Friday May 20, 2011
I was 19 when I 'came out' to my friends (not that I was in the closet, I just happened to get a girlfriend at that age). My greatest concern was that they would think I'd been secretly desiring them for years, so I was tripping over myself to explain that I was 'only attracted to this one particular woman' and that I was 'probably bisexual' (important to make them, and me, think that this wasn't a life long disability, merely a virus that would pass through my system and leave me a 'normal girl', or at least still tempted by men). There is some research to suggest that the inner ears of lesbians are different to heterosexual women. I wish those differences were external, like our ears were rotated slightly clockwise or something, so our sexual orientation was obvious and there was NO MORE COMING OUT!
I don't want to have to explain, every time I start a new job, to my drunk and inquisitive colleagues in the pub that no, I don't find them attractive. Not even a little bit. Nope, not even with their eyeliner permanently tattooed on. And I don't want to deal with their hurt questions; 'well, WHY don't you find me attractive?'. I stutter 'It's not you, I mean, you are attractive, it's just that I don't happen to…' God, give me strength! You can't win. I have NEVER fancied one of my straight friends - scout's honour (lesbians are allowed to use that. It's in our guide book). I'm not saying that people aren't drawn to those who have a different sexual orientation, I just haven't been. Not that I'm owning up to in this blog anyway.
A high percentage of kids I talk to say that they would ditch their mate if they came out to them. When asked why, inevitably a boy will exclaim, 'cos what if he likes me?!'. After pointing out that I haven't noticed any need to physically restrain any of the straight girls in the room who are unable to contain their desire for him, I espouse the 'rules of engagement':
- If someone comes onto you, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, and you don't like them, say 'no thanks'.
- If someone continues to come onto you, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, say 'no thanks' more firmly and remove yourself from the situation.
- If this goes on, you're looking at a situation of sexual assault and you need to seek help. Again, regardless of this person's sexual orientation or gender.
- If someone comes onto you and you do fancy them, proceed with extreme caution.
It would be an unfortunate and cruel genetic mixture if we were not only born into the delightful and wacky LGBT community, but we were bestowed with an uncontrollable attraction to absolutely everybody of the same sex. Not only that, but we had 'desire tourettes', which meant that we raced around the streets/playground/office touching everybody with the same body parts as us with carte blanche. Kids, and bizarrely, some adults, seem to think this is the case. You have to slowly and carefully explain to them that we are not only just as restrained as anybody else, but even more so, as we might be cautious of a homophobic response.
I tell young people that if a man comes onto me, I just say thanks, but no thanks. It's simple. I don't hit him because he is challenging my lesbianism. I'm not going to find the presence of his heterosexuality so overpowering that I swoon, fall into his arms and become the next Mills & Boon cover. And I'm not going to catch it via other means. Sexuality is nothing to fear. It is something to discuss with humour, honesty, and if with teenagers, an unconquerable ability to keep a straight face.
NB: be aware that young people might find their way to our blog. I'm not a fan of censorship but please take care with your language if you make comment. Thanks!