“They can’t all be, can they?” asks Duncan, somewhat desperately, “I mean, it’s not statistically possible.”
I can see Joe’s shoulders start to heave with silent laughter, “Maybe it’s something in the water.” he says, hastily leaving the room.
We are discussing the astonishing fact that virtually the whole population of girls in Duncan’s year group – a couple of hundred girls aged 16 – identify themselves, when asked, as bisexual. Duncan knows because, for reasons best known to himself, he seems to have personally asked every one.
I very much doubt that this is based on a whole load of sexual experience – of any kind. Or that it predicts much about their future sexual experiences. It probably speaks volumes about the ambiguity that young girls feel about sex. At this age, everyone talks about it, but it’s hard to work out how much is bravado. Rather than admit in public that they don’t feel ready, don’t know what they want, and even find the whole thing a bit scary and repellant, girls can adopt a badge of convenience. If they declare themselves bisexual then they sound sexually sophisticated, while having a ready made excuse for rejecting any offers. And of course it testifies to the popularity of Orange is the New Black.
I am more surprised to hear that none of the boys in the year group seem to define themselves as gay (or bisexual). This group don’t seem to have any hang ups about homosexuality – they all know openly gay adults, including parents and teachers, and they genuinely seem to find it difficult to understand how it could ever have been a problem. But accepting homosexuality as a normal part of life is one thing – it appears that it’s another thing, in the maelstrom of being male and sixteen, to declare yourself gay. Unless they really are statistically odd, the likelihood is that there are some kids in the group (of either gender) who will eventually be very comfortable defining themselves as gay. And a lot of gay people in adult life will attest that they knew they were gay by sixteen. Why the boys don’t define themselves as that right now is anybody’s guess: perhaps they don’t know, perhaps they aren’t sure, perhaps they regard it as private, or perhaps they don’t feel safe. Or perhaps, like the girls, they feel ambiguous about the whole thing.
Or perhaps it is something in the water.