By Amy Silverman
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Historically, those kids might have called themselves "straight" and thought no more of it. But with bisexual behavior not just accepted, but downright hot, it's now likely that some of them will end up in more complicated couplings.
Meanwhile, researchers have long urged kids to check boxes limited to "gay" or "straight," Savin-Williams says. But today, they're giving them a broader choice -- and finding a swatch of bi-curious girls who prefer "not sure" or "no label." That fluidity is reflected on the options for female users at the busiest Web site for early twentysomethings, myspace.com: "bi," "lesbian," "straight," "not sure," or "no answer."
For girls like Miriam Grill, a 23-year-old ASU undergrad, it's all about the possibilities. Grill has never done more than make out with a girl, although she's done that "a lot," she admits, and not because guys are watching. She thinks there's something sensual about it.
Sincero is also reading from The Straight Girl's Guide at Changing Hands, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe, on Monday, September 19 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
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Grill has a boyfriend of two years, but she doesn't consider herself strictly straight -- she prefers "bi-curious."
"I don't think I ever see myself with a woman, but I have thought about it," she says. In the long run, "I'm open to it. I don't want to eliminate half the people on this earth and say, 'My soul mate is going to have to be a guy.' That's not something I'm carving out."
Elizabeth, the 22-year-old massage therapist, agrees. Before she got serious with her current boyfriend, she twice kissed girls. If she and her boyfriend break up, which she admits is a distinct possibility, she's not going to limit her options by gender.
"I think for me, things are still kind of wide open," she says. "I'm equal opportunity all the way."
The new freedom affects lesbians, too. Elaine, a 35-year-old Phoenix sales rep, says she originally "came out" as gay when she was 18. But she had to admit as time passed that she was attracted to men, too.
"I wouldn't even know how to label myself anymore," she says. "I'm just a woman who's open sexually. That's how I put it."
In her workshops, Jen Sincero typically talks to a group of 20 to 25 women and explains how to meet another woman, how to flirt with another woman, and finally, how to satisfy another woman. The girls in attendance might be anywhere from 20 to 45, though they're most typically in their 30s. To Sincero, they look more conservative than not.
Their biggest question? "How do I find another girl who's up for it?" Sincero usually tells them to look around the room.
During a visit to Phoenix last month, Sincero agreed to do a one-on-one session for a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, 25-year-old Susan Burns.
The plan: Sincero would do an hour of tutoring, and then they'd hit Ain't Nobody's Bizness, the central Phoenix bar that hosts a wildly popular dance night on Thursdays.
Burns, a recent ASU graduate who waitresses while she hones her theatrical skills, has never hooked up with a woman. But she's decided she wants to.
"I hang with a crew that's very open," she tells Sincero, sipping Cabernet on a friend's couch. "One of my girlfriends starting talking about it, how fantasizing about a girl really does it for her. And I thought, 'Me, too!'"
Burns is short and cute, with curly dark hair and glasses with hipster purple frames. "She's such a cutie," Sincero joked after meeting her. "I'll totally do her at the end of the night if we don't find somebody."
But Burns is shy.
"I get nervous," she tells Sincero. "It doesn't matter what the sex of the person." She considers herself "unlabeled," but she's relatively inexperienced with guys, too.
"It's been a lot of missed signals," she says, grinning.
Sincero gives her tips on flirting. She also gives her a pep talk. It's always flattering to be hit on, Sincero notes. What does anyone have to lose by making a move? "If you're always trying to figure out exactly what's going on, it's a total excuse not to get it on," she says.
At the Biz, Burns is barely through the door when a slender, boyish girl starts chatting her up. The girl is clearly interested -- but Burns ducks away to get a drink and meet some of Sincero's friends instead of taking the bait.
One of those friends, Tania Katan, produces a business card she made up, years ago, as a joke. "Can't decide if you're a lesbian? Tania can help," the card promises, before identifying Katan as a "Professional Lesbian." "Tania has been seducing women for 12 years!"
Katan, who's there with her girlfriend, takes Burns out to the dance floor. Katan is goofing, but Burns is a great dancer. Katan bounds from the dance floor after a few songs to report proudly that someone is all over Sincero's little protégé. "Three girls were dancing in a circle, and the one just swooped in!" she exalts. "I smell fresh kill." Sincero is proud.
But Burns comes back from the dance floor soon after. She's having a good time, she says, but the whole situation is just confusing.