Friday, March 6, 2009

(I've always had) Crushes on boys (and I'm not ashamed)

As a little girl, I can remember my first "boyfriend," Mark. Mark was in my kindergarten class, and he told me one day at nap-time that he had a new girlfriend, Chris Dueker. Bless her heart, she was a nice little girl, daughter of the Methodist preacher. Mark and Chris lived across the street from one another, and now THEY were bf/gf, and I was left out. I punched Mark in the stomach - and he was on crutches from a broken leg. I guess now Chris would get to help him with his crutches instead of me. Oops.

In 1st grade I had a crush on Jeff, Steve, and maybe Jeff again.

2nd grade - this year it was Bill (Arment) and boy was he cute. As I remember it from the last high school class reunion that I crashed, he still looked pretty good!

3rd grade - Lester Lash tossed a plastic ring in my desk before recess. I think that made something official.

4th grade - back to Jeff. I liked going in cycles, because in 5th grade I liked Bill again.

5th grade - Tony. Oh, he had a cute, very blond flat-top, and blue, blue eyes.

6th grade - I think I had a crush on Donnie, who went on to be a juvenile deliquent. No kidding, he was sent away for stealing a car or something.

By junior high I was really crazy about boys, and I can still remember most of their names! These were the kind of crushes where your heart races when you see that ONE boy between passing periods, or if you got to sit at the same lunch table. There were dances, and I went. Even so my best friend, Joyce, watched me and said, "Carol, you really can't dance, can you?" By 9th grade I got to kiss one of those boys, and that was a memory that thrilled me for days. High school crushes continued, but I never had a steady boyfriend after I changed schools. I wasn't very popular, and even though I had guy friends, and there was one boy I REALLY liked, I never went "steady."

Thinking back to ALL the guys I can remember, I never once "liked" a girl. I can tell anyone, if I choose, every one of the important boys in my "romantic" history. For gay people, this is not the same. They've hidden their crushes, have been ashamed of those simple attractions, and have squelched sharing these hidden feelings for those of their same sex. I can share these things without shame - it's acceptable to have had feelings for other kids, and I don't hide in any way that I liked BOYS!

Why is it, then, that people (as in judgmental Christians) assume that gay folks suddenly "fall" into homosexuality? How come they think that someone who is gay DECIDED or CHOSE to become attracted to their same sex, when for example, they had been married to a straight spouse? And how is it possible that they refuse to realize that attraction goes way, way back?

In the same way that I'm straight, and in the same way that I had crushes as a kid, gay people also have feelings and crushes from early ages.

If there are judging Christians who are reading this, please take a look at your own "love history." It's not just a lustful thought that suddenly "takes over," but it is what one is attracted to that makes one straight or gay.


PamBG said...

I'd really like to hear from people who think that they chose to be straight solely for the purpose of honouring God.

And I mean 'chose to be straight'. I don't mean people who struggled to get rid of gay feelings or people who are celibate in order to not act out their same-sex attraction.

Surely if gay people choose to be attracted to people of the same sex, then straight people must choose to be attracted to the opposite sex?

And, by the way, can anyone explain to me 'the straight lifestyle'? See, I'm just going around being me and not thinking about heterosexual sex every waking minute. I must be failing to live a truly heterosexual lifestyle and I must need to put the 'sex' back into 'heterosexual'. Don't you think? ;-)

deb said...

I hope this post will be a turning point for people who believe that sexual orientation is a choice. You spoke the truth, and you did it well. :)

Tom said...

Beautifully put, Carol.

My adolescence played out in rural midwestern towns in the 70s.

As a young gay kid, I didn't have the tools or language to figure out my crushes.

In the 7th & 8th grades, I lived with being the shortest kid in my class partly by overperforming academically and musically. I also took solace in my friendship with Brian, who was 6'2". For me, there was major affirmation in talking to him -- we had parallel intellects, and yet a shared lack of desire to be precocious about it. We were fine with long silences when there wasn't anything worth saying. I felt bonded to him by my sense that I knew parts of him that no one else did, and I treasured the image of us walking side-by-side in full view of everybody, and knowing that small-town folks would say, awwww, aren't they the cutest odd couple?

My family moved 300 miles, to another small town, just before my junior year of high school.

Soon after, I dated Connie, the Lutheran pastor's kid, who was a year younger than me, for a few months. I really liked her, loved the time we spent together, thought she was amazing, cute, funny, totally better than me. I was just confused by the intimacy stuff. We worked our way into a kiss, and more intimate kissing, in little tiny steps. I was confused at times, but it still was good, I thought. I sincerely like her, and I must be doing what my buddies were doing, and she's a PK, so there's no way I'm not meeting her needs.

Connie and I finally landed in a place where we had private space and time in which we could remain fully clothed, and yet hold each other tightly, intimately. My sense, in retrospect, is that she felt grounded and hopeful; I felt overwhelmed and scared.

I knew she was special, and I adored her, but it wasn't adolescent reticence, low libido, or delayed puberty that was getting in the way.

A straight, grounded Christian guy committed to celibacy might have gathered Connie up in his arms and spoken to his horniness as well as his commitments, and then backed away... I, on the other hand, was a cold fish. I had a vague hope that I was being a disciplined, principled, Christian guy by not letting the circumstances escalate, but the truth was that I was bewildered by what I saw in her facial expressions and felt from her when her body leaned against mine. I got that she was giving me something, I just had little or nothing to offer in return.

But, at the same time, my classmate Craig? Oh my... His public persona was that of the football jock and class clown that he was. He was 6-foot-plus, a great smile, infectious laugh, and perfectly blow-dried blond hair, the masculine, flipped-out version of Farrah Fawcett. I was entranced by him, butterflies, the whole works.

I had no clue what to do with the difference between the intensity of my investment in Connie (plenty of face time, access, opportunity, and yet little/no buy-in) versus Craig (public face time only, and yet I catalogued and critiqued every detail about him, utterly intrigued).

So, as much as I appreciate and own my personal history, I also experience moments of jealousy when it occurs to me that other kids had childhood and adolescent crushes which ended up being complicated like all crushes are, and yet a lot less complicated than mine.

Carol said...

Tom - this is beautiful, and just what I'm talking about. How normal it is to be drawn to someone, and yet you had no means to express that because it was another guy. You've really shared a poignant, bittersweet, and yet tragic situation that I only have imagined. Thanks for putting it precisely.

Tom said...

Thanks, Carol.