I’m extremely nervous around teenagers. So when Wife, a friend and I were approached by a small group of 17-year-olds whilst meandering through a park on Saturday evening, I was more than a little bit wary.
“I’m Katie*.” She held out her hand for Wife to shake. Then she extended her hand to to me. I took it. I noticed the little rainbow drawn on her hand and the numerous razor cuts on her wrists.
“I just wanted to say that I love that you’re wearing rainbow colours and that you’re proud of who you are.”
“Are you going to Queer Prom?” Wife asked.
“There’s a Queer Prom? Where?” she asked excitedly.
“In the community centre.”
“Really? That’s so awesome! But I don’t have a date.”
“What are you looking for in a girlfriend?” Wife asked.
“I don’t know. No one older than thirty.”
I laughed and Wife said, “I guess that rules me out. Plus I’m married.”
“You’re married? Do you have rings?” Katie asked.
We held up our right hands to show our wedding bands and engagement rings.
“That’s so cool! I want that! I mean, not right now. But in two or three decades, sure!”
I’ve been thinking about that exchange for the past few days. Once we were out of earshot I told Wife that being approached by teenagers made me feel really uncomfortable and that I couldn’t tell if they were mocking us or not. Wife said that I needed to be less cynical.
She’s right. Role model is too strong of a term. However, Katie was looking for other queer people. She noticed us. Perhaps seeing two out and proud women in love made her happy. Perhaps it made her hopeful (I think that it’s very easy to feel invisible as a queer teenager). At the very least it’s not an image that she is going to see everyday.
So I’m going to continue to be out and proud. And I’ll try to be a less cynical about young people’s motives.