I Kissed a Girl cast have important conversation about the word ‘lesbian’

BBC Three’s high-anticipated sapphic dating show I Kissed a Girl is only two episodes in but has already featured an important conversation about the word ‘lesbian’.

The series, which launched on Sunday (5 May), saw 11 single ladies enter a stunning Italian masseria in the hopes of finding the woman of their dreams.

Hosted by all-round queer ally Dannii Minogue, the women are paired up – meeting with a kiss before even so much as a hello – and then will choose every few days if they want to stay with their current partner or give it a go with someone else.

Those left without a lady love end of the coupling ceremonies have to leave the show and head back to the UK solo.

In the second episode of the series, which is available on BBC iPlayer, a number of the women are sunning themselves by the pool and have an in-depth conversation about the word ‘lesbian’ and how they refer to their own identities.

Rugby Borough professional footballer Georgia, 28, starts the discussion by asking the other girls what they think of the word ‘lesbian’ in a mock whispered tone.

“I don’t mind it, really and truly, I use it.” 23-year-old Priya from Newport replied. “I don’t know why people shy away from that word.”

“I just say I’m gay.” South Londoner Naee, 25, stated. “I don’t like using the word lesbian.”

In response, fire eating Yorkshire lass Meg, 24, noted that she has never used the term ‘queer‘ either.

“I just say i’m into girls.” Brighton-based hairstylist Abbie, 24, said of her own experience. “Or I’ll say I’m queer.”

The contestants on I Kissed a Girl discussing the term ‘lesbian’ (BBC)

In a confessional cutaway, Georgia admitted for her “‘lesbian’ has been used in quite a negative way” and cited examples from school where boys would say “are you a f**king lesbian” if she wasn’t interested in them.

“It is a word that has been taken and made negative. Growing up, it was used in a way that suggested something was wrong with you.”

This perspective has been echoed by many women, who have shied away from using the term in favour of words such as gay, sapphic or queer.

The word lesbian has a long history which – in an essay for PinkNews back in April 2023 – Alicia Cordell described as a “fraught battleground” that is also a “symbol of solidarity between queer women”.

“To me, “lesbian” represents a freedom to be anything women would like to be. It’s a f**k you to the patriarchy – a non-definable entity,” she wrote.

During the I Kissed a Girl episode, the group then proceeds to discuss the reason why the letter L comes first in LGBTQ+ – referencing lesbians’ history within the HIV/AIDS crisi – a moment which saw Georgia become quite upset.

“Being a lesbian is something to be so proud of, but a lot of the time I don’t really know how to,” Georgia says in the cutaway.

“I didn’t realise how deep, and how many emotions I had attached to the fact that I struggle to actually say ‘lesbian’.

“I am obviously quite confident and I’m proud of my sexuality but it still bothers me when it shouldn’t because it’s such a good word.”

“I need to just say to my younger self ‘you are a lesbian’ – why would you not want to be a lesbian?” She added.

Amen to that Georgia.

You can watch I Kissed a Girl on BBC iPlayer here.