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Of the many emotions a gay man or woman feel, perhaps the most powerfully pervasive is fear. The fear of being found out is real enough, but the worry does not end there. There also lurks the fear of being called names, being assaulted, perhaps even killed. For adults these fears are horrible enough. For a lesbian and gay teenager, who lack experience and life skills to cope with them, such fears can be overwhelming. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth face many problems as they realize they are homosexual. Often they don\'t know even one other homosexual person and feel very alone and misunderstood. They see very few role models, no one to identify with. No one knows their secrets, no one shares their pain. No one will stop others from name calling if the name calling is about homosexuality. Who would dare to speak up?
No one speaks up, not in junior high and high school. College, perhaps; pride events are more easily seen then, but in high school no one speaks up. Imagine dearly loving someone else and having to keep it totally secret because if you don\'t you will be punished -- cast out of your home by your family, ostracized by your friends, perhaps losing your job. This is the world of the lesbian and gay young person.
The feelings homosexual youth face are only the beginning of the problem. As they recognize that they are different and discriminated against, they lose self esteem and become depressed. Many become suicidal and develop a feeling of extreme depression and helplessness. Those who don\'t commit suicide live an adolescence of silence and oppression, rarely being able to speak up without being struck down by peers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Task Force on Youth Suicide issued a report in January of 1989 concluding that lesbian and gay youth may constitute "up to thirty percent of completed suicides annually" and that "homosexuals of both sexes are two to six times more likely to attempt suicide than are heterosexuals. Homosexual youth can not speak up because of fear and misunderstanding. And when no one speaks up for them, no one stops the pain, many teens can not handle it and commit suicide. This is the meaning of the commonly known phrase, "Silence equals death."
Not only do they face unrestricted discrimination and harassment at school, they often face similar or worse homophobia at home. Parents, unaware of their children\'s sexual orientation, often make cutting remarks about homosexual television characters, community members, or the orientation in general. They may not even recognize their comments, but the child (or children) is hanging on to every word, looking for at least a tiny bit of acceptance from family. Many times they find hate instead of acceptance, sometimes to the point of being kicked out of the house at age 14 or 15 when a homophobic parent does find out. This leaves them with nowhere to turn.
Many of these teens are themselves suffering from the same prejudices that the rest of their family may share. Or perhaps they\'ve gotten past that, and started to forge a new identity, where being gay or lesbian is something of which they can be proud.
Sometimes, what makes it so especially hard for gay teens is the very thing that protects them, their invisibility. What African-American parent would be making jokes about black people at the kitchen table? What Jewish family would sit around casually commenting on how God condemns the Jews? But the lesbian, gay or bisexual teen, sitting there in their cloak of presumed heterosexuality, laughs outwardly, or joins in expressing shared disgust, while yet another chunk of their self-esteem has been chiseled away.
Homosexual teens can not confide in parents, friends, or often even the church. Most Christian churches condemn homosexuality and back up their beliefs with the Bible. However, the major references to homosexuality in the Bible are badly mistranslated. Nowhere does the Bible mention same-sex love negatively; it only mentions prostitution, specifically in reference to local cults.
More information can be found at the URL http://cent1.lancs.ac.uk/lgb/eight.html which is a detailed retranslation of eight major Bible passages used to condemn homosexuality. Homosexual youth often go to church with family as expected, only to hear the
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Sexual orientation, Same-sex sexuality, Gender studies, Interpersonal relationships, LGBT, Homosexuality, Homophobia, Gay, Bisexuality, Lesbian, Coming out, Homosexuality and psychology
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