Saturday girls shop talk
"She announced that not only was she bisexual, she was also poly, and exploring a relationship with a boy and a girl"
As we watched a gorgeously flamboyant wedding party pass by the shop window during a lull in sales one Spring day, my two 18-year-old Saturday girls and I discussed the pros and cons of getting married. "I think I would get married," announced one, who had recently started working with me. "Bcause I would be marrying a woman, so I would want the world to know about our relationship." It was a sweet and very light way of telling me she was gay, and the conversation moved on easily and naturally from there. "I'm bi," the other girl added, almost conspiratorially in tone, and not to be outdone.
Over the coming Saturdays, during our lunch breaks we would discuss Orange Is The New Black and our favourite characters (Alex, obviously, with Poussey a close second), and I gave encouragement to Saturday girl 1 on coming out to her parents. "I don’t think it will be a big deal," I tried to reassure her. "After all, you came out to me very naturally and simply." "Because I knew you would be OK with it," she replied. She was kind enough not to add, "And your opinion doesn’t really matter to me anyway, whereas my parents’ does!", which she may well have been thinking. "I imagine your parents will be equally OK with it," I continued, although I had never met them and in truth had no idea how they would react. Maybe my reassurance was naïve, but fortunately it turned out to be accurate, as a fortnight later she did come out to her parents, who apparently barely turned a hair.
It reminded me of Sue Perkins’ glorious story about coming out to her mum. Sue phoned to arrange a time to visit, saying she wanted to talk to her parents. "Is this about you being gay?" her mum asked down the phone. I love that story (and the way Sue tells it, of course), and I do also imagine that my Saturday girl’s parents would have been equally unsurprised and unphased to hear their daughter’s news.
Another week, Saturday girl 2 announced that not only was she bisexual, she was also poly, and was exploring a relationship with a boy and a girl. In quiet, customer-free times we shared our thoughts on this choice. She was very clear about it, stating that, at this point in her life she was nothing if not young, free and single, and so she might as well take advantage of that and experience whatever she could. She didn’t want to be tied down by convention, by having to choose which gender of person she was in a relationship with, or by having to limit herself to one person at a time. Being a keen debater and member of her school’s Philosophy Society, she was very articulate about her choice and presented her case very well. I was impressed by her mature reasoning and her freedom to be whoever she wanted. So unlike the uninformed, 18-year-old me!
I am often struck by the contrast of being 18 in 2018, compared to when I hit that milestone, back in 1984! As I have said before, back then it did not cross my 18-year-old mind that there might be any other options for me, apart from being straight. I know, it does sound incredibly naïve, and I am now embarrassed by my youthful innocence – or should that be ignorance? But that is not my point here. The point is, what a hugely different experience of life is now on offer for my children’s generation.
At my first Lucy Spraggan gig I was, of course, very happy to be in a large hall full of women with girlfriends, partners and wives, kissing and holding each other openly. I was, literally, in Heaven (and what a great venue it was!). But what also delighted me was that for my 16-year-old daughter, it was absolutely no big deal. Business as usual. 16-year-old me would have been surprised at the very least, where as to my daughter, same-sex relationships are barely even worthy of comment. I love this change in the general mindset. I think my kids’ generation (in this country at least) is incredibly fortunate to be able to choose to be in a relationship with a person of any sexual orientation or identity, without fear. I catch myself feeling quite envious of their freedoms, envious that I am not growing up now, in this era of increasing openness and acceptance. But hey, I guess even a middle-aged woman can take advantage of and enjoy life in this more liberal 21st century society!
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