Gay Teens Face Challenge Surviving Youth

Growing up gay in the 70s, I am well aware of what it is like to be a gay teen.  I, like most gay teens in those days, stayed in the closet. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a world outside of the closet. I felt I was all alone and there was no one with whom I could share my secret.  I knew that it was wrong in society’s eyes but I had no idea how I was supposed to stop being who I was.

There were some really difficult times, times when I was discovered.  One such time, a person I had been intimate with – what you might call “experimented” with – decided to reveal to others that I was a “fag” or a “queer” or a “homo”. Those words cut me to my very core and made me want to take my own life.  Believe me, I tried a few times.  I suppose that person thought if he outed me that it would make him less of a “homo” himself, which is a common belief.   Why do you think that people like certain Republican Congressmen who had stood in the forefront of attacking gays when it came to gay rights issues then found themselves caught up in some kind of gay scandal?

So, yes, I’m well aware of what gay teens go through in the discovery part of their lives and the bigotry and hatefulness that can come from some very unlikely sources.  One of those sources is Christians, or so-called Christians.  Sure, they preach “God is Love” but then turn around and tell you that you’re going to hell – a real consistent message there, don’t you think?

I have believed in God since I was very young and when I began to discover my sexuality, I feared that God would hate me.  This is what I was taught and I believed that when I died I’d go to hell unless I figured out a way to stop being who I was.  I prayed and prayed, but nothing ever changed.  I still had those feelings.  After several years of this, I finally gave up believing that God would in some way change me.   I began to pray instead for God to let me die because I couldn’t change even though I was ready as far as my spirit was concerned.   And yet, I lived despite my attempts of suicide.  Finally I realized growing up into adulthood that this was who I was and nothing was going to change it.

School is another of those sources of bigotry; school can be hell to any kid who is different in any way.  Being an openly gay kid, especially one whose mannerisms are revealing of what they are, such as an effeminate gay teen, it makes it that much more difficult.

Let’s examine a case in point – The Anoka-Hennepin school district north of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, which is part of Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann’s district.  It is reported that within the past two years, nine teens have committed suicide, many of whom were gay or had been bullied for being perceived as gay.  This school district has a “neutral policy” when it comes to matters regarding sexual orientation.  This basically means that school officials such as teachers and principals, or even school nurses, are not to get involved in any way when it comes to anything to do with gay teens.  If a gay teen came seeking their help because of being bullied, they would not be allowed to get involved.

Michele Bachmann has stayed silent on the issue of the suicides in her district, but her stand on gay issues is well documented as she has voted against all gay rights legislation throughout her political career.  Michele Bachmann wants to be the president of the United States so she can serve and protect the constitutional rights of All Americans, not just those in her district.  But she has already shown to me and the world that she’s only interested in protecting the rights of those she agrees with.  She allows her religious beliefs to stand in the way of doing her job when it comes to protecting the rights of all citizens of her district, including gay teens and their right to go to school and not be harassed because of their sexual orientation.

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter how you feel about “Gay Rights” issues.  Teenagers going to school should not have to face being bullied for any reason.  Real leaders look past their own convictions and prejudices to do the job of serving all of us – even us gays and especially gay teens who are more likely to commit suicide than straight teens.  It is reported that one-third of teens who commit suicide are gay, though they only make up one-tenth of the teen population.

Many conservatives believe that teens are recruited by gays and are some way turned gay by this influence.  They believe that gays have an agenda. It’s like we have some kind of secret club and we’re conspiring to take over the world with our gay agenda.  Of course I would gladly debunk that with my own experience, but then I’m one of them.

Gay teens were gay long before they were teens.  Being gay is not something that happens overnight, nor does it come from an experience; its nature taking its course.  Some of us grow up to be tall or short, or bald, or male or female, to be healthy or unhealthy, to have freckles or not, to have allergies or not; meaning we’re all different in so many different ways.   Some of those differences can’t be seen with the physical eye as it has to do with that person’s character or maybe their taste in something like food for instance.

What I want to know is this: what gives anyone the right to decide that one person’s difference is not the same as all of those other differences, that some of us shouldn’t have the same rights as others because of their differences?

Of course, I’m glad to say that times are better now than they were for me.  A gay teen then didn’t dare reveal to anyone they were gay, or face serious harassment.  Nowadays, being gay is okay in a lot of places and gay teens have somewhere to turn. There was no such thing as a hotline for gay teens and no one to talk to at all.

I’m glad to know that it’s easier for most gay teens than it was for me back in those difficult times I went through.  But even in these enlightened times we’re living in, if a gay teen grows up in certain places, like maybe Rep. Michele Bachmann’s district, that kid is going to have a harder time at it.  The reason for that is because presidential candidate Bachmann refuses to protect the rights of anyone with whom she’s religiously opposed. Surely not someone I want as my president.

12 Responses to Gay Teens Face Challenge Surviving Youth

  1. avatar Patrick Fehring says:

    Outstanding writing. I grew up in the 70’s also and very much identify with your feelings. I also agree with your statement about Michelle Bachman. The kind of person she is does not even deserve a chance to be president.

  2. avatar Alex Haiken says:

    I also grew up in the 70s, am a former “ex-gay” ministry leader, and mentioned Ms. Bachmann in a post I published today. Nearly every person who acknowledges an aversion to homosexuality does so on the basis of what he or she believes the Bible has to say. In their mind, there is no doubt whatsoever about what the Bible says and what the Bible means. Their general argument goes something like this: Homosexuality is an abomination and the homosexual is a sinner. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture we too must condemn homosexuality. Needless to say, this premise is being widely debated among evangelicals today and seriously challenged by biblical scholars, theologians and religious leaders everywhere.

    It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. Clearly, throughout church history most Christians who have used the Bible to condemn other Christians were acting in good faith. However, history has revealed that what many were defending was their presumption of what the Bible teaches, not the truth of Scripture.

    Since I speak and write on this very topic, perhaps you might find some of these posts of interest.

    -Alex Haiken
    http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com

    • avatar fidlerten says:

      Alex,
      Being raised Pentecostal, I obviously was raised strongly against homosexuality. That didn’t stop me from being one but it still was what I was taught. I don’t wish to argue with anyone like Bachmann or her peculiarly effeminate husband on the right or wrong of gayness but I do know that when I stand before God, me being gay is not going to have anything to do with it it; my acceptance or rejection of Christ will be the only thing that matters.

  3. avatar Alex Haiken says:

    I too was taught strongly against homosexuality and I couldn’t agree with you more as to where you stand before God with regard your being gay. But so many people still need help to be able to put the pieces together, to connect the dots if you will, to be able to integrate a theologically sound, committed Christian faith with their sexuality. And one of the primary tools they require to do this is some sound, grounded biblical exegesis on the subject. And that’s why I started the blog.

    -Alex Haiken
    http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com

    • avatar fidlerten says:

      Alex,
      I doubt that any gay person’s experience of finding God and also accepting their own sexuality, is the same, but I would like to offer what little I have to offer when it comes to God and me and my sexuality.

      One thing that God does frown on is promiscuity, this is where the gay community needs to begin to change. I do know that God does not see me except for the blood of Jesus, which is the essential ingredient that makes us all be able to stand righteous before the Lord. But I also know that I’m not walking in love if I’m out having sex with strangers. So my life should reflect the Fruits of the Spirit because I have chosen to walk in love.

      I do think it’s a wonderful thing though, that gay people will someday and not far away, actually be able to marry legally all over this country. This should change the gay community more than anything else.

  4. avatar Alex Haiken says:

    I agree. But my experience is also that promiscuity and other chaotic or unhealthy sexual habits began to dissipate after people are able to replace some of the false things they’ve been taught with what is actually exegetically true. They change their mind about what they’ve been telling themselves. When one addresses the inside, the outside (with God’s help) begins to take care of itself.

    Christian morality is not an iron chastity belt for repressing urges, but a way of expressing the integrity of our relationship with God. It is the attempt to discover a manner of living that is consistent with who God created us to be. For those of us with same-sex orientation, this means rejecting sexual mores that violate our own integrity and that of others, and attempting to discover what it means to live by the love ethic of Jesus.

    I’ve seen that the only gay people who do well over the long term are those who come to terms with being gay and seek after a same-sex monogamous partnership. But that is a journey and walk. The self-loathing people have been taught and bought into doesn’t disappear overnight. But it does begin to when one replaces what is untrue with what is true.

    Once people can truly grasp that God is not interested in changing their sexual orientation but to help them become secure in Him, assured of His love and acceptance and set apart to follow Him faithfully and responsibly — then all kinds of marvelous healing can begin. As one person I know described the transformation, “it was someone had hit the auto-focus button. The sky was bluer, the grass was greener…”

    -Alex Haiken
    http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com

    • avatar fidlerten says:

      Alex,

      I agree with you completely. It is always “Spirit, Soul & Body” not “Body, Soul & Spirit”.

      I do know that if we will simply follow the two greatest commandments that we will walk in the perfect will of God; To love the Lord with all of our heart and to to love our neighbors as ourselves. That of course doesn’t mean just the guy who lives next door but to any sojourner along life’s way.

      fidlerten

  5. avatar Karen says:

    Excellent piece Fidlerten. Thanks for sharing. Gay youth suicide is on the rise and it is shocking and sad. It is so important to talk about the difficult journey of awareness, acceptance and honesty that gay people experience. When gay youth feel understanding and empathy for what they are going through, it really helps and possibly saves their life! I have volunteered for the removal of DADT (Don’t ask, don’t tell) and for the right of all gays to marry. Whether you believe in God or not, these are the constitutional rights of every citizen in our United States, including the LGBT community. I am tired of politicians using religious rhetoric against gays to simply get elected and then act like they are following the “will of the people”. Most Americans have an LGBT relative, friend or know of someone who does and they can no longer support prejudice or discrimination against them. More people are talking and this really helps! I have a gay son that I am incredibly proud of and I hope someday he and his partner can marry. Thanks for taking the time to write this beautiful piece about this subject! GokuKaren

    • avatar fidlerten says:

      Karen,
      It was very good of you to come on here and share your own experience. From my perspective, I’m so glad that so many things are going well for the gay community, and I also know that those changes will have a positive effect on the gay youth that are now facing the challenges that every youth faces but even more difficult will be their challenges. Fortunately, it is easier for them but still very difficult, with all the small towns and without any support to find at their schools, can still prove very harrowing for a boy who finds himself the brunt of a joke or the target of a bully.

      Thank you for sharing with us and thanks for your nice compliments on my article.

  6. avatar Callum says:

    Religion extremism has caused the suffering and death of so many LGBT people it goes beyond all comprehension.

    It can only be described as a Festival of Cruelty

    They forget Jesus said “be you without sin cast the first stone” to the endless frustration of their REAL Christian fellowship.

    The irony and bigotry of their extreme beliefs is shocking and I hope our children and grand children hold them accountable for what they have done.

    in 50 years their comments will be preserved on the Internet as evidence that lack of education on human diversity, and nature, has grand consequence world wide.

    Oh yes, heads will roll!

    • avatar fidlerten says:

      Callum, Religious extremism has caused the death of other minorities also. Religion is to be shared, not imposed.

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