Am I a lesbian? It’s become a burning question spanning internet searches, stemming from an anonymously posted master doc on TikTok titled with the very question. As a result of this phenomenon, new conversations around the term “compulsory heterosexuality”—the idea that being straight is the expected norm—have opened a wide gamut of self-discovery for many women assigned female at birth (AFAB) and women-identifying people.
Originally published on Tumblr in 2018, the Am I a Lesbian master doc was written by then-twenty-one-year-old Angeli Luz under the handle @cyberlesbian. The thirty-one pages set guidelines for navigating women’s understanding of their sexuality, with extensive details on the meaning of compulsory heterosexuality, otherwise known as “comphet.” Bullet points ranging from the pressure to develop crushes on male celebrities to wondering why women only become intimately close when drunk, the bulk of the master doc presents questions women rarely ask themselves.
Coined by lesbian feminist Adrienne Rich in the 1980s in her groundbreaking essay Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence, comphet conveys that heterosexuality is assumed early in a woman’s life and enforced upon them by a patriarchal and heteronormative society. In other words, everything else outside of heterosexuality is imbued to be unnatural, therefore demoting queerness as a “choice.” Women are conditioned to believe their desirability to the patriarchal standards of society is their highest asset. Meanwhile, chapters of a beautifully lived gay life are cut short for many who come out late.