By: Natasha O'Ryan
At around age 4, I had a fixation with babysitters. A fascination my mom caught on to when I became obsessed with the 80’s cult classic “Adventures in Babysitting”. Who could resist Elizabeth Shue? Am I right?! When I wasn’t watching the movie, I spent far too much time asking my mother a million questions about who Elizabeth Shue was in real life? And when my occasional sitter Stephanie would be coming over. Totally normal.
I was really imaginative as a young kid, I spent a lot of time re-enacting imaginary scenarios. Scenarios that usually involved Stephanie or Elizabeth Shue. A particular favourite of mine was where I would hurt my leg doing something, then Stephanie or AIB star Elizabeth Shue would pick me in their arms and save the day. An obviously thrilling activity for any preschooler. It baffled me why my friends preferred to play things like school and house instead of pretending to be bandaged or mended by an adult. That was the thing I never quite understood; why were my friends not as into their babysitters as I was? Were they not as nice? Did their hair smell good? Did they not have pretty smiles and sparkly eyes?
I vividly remember the feeling I would get when Stephanie would walk into my home. I would shyly stand at the farthest point from the entrance, and nervously chew the collar of my shirt. I had moves then and now ladies! I could barely even manage to form words. I would just stand there wide eyed, smiling, filled with bashfulness. “Go on say ‘Hello’… You’ve been talking about her all week” my mother would say. But it was as if I was cryogenically frozen and lobotomized; A feeling I only came to realize as a teen wasn’t a fascination or admiration - but a crush.
While my mother thought my imaginary babysitter play was a stage of social development, it turned out to be an important piece of my identity development. While I’m not sure I agree with the “born gay” theory and its application to all queer persons, I can tell you that when I look back upon my earliest childhood, it was always there. My queerness was always present, always a part of me. At a young age I didn’t have the schema to recognize it explicitly, but I always felt it and always knew there was something “different” about me.
Perhaps that’s why I feel so rooted in my queerness today. It feels like home to me. The most organic and honest state of my being. Before I understood who I was and what that meant socially, I just was. Whenever I have faced adversity because of my queerness, I always remember how natural who I am is, and how hate is taught. In those exchanges I end up loving myself more and appreciating the gift my queer identity is. Thank you Elizabeth Shue and call me.