So there I was, entering high school, and along with all the other anxieties (‘Will anyone like me?’ ‘Can I pass geometry?’) was the worry that I might be a lesbian. My mom had as much as told me I was after she caught me and a girlfriend kissing. The gross tongue-stabbling I got from my first date pretty much sealed the deal. Then another boy’s kiss also left me totally cold (I didn’t know it could be due to depression following a serious car accident and facial disfigurement…)
But things began to look up. Before school started, supportive gold frames were removed from my teeth. I received temporary crowns that were not hideous. I had surgery on the wound to my mouth that turned out, well, pretty great. Shortly after school started, a girl who was part of the kind of clique my mother drooled over befriended me. And she could do geometry! (Forever grateful, Jan Helen McGee!)
But nothing was quite as thrilling as my first dance, the night HE singled me out. “HE” was Tim – tall, dark and handsome; smart enough to win 3rd prize in the science fair (but not nerdy enough to win 1st); cool enough to play jazz; athletic enough to play sports. He was nice! AND he had a hot car! I couldn’t believe he had picked ME.
How I imagined we looked together:
Tim and I began dating, and I finally experienced the joy of having … well, a man. A man who walked me to my classes and called me every night. Who picked me up and took me out. Who enveloped me in his strong arms and intoxicated my senses with the scent of his cologne, the slight scratch of his beard against my cheek, and the sweet searching of his lips. Ohhh, those lips… I’d sit in class daydreaming and dizzy from the sensation – a waterfall of melting chocolate that started at my brain, cascaded down my insides and pooled between my legs. I wondered if I could keep the promise I’d made to myself – not to have sex and risk a pregnancy in high school.
The short ending is that within the year, Tim broke up with me. His reason was vague, and I heard a rumor that he had met another girl. I was crushed. The ache to be ‘normal’ was replaced by the ache to be loved by him again. But eventually, that too passed. I heard that he went on to get that girl pregnant. I went on to like other boys. And I didn’t get pregnant! Woo hoo!
But this process had an enormous effect on my future. I became a sex educator because I understood that no young person should have to go through what I did. My story had a happy ending because it turned out that I preferred the opposite sex. But for young people who really are gay or lesbian, their happiness may be hijacked by bullying, rejection from loved ones, and even increased risk for depression and suicide. Luckily, times are changing. Although sexual orientation is complex, there is increasing evidence that we are born with the attraction we have. And there are positive gay role models living meaningful lives for youth to look up to.