Being a teenager is full of colour and darkness, elation and sadness, shared experience and isolation. In some ways I lament that I cannot return to my teenage years. Then I realise that I’d want to go back as I am now, and that person would not act like a teenager. Despite my knowledge, and dare I say it wisdom, I would make a cock-up of the whole thing because of my maturity and experience.
Growing up is about making mistakes and not looking before you leap. It’s about dressing in clothes that are so fashionable that if you go to a party and have your photo taken in them they are already out of fashion before the photos have been developed. It’s about upsetting the girl of your dreams and wondering “What if?” until the next girl of your dreams comes along.
Adolescence is about impermanence and constant flux, like lives boiling in a flask in a giant alchemist’s laboratory. What appears at the end of the mixing, blending and distillation determines who we will eventually become.
The time when you become aware of your sexuality is the most confusing time in your life, hormones make it impossible for you to think straight and peer pressure funnels you towards your eventual orientation. Even if that is contrary to your true nature. Is it such a wonder that some gay men and women stay in the closet until they are in middle age and perhaps emerging from years of unhappy heterosexual marriage.
It’s easier now to discover your own sexuality. The pressures to be straight are still there but with homosexuality decriminalised for 40 years in the UK people can think about their orientation without the fear of imprisonment they once had.
And I don’t just mean homosexual people. It’s unhealthy if (for reasons of peer pressure, or fear of prison) people don’t consider the possibility that they might be homosexual. Why? Well because unless you address your own feelings towards others of the same sex how can you come to terms with the fact that is perfectly healthy to feel extremely close to someone and not want to get into their pants.
Macho camaraderie is often used by men to cover up the fact that they feel friendship, kinship, even love for their friends. Male bonding doesn’t always have to be about getting pissed or supporting the same football team. Women seem to have more of a handle on this than men. They seem more able to form close relationships that don’t result in them or those around them mistaking friendship for lesbianism.
Men seem scared of the possibility that they might be gay and shy away from even considering the implications. Heaven forbid they might be in touch with their feelings. If their friends found out the world might end!
I did question my sexuality as I was growing up and came squarely to the conclusion that I’m heterosexual. While eliminating half the human population from my amorous advances it does not stop me enjoying some of the pleasures traditionally associated with gay men. For example using a butt plug from time to time. It just has to be in the company of a woman, specifically Suze. There’s another issue that some people find difficult to comprehend. Because anal penetration is still seen as a “gay thing” giving or receiving it can be misinterpreted as latent homosexuality.
If I were to return to my teenage years it might have to be as an observer. Though I might die from an overdose of cringing.
At least out of an adolescence filled with moments I would sometimes rather forget I have realised that the only constant is change and that I should constantly question everything.
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through
David Bowie, Changes