Chronicle blogger blames ‘It Gets Better” project for LGBT teen suicides

Kathleen McKinley

Kathleen McKinley

Kathy McKinley is a self-described “conservative activist” who blogs for the Houston Chronicle under the monicker “TexasSparkle.” In a recent post McKinley took the “It Gets Better” project to task for what she believes is their culpability in the suicides of LGBT teens:

“These kids were sold a bill of goods by people who thought they were being kind. The “It will get better” campaign just didn’t think it through. They didn’t think about the fact that kids are different from adults. They handle things differently. They react differently. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS. You can grumble all day long how unfair it is that straight teens can be straight in high school, and gay kids can’t, but life is unfair. Isn’t the price they are paying too high?? Is it so much to ask them to stand at the door of adulthood before they “come out” publically? Because it may save their life.”

McKinnley’s primary confusion about the “It Gets Better” campaign (other than its name) is the assumption that the goal is to encourage teens to come out of the closet, or encourage them to become sexually active:

“Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet. The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later.”

I would like to encourage Ms. McKinley to watch the “It Gets Better” project’s founder Dan Savages’ video. Please, Ms. McKinley, listen, and tell me if you hear Savage or his partner Terry say anything about teens coming out or having sex. I think what you’ll hear them say is that all of the things that most kids, gay and straight, dream of (falling in love, starting a family, having the support of their parents, co-workers and friends) are possible for LGBT teens. I think you’ll hear them talk about how difficult their teen years were, and about the fears they had that their parents would reject them, that they’d never find success and that they’d always be alone.

Choosing to have sex is one of the most personal decision a person will ever make. For LGBT people, choosing to come out is another. I have not watched all of the thousands of videos from people who have participated in the “It Gets Better” project. It’s possible that there are a few that tell kids to come out right away, or to become sexually active, but I doubt it.

Every video in the project that I have seen has had the same simple message: that the person making it understands how tortuously awful the experience of being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender in Junior and High School can be, but there is a wonderful world of loving, vibrant, successful, engaged LGBT adults out there and if queer teens can just hang on, just for a few years, they can join it. I doubt that any of the contributors to the project think that hanging on for a few years will be easy. I suspect that most of them remember, with excruciating clarity, contemplating ending those temporary years of terror with a permanent solution and that is why they choose to reach out.

I grew up without role models, where people like Barbara Gittings, Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk didn’t exist . I grew up in a small town where the two men with the pink house were talked about in hushed tones that immediately fell silent when I walked into the room, because it wasn’t appropriate for children’s ears. I grew up in a world where my mother wouldn’t tell me what “gay” meant, where the evening news was turned off if it reported on the AIDS crisis, where I wasn’t given words to describe who I was, and so the only word I could find was “alone.”

I was lucky. My suicide attempt failed.

I was lucky, I survived, and went to college, and found a church that embraced and loved LGBT people. That’s where I met doctors and lawyers and business owners and teachers who were like me. That’s where I met two wonderful women who had built a life together for over 50 years. That’s where I discovered I wasn’t alone and that being gay didn’t mean that i couldn’t have all of those things I’d dreamed of.

That is what McKinley missed in her blog post. In her haste to lay blame on anything other than the overwhelming prejudice perpetuated by schools, churches and governments against LGBT people McKinley missed the fact that kids need role models. In her rush to shove queer teens back into the closet she forgot that human beings need the hope of a better world, lest they give up in despair.

McKinley got one thing right in her post. She titled it “Are Adults Also To Blame For Gay Teen Suicides? Yes.” Adults are to blame for LGBT teen suicides. When adults hide the stunning diversity of God’s creation from their children they create a vision of reality that some of those children can’t see themselves in. When adults tell LGBT teens that they should be invisible then it is all too clear who is to blame when those teens believe them, and take steps to make themselves invisible permanently.

To all the LGBT kids out there: it does get better. There are adults who care about you and want all the wonderful things you dream of to come true, but you have to hang on. If you need to keep who are secret to remain safe then do so. If you need someone to talk to please call the Trevor Project at 866-4-U-Trevor (866-488-7386).

—  admin

Check out our new LGBT TweetRoll

You may have noticed that we’ve replaced our old BlogRoll with a Twitter-based application we’re calling our LGBT TweetRoll. You can find the LGBT TweetRoll over on the main page, to the right of Instant Tea and below More Headlines.

We think it’s pretty cool, and you don’t have to have a Twitter account to use it. If you see a headline that interests you in the LGBT TweetRoll, just click on the link and it will take you to the full story. You can scroll up and down in the LGBT TweetRoll using the arrows on the right, and view the most recent 25 posts. The LGBT TweetRoll will refresh each time you come back and even while you’re viewing the page.

For now the LBT TweetRoll is tracking (or following) about 15 LGBT blogs and organizations — from Towleroad to Resource Center Dallas —  but we’ll be adjusting it periodically and possibly adding other TweetRolls elsewhere on the site.

We hope you enjoy it, and feel free to let us know what you think in the comments.

 

—  John Wright

Dear Senate Aides: Leave Hateful Comments On Gay Blogs From Your Home Computer

A staffer at Sen. Saxby Chambliss' office posted the comment "All fags must die" on the gay blog Joe.My.God, something that was easily traced thanks to the user's IP address and technological stupidity.


Permalink | 3 comments | Add to del.icio.us
Tagged: , , , ,

Queerty

—  John Wright

And Now The Tech Blogs Are Endorsing Prop 8-Loving Meg Whitman

The same week we learn blogs are getting paid to publish sympathetic coverage of Meg Whitman comes a guest post on the must-read tech blog TechCrunch endorsing the California gubernatorial candidate.

CONTINUED »


Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Queerty

—  John Wright

Why you should never cheat on someone who has nude pics of you if you’re a Dallas Cowboy

Tight end Martellus Bennett reportedly did just that, and the “scorned female” is said to have retaliated by releasing the pics, which have now turned up on several blogs including MediaTakeout.com and DEADSPIN. We haven’t been able to find one without the red star, but we assure you we’re covering this because it’s local and not because it’s an excuse to post nude pics. Here’s our question, though: Why wouldn’t they use the Cowboys star?

—  John Wright