Monday, Ed and I attended a GSL (Gay Straight Alliance) at a Middle School as role models. We were there to tell our story, to answer questions and provide a catalyst to these 7th and 8th graders. This is part of our volunteering for Live Out Loud - a support system for schools in NYC.
First, these kids are so much more comfortable exploring their sexual preferences than I can imagine. Kids gave us their stories about knowing they were gay in elementary school. One girl wasn't comfortable telling the school friends until 5th grade. They didn't have answers to everything, but were thinking about it and discussing it with their parents.
Now, this is the Upper West Side, where progressives are very liberal in their values, but still! It was not fully sexual, just that same way kids had boyfriends and girlfriends in middle school. They discussed crushes.
And, just as we were thinking about how different this was to us, and wondering if it was too early - we met a girl. She was in 8th grade and very confident and self-assured. She had a girlfriend here and they sat holding hands. And then we spoke withe her. Her father was here for a work for a year, and then she was going back to Mississippi for High School.
It brought home to me that kids totally get what is going on politically. These kids already knew what they could and could not say in different parts of the country. They knew about state laws trying to erase them.
I was blown away. And felt bad for this girl. But, then again, she is going to grow up and kick ass!