Most of us have used a three ring binder during our time in school; it’s contents a variety of notes, important papers and assignments. We used them as an outward expression of ourselves, decorating them with pictures, sayings and other items that showed off who we were. Some were colored with bright and intricate designs, while some shown a more plain pattern. Some were covered in pictures to evoke memories, and others had only the class subject written across the top.
I decorated mine with boys.
I printed off pictures of attractive men and plastered them all over my binder, taking part of the boy crazy phase we were all going through in our teen years.
Except I wasn’t boy crazy. I wasn’t anything crazy. I did it because everyone else did.
For middle and high school, I went to conservative, religious schools. There was an unspoken assumption that romantic relationships only existed between a man and a woman; it’s what we knew and what we were surrounded with. Same sex attraction wasn’t discussed, considered or even thought about.
It just wasn’t an option.
I easily fell into that way of thinking, equating my lack of interest in boys to not being ready for them or having other interests that required my attention. I believed I must just be a late bloomer.
I knew deep down that wasn’t the truth. I always had a curiosity about girls, being more drawn to them than boys, as I talked about in about that one thing. “I remember being drawn to certain girls with an urge of wanting to be their friend. Not just their friend, but their best friend; the one they would come to for everything and want to spend every waking moment with.”
But, instead of discussing it, I kept it all in, hiding questions and curiosities. I decorated binders, talked about boys, and giggled at their flirtatious comments.
I wish there would have been conversation; a discussion surrounding sexuality instead of a complete avoidance. Maybe then I wouldn’t have struggled so long with confusion surrounding my own sexuality. But, I’m thankful that today there is a shift happening within the religious community; a newfound openness towards conversation, an understanding towards sexuality and steps towards acceptance.
Where do you want to see a change? Wherever or whatever it may be, keep a conversation going. Have discussions with others around you, learn their worldview and beliefs, even if they differ from yours. Stand up, call out for action. Be the catalyst for change. Speak out, be different, be unique, and be you.