By Jess McGowan
Everyone knows that teenagers have a veritable minefield of hormones raging inside, and with explosions going off in every corner, it’s understandable that people might be skeptical of their emotions.
Furthermore, being in a time for finding yourself, many young people feel compelled to try out every possible thing they can. I myself have several friends that have dabbled in same-sex relationships, only to conclude that it isn’t for them. And that is totally fine. And yes, some people do just go through phases. It’s as much a part of growing up and finding yourself as being plagued by spots and the ability to sleep for 18 hours a day.
However, when people turn around and claim, “You are too young to know,” that’s when something has gone wrong. First of all, if someone were to tell a thirty-yearold person that their feelings were not valid, people would kick up a storm. Secondly, dismissing someone’s feelings on the basis that “it’s only hormones” is not only patronizing, but downright damaging. Who gives anyone the right to decide what someone else feels?
How narrow-minded it is to compress the entire spectrum of human emotion down into platonic and romantic feelings! Plenty of people who identify as heterosexual have non-platonic feelings for people of the same gender, and these may be because there is simply so much for a person to feel about another – love, lust, admiration, awe – that there will always be a crossover (see Youtube user Jenna Marbles, who so eloquently stated; “I can’t tell if I want to be you or be on you”). And maybe, at the end, that person will shrug and claim it was a phase. Or, they might stop identifying as straight. Both of these things are fine, but they have nothing to do with age.
I am 16, and I am in sixth form. When I tell people that I identify as a pansexual – besides the inevitable “what is that?” or pan-related joke – they will quite often dismiss my feelings as nothing more than attention seeking. Sometimes, they look at me like I’m high as a kite, sometimes they laugh, and sometimes they ask me if it’s because I haven’t found the right guy yet. It takes more self-restraint than I’m willing to admit to stop myself from tearing out my own hair.
But, returning to the point about the inevitable question about what pansexuality is, the entire issue of age could possibly be solved with a little more education. Of course people aren’t willing to accept that a 16-year-old person could know who she truly has feelings for, if they don’t even understand those feelings. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t even know what pansexuality was until a few By Jess McGowan months ago, having lumped my feelings under bisexuality – admittedly, my understanding of Latin affixes has improved since then. If I, a member of the LGBT+ community, didn’t even understand it, how can we expect other people to?
So, yes, I am often dismissed as a teenage phase because of how old I am. But people cannot form opinions on things they do not truly understand. There is so much turbulence during those adolescent years that I think people are almost justified in their skepticism. This is understandable when you consider that in the UK – depending on what survey you believe, if any – that only about 3-6% of the population identify as anything but straight. But, no matter what the statistics say, no one has the right to tell anyone who they have feelings for. No one has the right to tell you that you are something you are not. And no one on this Earth is allowed to tell you that your feelings don’t matter, cradle to grave.
Jess is a 16-year-old female living in Britain. A strong believer in social equality, and someone who identifies as pansexual, it’s important to her that people have the chance to listen to every side of the story.