When I was in sixth grade, I came out to my mom as lesbian.
It was interesting, to say the least.
It lasted for about two weeks, after which I realized, hey, I’m into guys. Which my mom was wholly supportive of as well.
(((Side Note: It did, of course, serve to remind me my mom is totally awesome and loving, maybe excessively so, but I’m not complaining.)))
It got me wondering though, what made me think I might be lesbian (I mean, I was ten. I didn’t even know what the bases were yet), and why I never told anyone besides my mom. And I’ve been wondering a lot since then—if my sexual orientation did happen to change once more, to something other than straight, at some point over the course of high school, would I feel comfortable telling my friends?
More importantly and much more pressingly, if one of my friends realized they identified as lesbian (or ace, or bi, or anything else), would they feel comfortable telling me?
Teenage sexuality is a really fucking strange thing. I’ve seen plenty of it at school dances alone. People will do everything from grind to have sex on the dance floor. But it’s literally all just lust and that’s what weirds me out about it.
I wouldn’t really say I’m a flirty person. I will flirt sometimes and I like to think I’m at least decent at it but I wouldn’t call myself flirty and I definitely wouldn’t call myself lusty. I may never really understand the compulsive need to grind on a complete stranger for a night. The whole “no-strings-attached” sort of thing doesn’t really appeal to me. But it obviously appeals to other teenagers.
Unlike gender, which is usually solidified by age six or seven, sometimes much earlier, sexual orientation and one’s general sense of sexuality isn’t really solidified until late into high school and sometimes into the college years. So when I get disgusted by what’s practically sex going on all around me, I try to make remind myself that it’s really just everyone else around me figuring out their sexuality.
Doesn’t stop me from getting freaked out though.
Back to the original question. If I had a friend whose sexual orientation changed, would they feel comfortable telling me? I honestly don’t know.
I like to think I surround myself with a liberal, open-minded group of people and that for the most part my friends are all pretty accepting of other people. But I remember, one late night, Cara and I were talking about it. She said something along the lines of: “I hope if a friend ever came out to me, I wouldn’t look at them any differently. But I’ve shared a bed with them; they’ve seen me in a bikini! I don’t know if our friendship could be the same.”
And, as much as I hate to admit it, these were thoughts also echoed by me.
Although we were raised by our parents (pretty awesome, feminist parents in my case), we were also raised by our society. The predatory gay person trope is constantly exhibited in the media. Try to think of one show you’ve watched or one book you’ve read where a gay (or bi, for that matter) character doesn’t make an advance, at least once, toward a wholly unwilling straight character (if gay or bi people aren’t entirely erased in the first place). Despite my awesome parents’ efforts, I’m pretty sure I didn’t really even know what gay people even were until I was about five or six.
It takes a village to raise a child, and my village taught me to be afraid of gay people.
There is an out-and-proud lesbian couple who goes to my school. A couple months ago, when my mom saw them walking up to the school building from the bus as she was dropping me off one morning, tears came to her eyes.
“You would’ve never seen that,” she said, “back when I was your age.”
That really hit me. Despite the great leaps and bounds the LGBT+ community has made over the past several years, I can’t help but remember stories I’ve heard of a time that was not too long ago.
This, unfortunately, will be a post without a conclusion. I don’t know the answers to any of my questions, honestly. I’d really truly like to believe that if a friend was struggling with their sexual orientation in any way, that they’d be comfortable coming to me, but in actuality I have no idea.
It’s easier said than done, of course, to just be “out.” It makes me sad that not everyone can have a family as awesome as mine. And I’m not saying that to brag at all; I think it’s truly tragic. No one should ever have to feel as though the people they’re supposed to trust the most, can’t be trusted at all.
That’s why I hope, if the time comes, my friends can be as open about who they are as I was as an ten-year-old.
Teen sexuality is a really, really weird thing.