I thought everything gave me the ick. Turns out I’m just gay

Social pressures made me force myself into dating men


We have all got the ick at one point or another. It’s a universal experience we can’t escape and whether you want to admit it or not, we have all given someone the ick too. But whilst I used to think absolutely everything about men gave me the ick, I didn’t realise it was actually because I wasn’t attracted to them in the first place.

When I used to date men, it’s fair to say I got the ick more than the average person. But instead of unpacking the fact I was a lesbian, I just swept it under the rug and continued to be repulsed by every single man I crossed paths with.

Girls have shared their experiences of getting the ick and it’s your classic stuff like a man wearing bootleg trousers or staring too intensely at her vagina during sex. But I’d get the ick so easily and it would be over really petty things. One time I full on ghosted a man because he held his straw with his fingertips before taking a sip of his drink. Other times all he’d have to do is double message me and I’d get the ick.

My friends would joke about me being too picky or just not being mature enough for a relationship but in reality, I had no interest in the men I dated. It wasn’t because they were “cringey” or whatever, I was just never attracted to them in the first place and that’s the difference.

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I didn’t even entertain the fact I was gay, I just copied my mates who palmed off men for real reasons. Because of this, I was really confused and thought I’d never end up in any sort of relationship. Then the penny finally dropped when I had sex with a man for the first time, and I felt something.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t pleasured by him. But I felt a “I don’t fit in here” kind of feeling. You know when you feel out of place in public and like everyone is staring at you? It felt like that. This was a good thing though. I definitely needed it because a major shift in my identity quickly followed and I knew I wasn’t meant to be with men in that way.

I realised, like so many other queer women, I had fallen victim to compulsory heterosexuality which tricked me into thinking I was attracted to men when I so blatantly wasn’t.

Compulsory heterosexuality, or comphet, is the idea that heterosexuality is enforced by the patriarchy. It’s a term that’s typically used in lesbian circles and refers to when a lesbian is led to think she’s attracted to men. Queer men can also experience it, but it’s usually not to the same extent.

Social pressures made me force myself into dating men and wasting my entire life performing heterosexuality. So many queer women and men face comphet every day and for a lot of them, coming out isn’t even an option.

If you’re still working out your sexuality or feel like you might relate to anything I’ve spoken about, what helps many lesbians come to terms with comphet and realise they’re not actually attracted to men is reading the lesbian master doc, or “lesbian manifesto”.

The lesbian manifesto was created in 2018 by a social media user called Angeli Luz on Tumblr. It’s titled “Am I a lesbian?” and acts as a road map for women questioning their sexual identities. The doc is broken down into a number of chapters such as “How do I know if I’m a lesbian?” and “Conflicting feelings about men”. Each chapter aims to help you work out if you are attracted to men just because of society, rather than it being an actual part of your sexuality.

You can read the lesbian manifesto here.

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If you or someone you know has been affected by this story you can contact Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline, on 0300 330 0630 or visit their website. You can also find help through The Mix

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Read more from The Tab’s Pride series:

‘Nobody who matters cares’: LGBTQ+ students on what they’d tell their younger selves

What is ‘rainbow-washing’? How to tell if it’s happened to you

Take our homophobia on campus survey and help us uncover the scale of the problem at unis

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