By Faith Gonia
In her 2014 song, “She,” Dodie Clark asked an agonizing question — one that many hesitant girls across the globe had once asked themselves:
Am I allowed to look at her like that?
The poignant melody illustrates the heartbreaking feeling of liking someone who does not like you back. However, the lyrics possess one key, isolating element that sets it apart from every other mainstream love song. No matter the circumstance, the “she” that Clark sings about cannot reciprocate the type of love that Clark feels. “She” is straight.
To me, that foreign feeling was almost incriminating. In a middle school world where crushes are the leading topic of conversation, and girls like guys, where does a girl who likes girls fit? Certainly not in sleepovers, or boy-talk. Coming out strips away your right to belongingness growing up. Suddenly, at 12 years old, you are a creep.
Thus, Clark’s worried question resonated deeply. When you are gay, your love receives a stubborn label that marks it different from that of a straight person. Your friends’ crushes are innocent; your’s, unnatural. Adults and peers frequently affirm your new mark of abnormality:
“You don’t need to flaunt it.”
“You are far too young to know that yet.”
“You don’t like me, do you?”
I’ll admit that I am lucky. Living in an accepting, progressive area allowed for simple microaggressions to be the worst that I have heard. Nevertheless, each comment strengthened the gnawing sense that I was not allowed to like the gender that I did. Even though I have been accepted by my loved ones, for many years I felt a twinge of guilt — as if my identity violated the established, and most importantly, correct norm.
At 16, I have grown up a bit since 7th grade. With time, I became more comfortable; the gnawing feeling weakened, and the guilt subsided. Nonetheless, queer people continue to face judgment for a part of themselves that deserves welcoming. Therefore, if you have ever pondered Clark’s question, as I have, I assure you: You are allowed to look at her like that.