Researchers find it shocking that 11 percent of American girls between 15 and 19 claim to have same-sex encounters. Clearly they’ve never observed the social rituals of the pansexual, bi-queer, metroflexible New York teen.
Ten years ago in the halls of Stuyvesant you might have found a few goth girls kissing goth girls, kids on the fringes defiantly bucking the system. Now you find a group of vaguely progressive but generally mainstream kids for whom same-sex intimacy is standard operating procedure. “It’s not like, Oh, I’m going to hit on her now. It’s just kind of like, you come up to a friend, you grab their ass,” Alair explains. “It’s just, like, our way of saying hello.” These teenagers don’t feel as though their sexuality has to define them, or that they have to define it, which has led some psychologists and child-development specialists to label them the “post-gay” generation. But kids like Alair and her friends are in the process of working up their own language to describe their behavior. Along with gay, straight, and bisexual, they’ll drop in new words, some of which they’ve coined themselves: polysexual, ambisexual, pansexual, pansensual, polyfide, bi-curious, bi-queer, fluid, metroflexible, heteroflexible, heterosexual with lesbian tendencies—or, as Alair puts it, “just sexual.” The terms are designed less to achieve specificity than to leave all options open.
That’s my kid they’re talking about. Okay, her peers. But they might as well be describing her friends. I know that some of you will recognize your kids. Some of you will see yourselves. And some of you are thinking, “They’re high, or watching television.”
The author does make it clear that “the cuddle puddle” is a dozen kids out of 3,000, but they aren’t alone in their same-sex explorations. They are, however, the “bi clique,” and are popular students.
I would not have imagined a queer clique of any sort when I graduated from high school in 1984. Safety in numbers? More like clumping together creates a target-rich environment!
One thing I would have thought of as a result.
These girls have obliterated the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” stranglehold that has traditionally plagued high-school females. They set the sexual agenda for their group. And they expect reciprocation. “I’ve made it my own personal policy that if I’m going to give oral sex, I’m going to receive oral sex,” says Jane. “Jane wears the pants in any relationship,” Ilia says with a grin. “She wears the pants in my relationship, even though she’s not part of it.”
I wasn’t really surprised to read that even liberal New York kids have some issues with their parents affirming their sexual preferences. Saddened, but not surprised.
This part shows some progress:
To these kids, homophobia is as socially shunned as racism was to the generation before them. They say it’s practically the one thing that’s not tolerated at their school. One boy who made disparaging remarks about gay people has been ridiculed and taunted, his belongings hidden around the school. “We’re a creative bunch when we hate someone,” says Nathan. Once the tormenters, now the tormented.
I can only hope that someday “disparaging remarks about people” would be an issue, but for now, I’ll take each bit of progress as a good sign.
(I’ve only been meaning to post this for what feels like a month.)