When I decided to live as a Lesbian

I attended the workshop "Lesbianism Inside Yourself" at the women's retreat "From Our Women's Bodies".

Several yeas ago, I had met my junior at my high school again, and I had relationship with him. But at that time, I found I gave absolute priority to a woman co-worker, instead of to him.. And I wondered "What my 'relationship with a man' means to me?"
I had considered what a "sexual relationship" is and what "friendships" is for a long time. And I ended up concluding that people named the relationship between 2 persons of opposite sex "sexual one" and the relationship between 2 persons of the same sex "friendship" anyway and they passed by such a question I had. But when my feeling for a person of the same sex is clearly stronger than the one for a person of the opposite sex, what is the meaning that I follow the names?
I told him "I like her so much" many times. At first he said to me "Friendship is also important," without anxiety. But when I repeatied "I like her" over and over, he asked me "What do you mean?" and "I wonder if ... do you want to have ... sex with her?"
"No, it is not my problem if I want to have sex or not." Thinking like this, I still wondered "If I have sex with her, what should I do ?" And "What is sex at all?"

At that time I heard of a women's retreat named "From Our Women's Bodies". When I found the workshop, "Lesbianism Inside Yourself" on the information paper of the retreat, I decided, "I join it!"
I had known the word "Lesbian" for a long time. But it was very special word far from me. Even when I thought "If I could live with women" or "I like women so much better than men", I didn't connect myself with the word "Lesbian". It was the word with some absolute definition for me.
I wanted someone to examine if I was a Lesbian or not. "Let them make sure if I can define myself as a Lesbian." That's what I thought when I decided to join the workshop.
"I will join the workshop about Lesbian. I may change my life", I told him, and left. Actually my words came true.

"What is sex?"

At the workshop, when the woman sitting next to me said "I am heterosexual" as notice, and "I like one woman so much, but I don't want to have sex with her", a member of "Re-gumi Studio Tokyo", the group organizing the workshop, lost no time in asking back her, "What is sex?"
Next to the woman answering inconsistently "...I don't want to be naked and hold her...", I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Why did I want to let someone else define what sex is, what relationship is, or who I am? Instead, I should resist against the society which compelles one ideology, saying "No, I define it by myself".
What important is in my life. How I name the important of mine. Defining the value of things in my life by myself, which had been always obstructed from me by the society, was also important about sexuality, I found at that moment.
Defining my feelings to someone as "sexual" or not depends on if I want to define or not. I should consider and decide by myself if I name my doing something "sex" or not, and if I call myself a Lesbian or not.
Then what I have to consider is not "if I am a Lesbian or not", but "do I want to live as a Lesbian or not". After I understood it, I didn't wonder if I was a Lesbian or not. Because I decided to give priority to my feeling for women, and to live as a Lesbian.

I think the emotion that affirmed my decision was my "mortification".
The mortification against the society which insulted relationships between women by defining them "just" friendship. And my mortification against the submission and lack of will to self-determine of women, including myself, who obeyed the society.
And the mortification against my misery that I was trained to do everything in my life without confidence in my own feelings because of being a woman.
After the retreat when I told him on the phone "I found possibilities with women, so I can't be with you", he said "Anyway, it is good for you to recognize yourself".
I held back my words, "I didn't recognize, but decide," but I hung up. I had no hesitation. 

Original Japanese article was on the "Tokai Lesbian Newsletter" Vol.9@1994.6
Translated by Ayako HATTORI

If you have some suggestions or questions about my English, would you please contact me.shiro@da.mbn.or.jp

When I decided to live as a Lesbian/Japanese