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

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

SLDN’s Comm Director Trevor Thomas joins Socarides, Eleveld at Equality Matters

This evening I received an email from Trevor Thomas, the ace communications director at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announcing his move to Equality Matters, the new rapid-response LGBT venture of Media Matters for America. He will serve as Programs Director alongside President Richard Socarides and online editor Kerry Eleveld; he starts at EqM on January 24th. (MetroWeekly): Socarides:

“He is an incredible advocate and forthright spokesperson. We are excited he has agreed to join us and continue his work on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at Equality Matters.”

In an email sent this evening to friends and colleagues that he gave permission for Metro Weekly to publish, he wrote of his time at SLDN, “When I arrived to SLDN, I viewed it broadly as another gay rights group.  It didn’t take long to recognize SLDN was a military group first and foremost.  For so many on the staff and board, ending ‘Don’t Ask’ was deeply personal. Many of them were discharged or served in fear and silence.

“In my own life, my brother Ricky enlisted in the United States Army at age 18. My father served in the 126th Infantry of the Michigan National Guard. And my grandfather served as a U.S. Army Corporal during World War II. I’ve been fortunate to find my own road to pay it forward.”

***

On a semi-related note, as Kerry Eleveld wraps up her stint at The Advocate, don’t miss her latest interview — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A snippet:

Feeling your way through an interview with one of the world’s most powerful women is more art than science. Marriage seemed like the place to start, since Clinton had been caught off guard by a recent inquiry on the issue while visiting Australia. Her husband has said that he now supports full marriage equality: Many of his gay friends are in committed relationships, former president Bill Clinton said in 2009. As far as marriage goes, he said, he had just been “hung up about the word.”

Did she share his experience? I wondered. Was she at odds with President Barack Obama’s stated position in support of civil unions but against marriage equality?

But on the phone, Clinton is circumspect about her husband’s comments. “Well, I share his experience because we obviously share a lot of the same friends, but I have not changed my position,” she says without elaborating. The secretary wasn’t taking any political bait, nor was she going to tangle with anything that could figure negatively for her boss.

Clinton’s chief of staff and counselor, Cheryl Mills, had modeled the same on-message discipline when I sat down with her a few weeks earlier, avoiding any comparison between the secretary’s movement on LGBT issues and the president’s. Mills and Clinton have been friends for nearly 20 years, dating back to when Mills served as deputy White House counsel for President Clinton. She arrived on the national stage as part of a legal team defending the president during the 1999 impeachment trial. A quick Google search of Mills’s name turns up the crux of her argument, spoken on the Senate floor from the perspective of an African-American woman: “I’m not worried about civil rights, because this president’s record on civil rights, on women’s rights, on all of our rights, is unimpeachable…. I stand here before you today because President Bill Clinton believed I could stand here for him.”

(Note/disclaimer and all that jazz – I am a member of the Equality Matters advisory board.)
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Trevor Donovan’s Spartan Wardrobe

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Trevor Donovan, who plays gay character Teddy on 90210, tweeted this photo of himself on the set of CSI. Donovan will appear on a forthcoming episode of the show as a Spartan employed at a Las Vegas casino whose sword, helmut and breastplate are stolen from him. If you ask me he's better off without those items anyway.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Scott Herman for The Trevor Project

SCOTT HERMAN MAIN X390 (SCOTTHERMANFITNESS.COM) | ADVOCATE.COMFormer Real World: Brooklyn castmember and current fitness guru
and gay rights advocate Scott Herman filmed a YouTube public service
announcement that supports The Trevor Project, which works to stop
suicide among gay youth through a 24-hour hotline.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Today Is Trevor Project Day In NYC

As proclaimed by Gov. David Paterson in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week.

Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among young people (15 to 24-year-olds). Only accidents and homicides occur more frequently as causes of death among young people. LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. With your help, The Trevor Project can continue Saving Young Lives.

Visit the Trevor Project’s Facebook page or their website for information on how to help them protect the lives of LGBT youth.

RELATED: Below is a celeb-filled video from Cyndi Lauper’s We Give A Damn project. Visit their Facebook page for information on helping to prevent LGBT youth suicides.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Just How Far Will 90210 Take Trevor Donovan’s Sexual Conquests?

When we posted the photo spread titled "How Trevor Donovan Will Drive the 90210 Girls Crazy," we meant to say "90210 Boys." Because that's just what the chiseled former A&F model is going to do when his character Teddy Montgomery goes gay this upcoming season. But producers didn't just want to hand viewers a homo; they wanted to launch a whole coming out storyline.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

90210 Producer, Trevor Donovan, Discuss Gay Character Coming Out

EW spoke to 90210 executive producer Rebecca Sinclair about the show's gay character, Teddy (played by Trevor Donovan), whose coming out was supposed to be kept secret but leaked and has now been reported widely.

Sinclair talks partly about how the story will unfold and who he gets involved with:

Donovan "As a top-tier athlete and the son of a famous—and famously womanizing—actor, Teddy has always felt the need to keep up appearances. He’s had trouble reconciling the image that the world has of him with his own true sense of self. And he’s worked hard to repress whatever homosexual feelings he’s had. But early on in this season, something shakes up the structure of his life. With stability and routine out the window, he has trouble repressing who he really is. He acts impulsively and ends up hooking up with a guy. So it’s less of an epiphany than an impulsive act that sets things in motion…Kyle (Riabko, who plays Teddy's object of affection) is absolutely terrific, charming and talented. He plays Ian, a self-confident, funny guy who is very much out and comfortable with his gayness…I think there is an immediate attraction. But Teddy is very uncomfortable with the feelings he has and is certainly not up for the kind of mature normal relationship that Ian has had in the past and would expect from a boyfriend…Hopefully he will be around for a long time. Certainly for season 3."

Donovan tweeted about it early in the week:

"I read all your tweets and know you are all curious about the 'gay' character this season. Let me say, gay or straight, relationships are relationships. Everyone goes through the same kind of troubles and joys. A gay storyline will have an added issue of dealing with judgment from others. Acceptance, by family, friends, society and self is just one of the concerns the character will be going through. It is a part of life, and it should be portrayed. I was told, and am confident the storyline will be written very well and the change in the character will be organic, NOT overnight. It's going to be a great season 3. I look forward to chatting with you all as we progress."


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright