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

Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

……………………….

Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

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Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

MUSIC NEWS: PJ Harvey, Bright Eyes, Rihanna, Radiohead, Arthur Russell, The Sounds, Teena Marie, Oh Land, Adele, Green Day

PJ Harvey

NORMAN BRANNON

Guestblogger Norman Brannon is a pop critic, musician, and author based in New York City. He presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad and writes regularly at Nervous Acid.  

Follow Norman on Twitter at @nervousacid.

ESSENTIAL NEW MUSIC:

Pj-harvey-let-england-shake PJ Harvey Let England Shake (Vagrant)

There's definitely something vaguely dystopian about the tone and tenor of Let England Shake, but that's not the discomforting part. On her eighth full-length album, PJ Harvey chronicles a dark and morally ambiguous history of England as a present-tense proposition: In other words, the dystopia is now. Of course, Let England Shake is not as much a polemic as it is a meditation on what it means to be English, so while this album has already found itself positioned as Harvey's first truly outward examination, the internal conflict still plays a role in its narrative: On "The Last Living Rose," Harvey mourns, "Take me back to England!" before noting its "grey, damp filthiness of the ages," while the narrator for "The Words That Maketh Murder" helms a first-person wartime lens for a truly relevant consideration of the personal cost of nationalist rhetoric. But the extent of Harvey's pop acumen is most clearly demonstrated by her seemingly effortless ability to convey these criticisms without the oppressive trappings of a so-called Serious Album, and it is, perhaps, that lack of explicit navel-gazing that makes it all the more profound. On some level, it could be argued that the rigorous introspection of Harvey's previous albums may have inevitably led up to this one — because you can't make sense of the world around you unless you know your place inside of it.

Bright-Eyes-The-Peoples-Key Bright Eyes The People's Key (Saddle Creek)

In the almost four years since Cassadega, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst has become equally as recognized for his progressive political activism and newfound interest in spiritual mysticism as he was for being "the new Bob Dylan" when he was only 22. At 30, Oberst has clearly outgrown the comparison, and with The People's Key, he introduces a newly liberated version of his personal and musical identity: "I take some comfort in knowing the wave has crested," he sings on one song, "knowing I don't have to be an exception." On the surface, this is a deceptively complex album that draws from the wide spectrum of Oberst–related collaborations that have surfaced over the last several years — his electro-tinged work with The Faint, that shamanic folk of the Mystic Valley Band, and the fuzzy punk chaos of Desaparecidos among them. But instead of resigning itself to pastiche, The People's Key teems with a sense of cohesion that even his strictly acoustic records often fail to muster, and if there's a Conor Oberst album less maudlin than this one, I've never heard it: It's psychedelic, but crisp; rife with metaphor, but still sometimes hazy. Which — when it comes from a songwriter whose tendency to be literal once inspired him to write songs called "It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends" — turns out to be a refreshing, game-changing surprise.

UP FRONT:



The Sounds: "Better Off Dead"

In preparation for the March 29th release of their fourth album, Something to Die For, Sweden's best-known new wave exports The Sounds are offering Towleroad readers a free download of their first single in over a year: "Better Off Dead" largely strips the band of its guitars for a dynamic, unambiguous four-to-the-floor club track which probably won't quell those persistent Dale Bozzio comparisons any time soon. But in my book, that's not a comparison you'd necessarily want to shake.

THE DISPATCH:

Rihanna Road Rihanna went through a bit of a censorship controversy this week when the BBC began airing a version of her latest single, "S&M," that had been edited of any references to "sex" or "chains and whips" and renamed as "Come On." Rihanna took to Twitter to express her displeasure, stating that she was "absolutely not" OK with the change, and really, she shouldn't be — especially when it was only a year ago that BBC Radio aired this rendition of the Velvet Underground's "Venus In Furs," as performed by Gary Numan and Little Boots. Sample lyric: "Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather … Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart." Rihanna's lyric is a cute metaphor in comparison.

Road Radiohead announced surprise details for a new album yesterday, and true to form, they're only giving us five days notice:The King of Limbs is being called "the world's first Newspaper Album," and will feature two 10-inch records on clear vinyl, a compact disc, digital downloads of all the music, and over 600 pieces of "tiny artwork." (You also have the choice to just download the digital album by itself.) The music will become available on February 19.

Road Her new album, 21, celebrates its official release next week, but until then, British songstress Adele has announced dates for an upcoming North American tour — which begins on May 12 in Washington, D.C., and aims to hit most of the major American markets. Adele's stunning sophomore album is streaming at NPR right now.

Road Muse, Foo Fighters, and, umm, Eminem have been announced to headline Lollapalooza in Chicago this summer, but my money is on the openers announced so far: Best Coast, Girl Talk, Crystal Castles, and Lykke Li are all slated to perform.

Road Nanna Øland Fabricius — better known as Oh Land — was discovered by minimal techno producer Kasper Bjorke in her native Denmark, but the singer eventually moved to America where she released an EP last fall that went criminally underrated. Apparently, Sony Music thought so, too: The label quietly rereleased Sun Of A Gun last week and they slipped in an extra track: "We Turn It Up" is the first collaboration between the Brooklyn–based singer and the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams. Is it too early to talk song-of-the-summer?

Arthur russell Road Before tragically losing his battle to AIDS in 1992, Arthur Russell had become one of the most respected and influential musicians of his century — leaving an indelible mark on avant-pop, disco, and even modern classical music. Earlier this month, a group of Russell's friends and collaborators released an album under the name Arthur's Landing featuring new arrangements of some his best work — including the Loose Joints classic "Is It All Over My Face?" — but for those unfamiliar with the originals, Strut Records has enlisted DJ/producer Pocketknife for an 80-minute mix of Arthur Russell classics available for free download HERE.

Road Fans of Björk and Sigur Rós will likely appreciate this beautifully shot 30-minute documentary about the Icelandic music scene, quite literally titled Iceland: Beyond Sigur Rós. The film features interviews and video clips from classical-electronica artist Ólafur Arnalds and longtime indie-pop advocates Seabear, among others.

Road Following the departure of Billie Joe Armstrong from his featured performance on Broadway with American Idiot: The Musical, it has been confirmed that AFI's Davey Havok will bring his gothic glam to the role of St. Jimmy for a two-week run. Also set to star with Havok: American Idol alum Justin Guarini.

COMING OUT:

Teena marie icon When news of Teena Marie's death surfaced in December, many Americans remembered her primarily for "Lovergirl" — the 1984 hit that signaled the second phase of her career following an acrimonious split with Motown two years earlier. But that first phase was incredibly significant, and Icon, which comes out today, celebrates Marie's tenure at the label with a comprehensive collection of material that leaves little doubt to the legitimacy of her "Ivory Queen of Soul" status — as if "I'm A Sucker for Your Love," featuring her late mentor, Rick James, or the truly unforgettable "Square Biz" couldn't do that on their own.

For their new EP, Derealization, The Forms recast a handful of songs from their 2007 self-titled debut for a considerable upgrade. The songs themselves do most of the heavy lifting — the swirling and rhythmic "Steady Hand" is a clear standout — but members of The National, Pattern is Movement, Shudder to Think, St. Vincent, and Dirty Projectors all lend a hand to make this revision truly necessary.

Trax Trax Records is to house music what Sun Records is to rock 'n' roll: Founded in 1984, the label didn't just release pioneering house records as much as it actually guided the genre's progression from American post-disco to Chicago acid and underground house. Trax Re-Edited harnesses 21 of the label's most classic tracks and hands the masters over to contemporary producers like Ray Mang, Toby Tobias, Swag, and Freaks' Justin Harris for a near-perfect compilation of modern dancefloor edits.

A couple of years back at the Merge Records anniversary festival in North Carolina, I watched Telekinesis leader Michael Lerner find out that his band was too sick to play, assemble a new band on the spot, practice once, and then go on stage and totally kill it with the kind of precision reserved for veteran artists — all within the span of a four-hour window. To say that his second album for Merge, 12 Desperate Straight Lines, is a virtuosic display of power-pop, then, may be an understatement. Also, it never hurts to have Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla on production duties.

Also out today: Mogwai — Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (Sub Pop), Ginuwine — Elgin (Notifi), Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx — We're New Here (XL), Mark Farina — Mushroom Jazz 7 (Om), Sonic Youth — Simon Werner a Disparu (SYR), Lifeguards — Waving at the Astronauts (Ernest Jenning Record Co.), East River Pipe — We Live In Rented Rooms (Merge), Twilight Singers — Dynamite Steps (Sub Pop)

SOUND & VISION:

Erykah Badu — "Baby, Don't Be Long"

For the third single from New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), Erykah Badu enlists the video tricknology skills of Flying Lotus — whose own experimental hip-hop career on Warp Records likely informs the Jetsons-on-blueprint-paper aesthetic of this clip.

Mirrors — "Into The Heart"

They call what they do "pop noir," and there might be something to that: "Into The Heart" is particularly memorable as far as 21st century synth-pop goes, like a young Orchestral Manouevers in the Dark in need of antidepressants.

Toro Y Moi — "New Beat"

When your real name is already Chazwick Bundick, I'm not sure why you'd need a pseudonym. Whatever the case, Toro Y Moi's first single from the forthcoming Underneath The Pine reminds me of those lo-fi disco records that DJs used to play off of reel-to-reel machines back in the 1970s. This is, by the way, a ringing endorsement.

Sanso-xtro — "Hello Night Crow"

Australian ambient electronic artist Melissa Agate returns with Fountain Fountain Joyous Mountain, her first new album in five years. The gorgeous glitch of "Hello Night Crow" serves as a perfect soundtrack for this visually stunning exercise in stop-motion video.



Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

HRC to Share Harvey Milk Storefront

HRC Milk x390 (pick up) I Advocate.comThe Human Rights Campaign announced Tuesday the group will share Harvey
Milk’s old Castro Camera storefront in San Francisco with a crisis
hotline run by the Trevor Project.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

HRC Now Squatting In Harvey Milk’s Castro Camera Shop

Harvey Milk's famed Castro Camera shop on Castro Street was a place where the city supervisor congregated with fellow activists to plot strategy in the 1970s. Today, it'll be where the Human Rights Campaign's San Francisco Action Center is headquartered: the group just snapped up the lease to the historic storefront. There, HRC will sell logo-emblazened bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and maybe even let passers-by sign up for its Visa card. Opines local resident Michael Petrelis: "In taking over the lease of Harvey's old shop, HRC is showing us again how desperate they are to develop some bona fide grassroots credibility, by moving half a block in the Castro from their current 'action center's' location. That move will not transform HRC into an effective advocate for the gays."


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—  admin