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

CORRECTION: All major candidates for Dallas mayor vied for LGBT vote in 2002

In my cover story for this week’s paper, I made a minor mistake. Actually it was fairly major. The opening paragraph of the story, as originally written, stated that 2011 marks the first time in history that all major candidates for Dallas mayor have actively courted the LGBT vote.

As former DV staff writer David Webb pointed out in the comments to the story, that’s not true. In 2002, Laura Miller, Tom Dunning and Domingo Garcia — the three major candidates for mayor — all courted the LGBT vote.

From The Dallas Mornings News on Jan. 15, 2002:

Dallas gays and lesbians, who used to hope that they could just find a candidate who wouldn’t be hostile to their interests, find themselves for the first time being wooed from all directions in what boils down to a three-way citywide race – and disagreeing about whom to support.

“It’s the first time I haven’t had to go vote for the lesser of two evils,” said Deb Elder, a Laura Miller supporter and political organizer. “Nothing has piqued my passion like this mayoral vote.”

Put another way, with major candidates Ms. Miller, Tom Dunning, and Domingo Garcia all touting their support for including gays in a nondiscrimination ordinance, a sector of voters that was shunned not long ago can’t lose this time around.

“It’s historic. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know it would be this soon,” said Michael Milliken, one of the city’s first publicly identified gay appointees. “The gay community is in a unique position this year.”

I had based my report on statements by openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley, who called the 2011 mayoral election “a watershed moment for the community” and “unprecedented.”

While that may be true in some other respects, this isn’t the first time all major mayoral candidates have sought the LGBT vote, and I apologize for the error.

—  John Wright

Robert Knight: DADT was repealed because Republicans wouldn’t get gross about homosexuality

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

knight For some, the need to stigmatize the lgbt community based on their constant desire to remind folks about gay sex never goes away.

Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries has made a career out of spreading anti-gay propaganda and lies, even to the point of citing the discredited Paul Cameron in front of Congress. And in a recent piece in The Washington Times – one of the only places that will publish his nonsense -  Knight is claiming that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed because Republicans refused to get nasty about homosexuality:

Instead of using the military debate to bring to light many suppressed facts that could cripple the homosexual juggernaut if Americans only knew, they played by their opponents' rule book.

In “After the Ball,” a 1989 gay-strategy manual, two Harvard-trained public relations experts warn that “the public should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself. Instead, the imagery of sex per se should be downplayed, and the issue of gay rights reduced, as far as possible, to an abstract social question.” Elsewhere, the authors say, “first, you get your foot in the door by being as similar as possible; then and only then … can you start dragging in your other peculiarities, one by one. You hammer in the wedge narrow end first … allow the camel's nose beneath your tent, and his whole body will soon follow.”

For the record, the majority of lgbts never heard of After the Ball, but for some reason, the religious right continues to claim that the lgbt community is using this book as some sort of manual to take over America by utilizing tactics, i.e. planning groups, money, secret organizations, that the religious right themselves are guilty of.

Knight then proceeds to catalog a bunch of things he feels Republicans should have brought up:

* Flawed science has been misused mightily. From Alfred Kinsey's fraudulent research in the 1940s to UCLA Prof. Evelyn Hooker's cooked psychological studies in the late 1950s to misreported “genetic” studies of the 1990s, the public has been browbeaten into ignoring biology, common sense and thousands of years of moral teaching about human sexuality.

* The obvious threat to the military blood supply. According to the Centers for Disease Control, men who have sex with men are 44 times more likely to have HIV and 46 more times to have syphilis. Even if gay men enter the services testing negatively, they're going to have sex in the most likely pool in which to become infected.

* Data compiled by the Family Research Council showing that homosexuals commit a disproportionate number of sexual assaults in the military, even with the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.

Notice how he never says just how the studies of Kinsey and Hooker were flawed, how he gives himself an out in talking about the blood supply by the “even if” addendum, and how he cites the Family Research Council's useless study, which no one else cited. Knight conveniently forgot to mention the “coincidence” of the discredited Paul Cameron coming out with the same type of study a week before FRC did.
 
The irony of Knight's position is the realization that 17 years ago, Republicans and those who didn't support gays and lesbians serving openly in the military did pull out the horror stories. They talked about “gay sex,” “the gay agenda,” “fisting,” and even pulled the “gay assault” card.

But things have changed.  Homophobia still exists but for the most part, more of us are out and unashamed of who we are despite the efforts of those like Knight. Americans know more of us and the lies about us being an invading horde of Godless creatures just isn't resonating like they used to.

The sad thing is that no one told Knight. But I don't think he would care if anyone did tell him. He seems to be willfully stuck in the past.

Note – In the Southern Poverty Law Center's profile of anti-gay hate groups, Robert Knight's name comes up many times.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Richard Chamberlain: ‘I Wouldn’t Advise A Gay Leading Man-type Actor To Come Out’

It’s complicated. There’s still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It’s regrettable, it’s stupid, it’s heartless, and it’s immoral, but there it is. For an actor to be working is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, “Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay” — especially if you’re a leading man. Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out.

—Richard Chamberlain, who came out publicly in his 60s and is only semi-separated from partner Martin Rabbett, still doesn't think Hollywood is safe for openly gay actors [via]


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It Wouldn’t Be A Tom Ford Cover Without Screaming Sex Appeal

THE SHOT — I know fashion magazines Photoshop models to within centimeters of their lives, but Tom Ford on the cover of Vogue Korea, with model Karen Elson, hasn't looked this young since he … looked this young.


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Carrie Goldman Wouldn’t Let A Bunch Of Boys Bully Daughter Katie Into Abandoning Her Love of Star Wars

Crossing normative gender lines isn't merely the territory of little boys: little girls enjoy screwing with society too! Seven-year-old Katie Goldman, a first-grader in Evanston, Illinois, wears her love for Star Wars on her sleeve. And the water bottle and backpack she took to school every day, selected at Target during back-to-school shopping. All of which meant the boys in her class would tease and torment her for liking a film franchise that, apparently, is the exclusive property of male twerps. So when it all became too much for Katie, she told her mom Carrie she wanted to bring a pink water bottle to school from now on. Oh hell no: Carrie wasn't having it.

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