Question for you: have you ever felt late? Like your straight friends, do cisgender people have a more romantic, relationship, or sexual experience than you?
This feeling of “behind-ness” may be related to what is known as “second queer adolescence”.
Here, gender and sexuality educators explain what a queer second teenage is, its joys and drawbacks, and how to embrace your personal schedule, no matter your age or that of those around you. .
The bottom line behind queer second adolescence is that queer people live their “teenage years” twice.
First, live the identities that we are Recount we should embody. (And remove or accept our queer identities.)
Then, as queer ourselves.
“The idea of a second queer adolescence is that queer people don’t have access to certain developmental ‘stages’ before they’ve become queer,” says Casey Tanner, certified sex therapist and queer person, LCPC expert on sex. luxury pleasure products company LELO.
Even the concept of “developmental stages” is rooted in obligatory heterosexuality.
“When we talk about the developmental milestones that we associate with adolescence, we are talking about them around the timeline of when our heterosexual cisgender peers are privileged to experience them,” says Tanner.
These so-called ~ developmental milestones ~ range from our first kiss (with someone who really appeals to us) and our first relationship (with someone we have the potential to have deep feelings for) to feeling initially comfortable dressing like ourselves and identifying with the media we consume, she says.
“This time could be the first time that a gay person has access to a group of friends who share their identity and can celebrate these milestones with them,” Tanner said.
The short answer: all -isms and -phobias.
“Homophobic and heteronormative, transphobic and cisnormative narratives, as well as government policies and cultural norms in religion, families, schools, social spaces, laws and various other institutions, all contribute to people suppressing or fear their sexuality and sexual orientation, ”says Jesse Kahn, LCSW, CST, director and sex therapist at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York City.
From birth, young homosexuals learn from their caregivers that heterosexual gender-conforming behavior will be rewarded while homosexual or non-conforming behavior will be punished, notes Tanner.
Sometimes this message is super explicit. For example, a young boy is told that loving the theater “is gay”.
And sometimes it’s more subtle. Like not allowing a child to dress as he or she would like because it is a little too ‘flamboyant’, or asking a teenage girl if there is any. boys she has a crush (rather than asking her if there are anya She likes).
Your age can affect how much (or how much) the LGBTQIA + portrayal you witnessed in movies and TV shows growing up.
In 2009, queer characters were present in one way or another in just 3% of all regular characters in scripted series that air on ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC.
But they were present in 22 – or 18.6% – of the 118 films produced by the major studios in 2019.
In other words, the younger you are, the more queer representation you may have had.
But for most of the people reading this, there was a significant lack of LGBTQIA + representation in the media they consumed growing up, Kahn says.
“And a lack of queer representation in the media contributes to the shame,” he says.
It also leads to a lack of what Tanner calls the “social mirror”.
When queer people don’t see experiences like theirs reflected in adolescence, “it indicates that homosexuality doesn’t exist at all, or that if it does, it’s something to be avoided instead.” than to celebrate, ”they say.
The lack of representation in the media also contributes to LGBTQIA + * people not encountering * the language that best names their lived experience (s) as gender (or non-gender), sexual (or asexual) in the world until much later in life.
“In the absence of language or examples to help homosexuals put words to what they are feeling, they often try to adapt to their heterosexual peers because it is the representation that is readily available,” Tanner explains.
“There is no one right path, nor one single linear path, to be open and openly living in your queerness,” says Kahn.
There is also no right way forward for your relationship (s), should you choose to enter one.
However, toxic monogamy – the cultural belief that happy and healthy relationships are all alike – contributes to the idea that there is.
One of the strengths of toxic monogamy is this thing called “the relational escalator.” Invented by Amy Gahran, the relationship escalator says that all (legitimate) relationships follow the same trajectory:
Dating → buying goods → sacred marriage → raising children → until death do us part.
Taking these steps in that order isn’t bad in and of itself, but the pressure society puts on every relationship to take those steps is, says Rachel Wright, LMFT, queer psychotherapist and sex and relationship expert. .
In short, this is because it often gives people the impression that they are romantically “late” if they haven’t been in a relationship, or if they’ve taken the last step (eg. example, marriage) before, like, 30…
To be clear: this holds true for people across the spectrum of sexuality.
The idea that you are “late” because you learn your gender and sexuality later in life that cis-het people totally underestimate how self-awareness is the process of entering your gender and your sexuality as a non-cis, non-het person really takes it.
“Often times, the coming out process (later in life) propels gay people into a place of self-awareness and exploration that some cis heterosexual people never choose to pursue,” says Tanner.
“It’s not about being early or late, but rather creating a life worth living for you, wherever you are,” she says.
“It’s more than okay to spend time crying that you didn’t get the support you needed when you were young,” Tanner says. These tips can help.
Find your people
“There is a whole community online of people who call themselves ‘late bloomers’ and embrace going out later in life,” Tanner said.
Depending on when you went out, you may decide to find them, befriend them, and share your experiences.
Follow queer people on social media
Consuming media from people who are like you and who have been through the same gender and sexual journeys as you can be immensely helpful, says Wright.
But, she says, “do it intentionally, because it’s incredibly easy to consume media that validates disgusting thoughts in the background.”
Don’t stop yourself from celebrating “firsts” or milestones because of your age.
Allow yourself to burst out with first kisses and hang out in queer bars even if you feel “too old.” Enjoy birthdays, throw “The L Word” parties, and throw ~ fashion shows ~ with your friends on FaceTime.
“If you’re struggling to find a community, find a queer therapist who can celebrate with you until you do,” Tanner says.
Ask for help if you need it
“If you’re having a hard time embracing your sexuality but want to feel more comfortable with your sexuality, think about the beliefs that hold you back,” Kahn says.
“It can take work to unlearn our internalized homophobia and transphobia, and it’s important to reflect, unlearn and challenge the beliefs that still thrive in you,” they say.
If that’s not the job you think you can do on your own, seek care from a queer therapist or support group.
When a Tweeter who popularized the term “queer second teens” went viral in 2017, Brianna Suslovic, LMSW, wrote a response on Medium noting that while she agrees with the premise of the tweet, it is important that LGBTQIA + people don’t use it as an excuse to treat others poorly.
“The ‘mistakes’ made by teens and LGBTQ people often cause injury, damage and breakdown in relationships and communities,” she writes.
“While these ‘mistakes’ may be more understandable as ways of working on things that teens typically go through, they are still not exempt from liability. “
His concern? That the evildoers will abuse the concept of a queer second adolescence to justify immaturity, recklessness and evil, while avoiding the possibility of holding the perpetrators to account.
So, as Kahn says, “It is important to remember that even though you are in your second teenage years, you are not actually a teenager, so the consequences of your choices and behaviors will be consequences for adults.”
And likewise, evil is always evil, even if it has been performed unintentionally or during a moment of self-exploration.
So if you hurt someone else, take responsibility.
No matter when you’ve come out – whether for yourself or those around you – or when you’ve had the opportunity to experience the “firsts” typically associated with adolescence, you are exactly where you need to be. .
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based Sex and Wellness writer and Level 1 CrossFit trainer. She became a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and ate, drank, and brushed with charcoal. drink – all in the name of journalism. In her spare time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench press or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.