From a very young age, my younger sister and I were taught never to speak to a boy or get a boyfriend. It seemed like that was the only thing my parents wanted heavily ingrained into our minds.
At the time, we didn’t necessarily understand the concept of a boyfriend. I mean what seven year old does? To us, a boyfriend was just a friend of the opposite gender that you got to hold hands with and kiss sometimes.
Little did we know that having a “boyfriend” was actually the worst possible thing you could ever do, according to our parents.
For me, growing up meant realizing there was an entire world that I had been blocked off from all my life. As strange as it sounds, I didn’t really know what dating was, or that there was a whole society of LGBTQ people. Learning about this on my own was confusing, and I felt isolated because all my friends in elementary school knew what sex was because their parents were talking to them about it.
The only thing I really knew up until this point was that a boy and a girl shouldn’t touch or be “too friendly” around each other because it only leads to bad things.
Because of this, I was honestly scared to talk to boys. I had guy friends in middle school, but I was deathly terrified of my parents ever seeing me talking to a boy.
The funny thing is, I thought my behavior was normal. I thought this was how I was supposed to act.
When my friends started getting into relationships, my initial reaction was that they were doing the wrong thing. They were avoiding their religious duties and engaging in something that was knowingly forbidden. I didn’t feel the need to copy them and engage with guys, but rather I felt shadowed and distant from my own friends.
It wasn’t until late high school when I realized dating is okay. Religiously and culturally, maybe it wasn’t. But at this time, everyone in my community was doing it. And this was our way of adjusting to our society despite the cultural norms forced upon us.
Seeing most of my friends around me begin to get involved with guys, I began wondering what it would be like to have a boyfriend. It looked fun, and being in a relationship in our community meant you were cool, and that you didn’t care what everyone else thought.
Naturally, I became more interested in guys to the point where I eventually did want a relationship. I felt like I was stepping into forbidden territory by initiating things with a guy. One of my best friends at the time introduced me to a guy. We started talking and things got serious to the point that we started dating.
It felt like I was doing something so rebellious and out of the norms. It was incredibly exciting and I felt cool simply because I was pursuing this relationship in secret. I thought having a boyfriend would be this magical experience because it felt like such a big deal.
Obviously I had to hide the relationship from my parents, because if they found out they would be furious.
After a year, our relationship came to a tragic end. Although at the time it really did seem like the end of the world, it was probably the stupidest thing I had ever done in my life.
It caused me more issues than I thought since I was hiding it and it affected many of my other relationships.
But my relationship opened me up to talking to boys and becoming more familiar with dating. And it made me realize that it was okay to do things my own way as long as I’m not interfering with my religious duties. My relationship didn’t make me a bad person, and quite frankly I didn’t think it was a big deal.
It made me more comfortable with expressing my sexuality and it made it okay for me to talk to others and want to date. Now that I’m older, I don’t like dating people unless it’s something serious and leading towards something bigger. I’ll talk to guys, but I’m not into hooking up or rushing into relationships.
To be completely honest, I feel like my parents shielding me from the real world and being unwilling to explain things to me lead me into wanting to explore my sexuality further. I wanted to kiss a boy and do couple things even though it was something I was so unfamiliar with.
My friends are constantly teasing me because it seems like I have a crush on every other guy that comes my way. I’m the boy-crazy one in the friend group although I’ve only been in one relationship my entire life.
But hey, I guess that’s what happens when your parents block you off from the real world. It sparked a new type of curiosity.