a girl crush

19Feb12

A disturbing thing happened recently. A lovely 14 year old girl told me that she has a crush on a girl. In this day and age, it’s not a big deal, so I said okay…? She seemed upset, so we sat down to talk about it. I asked lots of questions and she gave me as many answers as she could.

It was no surprise to hear the normal teen-aged angsty questions: Does she like me? Is she cooler than me? Would her friends think I’m cool enough? And, of course, is she straight?

I was absolutely stunned, though to hear her concern about how others would react if she dated a girl. People will think she’s gay. People will think she’s weird. People will have all kinds of projections on her. As strong as she is, she is still a teenager, so she does care what stupid things people will say about her.

At first, I thought she was buying in to the prejudice and wasn’t comfortable being “not straight.” But that’s not what it was. And, it’s not that she cares if people think she’s a lesbian. People already do, and since she categorically refuses to define herself in terms of sexual orientation, she propagates that perception.

It’s that she doesn’t think she is a lesbian. She also doesn’t think that she is bi-sexual. I know her pretty well, so I summed up what I think it is. I think she is straight, but open to the idea that love is love. She doesn’t have a rigid definition of herself or any idea that her romantic path will go one certain way.

She is primarily interested in boys. (I checked this out very carefully with her, to make sure I was not making assumptions.) But, clearly, she can also see certain girls as potential romantic partners. She was concerned that this would be hard to explain to people and she hated the idea of being misrepresented.

What a fucked-up world we live in that a child can’t be who he or she is without fear. Obviously, this is a global issue which could be discussed for years with no end. But I’d like to rant about sexuality for a moment. And ignorance. And hatred.

I’ll be honest. When I was growing up, in most of this country we weren’t comfortable with homosexuality. Our parents grew up in the 50s and although they never taught us hate, they also did not teach openness and sensitivity. Jokes were made and references to “those members of society” marginalized them. When I was growing up, if I saw a same sex couple, I felt uncomfortable and I wished that “they” would be more private so I didn’t have to see it. I got over that a long time ago, and taught my children to love all people and never even told them that people were different. People, I told them, are people. (Truthfully, I don’t even believe in race, we are all part of the human race.)

When the topic of same-sex marriage first came up, I was opposed to it. (I know, quite a confession, right?) I believed that marriage has always been defined as between one man and one woman, and that gay marriage was changing the definition of the word. I wasn’t opposed to the legalizing of same-sex unions, and for all of the benefits being equal, I just wanted it to be called something else. Anyway, I’m over it. Like my vagina rant, call it whatever you want. But let’s give everyone equal rights.

What’s important to me now is that we need to educate our children (sorry, but most of the adults who’ve made it this far and haven’t changed are hopeless) to be open and sensitive. Not the same as PC. That’s a bit overdone, in my opinion.

Before this happened, I had already started to consider how difficult it must be to be a gay teen, to be hormonally-charged, normal adolescents with very few potential partners to choose from. I don’t have statistics, but I don’t think that most kids are “out” yet in middle school or high school.

I’m mad about the stigma, the teasing, the bullying and the projections. Why do we still feel the need to define sexuality so rigidly? I suppose it’s still the same old ignorance from before. And fear. I do understand that in certain religions it is taught to be an abomination, but in those same religions are we not all created in God’s image? (No need to answer that, it’s not an argument that can be “won.”)

I think it’s the same as those who think that groups of young men of color must be in a gang, or up to no good. Or, the idea that piercing, dyed hair, tattoos or any other visible self-alterations must indicate bad character. Let’s be honest. I’m opposed to almost all of it for my kids. When they are adults, they will make their own decisions. But I don’t assume that those who have tattoos, for example are all bad people. Nor do I teach that. Appearances are certainly important and they do tell people certain things about a person. But they don’t tell about the character of that person.

We need to stop judging and convicting people based on appearances. We need to stop telling children who they should be and instead witness and nurture who they are. We need to stop the outdated idea that different is “other,” and that there is a “they” in the first place.

We did find a label for the teen I spoke to that she can use if she is dealing with an idiot who insists that she call herself something, or when she feels the need to define her sexual orientation. Heteroflexible. It’s a good word, and for now it fits.

But what a FUCKED UP world, where a child on the verge of becoming a young adult needs to find a LABEL to describe herself to others! WHY THE FUCK can’t she just be? And WHY THE FUCK does she have to be a static thing? Why can’t she become who she is meant to be without stigma?



One Response to “a girl crush”

  1. 1 Neil

    Hey….I like this. I sent it to a couple of girlfriends that have teen to get their feed back. Will let you know what they have to say. I think the teens today are a product of the environment. I don’t watch a lot of TV or Movies, but the little I do see, it seems that more and more women are being shown making out and more which is telling kids “this is cool and you to should be doing this”. So, what do we expect?

    Nice job…..Neil


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