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

WATCH: Janet Dowell’s award-winning PSA

A few months ago, lesbian North Texas mom Janet Dowell made a PSA about bullying that ended up getting some recognition. Problem was, it wasn’t embeddable on our blog.

Well, that’s fixed. Now you can see the segment without searching the Internet. Here it is:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): I’m Sorry I Wasn’t There To Vote Against DADT Repeal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who was the lone Democrat to vote against the Defense Authorization Act when it included the repeal of DADT, now says he regrets not being in DC to also vote against the stand-alone version of the bill.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin apologized to his constituents Tuesday for missing two key votes over the weekend. Manchin has caught heat from friends and foes alike for failing to be on the Senate floor Saturday to vote on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the DREAM Act. Instead he was celebrating Christmas with his grandchildren in Pennsylvania. “Let me apologize to anybody and everybody within our listening and reading areas. I’m very sorry for missing the two votes,” Manchin said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. For the record, Manchin says he would have voted against both bills. He says he took his cue on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell from military leaders who felt in the middle of two conflicts now was not the time to change a major policy. And he was not satisfied with the DREAM Act because he wants to see comprehensive immigration change.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Marie Says Son Wasn’t Gay

MARIE OSMOND AND SON X390 (GETTY, MARIE) | ADVOCATE.COMMarie Osmond tells Oprah Winfrey that her late son wasn’t gay and
wasn’t under the influence of drugs when he committed suicide last
February.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

‘Our guy’ wasn’t gay marriage-loving, says this weekend’s most media-grabbing gay rights speaker

“So what was the difference between Goldwater and Reagan? Had the country changed that much in 16 years?

The social issues were the difference. Reagan agreed with Goldwater on fiscal and national defense issues, but by 2 Smallpersonimage 31980, social issues loomed large and Reagan came down mightily on one side — the opposite side as Goldwater, as it turned out.

Unlike abortion-loving Goldwater, Reagan said, “We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide.”

And unlike gay-marriage-loving Goldwater, Reagan said: “Society has always regarded marital love as a sacred expression of the bond between a man and a woman. It is the means by which families are created and society itself is extended into the future. … We will resist the efforts of some to obtain government endorsement of homosexuality.”



As long as liberals are going to keep gleefully citing Goldwater’s love of gay marriage and abortion, his contempt for Christian conservatives, and his statement that ‘every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass,’ maybe they could ease up on blaming Christian conservatives for Goldwater’s historic loss.

Goldwater wasn’t our guy; Reagan was.”

-Ann Coulter, 9/22/10

It’s just a damn shame that GOProud’s Coulter-honoring benefit has already sold out. We simply live for spending our Saturday nights with our government-endorsed homosexuality partner, listening to straight people tell us to vote against our civil rights and interests.

Who knows, maybe the GOProud event will go on so long that it will creep right into Rev. Ruben Diaz‘s Sunday church breakfast (one egg and one sausage per couple, never two of either)




Good As You

—  John Wright

HIV-Positive Man Wasn’t Thrilled When Arkansas Retirement Home Kicked Him Out

The Rev. Dr. Robert Franke — who should add some initials to the end of his name, because he's seriously lacking in credentials — was kicked out of an Arkansas assisted living facility after it realized he's HIV-positive. Guess who sued and scored? As August's trial approached, seems a certain somebody was all interested in discussing settlement options: "Lambda Legal announced today it has settled its lawsuit on behalf of an HIV-positive retired university provost and former minister against Fox Ridge, a North Little Rock assisted living facility. The Reverend Dr. Robert Franke relocated to Little Rock to be closer to his daughter, Sara Franke Bowling, and moved in to Fox Ridge after fulfilling residency requirements that included submission of medical evaluation forms from a local physician. The next day, however – after realizing Dr. Franke is HIV-positive – Fox Ridge officials abruptly ejected Dr. Franke from the facility. With the assistance of Lambda Legal, Franke and Bowling sued under the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and similar state laws. 'While we can't discuss the specific terms of the settlement, I can say we're quite pleased to have settled this matter,' said Dr. Franke. 'We firmly believe that as a result of our having brought this lawsuit, retired people in Arkansas who have HIV are less likely to face this kind of discrimination in the future.'"


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Pee-Wee Herman’s Visit to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Wasn’t Awkward At All

Earlier this month we saw Pee-wee Herman lead the pack at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. This is his story.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

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BlogHer10 exhibit hall: I wasn’t lying – here’s the ‘tampon of the future’

I figure this post will freak out a good chunk of the readership, but hey, how often do I talk about feminine products in the coffeehouse? I mean it’s just an item that most pre-menopausal women throw into the shopping cart on a regular basis.

Tampon of the Future

Anyway, this was the item I was joking with Lizz Winstead about on Twitter yesterday, calling it a “tampon of the future.”

At BlogHer10, there are so many major vendors here, including a “Fox for Family” exhibit with a giant Great Dane posing with attendees for the latest Marmaduke movie, that it’s hard to figure out what’s blogworthy. So I picked what I thought was the most appropriate, unique and interesting one – the RepHesh booth, featuring its Brilliant tampons. (BTW, I’m not compensated for the post, other than the swag everyone receives for walking up).

So one of the women behind the booth came out to do her pitch; I mentioned my tampon of the future remark and she actually confirmed that for me – this is the first major change in tampon technology (boy is it bizarre saying that) since the 1920s. Why does that not surprise me? Just shove a rag up there.

Anyway, the big change is that each tampon is infused with natural active ingredients (L-lactide and citric acid). During your menstrual cycle your pH will shoot up to 7.4. These substances in the tampon help maintain the pH in your vagina at the normal range of 3.5-4.5. Basically, this means fewer “fun” things going on in that environment.

One of the funny exchanges while at the booth – the representative was hawking one of its other pH balancing gel products to use when Mother Nature isn’t calling. She says to me:

“It really helps out after all of that semen gets in you.”

I say:

“Well, I don’t have to worry about that.”

She says:

“Thank goodness, all that semen can be nasty to your pH.”

I was close to ROTFLOL on that one. No, this definitely isn’t Netroots Nation.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Dallas could elect 1st gay judge

Judicial candidates John Loza, Tonya Parker among 4 LGBTs running in local races in 2010

By John Wright | News Editor wright@dallasvoice.com
IN THE RUNNING | Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, clockwise from top left, County Judge Jim Foster, attorney Tonya Parker and former Councilman John Loza are LGBT candidates who plan to run in Dallas County elections in 2010. The filing period ends Jan. 4.

Dallas County has had its share of openly gay elected officials, from Sheriff Lupe Valdez to District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons to County Judge Jim Foster.
But while Foster, who chairs the Commissioners Court, is called a “judge,” he’s not a member of the judiciary, to which the county’s voters have never elected an out LGBT person.

Two Democrats running in 2010 — John Loza and Tonya Parker — are hoping to change that.

“This is the first election cycle that I can remember where we’ve had openly gay candidates for the judiciary,” said Loza, a former Dallas City Councilman who’s been involved in local LGBT politics for decades. “It’s probably long overdue, to be honest with you.”

Dallas County’s Jerry Birdwell became the first openly gay judge in Texas when he was appointed by Gov. Ann Richards in 1992. But after coming under attack for his sexual orientation by the local Republican Party, Birdwell, a Democrat, lost his bid for re-election later that year.

Also in the November 1992 election, Democrat Barbara Rosenberg defeated anti-gay Republican Judge Jack Hampton.

But Rosenberg, who’s a lesbian, wasn’t out at the time and didn’t run as an openly LGBT candidate.

Loza, who’s been practicing criminal law in Dallas for the last 20 years, is running for the County Criminal Court No. 5 seat. Incumbent Tom Fuller is retiring. Loza said he expects to face three other Democrats in the March primary, meaning a runoff is likely. In addition to groups like Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, he said he’ll seek an endorsement from the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which provides financial backing to LGBT candidates nationwide.

Parker, who’s running for the 116th Civil District Court seat, declined to be interviewed for this story. Incumbent Bruce Priddy isn’t expected to seek re-election, and Parker appears to be the favorite for the Democratic nomination.

If she wins in November, Parker would become the first LGBT African-American elected official in Dallas County.

Loza and Parker are among four known local LGBT candidates in 2010.
They join fellow Democrats Fitzsimmons and Foster, who are each seeking a second four-year term.

While Foster is vulnerable and faces two strong challengers in the primary, Fitzsimmons is extremely popular and said he’s confident he’ll be re-elected.

“I think pretty much everybody knows that the District Clerk’s Office is probably the best-run office in Dallas County government,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think this county is a Democratic County, and I think I’ve proved myself to be an outstanding county administrator, and I think the people will see that.”

Randall Terrell, political director for Equality Texas, said this week he wasn’t aware of any openly LGBT candidates who’ve filed to run in state races in 2010.

Although Texas made headlines recently for electing the nation’s first gay big-city mayor, the state remains one of 20 that lack an out legislator.

Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, said he’s hoping Annise Parker’s victory in Houston last week will inspire more qualified LGBT people to run for office.

“It gives other people permission really to think of themselves as leaders,” Dison said.

The filing period for March primaries ends Jan. 4.


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 18, 2009.

—  admin