During kindergarten playtime, there was a group of us playing house. I remember feeling conflicted because there were these two boys and I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to be my husband. As we were pairing up they both chose me. Both were named Ryan. I would look at one Ryan, he was tall (an important feature since I was always one of the tallest in my class) with dark hair and the most adorable chiseled chin, and get butterflies in my stomach. The other Ryan’s blond hair was textured enough that it looked like he was sporting an afro. It was 1980, so that was a total thing. This Ryan was athletic and cool. I’m telling you, my emotional memory feels like I was choosing between two men that looked like George Clooney and Brad Pitt. I mean… come on… it was a momentous feeling to be wanted by either of these. TMI … even now, over 40 years later, it still makes my heart insides tingle. 🥰
In fifth grade, it was a big thing for couples to “go together “. This meant that … I’m not exactly sure what it meant. I don’t think there was much kissing or even hand-holding involved. I think it was more a statement that we were chosen by another and therefore valuable. I just know I wanted to go with a boy really bad.
There was one boy who was tall with dark wavy hair but he was a little bit of a duffusy guy. My memory of him involves a lot of slobber. I’m sure he grew up to be a wonderful handsome man but the elementary years were unfavored. Of course, it was this boy who passed me a note one-day asking, “will you go with me” and then there was a square with a Y on top and a box with an N above it.
I did not want to be in this situation. I did not want to hurt his feelings. I was not attracted to him at all. The feelings in my body felt as if I had eaten something rotten. 🥴
My response is not in my memory. I know it’s hard to believe, but this part gets fuzzy. I think I just ignored the note??? I am not sure. My subconscious is probably protecting me from some shame. I can see the note clearly in my head. I can see him sitting on his knees in the weird way he did with his abnormally huge shoes boosting him way too high so he always had to sit in the back when we gathered on the floor for whatever reason. But, I cannot remember how the whole thing went down.
I remember Chad that same year, the guy I wanted to go with soooo bad. He was popular and had a huge smile. He used to wear a lot of button-down shirts and he would flip his collar up…..🤤 He was dreamy. Although it was obvious he liked my best friend, she was going with another boy, so he asked me to “go with him”. I have no memory of how he asked me, but I remember feeling like a firework had exploded inside my stomach. I was so happy.
The story ends tragically, though. I was having my first boy/girl party. We were thee group - the popular ones. Three boys and three girls were all paired up. I felt like I was in a John Hugh’s high school movie which was not too off because while we were outside playing kissing tag (I think we were kissing on the arm 🤣) Chad said something that slowed time down and still gives me a pit in my stomach. “I’m going to ask Heather to go with me”. He didn’t tell me we were breaking up. That was all he said, and my heart was broken. The rest of the party was a daze. I felt like I no longer fit with the romantic moment. I was unchosen. I was a fifth wheel even though Heather was not even there. (Feeling unchosen or choosing someone or something else hits my core wound. This memory hits more parts of me because of that.)
All of these memories were not manufactured. All the tingles and the sickening, the feeling like I didn’t fit in, and the drooling admiration 🥰🥴🤤 were not a decision I made. They showed up outside my control. I never stopped and dissected them. I never looked around to see if others saw me have those feelings. I never questioned them. I experienced them and that was that.
Imagine if when picking partners in kindergarten, I was a boy and the pitter-patter in my heart happened in exactly the same way. What if that tall dark and handsome and that beautiful blond afro made my insides tingle in the same way but somewhere by small looks or confused eyes or even a lack of example I knew that was not ok? In 1980, no way!
When I take my memories and think them through from another’s perspective, I begin to understand. Can you?
Step one in bridging the gap between the straight and queer communities is to go within. We must stop thinking experiences are different. We are much more the same. There are only so many tingles and pits and warmth etc sensations in the body. Do you choose them or control them? I can’t. The shame has suggested one must.
I cannot imagine how it would feel if my memories had an overlay of confusion and shame. I think I might have been playing an acceptable role on the outside and dying on the inside as I tried to manufacture and suppress sensations when they arose and didn’t. I imagine that inner battle exhausting me to the point where I either needed to stop the facade or die and dying has been the easier choice for far too many.
We on the outside of these experiences have enormous power. We hold the key to saving lives.
Many of us jump to … what will we “allow” next … sex with ducks?
Please, can we put sex in a separate category for a minute? Contrary to current beliefs, the LGBTQIA+ community is not dying because they want to have sex. Those in the queer community think about sex in the same ratio that the straight community does. It varies. You understand their thinking more than you know. Their bodies react the same way yours does with sensations and feelings, except triggered by a different response. It is not the person or the response that is the enemy here. It is us. The misunderstanding majority.
I did not want to have sex with any of the boys in my memories. I didn’t entirely understand the whole mechanics of sex until sixth grade when the playground bully was teasing us and I was elected to ask my mom for the truth. My mom was always the safe one.
Thanks, mom. 💗
Another consideration to ponder is that I knew deep down Chad liked my best friend and he went on to break Heather’s heart when the chance came (probably a couple of weeks later 😂😂). Some of my hurt was because I felt foolish for being so desperate. The need to be accepted is powerful, and I was willing to accept less than I deserved for the appearance of being wanted. Both Chad and I and Heather settled and the good feelings didn’t last. Authenticity is very important and can prevent hurt. It is no one’s dream to be the Chad or me or Heather.
You know what it feels like when gestures are not genuine. We will survive on crumbs. But, crumbs are not sustaining. Pity can always be felt no matter the words being said. Our tone of voice and facial expressions communicate loudly.
We need to find common ground. We need to have conversations that are authentic and connecting. It needs to be real and feel real for both parties.
If you are not there yet, then simply smile. Give a “like” to a social media post. These gestures are not taken as a sign to have sex with whoever or whatever you want. They are simply a sign of humanity. Let’s look at our own experiences through another person’s eyes. Let’s choose love in any way and shape we can. 💟