When I was 13 years old, I had a crush on my one of my teachers. She was a woman. She was 50 years old. I told her I liked her and she told me she was married. Bummers. Anyway, I’m sure this is rich with Freudian issues but I also believe it was the first same sex desire. I would call it the equivalent of a young boy falling in love with his teacher’s cleavage. For me, it was her lips.
Anyway, after I got turned down, I went to the Counselor’s office to ask her if it was strange that I was attracted to my teacher. She said that it was strange and that if I thought I was bisexual I should explore the possibility that I may have been sexually abused much earlier in life. I told her that I hadn’t had that experience and went back to class.
I would go on to have my first long distance girlfriend at 15, my first real sexual attraction to a woman at 16 and finally after two years in the closet and a lot of experimentation under my belt, come out as bi-sexual to my mom in front of the Social Sciences building at the University of Chicago at the ripe old age of 20. All of my gay friends have been out for about 15 years. I’ve been out for eight. Until recently, I haven’t held anyone accountable—I was just slow to accept. But now, I blame the counselor.
My nephew who is seven recently told me that it was weird I had a girlfriend and that “a woman should be with a man and a boy with a girl.” He folded after a strong challenge from my mom, but even she was shocked that he held steady in his argument. “I know this is true because I am smart.” Unfortunately, we later found out an adult male told him that, “two dudes together was nasty.”
And strangely with all openness about homosexuality today, I still think we live in a world that isn’t prepared to nurture children into healthy sexual identities—gay or straight or both. Instead, it seems there are more powerful people (and yes, I count school counselors as very powerful people) telling young people what’s wrong with sex.
Last year during the string of LGBT suicides, I thought a lot about my nephew and how much extra work has to go into mentoring kids who already grow up in a world ill-equipped to deal with black kids, let alone gay ones. It feels unfair–all the extra work put into raising progressive and open people in a world unapologetic towards homosexuality. At the end of the day, does it really matter if Ellen is on the cover of people and gays can go to war, if our own teachers, our neighbors, and our families think there is something wrong with who you are.