Crowdfunded Journalism

How To Be A Lesbian: A 12-Step Guide

Julie Bindel photo
Julie BindelLondon
How To Be A Lesbian: A 12-Step Guide
Can a woman really 'choose' to be a lesbian? The one and only Julie Bindel meets a pair of Swedish authors who say 'hell yes'.

I have had a lot of flack in the past for suggesting that lesbianism can be a positive choice for women and that sexual identity is not a genetic predisposition. Imagine my joy, therefore, at meeting a couple of top lesbians who have written a book on how straight women can convert by following a simple 12 Step programme.

A short Guide to the Art of Becoming a Lesbian (Liten handbok i konsten att bli lesbisk), by Mian Lodalen and Matilda Tudor, was published in 2014 by Leopard Förlag, an independent publishing house based in Stockholm. I met them both at a feminist conference in Malmo, Sweden in May as they were promoting their book in the lobby. Wondering what the massive queue was for, and hearing loud laughter and animated chat, I approached the desk to find Mian and Matilda holding up T Shirts and bags emblazoned with slogans such as, ‘Damn! I wish I were a lesbian’.

The queue consisted of women of all ages and persuasions buying the book and asking Mian and Matilda for autographs. I asked if they would tell Diva Magazine their recipe for lezzerism, and they were only too willing to oblige.

Mian, a journalist and gay activist of 30 years was the first out lesbian in Sweden. “I was pretty alone when I came out,” she told me, but eventually more and more women opened up and we be-came more accepted.”

Matilda is younger than Mian and admits to being starstruck when she met her at a party. The two soon bonded ‘over wine and cigarettes’ and found they had a lot in common, such as a commitment to animal rights as well as feminism.

It Started With A Party

“Everything started the way it usually does – with a party. The guys had sprinkled themselves all over the apartment and the balcony, while the girls were crowded together in the tiny kitchen,” laughs Mian. “All these straight girlfriends, sighing, “If only I could be just a little bit lesbian…”

“One day I was talking to a famous Swedish feminist and she had had a terrible day and was ask-ing why on earth women can’t just be lesbians,” interrupts Matilda. “I had the idea that we should have a workshop on how to do it.”

The women approached a publisher with a synopsis and she loved the idea. “She said to us, ‘Nev-er back off during writing this as it is quite radical’, and we never did,” Matilda tells me.

We move on to the thorny subject of the ‘gay gene. “I don’t think anyone could force me with a gun to be straight,” says Mian. “And there are straight women who could never be lesbians. But there are all those women in the grey area.”

According to Matilda: “It is cowardly to say that we are born that way and we can’t change. We are told it is bad if we say you can change from one to the other because we make the argument that helps those that want to convert us.”

“But we are saying that sexuality is not as static as it is often argued. In a patriarchal society many women would advantage from being a lesbian. It is quite simple in a way.”

“It’s lunatic to keep going in straight relationships when you know how bad it is. It’s like a bad habit. It makes you sick, you’re losing money. It’s dangerous. You’re not even having conversations in the bedroom. You have this discrimination in society, you have this discrimination in your own home.”

The authors

A '12 Step Programme' For Lesbianism...

So how does the 12 Step Programme approach work? “It’s not like you can watch The L Word and understand everything about queer culture,” says Matilda. “But I think that if you’re put in a position when you’re watching that you can identify with lesbian desire, you will.”

Matilda is keen on giving lesbian fashion advice to potential converts. “Maybe it could be a good idea to dress down, a little bit. If you like being a girly girl, that will be OK. But if you really like to blend in, maybe it’s a good idea to favour jeans and sneakers.”

“I think few people would be able to openly read it for a laugh... You can read it without becoming a lesbian but will be radicalised. It can be some kind of spark in their relationship to demand their rights in the relationship.”

“This is the most common sexual fantasy amongst Swedish women. Women are also more willing to experiment.”

“So you and your husband have a fantastic and equal relationship, and still it doesn’t feel good. So shall we hear what your cunt has to say about it? And then “Oh, holy mother of god somebody’s actually speaking to me.”

The book is amusingly illustrated and set out in a way that enables the reader to dip in and out, “A bit like those women who fancy trying out lesbianism”, laughs Matilda.

Chapters include, ‘Welcome to Heteroholics Anonymous’, ‘The Flip Side of Heterosexuality’, ‘The Straight Trap’, and, a description of a first lesbian encounter, ‘Like Winning the Lottery’.

Unashamed propagandists for the joys of lesbian sex, the authors are particularly proud of the sec-tions, ‘Women Have No Problem Coming, Just Not with Men’,‘The Promised Land of Dykes’, and, my personal favourite, ‘Heterosexual Women Come to Heaven – Dykes Come Over and Over Again’.

“First you have to realise you are not straight,” says Mian, “practice your Gaydar, learn to love your cunt, and then get yourself some lesbian culture.”

Netflix is perfectly acceptable, says Matilda, for accessing lesbian film and documentary, but ulti-mately you will need to go to a lesbian club and take a holiday to Lesbos.

“Come on girls,” laughs Mian. “Get with the programme!”


1. I admit I have been powerless over men – that my life has become unmanageable.

2. I have come to believe that a power greater than my own – like a righteous, feminist dyke community can restore my sanity.

3. I made a decision to turn my will and my lift over to a solid butch, or any other lesbian with plenty of experience.

4. I am making a searching and fearless feminist inventory of myself.

5. I admitted to myself, and to at least one other lesbian human being, the exact nature of all wrongs in my previous choices.

6. I am entirely ready to ditch all the crazy ideas that have been put into my head since early childhood.

7. If point 6 does not work, I will turn to the righteous, feminist dyke community, and ask for strength and power.

8. I make a list of all my personal losses, and ponder how I might be compensated for those damages.

9. I now make amends to myself as much as possible, grab me some me-time, and have some fucking fun at last.

10. I continue my personal inventory, and promptly admit if I am starting to get bogged down in old, ingrained ways of thinking.

11. Through prayer and meditation, I seek to improve my conscious contact with my inner dyke – who I am sure is in there, someplace.

12. When I, as the result of these steps, have a spiritual awakening, I will try to carry this message to other heteroholics, and to practice these principles in our common endeavour to get on the right tack.

#Lesbianism, #Mian Lodalen, #Matilda Tudor, #Biological Determinism


Lily Healy

2 years ago

Yikes... At this point I'm really hoping this article is some sort of joke because it's literally so disgusting.

Being a lesbian isn't a choice and sexual orientation definitely is a genetic predisposition; you have been horribly mislead. Not only that but you're actively invalidating basically all of us queer women's identities in saying it is a choice and passing off something that people have literally been murdered and massacred for as some chic new trend. It isn't. So many people have suffered because of something so simple and to turn it into some sort of fashion accessory is absolutely repulsive.

Joy Sturgess

4 years ago

I pity the poor lesbians who are expected to mentor and teach all these experimenting straight women who will probably go back to their husbands when they've had their orgasm

Joy Sturgess

4 years ago

I pity the poor lesbians who are expected to mentor and teach all these experimenting straight women who will probably go back to their husbands when they've had their orgasm