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"I was a lesbian for a year."

Brooke Hempill.
Brooke Hemphill.

By GRACE JENNINGS-EDQUIST

In 2010, Brooke Hemphill was a relationships and sex columnist who was sick of dating “douchebag” men.

“I had my finger on the dating pulse, but as it often the case with people who in this line of work, my own love life was something of a disaster,” 35-year-old Brooke told Mamamia.

“I had a long run of dating what you might call douchebags.”

When she unexpectedly had a one-night stand with a woman, the Sydney-based writer and producer embarked on a year of sexual experimentation — and now, she’s written a book based on her experiences dating women that she hopes will “open a conversation about sexuality”.

Mamamia sat down with Brooke today to ask what she’s learned from her experiences.

Q: What’s the book about?

A: “Basically the book charts a year in my life where I exclusively dated women, but it goes beyond that and I go back and look at my previous relationships…

lesbian for a year
“My relationship with Claire was much better than with any man I’d ever dated.”
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This wasn’t a social experiment. It was a series of events that happened to lead to what I would call my ‘lesbian year’.

Q: What’s good about dating girls?

A: “When I found myself in a relationship with a woman I learned a lot about myself and what I was looking for in a relationship. A key relationship in the book is with my ex, Claire, and my relationship with her was much better than with any man I’d ever dated.

I‘d had my experiences with guys who just disappeared off the face of the earth, whereas Claire was very communicative…

(But) that could be just a case-by-case basis, I couldn’t generalise for the entire gender.”

Q: What’s not so good?

A: “I openly admit that I’m not very good about talking about my emotions and feeling. so there’s a lot of that when you’re dating a woman…

It kind of forced me to talk when I didn’t necessarily want to. I’m very introverted, my reaction is to kind of just back away, and it pushed me to talk.”

Q: Did you experience discrimination or prejudice when dating women?

A: “I would say less so than the discrimination and prejudice that I’m experiencing right now in terms of the criticism (I’ve received from the LGBT community) over the title of the book.

I understand that the title of the book has the potential to upset people who identify as lesbian. It’s been accused of being homophobic, people have accused me of monetising their sexuality in order to make financial gain. Which is odd, because I’ve never met them before…

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lesbian for a year

This is a story about my life and my experience is just as valid as anyone else’s.”

Why did you “go back” to men?

A: “The relationship with Claire ended and I did date a couple of other women, and there was a series of events that happened.

I was dating a girl for a while… and she actually went off to go and be with a man and that was a bit shocking for me. I was like, ‘if you’re not sure, im not really sure. What’s going on?’

So I sort of tested the water with dating men and found myself dating back in the (heterosexual) dating world.

What’s it like dating men now? Is it kind of annoying that they don’t understand women the same way?

“My current partner is quite sensitive and emotional and I guess in that way, his friends have given him a bit of a hard time about that his whole life.

It‘s a case-by-case basis. But if you do have the luxury of having a bit of a fluid sexuality, you can pick the person you want to be with based on who you want to be with.”

Lesbian for a Year was published bAffirm Press and released on September 1.

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