Recently, in sociology, we looked at a study of gay men in the sixties. The researcher found that heterosexuality had almost no influence on a straight person’s identity whilst homosexuality had a massive impact on a gay man’s view of himself. Fifty years later, I still think the study is relevant. My bisexuality is a massive part of my identity. I know I’d probably still be the same person without it, but it’s still important to me.
The same goes for a lot of other LGBTQ+ teens that I know - whether it be that they’re gay, transgender, genderfluid or pansexual. The rainbow flag is part of who they are. It’s part of who I am. I have a big ass flag hung above my desk and thanks to the many mirrors hung around my room (I’m quite vain, I suppose), you can see it from every angle. I think this works as a metaphor for life - being LGBTQ+ can influence every aspect of your life.
For example; employment. I remember filling out application after application and one of the questions that appeared in all of them was the sexuality one. Sometimes, there was just the two options - gay and straight. There was also a notice that referenced the Equality Act, and it made me wonder; do they purposefully employ gay people for diversity? Obviously, it’s a strong question and I have no study to back it up, but surely, my sexuality is not relevant to how well I can stack shelves or serve food?
It affects my education too. I study sociology and politics, so sexuality comes up a lot. We were looking at identity in the aforementioned and I mentioned I was bisexual. Immediately, people began asking questions, from the perfectly interested ‘how did you know?’ to the presumptuous ‘are you more likely to cheat?’ - I don't want to be know just for being bisexual. But, somehow and to some people, that is the most interesting part about me. It’s stuck with me since September.
The sense of identity, pride and community that the group of gay men from the study accumulated 50 years ago has stood the test of time. People often ask ‘why is it that they have to have a community?’ - and my theory is that it was the judgemental, anti-homosexual majority of society that gave it to them. Because being gay wasn’t the norm, it became their most significant label. They were lumped together as a group, known only as a singular word. Gay.
And since people’s identities have grown and evolved, so has that label. It’s no longer just gay - there’s lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, genderfluid, agender, transgender. Or, there’s the umbrella term of LGBTQ+ (along with alternatives such as the reclaimed slur of queer, but for some this is not a comfortable option). I am a member of the community but I also fit labels outside - I’m cisgender, for example. Some of my friends are not and as a result, I’ve been educated on the different identities.
So, to conclude - it’s a part of our everyday lives because it affects near enough everything. There’s the history of the label, and how others might view it. We’ve come a long way in five decades but there are people who aren’t quite as forward thinking. Some people still believed that the human idea is being born one gender, and being attracted to the opposite.
But that’s not how the world works, and I am thankful. I am thankful to be part of a diverse community with accepting, lovely people. It’s a community that welcomes people with open arms. It helps people who have been alienated feel welcome.
And that’s why the label is important to me.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers with a platform to share and help others from their own experiences while also educating others on different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all teenagers around the world and support others. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.