid to do a project on his sexuality. There is tolerance everywhere not just in the north, east, and west.

  6. I didn’t read the NYT article since it seems you managed to sum it up quite nicely, Rachel. A random comment:

    I think Joan Westreich managed to confused gender identity with sexuality. Also, as a gender-fluid genderqueer living in a very LGBT friendly environment, I just want to add that gender fluidity isn’t very acceptable. Unfortunately, it’s often times perceived as insecurity or “still trying to figure yourself out”. People aren’t really comfortable with changes in gender on, say, a month-to-month basis, let alone week-to-week or day-to-day basis (or within some given day itself!).

    • Right?! I was actually astonished to read that part. You’d think a Manhattan therapist would freaking know better than to mix up gender identity and sexuality. NOT the same thing, lady! And while fluidity regarding female sexuality is more accepted now (albeit more stereotyped), gender fluidity is not nearly as widely accepted.

    • I think actually the author of the article might have been the one to blame for that glaring error. The way they split up that quote makes me thinks it’s two separate thoughts spliced together, meant to be read as one.

      • That would make sense. Still, it’s a pretty noticeable error for a journalist/editor to make, especially given the topic of the article.

  7. “She added that the new findings may reflect class dynamics, with high school dropouts living in surroundings with few desirable and available male partners.”

    Or maybe it just reflects the fact that queer kids are more likely to drop out of highschool, what with bullying and getting kicked out of the house by your parents and suffering from depression because you’re afraid to come out to others or yourself.

    This sentence bothered me a bit as it kinda reinforces the idea that sexual orientation is a choice or a product of your environment. I grew up in the countryside where there weren’t many “desirable and available female partners” AT ALL, yet I love ladies. Just sayin’

    • “Or maybe it just reflects the fact that queer kids are more likely to drop out of highschool, what with bullying and getting kicked out of the house by your parents and suffering from depression because you’re afraid to come out to others or yourself.”

      ^^^^ This 100%. I’m surprised that wasn’t mentioned as one of the reasons! Not only high school kids, but college kids as well. Hell, I’m not out to my dad yet for fear of him cutting off college funds and I know quite a few people in the same boat.

    • Totally. When I read this I thought of all the poor girls who aren’t allowed to go to prom or have their pictures in the yearbook or start GSAs or who just straight up get bullied by administrators. That’d be enough to make me drop out of high school.

    • Yeah, I think that’s the likely explanation.

      Even as a bi myself, I find her assumption that women only seek out other women when they can’t find men really insulting. It seems to assume that not only are all these women bisexual, but ALSO that even if they were, they’d automatically prefer a man to a woman (despite what the article says, I can’t help but read that into that statement).

      Plus, it shows that she has no understanding of how queer dating works vs. straight dating. Just going by pure numbers, it is MUCH easier for the average bisexual woman to find a man than it is to find a woman, no matter how slim the pickings of dudes are. This is just pure statistics – only somewhere between 5-20% of the population is LGBT, so there will always be more straight people than queers to date. Add into that the fact that there are more lesbians who refuse to date bisexuals than straight men, and the disparity grows even more. And this is probably even truer in communities where you don’t have a strong LGBT scene.

    • YES. DEFINITELY. Recent GLSEN studies have shown over 85% of queer teens have experienced harassment and bullying at school–including physical assault, unsupportive teachers, and ostracism. Is it so surprising that they’d be more likely to drop out?

      But no, the NYT has to jump to the immediate conclusion that it’s because there aren’t any dateable dudes? The fuckery of this astounds me.

      • I don’t think they expressed it very well but I kind of see it as the lack of “dateable dudes” meant that there’d be less internal and external pressure to try to conform.

        Eg. you dont’ feel like you should just try dating Bob because he’s nice decent guy and your mum’s not asking you why you haven’t found a nice boy yeyt

        • Mac > in my experience, the places where there is a “lack of dateable dudes” (like rural areas or places with an older demographic) are the ones where you experience the MOST pressure to conform. The tinier and older the population, the slower the mentality changes. In big cities people don’t care much if you’re gay or single, in smaller towns people start gossiping about you and seeing you as a freak if you stay too long out of a straight relationship – and being out… I won’t even talk about it. You’re damn well supposed to try to date Bob whether you like him or not, because that’s what people do there.

          Besides as R. said, statistically speaking if there isn’t much dateable guys, it’s bound to be that there’s also far less dateable queer/curious women.

    • THIS. I scrolled all the way down to see if someone had brought this up already because this was the glaring omission I was absolutely shocked to not see brought up in the article. We KNOW queer youth have higher rates of depression and homelessness. How can this not be taken into consideration when reviewing data that lower SES individuals have higher rates of same-sex experiences?

      It’s likely not the lower SES that allows for the queerness, but rather the queerness that results in a lower SES. duh.

  8. Dan Savage, I’d like to smash *your* patriarchy.

    No but really, can we (and by we I mean, obviously, the NYT) stop asking Dan Savage about gay and bisexual women? Nobody has started dating someone in order to be in a political ingroup since 1975.

    • Some of the stuff he’s said about the It Gets Better Project makes me think he’s reconsidered some of his earlier hateful comments toward lesbians. But he’s still a biphobic, transphobic prick, and it annoys me that he’s so often the appointed spokesperson for the entire queer community.

      • I don’t think he hates lesbians or anything, I just think he doesn’t really understand women at all – particularly women who aren’t interested in dick, or are only partly interested in dick. I mean, he would not say that young gay men are only “out to prove something” to the patriarchy, because he *knows* that that’s ridiculous – that nobody dates somebody of the same sex to be cool and get attention, because often the attention you get is not positive. (People in those social circles where everyone loves gays – like me – will *bend over backwards* not to react if someone starts dating someone of the same gender, not go “omg, you’re queer, that’s SUCH A BIG DEAL”. That’s the point of spending time with enlightened people – it’s not a good big deal or a bad big deal, it’s just not a big deal.) But for some reason he thinks young women do this? IDK man. I think he’s just ignorant and won’t admit it/listen to others.

        • If he was straight, would you give him such a wide berth? Maybe you would, I don’t know. The question just popped to mind. You could be right about your points, I do not know.

          • The really tragic thing is that I don’t avoid him at all – I read Savage Love all the time and his podcast makes me laugh. I think he gets a lot of stuff right a lot of the time. But about 60% of the time he opens his mouth about lesbians and bisexuals (generally bisexual women, but not always), he says something that makes me want to punch him.

            Whereas if he was straight, I probably wouldn’t read his column at all or pay any attention to him. So: I don’t think that’s the problem? But I’m not sure what you were getting at there, so.

        • I think you’re right. And he has, slowly, moderated his views somewhat over time (especially w/r/t bisexuals – I remember when he was still saying some truly vitriolic stuff).

    • i think dan savage being called in as a sexpert on WOMEN’S ISSUES is an example of the patriarchal rule he mocks in his comment, it’s all very meta

    • I just kind of want to put this out there. I really like Dan Savage. Growing up in Seattle, I could pick up a copy of the Stranger at most bus stops, and I started reading Savage Love every week when I started riding the bus to my high school freshman year. Dan Savage taught me way more about lesbian sex (or sex with women in general) than I ever learned in sex ed.

      Admittedly, I might have gotten more out of sex ed if, at fourteen, I was comfortable asking questions such as “what are dental dams, and where can I get some?” in front of my class.

  9. This is a most perfect article.

    ‘I feel like they didn’t know how to handle this study, had a nervous breakdown about it over lunch and then just decided to interview EVERY SINGLE PERSON…’

    WELL I feel like this is what happens every time the system tries to (over)analyze sexuality across the country. in the White House, in school board meetings, in court rooms, in churches…

    I’m late for work and don’t know where I was going with that but I think it was something about inclusion and visibility and agreeing with the statement about fluid gender identity!

  10. While there is certainly a need to give greater recognition to queer folks of diverse socioeconomic groups, I’m not convinced that the study truly supports the NY Times’ assertion. If you look at the data tables in the paper, there are a lot of possible (and fallacious) hypotheses to be formed. (Such as that anal sex leads to divorce because more formerly married individuals reported having had anal sex than currently married individuals did.) Because the authors haven’t run higher level analyses, the paper is a starting point rather than the answer.

    In addition, if one uses the same faulty logic from the NY Times’ article and looks at the statistics for men, college is most certainly a time of same-sex experimentation since 6.7% of men who had a college degree reported a same-sex encounter whereas 3.6% with neither a high school diploma or GED did.

    Here’s a link to the study:

  11. I was poor all summer and missed NZ’s, like, three music festivals. I am *right now* housesitting for an older lesbian couple who are so much cooler than me that *they* are at a music festival (Womad) (like … hipster roots reggae, mostly? I hear hipsters in the US don’t listen to much roots-influenced stuff, is that true?) So I’m getting a massive case of festival envy right now. D:

  12. I saw that Kotaku, a GAMING website, linked to the Jezebel LUG story (???) so I came here instead!

    I noticed that the Amazon logo ad is a lesbian smirk. Huh.

    /end comment

  13. Always amused by articles that try to categorize or understand human sexuality. I have yet to find anyone who is “typical”. Human sexuality is too complex to nail down with simple categories or labels. Just as intelligence is too hard to define in the usual simplified ways.

    I am a perfect example: I am definitely a very girlie girl – love pink, short skirts, high heals etc. but can just as easily scrub off the makeup and nail polish, put on jeans and boots and hang out with male friends and fit right in. I have always been much more attracted to girls than boys but sometimes a cute boy can turn my head or be a little diversion. But for long term relationships have always sought out girls.

  14. Loved this article and loved the comments following it (thank you Autostraddle). I wish you guys were all in my college English classes! Then maybe I wouldn’t constantly have to fight the urge to drop out. LOL.

    Basically, thumbs up to the discussion about the 10 vs. 15 percent statistic. I think I’m in the “gay teens are more likely to not have parental support for college/have self-esteem or other mental health issues” boat. Though it’s hard to imagine that in this day and age that would have such a huge effect on the numbers, none of the other explanations sound very plausible.

    Also, agree that the whole LUG thing is a total male fantasy and was overblown/fake to begin with.

  15. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of sexual orientation as fluid/changeable/changing. As a person who is gay and religious, I feel like my Baptist parents would go to TOWN with it.

    Ways they could go with this:
    1: “See? You could change if you really wanted!”
    2: “See? It’s only going to change for you later in life, so why don’t you wait until you’re straight and have relationships without the moral dilemma?”
    3: “See? God didn’t really make you ‘that way’, He made you straight and you changed yourself to be gay!”

    I could go on. But I don’t just feel uncomfortable with it in that it would be hellish if my parents ever latched on to the concept, I struggle with it in terms of my own self-acceptance as well. If sexual orientation is fluid, then why didn’t my months of earnestly trying to change myself work? Why isn’t the therapy my parents are now forcing me to go to having any affect whatsoever?

    I just don’t know. Maybe I’m just not ready to tackle that idea.

    • I think, as with many things, it depends so much on the individual. I don’t see why it needs to be a revolutionary idea that sexuality can be fluid for one person and rigid for another!

    • THIS.

      There are a ton of reasons why I’m not out to my family, but fluidity and what I guarantee would be their utter inability to comprehend it is definitely pretty high on the list. If I had to pick a label right now, it’d be bi and I doubt my parents would even understand how that was distinct from plain ole gay. If I got into trying to explain fluidity… mentally grazing on how that situation could play out makes me feel nauseated.

  16. I agree, its all about the individual. Some people are totally comfortable with their sexual orientation and always will be. Others are more fluid and don’t feel “whole” unless they can run a wider spectrum of sexual orientation.

    I say God Bless them all and diversity is what makes life beautiful. Its like if there was only one kind of food in the world – how boring! I love that some girls can be more masculine than some boys I know or some boys can be much more feminine than some girls I know. Its a smorgasbord of sexuality and delights.

  17. Ah, the gay 90s. You know it was so trendy…unless you were really gay and not just going through some rebellious women’s lib phase.

    As far as I could tell, the girls in my high school in the 90s that appeared to be “exploring” their sexuality, did little more than cuddle with each other and give each other adorable little pecks. Physical affection? Yes. Sexual? No.

  18. What?

    Why would anyone assume homosexual attraction has anything to do with SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS? that seems bizarre to me, as does the connection NYT article’s apparently tries to draw between lower-class lesbians and LUGS–which by the way, I totally agree is a fantasy made up by creepy dudes.

  19. Pingback: Do All Women “Experiment” With Lesbianism In College? Not Even Close – Medical News Today

  20. I am amused that these researchers put so much weight into stereotypes. We spend so much time pointing out that stereotypes are not fact, but all their shocked/confused reactions stem from the fact that they believed that the stereotypes are true. What the heck, people.

    *puts on Birkenstocks and wanders off to listen to Ani*

  21. I suspect that if the CDC had included a more narrow range of women with some college, say at least two years and age 20 to 33 that the LIC (lesbians in college or some lesbian experience in college) the numbers would be somewhat higher.

  22. Pingback: Do All Women "Experiment" With Lesbianism In College? Not Even Close – Medical News Today |

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  24. Does anyone else suspect some folks are gonna use this statistic to show how depraved and wrong queers are? As in–
    “they’re not content with corrupting our college girls, now the gays are after innocent HIGH SCHOOLERS!”

    Maybe I’m just paranoid, but it drives me crazy to see bigots twisting things like this to fit their ideology.

    • You are right, and its not paranoia, it happens all the time and people will use this against the gay community, sad but true. Unfortunately there are a lot of crazy people out there – what was the statistic – 50% of republicans question whether Obama was born in this country – crazy……..

  25. I like your take on the nyt article, Rachel. I downloaded the CDC study, and the “common knowledge” perception that it smashed for me was not “LUG”, but “1 in 10”. Only 1% of women identified as lesbian/gay/homosexual or being more attracted to women than men (4% as bisexual). 13% reported sexual contact with a woman, so I guess that’s where 1 in 10 comes from, but I was surprised to learn only 1 in 100 women is a self-identified lesbian.

  26. I hate the “LUG” stereotype. As a college student trying to be open and out to everyone, I really don’t appreciate people who don’t take me seriously.

    Every time I come out to someone, they’re like “Oh, that’s cool… you’re questioning, you’re experimenting, it’s all good!” and then I feel as if my head will explode. Yeah… totally NOT questioning, and I’d appreciate if you didn’t reduce the happiest relationship of my life thus far to an “experiment.”

  27. Hey, remember that time when it was easy to be gay in the nineties because we had Act Up? No? Oh, his mistake.

  28. What is most interesting to me about all of this is that there’s no discussion that we might be inverting cause and effect. What if there are fewer lesbian relationships in college because fewer lesbians go to college?

    Let’s just assume for a moment that a good portion of the gay population have conflicts with their family. Let’s say that maybe some of those kids end up running away, moving in with friends, moving to NYC with a girlfriend, or are even held close to home by parents fearing who they’ll become with freedom.

    Perhaps the real issue here is that we as a population aren’t exposed to as many opportunities as our straight counterparts.

    I’m not saying it’s true, just another way to look at the same information….

  29. I seem to be the antithesis of LUG, as even though I “experimented” in college (and was often more enthusiastic about it than the guy I was dating at the time seemed comfortable with haha), I didn’t officially come out and start legitimately dating women until AFTER I graduated.

    A lot of my straight and gay friends seems unimpressed with it at first. I got a lot of “Oh it’s just a phase” responses, and perhaps they were justified in saying that as at the time I was just a confused bisexual.

    Thankfully, now that I’ve become more comfortable with who I am and less concerned about my peers accepting whatever sexuality I identify with, they have been totally cool with it and even try to “set me up” with fellow gay or bi girls.

  30. I always thought the stereotype had something to due with girls living together in the dorms and spending so much more time together. But what do I know? I went to an all women’s college but didn’t come out till a few years after graduation.

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