One of the things I like about Facebook is staying in touch with childhood friends. It really feels like it was just yesterday that we were all together. Really…it feels like it wasn’t that long ago. The fact that my son is at the age I was when I got married gets me every time I think about it. How does that happen?! If you have little ones, cherish every moment because it goes so much faster than you can even imagine.
One of the groups I belong to on Facebook is from my neighborhood in the city where I grew up. They have postings about the progress they are making on a new rec center. When I was growing up, the rec center had dances every Friday night that my friends and I would go to. There was great music, dancing contests and pizza. What more could you ask for? (smile) The dances ended at 9pm and at that age I thought I was sooo grown up being out “that late”. It was during my junior high years (6th-8th grade).
Seeing those posts about the rec center bring back a lot of good memories. One memory is of my first “boyfriend” (I use the term loosely). I was in the 7th grade and back then we called it “going together”. If you were going with a boy, it meant that you liked each other and would go to the dances at the rec center together and that was it. Nothing serious…we were just babies. I’ll never forget when my mom found out I was going with a boy in my class. It was during one of our school plays. The mom of the boy I was going with actually went to school with my mom and they were chatting after the play. His mom mentioned that we were going together. My poor mom wasn’t familiar with the term and asked “Where are they going?”…lol. Logical question…it is a strange term for dating. Believe me there were a lot of questions when we got home about what “going together” actually meant.
When a boy asked a girl to go together, it was a very technical process. It went something like this:
A folded piece of notebook paper passed from one student to the next (in the middle of class – secretly of course) until it made it’s way to the girl he liked. She would answer and then pass the note back.
These are memories that make me smile. We were so young and it was so exciting to know that someone liked you. Imagine for a moment of what that was like for you. The butterflies in your stomach, the chats with friends, the nervousness of wondering if the person you liked had the same feelings for you. Now imagine for a moment if the feelings you had caused confusion. What if you liked someone of the same-sex? What is up with that? Instead of the magic of young infatuation, you had feelings of shame, fear, and self-hatred. What if you grew up in the church and you knew what the Bible said about homosexuality. You pray and pray for the feelings to go away…but they don’t. Where is God?? Why isn’t He helping you? You go to church, pray, study the Bible…but it doesn’t seem to help. You don’t send any folded notes…and if you receive one…you don’t know what to do. What if someone finds out? You begin to shut down and tell yourself that there is no way anyone would ever like you.
These are some of the feelings that gay youth experience. I know that it isn’t that way for everyone…and I am grateful for that. But for many…more than you can imagine…the experience of puberty is a painful one. They would do anything for those feelings to change. My son tried for 3 years to deal with his feelings on his own before we found out. Our journey was difficult and often times very scary. I will be sharing that journey in hopes that other parents can find hope in it as we are all doing much better now.