Sometimes I wonder, how different my life would’ve been if certain things had gone differently. I know we often like to think that we have total control over our lives, and some believe that we have no control at all (what is meant to be will be). But a part of me believes that I may have been in a different place than I currently am if certain things hadn’t happened. And the clinker is, there is no guarantee that the hypothetical place would be better, worse or the same.
I knew at the age of 8 that I liked girls too. I used to flirt with my boy classmate during exercise, but when I would hang out with my childhood friend after school, I felt the same way for her that I felt for him. And she was my first kiss behind the couch in my mother’s kitchen area. At the age of fourteen, I joined a choir, and with them, I found my new home and place to express myself. Half the group was either gay, bisexual, or what we once considered androgynous. There was a girl in the choir that I had a massive crush on, her name was Odessa, and she became my girlfriend for an entire week (at 14, that really meant something). She was my first conscious kiss, but she would be my last for a very long time.
Shortly after she and I broke up, my sister-in-law got wind of my budding-sexual-curiosities. There was another girl in the choir that I found attractive. Because she was a year or two older and thus more experienced, I wanted to explore my sexuality with her. However, my sister-in-law saw her desire and attraction for me as predatory. To be specific, she thought that the girl was trying to “turn me out” instead of me genuinely liking her. She threatened the girl and told her that I was off-limits. I didn’t know how to express my feelings, and I was too afraid to speak up for myself, so that was the end. Even if I had been confident in my attraction, she (like many adults do) would’ve dismissed my sexual curiosities with, “you’re too young to be gay or bisexual.”
What is the proper age for someone to honestly know their sexuality? As young as eight years old, I knew how I felt; I simply didn’t have the language or courage to express it. So, it would be almost two decades before I would admit to myself what I had denied for so long. With my first threesome, I knew that my desire for women was valid the entire time. I had simply suppressed it. When my SIL and I talk about my coming out, she expresses that she wish I told her a long time ago. She didn’t see her actions as negative because she thought that she was helping me. But when it came to boys, her need to protect me wasn’t as present. This makes me wonder if she hadn’t intervened, how different my journey would’ve been.
I don’t have many regrets in life. I honestly don’t even regret being with the man that passed me herpes. Sure, my life would’ve been easier without the virus; but I don’t regret knowing him. The sex was great, and he didn’t treat me poorly; he just came with a lasting parting gift.
What if I had explored dating women with the same passion that I dated men. Maybe dating both genders would’ve opened up the door of my sexuality a lot earlier. Perhaps I wouldn’t have sought the perfect male companion all those years. Maybe I wouldn’t have encountered so many male-induced heartbreaks. Maybe I wouldn’t have dated Will, and perhaps I would still be herpes negative. Perhaps I would’ve ended up in a long-term lesbian-presenting relationship and didn’t have to be on birth control for much of my adult life. Maybe my first “I love you” would’ve been with a woman instead of a man. Maybe I could’ve met, fell in love with, and married a bomb ass, sexy ass curvy woman. Maybe. Perhaps. Maybe. The fact remains that I will never know. But, because of various events, I lived most of my existence as heterosexual, never learning how to navigate the complexities of dating other women. So, when I finally came out at 30, people naturally didn’t believe me.
Last year, I got into a debate with a later-exposed Hotep who was very opinionated on LGBTQIA+ representation. Like many heterosexual and misogynistic individuals, he argued that the increased representation of said individuals is media propaganda to force young (black) boys and men to become feminine. As if these very individuals didn’t exist before the invention of the TV. Like many who think like him, he couldn’t comprehend that, more often than not, people hide who they are for the comfort of others. It was easier for them to go with the lie that the media is brain-washing the minds of young (black) boys to become women or because they see it, they want to try it. You can correct me if I’m wrong. But, no amount of seeing something will make you want to do it if it was never on your mind in the first place. —No amount of seeing men kiss will make you want to one day break up with your girl and kiss a dude. If you never wanted to before, you won’t want to do it now.
Being gay, straight, bi, lesbian, and others is not a choice. Living your truth is a choice. And for years, I did not live my truth. For years I lied to myself every time I made a dating profile, and I only sought heterosexual connections. For years I denied myself the possibility when I turned away from a woman’s flirting eye. If my family had embraced me exploring my sexual orientation identity, my life might have been different.
I say all of this to say despite how you as a parent or adult feel, sometimes your child KNOWS. There is no such thing as too young to be gay or bisexual because feelings and attraction often precede the language to express such desires. If your child comes to you expressing their sexual orientation (or gender identity), listen to what they have to say. Allow them the ability, to be honest with you and go from there. Don’t shame or deny their feelings or identity because it is not what you want for your child. Provide them a safe space to be who they feel they are and allow them to come to a healthy conclusion, not a forced societal one.