While surfing the blogging site of Tumblr today, I came across a text post that resonated with me and still continues to leave an impact on me even to this day. Seeing other people’s responses to this post allowed me to know that others had felt the same and still continue to feel the same in regards to what the text post revealed. It seemed as if it was a common happenstance for many LGBTQA+ youth and teens while growing up. The text post, made by Tumblr user dirtylittledamsel simply states, “Gay culture is your parents finding undeniable proof that you’re gay when you’re a preteen/teen and them still throwing around homophobic slurs and ideals in front of you.”
I found this text post, as mentioned, extremely relatable for my eleven year old self knowing that I definitely wasn’t straight. The signs that I wasn’t attracted to any boys in my class or even the male celebrity heart throbs of the early 2000’s was not something I was able to relate to with the other girls in my grade. I was definitely more interested in talking about the female heart throbs in music videos and in movies that I had seen, other teen actresses on kid shows and movies that I was developing crushes on.
Although homosexuality was never addressed in school (I went to a Catholic elementary school and high school), my parents were not openly talking about homosexuality unless it was in a negative remark, joke or insult. This goes the same to my extended family as well: grandparents, aunts and uncles and even beyond the family unit to complete strangers, acquaintances, the media, friends of the family and even other kids at school.
None of my friends were (openly) gay or felt the same way that I was feeling about my sexuality (sexuality was always an open floor for teasing and put-downs, making fun of someone for ‘acting gay/queer’, the constant endless ‘no homo’ jokes and always insinuating that girls were lesbians because they never dated boys before). I was also teased a lot in elementary school for being a lesbian because I was a tomboy and only took interest in girls while dressing more ‘masculine’ and, of course, liking things only boys were supposed to be interested in as opposed to what I should have been interested in: makeup, finding a boyfriend and, constantly worrying about how I looked.
All of these feelings and experiences always managed to echo back to talk of homosexuality inside of the family which never, if rarely, ever happened. Heterosexuality was enforced and constantly pushed upon (the endless question of, ‘do you have a boyfriend yet?’) and I felt that it wasn’t possible that I could be gay, how could it? The environments I was always surrounded in ranked heterosexuality number one and everything else was always out of the picture. Even as late, when I graduated from high school and had become accepting of myself and came out to my family, there was still negative and disapproving backlash that was nothing but the voices of insecurity and uncertainty. How could I be gay? What was the proof that everyone could latch onto to make my sexuality compact and concrete?
Without a doubt, it hasn’t been easy and it’s still a hard topic for some members of my family to get their heads wrapped around. That little tomboy you knew who only took interest in dressing like a boy and wanting to become Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when she grew up were just the peak of self-discovery. I wish there had been more resources, more positive talk and education and reinforcement that being gay was not better or worse than being straight. I wish there were more reinforcement onto parents and family members and even other kids that homophobic slurs were never the ‘cool’ thing to say to someone else, especially if you didn’t know their sexual orientation and especially if that person was still on the road to self-discovery of their sexuality. The only thing I can do now, especially after seeing that text post and being inspired once again is the constant push for educating others on LGBTQA+ people, especially young people and what they are and might go through from early adolescents and through the rest of their life.