October 20th, 2008

piranha - glitter fingers.

I apologize most sincerely if this is, in fact, a big fat pile of insult. It's not the intention.

OK, so this something that has actually been on my mind for quite some time. While I welcome feedback from everyone, I would especially appreciate a response from gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender since it's a question about how you grew up.

I asked this question of a co-worker several months ago, and he took offense to it (but did not let me know this at the time, but brought it up several months later when he was getting reprimanded for gossiping at work) which really, really surprised me because I had not expected that reaction at all. It just didn't occur to me that the question was a "bad" one. So if this question does offend you, I do apologize.

The question I asked was When did you first realize you were gay?, something I've always wondered about. I mean, when I was a kid my mom would say things like "When you grow up and get married, your husband will blah blah blah" and I would hear about marriage and relationships with 'man and woman' as the norm. I didn't really know about gay people until 5th or 6th grade, which I realize is probably not normal, and I never knew anyone who were openly homosexual until the end of high school or start of college. But my understanding in those years was that homosexuality was in the minority, the 'other' option. To my knowledge, no one is raised from baby on up with the expectation that they will be gay. Many parents will tell their children it's okay to be straight OR gay, like, "When you grow up and marry your husband OR your wife-" but never do they say to a little boy, "When you grow up and marry your husband." (If this is incorrect, again, please let me know.)

So it would be my understanding/assumption that at some point there must be a moment where one looks around and realizes that that no, they are not following the cultural majority and they don't like the opposite sex in that way but prefer their own gender. Does this epiphany happen? If yes, would you mind sharing what it was like? How old you were and that sort of thing. If it doesn't happen, and from the womb you know you're gay as my co-worker implied (Actually he responded to the question with "Well, when did you realize you first liked boys?" and I thought he was joking, because he was very rarely serious and so I laughed and said something like "When I got my first crush in 4th grade!"), then how did you reconcile this knowledge against the cultural standard that boys marry girls and vice versa?

Or did everyone talk about homosexuality a lot more than my family did, and I'm being an ignorant crazy weird person again?


PS - Also, in any other work environment I would not ask this question. But at that store conversations about sex and sexuality were unusually common, and the few gay people I had known up to that point told me their moment-of-realization stories quite casually without my prompting it by asking, so it just hadn't occurred to me that it was a controversial question.