Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Friday, 27 March 2015

Lesbians Are More Likely To Drink Than Straight Women, But Why?

Lesbians Are More Likely To Drink Than Straight Women, But Why?

The Debrief: But they’re not more likely to be alcoholics…

There’s a lot of stereotypes about lesbians, which we won’t repeat here, because a lot are bloody ridiculous. But when it comes to social behaviours (beyond fancying other women), it turns out LGB women fancy a tipple more than their straight cohorts.

Why could this be? Well, scientists used to theorise that LGB women would drink more than their straight counterparts because, well, being LGB apparently makes women sad, so they drink to feel better. (Bit patronising, isn't it?) However, this newer study, done by Pace, says that although 37.1% of LGB women have hazardous alcohol use and only 31.9% of straight women do, only 4.5% of LGB women are dependent on alcohol compared to 4% of straight women. This 0.5% is within the margin of error, too.

So why is it, really, that lesbians drink more than straight women? The clue is in the behaviour; LGB women got drunk more than straight women, and LGB women in rural areas drink less than LGB women living in cities. As one interviewee in the RaRE Research Project (it stands for Risk and Resilience Explored), put it:

‘British culture and attitude to alcohol [is unhelpful]. It’s encouraged. The media encourage it, it’s everywhere. It’s how we socialise. The gay scene is awful for it. There are pills everywhere. Women especially are heavy drinkers.’

Margaret Unwin, the CEO of Pace told Buzzfeed: ‘Problematic drinking among lesbian and bisexual women is often associated with prevailing heterosexism, such as difficulties within families, anxiety about coming out and fear of or actual negative responses when accessing services…[they] can partly explain why LGB women may have problematic drinking patterns.’

If you ask us, the fact LGB women like drinking a bit more could really be down to the fact that some of the only safe spaces for lesbian women to exist, IRL, are certain bars and clubs in big towns, where LGBT people tend to move to in order to be in more cosmopolitan, forward-thinking environments. The solution? Making everywhere in the country (and beyond) that little bit more accepting of queer people.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Boozing, LGBT