15-year-old Claire Dickie is sick of being told she’s too young to know her sexual orientation.

“How old were you when you knew?”

Coming out at a young age can be difficult; people think you’re doing it for attention, going through a phase or just too young to know what you’re talking about. All of these assumptions, however, are wrong.

I came out as a lesbian when I was 13 years old because I was ready to tell people who I was. As I was in high school at the time, word quickly spread about the “new gay to have surfaced” and people were confused.

For weeks after I came out, I would receive daily questions about how I knew I was gay, how long I’d known and most commonly, who I liked. My answer to the first question was simple; “How do you know you’re straight?”

The boys at my school took longer to understand than the girls did. The boys kept asking me about celebrities and fellow classmates that I found attractive, if there was any chance a guy could “turn me back” and if I just wanted to be a guy. The girls just wanted to know if they were pretty. After all the attention had died down, everyone moved on to the next piece of gossip to engage their social lives in.

Looking back now, two years later, I see that the majority of people that asked questions ended up exploiting my sexuality to boost their egos.

Every so often, I still get the odd comment when walking down the corridors or the occasional homophobic gesture when I’m walking home. I’ve learned to ignore it and coming out as early as I did has really strengthened me as a person.

As secure as I am in my identity, I know that some teenagers do go through phases. My now ex-girlfriend broke up with me when she realised that she was just going through a phase.

I remember when I was walking her home (we were holding hands, as couples do) and these two boys went either side of us and grabbed our spare hands. We both pulled away from them, which angered them greatly.

They floated the idea of a threesome before laughing and running off. Incidents like that have caused my current girlfriend and I to never hold hands when we walk together, unless there is absolutely no one around.

Adults were the hardest people to convince that I knew what I was talking about. Many blatantly refused to accept that I was gay and just passed it off as a phase or attention seeking.

To them, I said this, “Why am I too young to know that I am gay but not too young to know that I am straight? Is it because being heterosexual is seen as ‘normal’ to you? Well, being straight is not ‘normal’ it’s just common. Why can you force the hetero lifestyle on me?

Why can you force me to marry a man, have lot of babies and live happily ever after? People complain that the LGBT community pushes their sexuality in other people’s faces, when in reality it is the straight community that do all the pressuring.”

Silence usually met my mini rant, accompanied by some startled faces and the inability to form a coherent response.

Adults think they know everything but they don’t.

I am a proud lesbian, I am 15 years old, and anyone who thinks they know better can go suck a lemon. I know who I am, I know what I am and I am happy to be this way. I’d never choose anything different, even if I could.