And Then Came The Knock
May 26, 2011 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Coming Out: Audio, Photos, and Stories of Gay Teens (NYTimes)

This was the one that made me want to post this. But lots more where that came from...
posted by hermitosis (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Be sure to read the 'Related Article -- ‘Coming Out’: Gay Teenagers, in Their Own Words
"The New York Times embarked on the project 'Coming Out' as an effort to better understand this generation’s realities and expectations, and to give teenagers their own voice in the conversation.

The Times spoke with or e-mailed nearly 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender teenagers from all of parts of the country — from rural areas to urban centers, from supportive environments to hostile ones. The newspaper contacted them through various advocacy groups, as well as through social networking sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The Trevor Project, which provides counseling to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths in crisis, among other services, posted a call for teenagers to tell their stories to The Times, resulting in nearly 250 responses. At times, young people led The Times to others."
posted by ericb at 7:42 AM on May 26, 2011

I wish that my daughter would contribute to this, but I doubt that she would. In 8th grade, she had taken to eating her lunch in the girl's restroom, due to the shunning and harassment she received (although many straight girls also get that treatment).
posted by Danf at 7:53 AM on May 26, 2011

They should just put little fold-out tables in the restroom stalls of public schools, already.
posted by hermitosis at 8:03 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Danf: " (although many straight girls also get that treatment)."

Gay teens get it worst of all, but I've thought for a while that teenagers of all stripes need an "It Gets Better" project. Fuck, if I had ever known. It would have made things easier.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:11 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would be interested hearing of any books people are aware of that attempt to explain the contemporary bigotry towards homosexuals (that is not simply an explanation based on evolutionary biology), considering that the acceptance of homosexuals and/or homosexual activity has seemingly been more acceptable at certain times in history than in others. While I'm sure any explanation would include religious, societal and biological explanations, I'd be curious if anyone is aware of a book that delves deeply into the subject.
posted by gagglezoomer at 8:22 AM on May 26, 2011

I'm sure that there is a lot that can be said about the sources of homophobia, as gagglezoomer asks, but there is really only one significant root cause, which is the difficulty that some people have in understanding that people can be different from them without necessarily being wrong. Heterosexuals easily believe that the reason why they are attracted to members of the opposite sex is because memebers of the opposite sex are inherently attractive; they take this as objective reality, and think that anyone who does not react the same way is strangely deluded or perverse, whereas in reality, beauty and sexual attractiveness are in the eye of the beholder; they are subjective reactions, not objective reality.
posted by grizzled at 8:28 AM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


My first thought was, "Smile, everyone! On three, say 'Your son's gay!'"
posted by Eideteker at 8:35 AM on May 26, 2011

(In case it wasn't clear, the son's the one taking the picture.)
posted by Eideteker at 8:36 AM on May 26, 2011

It amazes me how brave these young people are. They know they are risking exclusion not just from their peer groups, but also from their families. I wish them happiness and love to go along with their strength.

When my cousin L came out as a lesbian over a decade ago the family responded with a "Yep. We saw that one coming." When L came out as transgender in the last two years, that was very slowly shared among the family because folks weren't sure how L would be treated. I'm happy to say that the majority of the family has been accepting and supportive of L. L moved over 1,000 miles away to start a new life with his girlfriend. L refers to himself as a Momma's boy and still talks to my Aunt all the time. My Aunt and young cousins are heading out to visit L at his home next week.

My Mom wasn't sure how to think of L's transition in light of her religious beliefs. She loves L but feels the Catholic church is not open. She confronted a priest she respects about "If God made us ALL in His image then what does that mean for L? Why does the Church condemn L if God made L and God doesn't make mistakes?" The priest asked if L was at peace with himself since beginning his transition. L is and it is amazing to see L happy after so many years of being so obviously unhappy. The priest pointed out that the Church is not good at admitting mistakes but that he takes L's happiness as proof of God's grace and love.
posted by onhazier at 10:47 AM on May 26, 2011

The priest pointed out that the Church is not good at admitting mistakes but that he takes L's happiness as proof of God's grace and love.

Good on him. I love that sentiment. Clergy: More of this, plz.

Thanks for the link, hermitosis. Some of the stories are hard to read. It seems like a lifetime ago since I've come out... I feel like such a different, better person now. When I was an anxious, confused, isolated high school kid who didn't understand why he liked guys and didn't know who to talk to about it, I wish I would have had access to stories like this. Just to know that people my own age were going through the same thing I was would have made it easier. I'm glad that these kids are brave and confident enough to share their experience, pain, and strength with the world. It's stuff like this that saves lives.
posted by kryptondog at 11:10 AM on May 26, 2011

I have a strange relationship with coming out stories: When I was a teenager ages ago, living in small town Alberta, I did what comes naturally to me and researched the whole "gay thing" on the internet. The coming out stories I found basically convinced me that coming out would be a terrible terrible ordeal, that my redneck friends and family would disown me if not worse, and so I put it off for years. When I did come out it was such a non-issue for everyone involved that it has soured my opinion of coming out stories in general.

So I actually like some of these stories because they reflect that for some people coming out isn't as big of a deal as you think it will be (if that makes any sense).
posted by selenized at 11:44 AM on May 26, 2011

BTW -- another good site for personal stories from LGBT folks is 'I'm From Driftwood'.

Previous FPP.
posted by ericb at 11:52 AM on May 26, 2011

Oh, coming out in the 80's wasn't so difficult. My ex called my parents and did it for me, about two weeks after she threw me out of our house. All her coming out for me cost was my college tuition.
In some ways, it's harder for young queers now, because the greater general awareness of GLBTQ identities makes it harder to hide until one can get to a safe place.
posted by Dreidl at 1:39 PM on May 26, 2011

I am so proud of these kids. I also appreciated the wide perspectives this piece sought out, like the Lutheran girl who found so much peace and strength in her faith and her church vs the Mormon boy who had to leave his church to be who he is.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:01 AM on May 27, 2011

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