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

Gay Couple Barred From Creation Museum’s ‘Date Night’ Christian Marriage Event

The 70,000-square foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky — where attendees are reminded the earth is only a few thousand years old and aliens are probably responsible for all those dinosaur fossils — hosted a ticketed "Date Night" event on Friday. For $ 71.90 per couple, attendees could listen to Ken Ham, the museum's founder, explain "the biblical view of marriage." (There was a musical portion of the evening, too.) But when a straight couple tried to attend the event with their friends Joe and Brandon, a gay couple, guess who security denied admittance to?

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—  David Taffet

KENTUCKY: Gay Couple Denied Admission To Creation Museum’s “Date Night”

On Friday a couple gay was turned away from a special “Date Night” event at Kentucky’s Creation Museum after being told that their presence would add an “un-Christian element” to the venue. Blogger Joe Sonka describes his evening:

I rushed back from DC to my old Kentucky home last night to attend the spectacular “Date Night at the Creation Museum”, where my date and I were to take in a nice dinner and listen to Ken Ham explain what makes a good relationship work. Unfortunately, we were told at the door that we would not be allowed entry. They explained to us that the Creation Museum Date Night was a “Christian environment”, therefore the presence of two men eating dinner together would not be allowed. The very sight of this would “add an un-Christian element to the event” and “disrupt the evening for everyone”. The Creation Museum rep further informed us that you cannot be a Christian if you are gay, asking “can you tell me what exactly is Christian about being gay?”

Sonka and his date were also denied refunds on their $ 71 tickets.

RELATED: In December the museum announced the construction of $ 25M “full-scale replica” of Noah’s Ark.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Men Thought To Be Gay Couple Refused Entry To Creation Museum

Joe Sonka of the blog Barefoot And Progressive recounts how he and his straight male friend who were thought to be a same-sex couple were refused entry into a "Date Night" event at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. This is what Sonka was told by museum staff:

Creat They explained to us that the Creation Museum Date Night was a "Christian environment", therefore the presence of two men eating dinner together would not be allowed. The very sight of this would 'add an un-Christian element to the event" and "disrupt the evening for everyone.' The Creation Museum rep further informed us that you cannot be a Christian if you are gay, asking "can you tell me what exactly is Christian about being gay?"

When asked for the refund on our tickets, which were purchased in advance, he informed us that there would be no refund, since it said explicitly on their Website that "no gay couples would be permitted to attend their Date Night". That is certainly an interesting admission, despite the fact that it isn't true.

Nowhere on the museum's website does it state that admission to the museum will be denied to gay couples. Tickets to the date night cost $ 71. Louisville's LEO Weekly has published an account by one of the friends who accompanied Sonka imcluding a reaction from one of the museum's security guards.

As both LEO and Sonka point out, Jeffrey D. Bornhoeft, an Ohio man who was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the shooting death of his ex-wife's husband, was granted a court approved visit to Kentucky so he can visit the museum. It is his first trip outside of the state since the trial in 2000.

Last summer, Jason Lisle, a representative for the museum, said about gay couples: "I don't think we would kick them out for [holding hands in the museum]."

Watch a BBC report about the museum, AFTER THE JUMP.


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—  David Taffet

OutServe creates regional chapters, announces creation of military base; join Blend liveblog on Wed

This is interesting — news that for obvious reasons can’t be too specific — since Outserve is made up of currently serving gay and lesbian service members. (Outserve):

OutServe, an organization of gay and lesbian military personnel, announced Monday the creation of several base and regional chapters around the globe.  At least ten will be organized by OutServe this week on military bases and regions where the organization has significant presence, including Afghanistan and Iraq. For safety reasons the exact location of the chapters will not be known, except for inside the exclusive network, but 5 chapters will be located overseas and 5 chapters will be located stateside.  Although the demand to establish additional chapters is high, OutServe will start with ten this week and expand in the near future. For information on the group go to www.outserve.org

The goal of each base and regional chapter will be to provide information, resources and social support to actively serving military personnel. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” places an immense burden upon individuals who think they are alone at their base and these networks will seek to fix that. Each chapter will be charged with growing and expanding their networks and offering support in their specific areas. OutServe Headquarters will be tasked with supporting those networks and serving as the voice of the national organization.

We need to start to empower local military networks to expand and unite them under one banner,” said JD Smith, OutServe’s co-director and active duty officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. He continued,  ”Informal networks of gay and lesbian military members have existed well before World War I and it’s time to take those networks and start connecting them and giving them more resources.”

Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” it can be difficult for LGBT military personnel to network with one another.  ”Our goal is to create an OutServe-based information superhighway where we can help LGBT military personnel connect with one another both locally and globally more efficiently,” stated Ty Walrod, OutServe’s co-director.  “We want military personnel to know commands that are friendly, commanders which should be addressed with caution, and where to turn for both friendship and support.”

Blenders will get a chance to ask about these initiatives when Smith and Walrod participate in a PHB liveblog on Wednesday at 8PM ET: http://tinyurl.com/PHBOutserve.
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