Helping Our Gay Youth
Walking down the hallway back to the Vice Principal’s office, again, for another detention I wonder will life ever be any different. Sitting staring at his lips wondering what he and his wife will do on the weekend (wanting to be anywhere else but here), he is delighted to give me another lecture on how thin I am and whether I will eat a candy bar with him. He fears that I have an eating disorder and is trying to trick me into getting fat.
Sitting in my office fifteen years later I feel relief those days are behind me. You could not pay me enough money to go back to high school or be a teenager. As far as Mr. Jones, well, he was right I had a sever eating disorder and I was not about to give in to anyone and eat that candy bar. After all it was the only thing I felt I had control over.
Most days I felt that I lived outside my body and was so very much alone, and it seemed that my father was the only person that could see through me. He would say, “You are different Alex and this world doesn’t like those that are unlike them. Try not to be so different because I don’t want you to suffer for it. I want you to have a good life.”
I would lay in bed crying most nights hating the body I was in and the thoughts that raced through my head. I could not figure out what was different about me, except that every piece of me felt alien. I guess that is what being a teenager is all about.
It was around that time I knew I like girls but was too immature and honestly too tired from malnutrition to care. However, it didn’t stop the fantasizing that went on in my head. I remember listen to my Boyz 2 Men album (I know, I am old as dirt!), imagining slow dancing with a woman and kissing her. It was that feeling that put me at ease, the only images that would relax me. I can’t believe that now at thirty I am actually living my fantasy that my dream came true and I have my very own perfect love waiting for me at home.
It was not an easy journey. Coming out has been a difficult struggle and continues to be today, especially living in a southern state in the US. In today’s society our LGBT youth have so much to overcome. Risks include gender conformity, lack of support, school dropout, family problems, victimization, homelessness, substance use, eating disorders, religious intolerance, negative sexual experiences, and suicide attempts (two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts).
As recent news over the last couple of years has highlighted, LGBT youth are often bullied at school and unable to receive adequate education. They are shamed and targeted for abuse. They are more likely to skip school out of fear, threats and vandalism directed towards them. Twenty-eight percent of gay students will drop out of school. This is more than three times the national average for heterosexual students. Four out of five gay and lesbian students say they don’t know one supportive adult at school.
- Know that being Gay or Lesbian is not a pathological condition (i.e. it is not a mental disease or disability)
- The origin of sexual orientation is not completely known.
- Gay and Lesbian individuals lead fulfilling and satisfying lives.
- They are many ways you can choose to live an LGBTQ life.
- Unless you have seek counseling to “change” your sexual orientation, a therapist should never coerce you into doing so (it’s unethical and you should report them to the board of licensing.)
If you are a teen and living in a home where there is homophobia, here are some more steps you should take and ask yourself:
- Is it safe to come out to your parents? SAFETY first, even as tempting as it may be if you think it may place you in danger hold off.
- Will coming out jeopardize your home situation?
- Are you safe physically, emotionally, and psychologically if you come out to your parents?
- Do you have other available resources, such as money and emotional help if coming out changes your home situation?
- Try and educate your parents on LGBT matters, often discrimination is triggered but ignorance and not understanding the unknown.
- Get support and find people you can talk too that are safe. Being gay can be a lonely journey, but with the right company can make you stronger and wiser.
The ultimate goal of growing up and developing is finding humanity and breaking down the difference that separate us and isolate others to create a unity and a sense of oneness.
~The Lesbian Guru
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to email me at TheLesbianGuru@Gmail.com with ExaminerQ as the title or you can follow me on my Blog http://TheLesbianGuru.com! Or just Join The Lesbian Revolution of Health & Love on http://Twitter.com/TheLesbianGuru or http://Facebook.com/TheFemmeGuru.
If you ever feel alone or unsure please reach out for help and here are some agencies that could help you:
- Advocates for Youth, http://www.advocatesforyouth.org
- City at Peace, Inc., http://www.cityatpeacedc.org
- COLAGE: Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere, http://www.colage.org
- Gay-Straight Alliance Network, http://www.gsanetwork.org
- Hetrick-Martin Institute for Lesbian and Gay Youth, http://www.hmi.org
- Matthew Shepard Foundation, http://www.MatthewShepard.org
- National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC), http://www.nyacyouth.org
- Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), http://www.smyal.org
- Student Pride USA, http://www.studentprideUSA.org
- The Point Foundation: The National LGBT Scholarship Fund, http://www.the point foundation.org
- National Association of School Psychologists
Phone Number: (301) 657-0270
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Phone Number: (202) 966-7300
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- American Academy of Pediatrics
Phone Number: (847) 434-4000
- American Psychological Association
Telephone Number: (202) 336-5500
Toll-Free Number: (800) 374-2721
TDD/TTY Number: (202) 336-6123
- American School Counselor Association
Phone Number: (703) 683-ASCA
Toll-Free Number: (800) 306-4722
- Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
Phone Number: (215) 222-2800
- The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
Phone Number: (212) 727-0135
Email Address: email@example.com
- Human Rights Campaign
Phone Number: (202) 628-4160
Toll-Free Number: (800) 777-4723
TTY: (202) 216-1572
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Human Rights Watch
Phone Number: (212) 290-4700
Email Address: email@example.com
- National Education Association
Phone Number: (202) 833-4000
- National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Phone Number: (202) 319-7596
Toll-Free Number: (800) 541-6922
TTY: (202) 319-9513
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Phone Number: (202) 467-8180
Email Address: email@example.com
Here are some books that are great for LGBTQ youth (check out the Lesbian Literature Page on this site for more book ideas):
- Bait by Alex Sanchez, Simon & Schuster
- My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman, Henry Holt
- Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole, HarperTeen
- Hit the Road, Manny: A Manny Files Novel by Christian Burch, Simon and Schuster (sequel to The Manny Files)
- How They Met & Other Stories by David Levithan, Knopf
18 stories, all about love, and about all kinds of love.
- Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story by Ellen Wittlinger, Simon and Schuster
- Mousetraps, Pat Schmetz, Carolrhoda Books
- Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
- What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson, Random House
- Nothing Pink by Mark Hardy, (Front Street Books).