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

Black gays and lesbians shouldn’t be seen as weak or invisible

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

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If you want to see why it's so hard for lgbt of color to get any type of acknowledgment, then a situation in Schnectady, New York should give an indication.

Apparently some people there are not happy with the billboard seen above:

Billboards trying to drum up community support for gay black men were criticized Monday as a pastor, a daycare provider and a City Council member called for the billboards to come down.

The Rev. Alfred Thompkins, of Calvary Tabernacle, said the “I am gay” billboard message only encourages troubled youth to embrace homosexuality.

“A thirteen-year-old looks at these billboards and says, ‘That must be it, I must be gay,’ ” he said. “That goes directly against God’s purpose. As a resident of Schenectady, a pastor who works with young people, with families, frankly I’m really bothered by the message these send.”

The billboards offer three messages, showing gay men with their families, in church and on a basketball court. Each message starts with the announcement “I am gay,” in large letters, and concludes with, “We have always been a part of this community.”

They were designed by In Our Own Voices, a gay advocacy group in Albany. The state Department of Health paid for the billboards as part of an effort to find a more effective way to reduce the HIV infection rate, which has disproportionately hit gay and bisexual black men. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control said the epidemic had reached such a level that new methods must be found to encourage men to use condoms.

Our Own Voices says that the billboard is created to garner acceptance of homosexuality, which in turn will cause gay men to lead healthier lives. Others have voiced opposition to the billboards because they supposedly allow “inappropriate sexual expression,” a reason which doesn't make any sense at all because there nothing on the billboards with anything having to do with sexual intercourse.

And probably the most insulting comment from one person (the same one pushing the ridiculous idea of “inappropriate sexual expression”) is the belief that the billboards should be moved to “adult business zones.”

The sad thing is that this controversy reveals the ignorance of some in the black community regarding lgbts of color.

I got news for Pastor Thompkins – 13-year-old lgbts already exist. The billboards' presence is irrelevant on that point. But the billboards are a much better message to these children than seeing a weak, flamboyant, oversexed gay man or an overly sexually aggressive lesbian, or a confused transgender out to “trick” a man to have sex with her – three stereotypes that are unfortunately prevalent in the black media these days.

And the idea that being an lgbt is strictly a lifestyle about sex is a huge lie. According to a report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force which looked at data from the 2000 Census report:

Black same-sex households are nearly twice as likely as White same-sex households to include children. Black male same-sex households are twice as likely as White male same-sex households to include at least one child under 18, 36% versus 18% respectively. Fifty-two percent of Black female same-sex households are comprised of parents living with at least one child under 18, compared with 32% of White female same-sex households.

What this is about is the deliberate inability of the African-American community to acknowledge the presence of lgbts of color.  And that inability leads to the ignorance that we are seeing here. It's really a catch-22 situation because while I am not happy with the nonsense these folks have expressed, I know what will happen when this issue is discussed by some members of the lgbt community.

It's going to be transformed into a back and forth argument on whether lgbts are racist or are African-Americans homophobic.

Meanwhile, lgbts of color – that's us folks in the middle – will be ignored or rather seen as a prize to be won by whichever group can prove that they suffered more than the other group.

Bottom  line to me is this – the billboards are an excellent idea and those who agree with this point should not allow themselves to go off on tangents. The issue is about the safety and health of lgbts of color and that's where the issue should stay.

Hat tip to Joe.My.God.

Related post:

BET looks at lgbts of color, destroys myths about being gay

 

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

MUST WATCH: ‘Hir,’ The Poem For Invisible Trans Teens


"Hir" poem @transgendered Alysia Harris & Aysha El Shamayleh
Uploaded by TheSilentNumber. – Discover more webcam videos and video blogs.

Wow. Alysia Harris and Aysha El Shamayleh's poem "Hir" is just excellent. Airing on HBO's new poetry slam series Brave New Voices (based on the festival of the same name), it's about that trans kid in the back of the class, who is not Melissa. He is James.

CONTINUED »


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