What’s Wrong With My Love? Aimee, Age 14

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“Aimee” is a 14-year-old girl I met in a remote northern town in rural Manitoba towards the end of a school year. A first-year high school student, she stood at the periphery of many students who circled me after my lecture. Despite the open – almost jovial – conversation we were all engaged in, she remained quiet and physically distant from the rest; she was listening intently to what we were discussing but making an effort to stay apart. 

I eventually made my way to her and asked if she was OK or wanted to talk? Her eyes darting from side to side, looking to see if others were looking or listening, and that told me all I needed to know. I asked her to walk with me, and only then – and with some encouragement – did she feel comfortable sharing her story. 

Student: Aimee,* Age:14

“I’m scared to tell you, but I need to talk to someone. You’re not from here; maybe you’ll understand.”

After some beating around the bush, a lot of “umming and awwing,” she began to cry. And then, with visible relief, she spits it out: “I think I’m gay.” 

I questioned her on the usual. Have you had any experiences with other men or women? Have you spoken to your parents or anyone else? Why do you say “you think you’re gay,” etc. 

“Are you crazy?! I have not breathed a word to anyone. No one is gay in this school. Maybe not even in this Province!

I know I feel different, different than what others think I need to feel like. I don’t like to dress the way other girls dress, and I prefer boy’s clothing. I want to hang out with the guys and play the games they play, but I can’t stop thinking about this one girl. I can’t stop looking at her, thinking about her. 

I think I want to kiss her.” 

We spoke for a while longer about how such feelings – at her age especially – don’t indicate anything. At some point, most people have thoughts, fantasies or just plain curious about different sexual experiences. It may or may not mean anything.  

“I get that, but I’m afraid to say anything. I’m told that such feelings are immoral and that gay people will go to hell.  That’s what I hear from adults around me all the time. And the kids here are always making fun of people for being ‘gay.’

 I feel so different, so wrong, that I’ve not made any friends here. I’m always alone in class, at lunch, and after school. I’m so worried that someone will discover what I’m feeling. I’m scared that I’ll get beaten up or bullied.” 

I told her that many people identified as queer in her school and community.  They were likely too scared to say so, just like her. Despite my assurances, she was not convinced.  The peer pressure was just too much to overcome. 

“My marks have gone down this semester, I’m failing two courses, and my parents are so pissed off!  I just can’t seem to focus on school when all I do is worry about what will happen if someone finds out.”

TAKEAWAYS: 

  • Students: There’s no question that there are many communities and cultures where identifying as LGBTQI+ – or even just the association – will elicit strong emotions. There’s not enough room on this page to provide the support and guidance you need and deserve (Check out Free2Luv.org for more). What I can tell you unequivocally is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I’m over 50, and I’m still hearing of people from my high school that are gay, bi, queer, or whatever!  Your community may make you feel like a misfit, but you are not – other than in the most beautiful way!   If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your peers, teachers, or parents, there are many online groups where you can have anonymous conversations – and get to ask whatever questions you want.

    The other life lesson I can share: An attraction to a boy or a girl at one point in your life does not define you for life. And when you’re this young, you should not feel obligated to take on such definitions. Just be you. Wherever you end up on the sexual orientation chart – or however often that changes – doesn’t make you good or bad. You’re just YOU, and that’s OK!

  • Parents: As with other stories shared here, I’ll ask: Are you more interested in having a child who’s failing, struggling, suffering from anxiety, and likely have life-long issues but fit into a mould that suits someone else’s beliefs?

I’m not here to tell you what your opinion or cultural/religious beliefs on sexuality need to be.  That’s your business, and your right. However, given that LGBTQ kids – or those labelled as “gay” by their peers – experience stigma and discrimination across their life spans and are targets of sexual and physical assault, would you not instead guide your kids in a way that doesn’t force them to hide from you? Further, add to their anxiety?

Did you know that such youth face approximately 14 times more risk of suicide and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers? [Source + More info]. 

You must parent your child; however, from lived experience, I can tell you that I’d rather have a gay child with two heads and four legs than a teen buried in a crypt at the age of 19 because of depression and suicide. You don’t have to agree with all their decisions or even way of life, but you have a responsibility to ensure they live. Allow them to share without judgement.


YOU ARE NOT ALONE 

Aimee’s story is one of the hundreds of similar stories shared with me over the years. You’re not alone. 

If it’s an emergency and you or someone you know is planning on hurting themselves, please call 911.  If you’re struggling, you can find other resources here: Canada  | USA

*To protect the student, the names and locations listed in this story have been changed. 

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