Imagine what it must be like to be an adolescent and to either believe or know that you are gay, lesbian, or bisexual (a number of you reading this book do not have to imagine it). All your life, from the time you were a toddler, you were presented with a single model of sexual life: you were expected to be attracted to the other sex, to go on dates, and eventually to marry. No other scenario was seriously considered; if you are hetero­sexual, you probably have never even reflected on how powerfully this “presumption of heterosexuality” (Herdt, 1989) was transmitted by your parents, your friends, television and movies, newspapers and magazines, even the government. Advertisements on TV and in magazines always show heterosexual couples; your friends probably played house, doctor, or spin-the-bottle, assuming everyone was attracted to the other sex; your grade school, parties, and social activities were organized around this presumption of hetero­sexuality. There were open questions about many things in your life: what career you would pursue, where you might live, what college you would attend. But one thing was considered certain: you were going to marry (or at least date) someone of the other sex.

But imagine that while all your friends were talking about the other sex, dating, and sex, you were experiencing a completely different set of emotions. Why, you wondered, can’t I join in on these conversations? Why can’t I feel the attractions that all my friends feel? Then, at some point in your early teens, you began to realize why you felt differ­ently from your friends. All of a sudden you understood that all the models you had taken for granted your whole life did not apply to you. You began to look for other mod­els that described your life and your feelings—and they simply were not there. In fact, in hundreds of subtle and not-so-subtle ways, society taught you that you are different— and possibly perverted, sinful, illegal, and/or disgusting. Now what are you supposed to do? Whom do you turn to? How can you possibly tell anyone your deep, painful secret?

The experiences of many lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, at least until recently, fol­lowed this scenario, although the timing and intensity varied with individual cases. For example, many male homosexuals grew up with close male friends, enjoyed sports, and differed only in their secret attraction to other boys, whereas others remember feeling and acting differently from their friends as early as 4 or 5 years old (H. B. Martin, 1991). In those boys, atypical gender behavior often provoked anxiety from parents, teachers, and friends: “Why don’t you act like other boys?”

This kind of pressure can lead to strong psychosocial problems (Plummer, 1989). Because group sports and heterosexual dating are focal to male adolescents forming peer group bonds, young gay or bisexual youths can feel unattached and alienated (Herdt,

1989) . The same is true of young lesbians and female bisexuals, although the pressure and alienation may be slightly less early in life because same-sex affection and touching is more accepted for girls and because lesbians tend to determine their sexual orienta­tion later than gay men. Overall, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths have been found to experience higher levels of stigmatization and discrimination than heterosexual youths, which may be responsible for the higher levels of psychiatric disorders found in homo­sexual youths (Gilman et al., 2001).

Подпись: Ethnic and racial differences have been found in the coming-out process. African American and Latino youths are more uncomfortable with others knowing their sexual orientation, and they disclose to fewer people than white youths (Rosario et al., 2004). Growing Up Gay, Lesbian, or BisexualQuestion: Aren’t gay men more creative than straight men and more likely to be in the arts? Aren’t more female professional athletes lesbian?

If homosexuals are indeed overrepresented in certain professions, it may be because those professions were more accepting of gays and lesbians rather than because they have some "natural talents" in those areas. Jews entered the entertainment industry in the 20th century because the industry was accepting of them during a period when other professions were closed to them; the same may be true for homosexuals, although it has not yet been proven.