Finding Self in the Lesbian Community

  • Barbara Ponse
Part of the Women in Context book series (WICO)


Common sense usually assumes a direct relationship between sexual activity and identity. With reference to gay identity, some writers such as Simon and Gagnon (1966, 1967) and Barry Dank (1971) noted the influence of the gay community in providing strength and support for a transition from heterosexual identity to gay identity—thus acknowledging a period of incongruity between sexual activity on the one hand and sexual identity on the other. However, these writers assumed, as do other analysts of homosexuality, that there is a correspondence between identity and activity—albeit that there may be a delay in the acceptance of gay identity. My own study of identity in the Lesbian world is based on three years of fieldwork in both secretive Lesbian and political-activist Lesbian communities, conversations with hundreds of women in those communities, and 75 in-depth interviews. This study demonstrates that, indeed, there is no automatic or necessary correspondence between sexual activity and sexual identity, that the identity resolutions of women who relate sexually and emotionally to other women are diverse and problematic. (I am using the terms identification and identity to indicate conscious designations of the self as like another or as a member of a particular category.)


Sexual Activity Heterosexual Woman Identity Resolution Lesbian Community Heterosexual Identity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Ponse
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychotherapist in Private PracticeLos AngelesUSA

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