Any follow up, Dan? I'd love to hear that this young woman turned out (better than) alright...
Would love an update for this L-dub! I hope 7 years later as a now 24ish year old things are going well for you!
You are SUCH a good egg, Dan. And this young woman sounds like such a self-possessed badass, would love to hear how she's doing now.
@1, @2, @3 - maybe just send her an email and ask?
Is female sexuality actually more fluid than male sexuality, or is it just that it's socially more acceptable in our culture for female sexuality to be more fluid than male sexuality? Because I really don't know that this is the case everywhere or historically.
@4 Fair enough, but nah, I'm not going to be some random person bothering her. If she wants to write in and let us/Dan know, coolness. Otherwise, best wishes L-dub...
I think I read everything relevant to my concerns regarding the parent's suggestion she try therapy. I know it's an old re-run, but I need to chip in anyway even though I don't know much about conversion therapy.
She never said what type of therapy her parents want her to try. So I'd've suggested she say she's open to seeing a very good and /very/ pro-gay therapist, period.
No one should see a therapist who is anything but supportive of their healthy identify.
Anything else, forget about "Go talk with the stupid therapist" if at all possible. I salute Dan for urging she "...stand your ground in those sessions", but people should not submit themselves to indoctrination. I studied cults and brainwashing for years, so I can tell you that indoctrination techniques are damaging, brainwashing is a brutally invasive thing, and some people (for example those who are young and living in a country bigoted against their very identity) are surprisingly susceptible.
Somewhere in there IIRC Dan mentioned other parents she could turn to; if your parents would throw you out of the house for refusing brainwashing, do leave and live elsewhere with actual healthy alternate adults. Only if your parents threaten to throw you out and you can't live elsewhere, would I recommend (to thus avoid homelessness) steeling yourself to the hilt to "stand your ground", and even then please don't forget for a single damn millisecond how important it is to not be open yourself to being brainwashed.
When I was studying cults, I was surprised by how many of the friends who (just for fun) came with me to visit the cults turned out to need to be essentially dragged out to keep them from joining. I don't know much about conversion therapy techniques, but they must be totally fucked up too. I'd like to think that most people shrug them off, but I've heard some stories (Michelle Bachman's insane husband) so I know it can be bad.
Cosigning @7, conversion 'therapy' can be cult-like group social power moves rather than what 'therapy' means. Individual sessions can be manipulative too, these are people who feel righteous doing pretty much anything they like towards this goal.
Consider the value of not "keeping the peace" if it's safe not to. Your parents already broke this peace. If you had power to coerce them to go to heterosexuality suppression sessions, and they will only yell at you until you stop that, that's fair.
Spunk @1: Good point, I missed that this is a re-run and this young woman would be 24 now. I hope she's turned out fine and that her parents have come to accept her.
EmmaLiz @5: Another good point. Another question is does "more fluid" just mean "a higher proportion of bisexuals"?
@5. Emma. This is just what I thought. Men just internalise self-hating homophobia more--'homosexual panic'. Empirically, sure, Dan's comment might be true--'women's sexuality is more fluid'--but is this true at the level of inclination?
I just saw Boy Erased this weekend. Mom and Dad should watch that. And hang on until the end, when the destinies of a couple of the characters are revealed.
Also, couldn't PODS find a gay-friendly therapist? There are surely resources that can help her find someone appropriate. A bit of positive therapy wouldn't hurt.
I also thought Dan was doubling down in repeating that female sexuality was more fluid. Never double down! If you're in authority and a junior, an employee, a student thinks you're at fault, try to fine down your disagreement and home in on your contentious statement or behavior. Drop it, with an apology, if it's not germane to what you really want to communicate. Otherwise try to depersonalise the narrow question as much as possible and argue in the abstract.
Here the essential point is that a young person deserves to have their public sexual identity accepted--by parents, caregivers and mentors--for what they say it is.
I think that whole "women's sexuality is fluid" thing is crap. Men and women are pretty equally "fluid" it's just that currently women are socially allowed more leeway to explore and men aren't. Societies that allowed men to have fluid sexualities (Rome, Japan, Greece) had lots of dudes banging each other without it being seen as full-on "gay."
Gosh, how things have changed in the seven years since this was written.
Ireland is in the process of making conversion therapy illegal, and Ireland has a gay Prime Minister.
It really does get better. I hope things have improved for the LW as much as they have for the country as a whole.
@14 it got better in Ireland in last 7 yrs.
Here in USA, in 2012 we were just starting Obama's second term, England wasn't Brexiting from EU. Poland, Hungary, Turkey, were less fascist.
I didn't see this column when it came out so I'm answering as though it was current. I'd advise POD to go back in the closet. She could tell her parents that she's thought it over, decided not to think about dating anyone, male or female, for a while, and just wants to concentrate on doing well in school. Then she can fantasize about all the girls she wants in the privacy of her own head. If her parents urge her towards dating a boy her own age, she can acquiesce to spending an evening seeing a movie with him. Then she can say she's following the nuns' advice, her body is a temple, and that she's saving her virginity for marriage. Let's see her parents argue with that!
Time goes by, POD graduates and is on her own. Later she can date whom she wants and tell her parents whatever she wants. She won't need their approval or agreement or permission or anything. Conversion therapy will be off the table.
As for women's sexuality being more fluid, that's always been my sense too, though I have nothing scientific to back that up with.
“Go back in the closet” is an option, and for some kids might be the only one that allows them to stay safe and keep a roof over their heads. I would never tell a kid that they were better off homeless, unless their home life itself was putting them in immediate danger. But for some kids, going back in the closet, after summoning all of their courage to come out, might be more damaging than faking taking therapy seriously for a couple of months. It really depends on how that individual kid feels about it, and if they have any other realistic options (like staying with a friend’s parents).
And for some parents, it might not work, anyway. I know if I’d ever told my mother, “surprise, I’m gay!” and then a few days or weeks later tried to say, “oops, sorry, my mistake; I’m straight after all,” she’d never buy it. Even if I somehow convinced her that I was “just confused” or “going through a phase,” she’d never let it go, because she never lets ANYTHING go. I still get guilt trips about things I did when I was four freaking years old, and I’m almost forty. She’d definitely still demand I do the therapy anyway, and if I came out again later, it would make it ten times harder to get her to listen or take me seriously.
So, yeah; might be an option for some kids, but definitely not all.
I find it interesting that POD uses shit and asshole when most Irish would use shite and arsehole. Is that editing?
Also, how is the "some lesbians end up being bi and dating men" any categorically different than reporting on the existence of detrans and desistors? The former is non notable, the latter is death threat worthy. Por que?
The idea that women's sexuality is more fluid is a myth with roots in the homophobia of the 18th Century. Women's relationships with each other were viewed as childish fleeting notions that would change with marriage, unlike men's whose were viewed as criminal. It stemmed from the idea that women were fundamentally not sexual beings so their relationships did not matter. However, the idea that women have such fluidity has remained and causes a great deal of harm to lesbians still today whose relationships are often still not taken seriously.
@8 Mtn. Beaver
"...group social power moves..."
Great phrase, that precisely describes a foundation of cult indoctrination brainwashing.
"I'd advise POD to go back in the closet."
Smart strategy to avoid homelessness until POD can escape her (parent) captors poised to assault her young mind with brainwashing.
"...for some parents, it might not work, anyway...she’d never buy it."
Yikes. I'm expect some parents would buy it, for the same reason they believe in conversion therapy...the magical power of jebus.
Allow me to clarify. When I suggested POD go back in the closet, I wasn't suggesting she tell her parents that she's now straight or that she was confused before. I was suggesting that she not say much of anything. It was more that she let them believe what they want to believe without input from her. That, to me, seemed better than conversion therapy where she'd go to a few sessions, listen to the crap they had to tell her, then do the vague uh-huh thing anyway.
Isn't there a place in Boy Erased where one of the inmates of the conversion therapy program tells the Lucas Hedges character that they have to fake it until they can get out? That's what I was thinking of mostly.
Since her parents seem to like videos so much, she could show them But I'm A Cheerleader starring Natasha Lyonne:-)
I dated a woman who had previously identified as lesbian. It had damn all to do with female sexuality being fluid. It was because she had been told (and believed because she heard it so many times) that bisexuality wasn't a real thing, it was just a phase that gay people went through on their way to "fully" coming out.
She now happily identifies as bi and has dated both men and women since.
Goddammit, wrote a whole email before I realized this letter is ancient >.<
Anyway, this is important: https://biblethumpingliberal.com/2011/05/19/you-can%E2%80%99t-quote-leviticus-to-prove-god-hates-homosexuality/
Dan's response is sweet, but this female sexuality being more fluid than male sexuality is bullshit, and any part that might feel legitimate is culturally constructed.
and this nice little op-ed that links some pieces and research.
In reality, my partner is bi/male, (I'm female/heteroflex) and his whole life he was told his sexuality was weird or unusual, when women are never told the same thing. It's just ridiculous. Bi dudes or dudes with flexible sexuality are not rare Pokemon.
So where on this "sexuality fluidity" scale would you put the putatively straight guys who like to suck cock, as Dan has written about them?
I mean, there's homo/hetero/bi/pan/a- [hereinafter "*"}sexual, *-romantic, *-social, and probably others that don't come to mind at the moment.
If people slip and slide on who they slip-and-slide, who they kiss, who they hang out with, who they whatever with, from day to day or year to year, and none of us really knows how we'll feel about any of this in ten years or fifty, what are we even defining?
Ms Fichu - I found Saved tolerable. I refuse to see Boy Erased, having learned that the director took the parents' side and painted them sympathetically. He may have meant well, but one just can't bring off even the kindest interpretation of what he was attempting.
Not even Dr Bachmann or Mr Pence deserves even the most benign version of conversion therapy.
28- Venn-- I don't blame you for avoiding Boy Erased. It's a triggering movie to see, and you've been through enough.
It's a big part of the conscious gay male ethos not to 'chase'--to respect the sexuality of straight men. A lot of the time, though, what gay guys are respecting is the choice, ambivalent and panicky, for a socially-straight guy to suppress his gay and homocurious impulses.
M?? Harriet - When that is the case, it's more for our own good than theirs. Let them experiment with your crew and those similar; the stakes will be a lot lower if it goes badly.
Then again, suppression can be viewed as being on a scale as well. I think of the film Lilies, and how Bilodeau manages to attain a far greater level of suppression than Simon.
Oh, Dan--I had no idea you had made that video when I emailed you to complain about a pervy-pervy-perv-perv older dude who used "But I knew a lesbian once who then married a man..." as an excuse to try to groom me into his child bride after I came out to him for the first time when I was 17 and he was 55. You are not that guy, however, and I'm glad to see that reinforced even more strongly by your response to this writer.
LW, you are not alone. One of the shittiest realities about lesbian sexuality is not that people hate it, but that they simply don't believe it (sometimes including the lesbians themselves, so I'm glad you aren't dealing with that on top of it). This is as much a real thing as the bi/fluid women who don't realize they're bi/fluid until they do. When I'm in a forgiving mood, I think of it like this: People who think being gay is wrong or bad can't stand the idea that one of their own precious people belongs to this "bad" category, so they're faced with two choices: Reject you, or disbelieve that you belong to that category. Obviously they don't want to reject you, so if that's a silver lining, there it is. They're still assholes, though, who probably need as much time to covert to non-assholery as they're hoping you'll need to convert to straightness. I'm glad you wrote in--when this happened to me I didn't have the good sense to get into a shouting match about it, but I wish I had! Much love.
Ah, didn't see this was a rerun. (Wish I'd seen it the first time.) Best way to tell what someone's sexuality is: Ask them. If they don't know, it's very unlikely anyone else knows better.
I tried to email; it's not working.
I wanted to suggest to LW that she agree to therapy, on the condition she choose the therapist? And obviously choose a sex-positive, LBGTQ-friendly one? May help shut her parents up, and navigate this minefield.
And Dan, offering to go talk to her parents...well you've been my hero for 20 years already but that is some next-level shit.
Oh shoots, just read other comments and realized this is an old letter.
Dan have you ever heard a follow-up?
As another Dublin lesbian I tried to email the LW, only to realise the letter was 7 years old! I hope she found support and is doing well now, like everyone else I'd love to hear an update! And also, for any Irish kids who need help, BeLonGTo are Ireland's brilliant LGBT+ youth organisation, and specifically for LGBT+ women there's Running Amach, a social and support Group which is well worth looking into, a good way to find your new family!
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