I was 13 years old and riding on a Greyhound bus the first time I made out with a boy.
(Anyone else been there? Raise your hand!)
There on I-95, somewhere between puberty and Maryland, in the beginning of a St. John the Evangelist school trip to Washington D.C., I was mashing my lips against red-headed Tim’s.
It was just like I had seen everywhere in our society since I was a baby. Boy and girl. This is how you do it. Here was my chance! I was ready for it all. Kiss. Sparks! Fireworks! AMAZING THINGS!
But That’s Not What Happened
Instead, I felt nothing.
Zip. Zero. Bored.
But I was no quitter! So I continued all afternoon, trying to find the thrill to this lip contact. Yet it was just … nothing.
Searching for a Solution
Thinking the problem must be Tim, I switched on the ride home to slobbering with another guy: Tommy. He was a dimwit but a girl didn’t have many options among the 16 boys in our class. And I felt …
Nothing. A void. An absence. Nada.
It was a bit like playing soccer. Some folks got all excited over it but it just wasn’t my jam.
A Break in the Action
So I stopped kissing boys for four years. Then, in my senior year of high school, I gave boys another try. Rolled around on the grass at some party with a big guy named Scott. Yawn.
I was sure the problem had to be me.
I was the common denominator in all these situations, right? And while I was bored, all my friends were dating guys and they were SO excited about their relationships. So the problem had to be me or my choice of guys.
It would take years for me to figure out what the problem was — and its solution. (Spoiler: I’m a big old lesbian.)
Why I’m Telling You This
You see, lovely most-likely heterosexual readers, this is what happens to some queers in a heteronormative society — and there’s a reason you need to know this.
When 90% of the people around you are in love with chicken, you may not know you’re a steak lover. You just think you’re bad at loving chicken. (If you want to read more about my chicken/steak analogy for queerness, here’s the link.)
So it’s good for everyone to know what it’s like when you’re a queer kid in America — and how many queer kids figure out who they are by figuring out who they are not.
It’s the opposite of what heterosexual kids do.
“The Bachelor” From Birth?
If you’re straight, what society shows you everywhere makes sense: boy/girl, romantic movies, Valentine’s Day, all of it. (Even, probably, your parents!) You like it. You do it. And you do it some more.
But when you’re queer, you might have to figure out WHY you don’t like what everyone else likes.
It’s an extra step —and that’s why these anti-queer bills in America are so dangerous.
They force all that exploration — that knowing that others like you even exist, in addition to trying different experiences and feelings and personas — right back into the don’t figure it out days. It makes kids feel like something is wrong with them.
That’s Not Fair
That’s too high of a price to ask.
Why burden kids with shame and self-hatred? Or even delay them with years of heading in the wrong direction? Isn’t life hard enough?
So when you hear some folks saying, “There should be NO mention in grade school of any sexuality”, that means kids only learn about heterosexuality — because that is all around us every day at every level. So all the kids get steered down the highway on the bus, not realizing that taking a different exit is okay and might make them happy.
Think about that the next time you hear this debate.
And watch out for Sister Lorraine — if she catches you making out on that Greyhound bus, you are going to be in soooo much trouble!
P.S. I kissed a girl for the first time when I was 42 and I lived happily ever after. To this day, no nuns have ever caught me.
Strong by Lisbeth Darsh is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and laugh more, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Snogging in the back of the bus....omg made me laugh. Been there