The term “millsbian” has entered pop culture immortality along with familiar phrases like “l.u.g,” (lesbian until graduation) and “gay for the stay,” with its inclusion on urbandic- tionary.com, an online slang handbook where everyone is welcome to contribute entries.
A millsbian, according to the site, is a woman “who dates, sleeps or ‘experiments’ with other women while attending Mills College, but reverts to heterosexuality once entering the Real World.”
In a conversation on “The L Word,” a Showtime television show that follows a group of lesbians in West Hollywood, one character says, “Oh, I was a lesbian in 1978,” to which the other replies, “We call that a ‘hasbian.'” But many question if it is possible to be homosexual temporarily.
Podge Thomas, a junior music student at Mills says she could be defined as a millsbian, but she doesn’t believe it is as simple as the tag attempts to make it.
“[I identified] as hetero until I got into my [current] relationship,” said Thomas. “I didn’t immediately stop identifying as straight, but I began slowly to identify as queer,” she said.
“And now I realize that isn’t an accurate label because I feel like I’m with the woman I am with now because I love her and because I am attracted to her; not because she is a woman or. isn’t a man.”
Tarah H., a student at University of Iowa, says women should not be pressured into clearly defining their sexuality.
“To deny a girl her chance to figure herself out just because she is ‘straight’. seems like a selfish thing to do.”
In a study ran by ABC News, women who who identified as bisexual or queer in college were followed for ten years. The study, which was published in a journal of the American Psychological Association, found that none of the women eventually identified as strictly either heterosexual or homosexual.
“It will hopefully deal a fatal blow to the persistent stereotype that bisexuality ‘doesn’t really exist,’ and that it is simply a phase that women pass through on their way to a lesbian identity,” lead researcher Lisa Diamond told ABC News.
It is possible that made- up terms like millsbian, hasbian and others are really mislabeling women who are bisexual or fluid. It could be that the gender some are attracted to is flexible or irrelevant, but they are uncomfortable expressing a non-binary identity after being socially conditioned to call themselves either gay or straight.
Thomas did not credit Mills College for her transformation, but she acknowledged the women at Mills as the life-changing factor.
“I don’t want to say I wouldn’t have started dating women had I not come to Mills,” she said, “but it would have taken me being submersed into some sort of queer community to even begin to think about it.”
During her two-week residential assistant training last summer she experienced such a submersion.
“I began to see sexuality as much more fluid.” She does not refer to herself as a lesbian.
Despite Thomas’s caution to identify herself strictly as lesbian, many women in similar circumstances tend to rush the label, according to many who identify as homosexual.
“There’s a lot of pressure to label yourself, especially if you’re a ‘new’ lesbian. Saying you don’t know, or that you don’t care because it doesn’t matter to you. is very dissatisfying to the lesbians,” explains Amanda C. from Florida, who said she identifies as a bisexual. “So maybe a lot of them are just giving into that pressure in order to avoid tension or scorn.”
Over time, it has become apparent that these terms are incorrect with their definition. Women who come to Mills, perhaps label themselves incorrectly, but then they leave with an open mind to love.
Maybe being a millsbian isn’t such a bad thing as the definition might suggest.