As a child I remember being encouraged to hold hands with my same-sex best friend. Encouraged to tell her I loved her and to give her a big hug and kiss when we met or parted. Against my natural inclinations to be friendly towards everyone in the school yard – I was enculturated in primary school to view members of the opposite sex as ‘yucky’ and having ‘boy germs’
… and then at some point in the journey towards teenagerdom I was supposed to do a back flip on all of this.
Apparently once you reach high school there’s a magic switch that gets flipped. All of a sudden boys stop giving their guy-friends hugs, and girls aren’t supposed to kiss as a form of greeting. It’s like there’s been some sort of invisible announcement: Members of the opposite sex have now matured out of the ‘cooties’ zone and you are now supposed to find them wildly attractive and start wanting to date them. GO! Oh – and girls – time to start shaving, plucking, and becoming obsessed with food and bodyweight! God forbid a boy should learn that you aren’t a walking, talking version of that airbrushed 2D model on the cover of ‘Dolly’ or ‘Girlfriend’.
I think I was considered somewhat odd in high school. Towards the end of Year 8 my ‘(girl)friends’ started becoming upset when I sometimes sat with a mostly-male group. From about Year 9 onwards the majority of my friends were guys. They were easy to spend time with, they didn’t bitch and whine nearly as much as the girls, and they weren’t afraid to go camping, ride bikes, or get their fingernails dirty. Ok so I was a bit of a cargo-shorts-wearing TomBoy. I dated my best mate briefly for about a week or two before deciding I wasn’t even remotely interested in snogging him and broke it off. I was taught to believe that only boy-girl relationships existed (anything else was ‘weird’ and ‘unacceptable’)…
I ended up with a huge scrapbook full of Spice Girls paraphernalia… and a pathetic half-hearted scrapbook with a few images of Leonardo DiCaprio because some family friend had asked if I liked him and I had answered “sure, he’s ok”. Said family friends then took it upon themselves to treat this as though I had a huge crush on Mr DiCaprio – complete with those teasy comments and providing me fodder for aforementioned scrapbook each time I saw them. It just goes to show how much these people needed to believe I was going gaga over some boy… when the inside of my cupboard was lined with posters of people I actually admired. Women like Natalie Imbruglia, Drew Barrymore, Gillian Anderson, Whoopie Goldberg, Dame Judy Dench, the Spice Girls, Kate Winslet and Kate Hudson, Katie Holmes (hmm sensing some kind of theme here…).
Don’t get me wrong – I had males in there too. Health Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and (very briefly) Hanson made it in there too… but predominantly my idols were women. I’m sure if I were to do something similar today there’d be posters of Emma Watson and Carrie Fisher in the mix too – and still a representation of both genders.
Anyway, the more I look back, the more I know that I was ‘not-straight’ from a very young age. Or maybe I just wasn’t homophobic? I idolised the people who impressed me – not because of their gender, but because of their influence and contribution to the way I experienced life.
If someone inspires you – does it matter whether they are (or whether they date) a man, a woman, a transgender person, an intersex person?
I always wondered what the big deal was when people had ‘attitude’ towards anyone who wasn’t “straight”. I just didn’t (still don’t) get how two people who are attracted to each other and show intimacy towards each other could be seen as anything other than beautiful.
Some of those closest to me would see two men kiss, or two women holding hands and say ‘gross’, or ‘that’s disgusting’. Innocently I would ask ‘why?’ and be met with ‘It just is’. To me this response ultimately translates as ‘I don’t have any real reason to support my belief, and I have no intention of challenging/changing it’.
What happens when you grow up Crooked in a family of very very Straight people? Everyone has a different story, and I’ll be sharing mine at some point in the near future along with what it’s like to be a woman dating a man as compared to being a woman dating a woman; see-through yoga pants; people who shave their legs in public places; meditation; anything that gets my goat; and whatever takes my fancy.
In the meantime I would love to hear some of the messages about sexuality that you received/absorbed throughout your childhood and adolescence.
Welcome to my cRooKeD curve of the world.