I am seven. I am in Year Three at an all-girls’ Church of England school in St Albans. Some older girls are laughing at my friend and I in the library and they ask us if we are lesbians. I am fairly sure a lesbian is a woman who is in love with another woman but I am not completely sure. They say it like it’s a bad thing.
I am eleven. At school we have just watched a video about sex in which an animation of a man and a woman chase each other around a room naked, hitting each other with pillows. I have known about sex since I was three, when my older brother made me cry by telling me I had an egg inside my vulva (our parents didn’t believe in lying to children). Nobody mentions women having sex with each other.
I am twelve. I am in Year Eight at the same all-girls Church of England school in St Albans and I have a blazing row in the lunch queue with girls who think being gay is gross. They say if their friend said she was gay, they’d be worried she fancied them. I defend being gay fiercely, in the third person.
I am fourteen. At school we label our Fallopian tubes on diagrams and take it in turns to put a condom on a green rubber model of a penis in front of the school nurse. Nobody mentions women having sex with each other.
I am twenty-one and living in Paris while France debates legalising gay marriage, IVF, and adoption. There are posters in the streets reminding homos that they had a mother AND a father. A friend says she doesn’t have a problem with gays committing to each other, but that the word marriage is Christian, as though nobody ever married before Christianity. A colleague says she supports gay marriage, but isn’t sure about adoption, and is against IVF. I ask her about the women who love other women but want to carry their child, give birth to them. I talk about it all in the third person.
I am twenty-one. I furtively tick “bisexual” on an anonymous equal opportunities monitoring form. I don’t say anything to anyone.
I am twenty-two. It is shortly after one of my early suicide attempts. A well-intentioned paramedic asks me if I did it because I had an argument with my parents or my boyfriend.
I am twenty-five. I am addicted to watching First Dates on Channel 4. The straight couples span all ages and levels of conventional attractiveness. The male couples are mostly young and sexy, with the odd well-groomed pair in their fifties. The couples of women are all in their twenties and conventionally attractive, because it is ok for women to have sex with other women as long as they are hot.
I am twenty-five. I live in a country which sends gay people seeking asylum back to countries which outlaw homosexuality, and tells them to pretend to be straight.
Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia. To celebrate, check out Amnesty International’s two actions on the gay genocide in Chechnya. You could also check out some comics by Robot Hugs on gender stuff and more.