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

Goodbye LCR; hello again Metroplex Repubs

Gay GOP group’s officers offer a reasoned response to the breakup with Log Cabin Republicans and the myths surrounding it

There are times in life when we must evaluate our relationships with others to determine mutual benefit. And so it goes for political affiliations.

Schlein.Rob

Rob Schlein

Log Cabin Republicans Dallas pondered for years whether the association with LCR was a good “marriage” for many reasons. We did not undertake this evaluation lightly or in haste.

A couple of weeks ago, we were once again at a crossroads in evaluating that relationship. We were prepared to ask the Log Cabin national board for a hearing so that we could air our grievances and long-held concerns because a clear majority of our local board wanted a resolution that would keep us under the LCR-umbrella.

Instead, they pre-empted us by abruptly “de-certifying” our group, and “re-certifying” one with leadership of their choosing. Rather than wait two months for elections (we’ve been pushing for new leaders to come forward for years) they hand-selected their new president.

Merit or not, other Log Cabin Chapters should be, and are, very alarmed at what has happened with the lack of due process.

Last week, Log Cabin Republicans headquarters issued press releases — before we received our legal notice — that resulted in media articles that were factually untrue. ”Lie” might be too strong a word to write for a political organization, but “if the shoe fits” … .

There was no due process, and no formal warnings or notifications to the members of the chapter leadership.  There was no probation period … absolutely nothing!

From Chapter of the Year in 2008 to Chapter Death Sentence in 2011, you might ask, “What happened?”

We suspect that inviting leaders from another nationally known gay conservative organization to speak to a gay Republican group was,

OefteringRudy

Rudy Oeftering

in their view, an LCR National “emergency.” If true, it would reveal a near childish jealousy.

Was it the rumor we heard about the executive director’s displeasure with the Dallas Voice op-ed stating that Gov. Rick Perry is a better choice than President Obama? Was it Rob Schlein’s interview with Michael Signorile where he made a less than artful statement regarding minority politics vs. the common good?

Or perhaps it was the failed scheme of the inexperienced LCR executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, to pin blame on the local chapter for failures with a major donor that were clearly his responsibility.

Maybe the action was to deflect attention from LCR National’s embarrassing failures and list of “no-show” speakers at the national convention held in Dallas this past spring.

We may never know the answer to these questions, since our de-chartering is yet another example of the national office’s continued bumbling. Remember: No warning, no communication, no policy, no due process — absolutely nothing!

One of our most senior board members from the de-chartered local chapter wrote an email a few days ago to all of the national Log Cabin directors. It included this sentence: “I have in front of me one of the most incomprehensible pieces of fiction I’ve ever read in the form of a letter from the National LCR attorney laying out the reasoning for our de-chartering.”  He concluded, “The actions of the board were completely out of proportion to the problem at hand and were driven by personality conflicts, continued confusion in the national office, false accusations and half-truths.”

Their silence in response has been deafening.

In some ways, the actions of Log Cabin National, while immensely hurtful, made our decisions easy. We have always been one of the largest chapters in the LCR network. At over 30 years old, we started as Metroplex Republicans, and then chose to affiliate with Log Cabin in 1995.

As in marriage, sometimes the parties need to separate. And so it is now. We have come full circle, returning to our Metroplex Republicans roots. But in dropping the association with Log Cabin, we will have opportunity to reach further into the Dallas County party to affect positive change.

While a new Log Cabin chapter was technically chartered, it appears that even to the shell leadership, what comes next is hazy. Some feel the Log Cabin label is important, and may transition their membership to the infant chapter. Many are already suggesting reconciliation.

What is certain is that all are welcome to enjoy the continuity and quality of programming we have had in place for many years, formerly as Log Cabin and now as Metroplex Republicans.

Our years of experience have taught us what it takes in organization, dedication and quality programs for any volunteer organization to succeed. We have everything we need to grow and prosper.

We see the events of last week as an opportunity to reach more Republicans in Dallas. We intend to include Republicans of all varieties and will reach out to all non-traditional Republican allies. We believe correctly defined conservative principals benefit all and oppose the “gimme mine” politics of political sub-grouping at the expense of liberty and freedom.

Our next functions include a Preview Social for the Grand Ol’ Party on Oct. 22, the regular monthly meeting on Oct. 24, and the Grand Ol’ Party on Nov. 5.   Please visit our website, MetroplexRepublicans.com, for details and to sign up on our email list.

Robert Schlein is president and Rudy Oeftering is vice president of Metroplex Republicans, formerly known as the “original” Log Cabin Dallas Chapter.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

REVIEW: Semi Precious Weapons at The Loft, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the Palladium

Justin Tranter
FOR MORE PICS OF THE SHOW, GO HERE.

Suffice it to say, I did not see Semi Precious Weapons go on stage. I was downstairs in the Palladium Showroom catching Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings do their thing. But more on that later. Walking upstairs into The Loft, I could immediately hear the band jamming out its punk glam rock to a raucous crowd.

Sure enough, a tight crowd pressed against each other and the stage with hands in the air like they just didn’t care. Although SPW is a band, the show is really about its frontman Justin Tranter. Perhaps he’s waiting for his Beyonce moment to break away from the band and become the star he should be. Tranter owned both the band and the crowd. His presence is huge with his mop top of blond hair and heavy eye make-up, but also with his inherent diva qualities. With fey hand gestures and funny “fuck yous” to the crowd, he actually bonds with his audience. It’s all so punk rock.

SPW’s fans are a breed unto themselves. They knew every word to the songs and responded with haste when Tranter commanded them to. When he told people to take off their clothes, garments immediately started flying to the stage. His antics made for a worthy show. He made sure everyone was “Sticky With Champagne” as he pretty much jacked off a bottle and sprayed the bubbly load all over the audience. He then bore his ass, and one guy suggested there might have been balls involved. I missed that photo opp. Maybe it was a good thing. He promised sexual favors if the crowd bought his merch and a spray of water was a cool bath amid the sweaty hot crowd.

Sharon Jones

Just don’t think he’s all shock value and schtick. The band (especially the guitars) was sharp and each instrument came off lush but sharp and beautifully loud. The music was matched by Tranter’s strong voice — especially in “Fucking Gorgeous” — which at times was reminiscent of The Clash’s Joe Strummer — powerful with the slightest tint of delicacy that gave him extra pizzazz. Tranter also didn’t sacrifice his voice for an outlandish rock persona. He belted out a few vocal runs complete with vibrato but kept it under the cheesy radar.

The energy SPW had here to a crowd of maybe 150 was exponentially better than their opening gig at Lady Gaga this summer. I almost would hate for them to get bigger because SPW was on top of their game and clearly at home in a tinier venue like The Loft.

Downstairs in the Palladium Showroom, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings was performing her soulful gig. And just like Tranter, Jones captivated with frantic dancing and those beautifully rich and gritty vocal chords — that is when you could hear her.

I’m not sure how this worked, but being up close, I could barely hear a word she said, much less sang. The Dap-Kings however were crisp and clear — especially the horn section. I had to leave for SPW and then came back and from the rear of the standing audience, Jones was a whole lot clearer.

Jones has unique appeal. The gays weren’t out in force but a few were in the audience grooving along with the mostly 20-something hipsters who seemed to have genuine appreciation for her music rather than just jumping on some nostalgic trend recycling its way through. And regardless of who was in the audience, young or old, Jones and the Kings had the crowd dancing, which was kind of a shocker in Dallas. Audiences here tend to just watch. It’s weird. But last night, this Dallas crowd grooved, shimmied and shook through each song.

I do wish they had peppered more ballads in. Jones’ voice is something to behold but it seemed like 95 percent of the show was overly upbeat. That’s never a bad thing but heck, we needed a break, too! Regardless, Jones and her very able Dap Kings gave one of the most satisfying shows of the year so far.

Grace Potter and the NocturnalsFans of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals should have been equally satisfied if not ass-kicked. Despite opener status for Jones, Potter and the gang went for broke with her raucous performance. Her dirty roots rock pretty much tsunami-ed the room. To top it off, she went from guitars to piano to tambourine and struck a pose each time. Drag queens should look her up as influence, if she hasn’t already done that vice versa for her onstage presence. In an almost peek-a-boo short, shimmery dress, she was feminine but rocked out like many a male rocker from the hair-teased 80s. Her set began to go just a little too long, mostly because it felt the energy in the room was buzzing for Jones. But Potter played like she would for a sold-out crowd at the Cotton Bowl and it ruled.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good night for a concert — even two.

—  Rich Lopez