DIVA takes a deep dive into this viral sensation

BY MARTINE HESS

Praised by young women questioning their attraction to men, the Am I a Lesbian Masterdoc is a helpful tool dedicated to dismantling compulsory heterosexuality. This is far from the basic “Am I gay?” quiz. 

Chances are that, sometime over the past year, you have heard the mention of the Lesbian Masterdoc either in a subreddit, a reblogged post, or on your #ForYouPage. The 30-page document was first shared anonymously on Tumblr, and more recently, went viral on TikTok. But what exactly is it and what makes it so groundbreaking?

The best way to describe the Lesbian Masterdoc is as a supportive guide to navigating the complex reality of understanding your sexuality as a woman. Divided into nine sections, each made up of straightforward explanations and bullet points, it aims to help you find an answer to the burning question: Am I a lesbian? Or rather: How do I distinguish my actual attraction from the socially conditioned wish to be desired by men?

The introduction to the document details the meaning of ‘compulsory heterosexuality’, a term that was popularised by Adrienne Rich in the 1980s. This theory builds on the idea that you are socialised to assume you are heterosexual until proven otherwise. The ideal of the nuclear family and the white picket fence is repeated in media, film, television, fashion, beauty, and advertising. But the reality is a world where women’s sexualities are defined by their relationship to men. The all-too-familiar trope is that women are meant to want male attention as they hold the key to their happiness. But when women are continuously fed the idea that their purpose is to please men, the question that remains is what happens when a woman loves other women. 

“Compulsory heterosexuality is what forces lesbians to struggle through learning the difference between what you’ve been taught you want (being with men) and what you do want (being with women),” reads the Lesbian Masterdoc. Under the patriarchy, it is only natural that you mistake your feelings for men as attraction or that it takes time to recognise your attraction to women at all. The result is that many are made to believe they are heterosexual when that is not the case. 

Even people who already identify as lesbians are affected by compulsory heterosexuality. Their very existence goes against society’s expectations for what romantic and sexual relationships look like and so they are led to question the authenticity of their feelings towards women. These struggles are the reason why so many have found comfort in the Lesbian Masterdoc. It aims to help you interrogate your attraction to men in order to fully understand your sexual identity. 

The document includes an extensive list of signs to look out for as well as statements that may resonate with you. Some examples are: “I do not like the reality of men, I only like the idea of being with men” and “You get crushes on just about any guy you’re friendly with because there’s really no difference between friendships and crushes to you.” 

The popularity of the Lesbian Masterdoc goes to show that many people have not asked themselves these questions before, which means its impact can be significant and even life-changing. After encountering the document, one Reddit user wrote: “Thank you so much for this. It helped me immensely, and answered a lot of questions I never could find a satisfactory answer for. There were several points/truths there that made me just break down in tears.. because that’s me.” 

It should also be mentioned that access is an important factor when it comes to the Lesbian Masterdoc’s success. Not only is it available for public reading on Google, but it does an effective job at explaining ideas that may otherwise seem daunting or abstract to a young audience. In fact, the document was written by Angeli Luz, who was a teenager at the time she wrote it. Inspired by her own struggles with understanding her sexuality, she started researching compulsory heterosexuality and set out to help other lesbians like herself. 

While the document has many similarities to the points made by Adrienne Rich in her essay on “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”, it stands apart in the sense that it is less intimidating to a reader who is not already familiar with queer and feminist theory. Bulleted lists, casual language, and simplistic sentences make the information comprehensible and easily digestible. 

It is safe to say that the Lesbian Masterdoc is a wonderful resource but its popularity also reveals a bigger issue. LGBTQI rights have come a long way over the past 50 and even 20 years, but the demand for this document serves as an important reminder that society still has a long way to go when it comes to accepting and understanding the full spectrum of sexualities and gender identities.

@martineahess

DIVA magazine celebrates 27 years in print in 2021. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 

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