Dear Miley Cyrus, Lesbianism has nothing to do with males.

Miley Cyrus faces backlash after telling women that “you don’t have to be gay” because “there are good men out there.” Cyrus, a self-described pansexual, made the comments during an Instagram Live video.

“Guys, I was being a little too, like… hardcore feminist vibes and, just like, I don’t know, not allowing anyone in, but now I am.” Referring to Cody Simpson, her new partner, she went on to say: “There are good men out there, guys. Don’t give up. You don’t have to be gay. There are good people with dicks out there. You just gotta find them. You gotta find a dick that’s not a dick, you know what I mean?”

Simpson laughed, asking Cyrus “you don’t have to be gay?”

Speaking directly to the camera, Miley Cyrus said “I always thought that I had to be gay because I just thought all guys were evil, but it’s not true. There are good people are out there that just happen to have dicks. I’ve only ever met one, and he’s on this Live.” Her comments could be read as a dig at Liam Hemsworth – the couple separated earlier this year.

While Team AfterEllen wishes the Mother’s Daughter singer all happiness in her personal life, her words have troubling implications. By arguing that being gay is a choice – and an inadvisable one at that – Miley Cyrus echoes countless homophobes.

Women aren’t lesbians because of men – good, bad, or otherwise. We are lesbians because we love and desire other women. It’s that simple.

The idea that lesbians are only interested in women because we haven’t found the right man yet is deeply homophobic. It’s also heterosexist, treating men as the natural and preferable objects of women’s desire. To define lesbian sexuality in relation to men is to miss the point completely. It is the logic of what Adrienne Rich once described as compulsory heterosexuality.

Cyrus should be familiar with how homophobia is used to undermine same-sex desire. She has been in relationships with women – most recently Kaitlynn Carter. Both newly divorced, Cyrus and Carter made waves when they were spotted kissing during a romantic getaway in Italy. They were the It Girl couple of Summer 2019.

But the relationship was not to last. It is perhaps this ill-fated fling with Carter that led Cyrus to distance herself from labels like ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. But the way she did it – treating same-sex relationships as a poor substitute for straight ones – threw lesbians under the bus.

After her words came under fire, Miley Cyrus issued an apology over Twitter: “I was talking shit about sucky guys, but let me be clear, YOU don’t CHOOSE your sexuality. You are born as you are. It has always been my priority to protect the LGBTQ community I am part of.”