The World Of Later-In-Life Lesbians

What does it say about compulsory heterosexuality?

Jae L
6 min readFeb 16


Photo by V T on Unsplash

I’ve been listening to a podcast about women who have discovered they are lesbian after being in long term heterosexual relationships. To be clear, this is not my demographic, given that I’ve dated women exclusively (though by no means prolifically) for most of my (three decades long) adult life.

There are plenty of reasons why I don’t immediately identify with the women. They have a confidence and self-possession that has and will always elude me. They are still experiencing all the fun stuff, yet to arrive at the messiness of ill-advised and downright shitty relationships. But it’s quite possible they’re too damn savvy to let that happen.

But I listen, intrigued.

As they banter with each other, there’s a kid-in-a-candy-story excitement about the novelty of being intimate with a woman. It’s all the things being with a man is not: soft skin, shared anatomy and not having to explain it. You can almost hear teenage squeals erupting as they trade observations and marvel at the enhanced orgasmic potential.

It’s kind of amusing to me because I don’t ever remember this stuff being novel. It was always just part of the landscape of my sexuality, even before I had access to it. I didn’t really have anything to compare it with. Not because I hadn’t had sex with men but the whole experience just felt so alien that I never really planted both feet in the landscape of heterosexuality. It was never my normal, even if I thought that it should be.

I suppose on some level, I always knew what I was looking for and when I finally found it, relief rather than excitement was the dominant emotion.

But there is one point at which my experience and theirs converge: we all had to loosen the grip of compulsory heterosexuality before we could live our truth.

When a woman leaves a heterosexual relationship to forge a life as a lesbian, she disrupts the natural order of things and flouts expectations of a woman’s role as a mother and wife. Women who are mothers and wives aren’t generally encouraged to attend to their own needs and trying to meet them by walking away from a marriage and children isn’t the done thing.



Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself.