Well…it seems a few of Julian’s missed assignments were caused by some emotional turmoil on my poor son’s part. After much lecturing and talking and discussing – yes, I let him talk, too – Julian spilled the beans. A fellow male dancer who is not shy about admitting he is gay told Julian he thought all people were at least a little bisexual and that Julian was, in fact, bisexual. Julian, who has liked girls since he was old enough to do so and has never questioned his sexuality before, suddently began to have doubts even though he’s never had any romantic or sexual feelings for the same sex in his life. This sent him into an emotional tailspin last week egged on by texts and FaceBook notes from this other young dancer.
I’d like to thank this young man…Really. (I’m being sarcastic. I needed this like a hole in the head…as did Julian.) I suppose, however, that every male dancer at some point wonders about his sexuality, and maybe it’s just Julian’s time thanks to some instigation on this other boy’s part. We could have waited a bit longer, though.
Julian and I talked long and hard and, given that he hasn’t had any inclination towards homosexuality or bisexuality, we’ve taken this tact: Focus on the facts – you like girls. If, and when, you find yourself having feelings for boys, we’ll deal with it. Until then, you are heterosexual.
I can (and did) make some assumptions about why this young man (still in high school) said these things to Julian, but they are just my assumptions. I’ll probably never know the truth. What I do know to be true, however, is that since Julian happens to respect and look up to this boy, who is a better dancer and has had some professional dance experiences, his words, of course, influenced Julian to a great extent. I told Julian that, too. It’s so easy to let other people’s opinions and words affect us, especially when we respect or look up to them. Despite the fact that Julian feels he and this other boy are a lot alike, I cautioned my son that only he can know who and what he is. The problem lies in the fact that this boy confused an otherwise very clear minded boy – at least on this topic.
I suppose every parent of a male dancer also has to wonder if at some point they’ll have to have this conversation with their son…and if their son will say, “Hey, Mom (or Dad), I’m gay.” And how will you react?
Right now, I’m wondering how much these young dancing boys are influenced by the other men and boys they are around, so many of whom are actually gay. It’s difficult to find male dance teachers who are straight. I’m glad Julian has at least one… But when you stick a straight boy in among so many gay men and boys, do they somewhere along the line begin feeling like they should be gay because they dance? They could easily say, “Everyone else is, so why shouldn’t I be, too?” Or maybe it’s actually that they decide, “I should be gay. All the other male dancers are. If I’m not, there must be something wrong with me.” That’s an interesting nature vs. nurture questions, isn’t it? Might they be more accepted among their peers? That’s a scary thought. (And that’s exactly where my thoughts went with this incident.) Something to think about…
For now, I think I’ve quelled some of the upset and self-doubt with Julian. I’ve been thinking of having him talk to a counselor about his issues with homework, and I suggested that he talk to one about sexuality as well. Right now he doesn’t feel the need. I might have him do it anyway…
I’ll be curious to read your comments. And if anyone would like also to discuss this issue (or any other), you may have noticed that I recently set up a the “My Son Can Dance Support Group, A Social Network for Parents with Sons Who Dance.” You can access it right here on this blog…Go to the bottom and look under the links. Sign in and start chatting! Or follow this link: My Son Can Dance Support Group. There readers can chat together about topics that relate to their dancing sons!
Will add your support group to links!
Hello, I am a 28 year old professional male dancer.
I have been dancing since i was 9 and have gone through all of the things that your son seems to be encountering on his path as a male dancer. Growing up i was teased and bullied for dancing and had to keep pushing because I loved it. Eventually at age 13 I did a talent show with my jazz solo at my middle school, won and the teasing dropped significantly and support and understanding rose immensely. Sometimes you have to just face things head on tall and proud and in the end things sort themselves out.
I am also a proud gay man. I dance in a professional company with a ratio of about 2/3 gay men and 1/3 straight men. In ballet companies I have often seen an even higher amount of straight male dancers. All that considered, why does sexual orientation matter in regards to being a successful male dancer?
with regards to what happened to your son and this older dancer, I have to say that I think that was unfortunate that Julian had to experience that uncertainty and stress at a time that affected his other work. I never advocate gay men, (teens, adults, any age) imposing their opinions, assumptions or their questioning of another man’s sexuality. If a guy says he’s straight, that’s it, end of story. That said, (and not to excuse the older boy’s actions) they are teenagers and these things happen in every circle of teen life, dance, sports, band, academics, social encounters…all the time. It is good to support your son as he navigates these hills and valleys of teen emotional life and amazing that he clearly knows you are there for him (not something every teen boy has, gay or straight).
I will say, respectfully, that it seems from the tone of many of your blog posts that you seem to have a strong disdain for gay men. You often refer to gayness as a choice and almost something you can catch. This saddens me as I believe this is a greta resource for young male dancers and their parents/mentors, yet reading posts with that sort of regard for gay men may be damaging. In dance, as in theatre, opera, and many other art forms certainly, as well as any arena, there are gay men; especially in the arts. It is a safe haven for expression and acceptance and beauty to prevail. My hope is that eventually in the younger generations, sexuality will be just one facet of a person’s identity, like eye color, hair color, interests, taste in food, etc. It need not be an all-encompassing, defining element in how we view one another.
Well good luck to you and your son as he fiercely pursues his dreams of dancing. Don’t let anyone, including yourself, get in the way of your dreams!
Thanks for you long comment.
It’s true that facing bullies head on can help–especially if you show them you aren’t afraid of being yourself. It seems like so long ago when Julian did that…I’m sorry you went through similar tough times, but I’m also glad you had the strength to get through them.
I’m also sorry you think I have a disdain for gay men. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I grew up around gay men from a young age and have many gay and lesbian friends and acquaintances. If you read this post written by my husband, you’ll see that he also has no problem with gay men.
I surely don’t think being gay is something you can “catch.” For some, it is a choice; for others, they feel such a strong sexual orientation that I’m sure they feel no choice at all. But I have no judgement around that orientation. If Julian were gay, we would love and accept him just the same. You can, however, perceive what I have written any way you like, and I’m sorry if I have offended you in any way. That said, I’ll also be more careful about what I say and how I say it when it comes to this topic.