Apparently when I was a little girl I was a bit of a flirt. My aunt was only 10 years older than me so when she was 16 years old I was 6. There were boys that would hang out by my grandmother’s house…clearly to see my aunt. I can remember standing at the fence talking to them and at one point I announced that one of them was my boyfriend. I believe his name was Chuck (I remember the last name too, but I will keep that to myself – wink). I think they all got a kick out of it so he went along with it. Very innocently of course. When he would stop by, he would tell everyone he was there to see his girlfriend (me – smile). I can remember standing at that fence like it was yesterday.
It’s been fun to see all of the back to school posts from my friends and family on Facebook. I am no longer in that phase of life so it’s fun to relive those times through the posts. The stories are fun as well. The answers to the question of “How was your first day of school?” have been funny at times. One of my friends posted that her daughter came home and was just going on and on about a boy in her class. When my friend questioned her further about it, her daughter just simply said, “Oh he’s my boyfriend.” She’s in kindergarten (smile).
In my last post, I shared that 9-year-old Jamel killed himself four days after school started. He was being bullied for being gay. It was disheartening to me to see the response this story received. There was a lot of outcry about it, but not because 9-year-old children bullied a classmate to the point he couldn’t take it any longer. The outcry was about how a 9-year-old could know he was gay. There was also a lot of shaming of the mom for “letting” her son be gay at that young age.
You know…when I was six and announced that one of the boys visiting my aunt was actually my boyfriend…not her boyfriend…no one batted an eye. No one was shocked or appalled. No one told me I was too young to know whether or not I liked boys.
I’ve seen the same response with the Facebook post of my friend. No one questioned her daughter’s age and declaration of liking her boy classmate. When young children come home and announce that they have a crush on someone of the opposite sex, people think it’s adorable. They know that it’s innocent. They know that these kids aren’t thinking about sex. It is puppy love pure and simple.
I’ve written before about the first boy that I “dated.” I use quotes because we were in 6th grade and didn’t even hold hands. Despite that…we were considered a couple. I thought he was cute. I liked him. We danced together at the rec dances and that was it. My mom and dad didn’t sit me down and tell me that it was a phase I was going through. They didn’t tell me that I couldn’t possibly know that I liked boys because I didn’t have any experience in dating. They didn’t tell me that you needed to kiss a boy or have sex before you knew for sure you were attracted to them. They didn’t suggest that I date a girl too to make sure I wasn’t confused about this boy that I liked. Yet, this is what gay kids are told all of the time…
Are you sure?
You’re too young to know whether or not you are attracted to someone.
It’s just a phase.
Why don’t you go out with (insert name of someone of the opposite sex)? You might decide you like them instead.
You’re just confused.
You haven’t had sex yet…how can you know for sure.
That’s disgusting…you can’t like (insert name of same-sex person).
You just haven’t met the right person (of the opposite sex) yet.
The list goes on. And instead of their attraction being described as sweet or adorable, they have shame heaped onto them for having feelings that they didn’t ask for.
If you grew up attracted to the opposite sex, did you need to explore with someone of the same-sex to make sure your attraction was real? Did you need to have sex to know you were attracted to the opposite sex? Of course not.
So yes…young Jamel knew that he liked boys. He was excited to share with his friends…just like we as straight people like to do. He was shamed for it and told to kill himself. And he did.
How many kids will have to die? How many kids will have to walk around thinking that God hates them? How many kids will destroy themselves with their secret because they are afraid they will lose your love?