In our Work/Life Relationship series we are trying to offer something for everyone. I thought a light-hearted blog of funny dating stories from LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) teens would be a good addition. This year W/L will be doing more educational offerings around parenting LGBTQ kids and teens so this seemed like a good time to start.
I asked my teenage daughter to query her friend group (who call themselves “The Gay Squad” even though many of them are straight) to share some fun stories for this blog. She came home that day to report that they just couldn’t come up with a lot of positive things about being a LGBTQ teenager and dating. My daughter said, “Mom, dating is hard for all teens, but for us it is a disaster.” She laughed when she said it, but she also let me know that I was going to have to approach this topic from a different direction.
After much reflection I realized that the comments this group of teens offered about teen dating, although not light or funny, offered a unique opportunity for me (and by extension, you) to build some empathy for a population of youth many of us don’t understand or know a lot about. Below I have listed a few comments from her friends along with some thoughts about what they are describing.
“I love it (this was said sarcastically and is best read with an eye roll) when a boy tells me he doesn’t understand why I like girls because I am pretty enough to date a guy if I wanted.”
Experts agree that people experience no sense of choice about their sexual orientation (defined as an enduring pattern of romantic attraction). It is wrong and hurtful to assume that someone becomes gay or lesbian because they can’t get a date.
“My favorite question is (again, read this with sarcasm) ‘who is the man in the relationship, you know, who decides where you are going and who pays?’ “
This is actually one area that the teens I consulted felt they might have a slight advantage. They liked not having to assume traditional gender roles. One teen said, “we both work part-time and don’t have a lot of money so we both pay, it would be silly not to split it.”
“I like it when adults ask if I have a girlfriend. Trying to figure out how to answer that when I like boys is always a good time.” (don’t forget to add in the sarcasm)
This final comment suggests a great opportunity for every adult to signal awareness and acceptance to the teens in your life! Instead of asking boys if they have girlfriends, and girls if they have boyfriends, if you want to ask about their love life, ask if they have a “special someone” or a “romantic interest” or even a “significant other.” In addition to getting a more honest answer, you are signaling to the teen that you are informed and that you are an ally. In a world where they have to fear their safety if they hold hands with their date, what a gift it is to let them know that they can be honest around you.