I work alongside many others from the LGBT community, some of them work colleagues, some of them are students. I've never been that surprised that I hear very little about other people's experiences of growing up as Lesbian, Gay, Bi or Trans. Those of my own age probably had a tough time of it whatever their gender orientation or identity. At least that's been my experience talking to others of my own generation. It is only with really close friends that there is any degree of confiding or sharing how we felt growing up. Whenever that confidence has taken place, I've always been surprised to find how similar the experiences of rejection, not belonging and isolation are. It doesn't seem to matter that much what part of the LGBT spectrum you come from.
Given all this, one conversation last week came as a complete eye opener. It was a conversation about fashion, or appeared to be. What surprised me was a remark by a girl in her mid twenties. L is lesbian, I was well aware of that. Someone commented about how she was always dressed in carefully chosen designer hoodies and expensive jeans. She is down to earth and smokes roll ups, the subtext was, 'Why does someone like you dress like that?' She replied with a smile that it was her partner who had picked out her clothes. She then went on to observe that in any case, she had only ever really been in fashion once. Asked when that was she replied that it was when she had come out!
I was intrigued. None of this seemed to have anything in common with people like myself or any other Gay friend of my own age. On what planet would coming out put you 'in fashion'? Seems that it is now cool to be Gay if you're young. Have things changed since I was a teen all those years ago? It very much seems like it. I'm aware of what a rough ride one shy lesbian friend had in college back in the 70's inspite of the seeming liberal atmosphere in the uni where I studied. Seeing how she was treated was one very potent reason for me not being open about my gender identity until much much later. It left me thinking, 'If things can change THAT much in 35 years, will things go the same way for trans men and women over the next 35?' I wonder. I very much hope so.