Rosie Perez may not identify as homosexual now, but that doesn’t mean she’s never wondered.
At TrevorLIVE New York, an evening supporting the LGBTQ youth foundation The Trevor Project in New York City on Monday, Perez spoke about her own “questioning.”
“Every human being, whether they want to admit it or not, went through a period of questioning. I know I did,” Perez admitted during a speech at the event.
For Perez that questioning came when she met a girl named Michelle in junior high and “all I wanted to do was hump her,” The View host revealed, shocking the audience into awkward laughter.
“And I suppressed the urge and suppressed the urge and suppressed the urge until Michelle one day started humping on me,” she continued.
Thousands of American teens experience these feelings every day, which is why there is a need for The Trevor Project – the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
“I’m not the only one that went through this questioning period. I’m not the only one that suppressed those feelings. Who hid their story,” Perez continued, relating to the confused youth who make use of The Trevor Project’s hotline. “I know I’m not lesbian, gay or whatever, I’m a quasi-straight person, I still went through that period. And I thought I was all alone.”
Perez, who’s now married to artist Eric Haze, says when things ended with Michelle, so did their friendship.
“I remember that hurt,” she said. “And that hurt kept me silent and that silence brought shame. I didn’t have a community. I didn’t have The Trevor Project.”
“If I had other people, specifically adults, if I was just able to call up and they said, ‘Oh, I humped the Michelle-type person too, you’re normal, don’t worry. You’re either gonna go here, there or in the middle, don’t worry about it, it’ll pass. You’re just figuring it out,’ even that simple statement … that would have made all the difference in the world,” the 50-year-old said.
That past relationship isn’t the only reason she feels a connection to The Trevor Project. “Just because I was poor, I was ostracized and made to feel less than or different,” Perez told PEOPLE of growing up with the need for an organization like this one. “And there were some wonderful people in my life, specifically my father and my aunt but also community leaders that said, ‘No, it’s okay to be different and just let your spirit shine,’ and that’s what this organization does.”
Perez ended her speech beautifully, stating, “There’s no such thing as normal. What is the norm is being different.”