Premium Content:

Gays of Yore: Looking at Our Childhoods with the Benefit of Queer Hindsight

sophiejoskephotoI’ve recently been thinking about the concept of gay hindsight: looking back at various youthful activities that seemed relatively innocuous at the time and seeing them in a revealing new light thanks to your grown-up awareness of how queer you truly are.

For example, when I was an underdeveloped matchstick of a pre-teen, long before braces had reigned in my leporine overbite and I’d worked out what to do with my hair, I, in all my youthful optimism and delusion, took singing lessons. These singing lessons were taught by Mrs Martin, a woman with large, rectangular glasses with thin frames and a fondness for beige. Mrs Martin would insist on teaching me a range of classics including ‘Scarborough Fair’ and every song Christine does in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. The songs were always classical or Opera-based despite my unusually low voice and timid assertion that maybe I’d like to try jazz. When I failed too dismally at the typical Soprano numbers that all the Chorale girls would die for, Mrs Martin would wearily concede to my considerable lack of enthusiasm and try something a little less theatrically feminine.

- Advertisement -

On one occasion Mrs Martin chose a song that was intended for a young boy, something that might better suit my range (or lack thereof). It was a song in which the boy sang about how he longed to meet someone to fall in love with, and it was littered with female pronouns. Mrs Martin told me to change all the ‘she’s to ‘he’s in accordance with my girlhood and went about trying to coax a vaguely pleasant sound from the tuneless twig standing before her. I nodded politely and proceeded to murder the song with my prepubescent wailings, sneakily ignoring her instructions and leaving in all the ‘she’s and ‘her’s. At the end of the song, Mrs Martin looked at me with the pained expression that typically followed my singing, and after gently giving me feedback reminded me to sing ‘he’ rather than ‘she’. I nodded politely and continued to totally ignore her. Mrs Martin abruptly stopped her piano accompaniment and reminded me to sing the ‘correct’ pronouns once more. I feigned surprise at my apparent forgetfulness, and continued to stubbornly include every single female pronoun. She would tell me off again, I would politely nod and then blatantly disobey her, and so the merry dance would continue, both of us refusing to stand down until the miserable half an hour of allocated singing time was over.

As a twelve year old, I thought of the standoff as nothing more than an act of slightly amusing rebellion against a teacher I wasn’t terribly fond of. Now, with the benefit of Queer Hindsight, I recognise just how utterly gay that was. Terrorizing some poor woman burdened with the heavy task of listening to me attempt to sing for half an hour with the insistence that I proclaim my love to an imaginary woman rather than imaginary man was probably the only small way I could think of to rally against the overwhelming straightness of my very nice school and my very nice suburb and very nice life that I didn’t quite 100% fit into.

But queer hindsight isn’t always that psychological. It can be as simple as realising that perhaps your desire to have Jane from ‘Daria’ as your best friend was maybe a little more intense than it was for most 8 year old girls. Or looking back and seeing that you didn’t really love t.A.T.u. for their music. Here are some of our favourite childhood memories that look very different in the light of gay.

“When I was in primary school we did this project about plants. The teacher asked us all to name different types of plants. Because we were all about seven, most people were like ‘tree!’, ‘grass’, but I blurted out ‘frangipani!’. After school my teacher went up to my mum and asked ‘How does your eight year old boy know about frangipanis?’ She just shrugged.”
–          RyWri, 20

“When I was 4 or 5, my sisters and I re-enacted the last scene of Grease for my parents… But I was too grossed out by my sister being Sandy that I refused to play the guy, so the eldest sister had to be the guy and I was Rizzo. But I was so invested in it that afterwards when I asked them who I was, they guessed the wrong character and I was so upset I hid under a bed for hours.”
–          Andrew, 22

“I remember that I used to pretend to be a cheetah, for my friends (two girls) who used to pretend to be princesses. And I used to chase all the boys away from them. I thought I was too masculine to be a princess and I liked protecting them. And I liked the way they thanked me after. Like hugs and saying ‘good cheetah’.”
–          Emily, 21

“When I was 2 or 3, I would make my mum lay out options for me to wear every morning, because I didn’t want to wear what mum chose for me. At two years old, I had to pick my own outfit. Just to add extra gay points, my favourite was denim overalls with a rainbow knit jumper.”
–          Ryan, 27

“In year 4 a girl in my class named Melissa called me a lesbian at lunch time. And I said didn’t know what it meant so she kept yelling ‘Sarah is a lesbian’ and the teacher pulled us into the classroom and talked sternly to us about name calling. I said I didn’t know what it meant. And the teacher said ‘it’s when two women love each other and want to live together forever’. Melissa and I looked at each other and said ‘that sounds awesome! We are lesbians!’”
–          Saf (Sarah Jayne), 25

“I was a massive tomboy etc until I was about 9, and when I used to write stories and fiction until age 15 or so it would always be from the point of view of a guy, and so the ‘romantic bits’ would always be focussed on a woman. Also I used to make my male next door neighbour dress up as a girl and I would be the guy and we would have ‘weddings’”
–          Alex, 20

Ah, youth. Innocent, closeted and confused youth. If our gays of yore have brought back any memories of your own, leave us a comment or feel free to share your prodigious queerness on our Facebook page. Because after all, we were born this way, or at the very least we were very fast learners.

Sophie Joske

Latest

Dead Inside! Bianca Del Rio announces new world tour

RuPaul's Drag Race season six winner Bianca Del Rio is bringing her all-new comedy tour to Australia and New Zealand in 2025.

Applications now open for Queer Screen Pitch Off 2024

Aspiring LGBTIQA+ filmmakers are invited to participate in the annual Queer Screen Pitch Off!

Actor and fashion icon Julia Fox shares she is a lesbian

"Hey, that was me. I was that lesbian. So sorry, boys. Won't happen again."

Rumour debunked: Troye Sivan is not performing at PrideFEST

Fans have shared their dismay that the singer's tour is not coming to Perth.

Newsletter

Don't miss

Dead Inside! Bianca Del Rio announces new world tour

RuPaul's Drag Race season six winner Bianca Del Rio is bringing her all-new comedy tour to Australia and New Zealand in 2025.

Applications now open for Queer Screen Pitch Off 2024

Aspiring LGBTIQA+ filmmakers are invited to participate in the annual Queer Screen Pitch Off!

Actor and fashion icon Julia Fox shares she is a lesbian

"Hey, that was me. I was that lesbian. So sorry, boys. Won't happen again."

Rumour debunked: Troye Sivan is not performing at PrideFEST

Fans have shared their dismay that the singer's tour is not coming to Perth.

On This Gay Day | In 1982 France stops listing homosexuality as a disorder

On this day in 1982 France removed homosexuality from...
Old Lira. Delicious roman sourdough pizza since 2013.

Dead Inside! Bianca Del Rio announces new world tour

RuPaul's Drag Race season six winner Bianca Del Rio is bringing her all-new comedy tour to Australia and New Zealand in 2025.

Applications now open for Queer Screen Pitch Off 2024

Aspiring LGBTIQA+ filmmakers are invited to participate in the annual Queer Screen Pitch Off!

Actor and fashion icon Julia Fox shares she is a lesbian

"Hey, that was me. I was that lesbian. So sorry, boys. Won't happen again."