Our Lesbian Same-Sex Articles
Growing up Gay or Lesbian: The Woes of
Gay and Lesbian Teenagers
Being a teenager is difficult enough. You have
mood swings, hormone surges, and incessant growth spurts that give way to
visible signs of your approaching manhood or womanhood. Growing up gay adds
even another layer to this complex time in a teenager's life. As a result,
the suicide rate for gay teenagers has skyrocketed. More and more teenage
suicides have 'come out' via leaving confessional notes to family and friends
of their anguish, guilt, and pain as the motivation behind their suicide.
There is no doubt that the suicide rate may
have been similar 15-20 years ago for gay teens. However, back then it wasn't
as common for teenagers to come out. In the 1990's we saw some growth within
the GLBT community. Gay and lesbian teenagers were finally finding out they
had role models such as Ellen Degeneres and RuPaul who were not afraid to
hide their sexuality. Finally, it became 'kinda' okay to say I'm Gay!
In the typical one step forward, two steps back
of any triumph - such admissions have led to public declarations by
Fundamentalist Christians proclaiming how wrong homosexuality is. Even the
President of the United States has made it clear that he does not support
homosexuality, leaving gay and lesbian Americans, especially gay and lesbian
teenagers, to question their place in the American society.
Coming out is not always an option. Living in the closet can hurt a gay or
lesbian teenager emotionally, but these teenagers often feel a real fear
of coming out. They fear physical and emotional trauma from their peers,
and even from their very own family members. This could escalate to a violence
so bad that a gay or lesbian teenager could face death simply because they
are gay. Rather then risk their lives by being truthful about who they are,
they are forced to have a dual life. In public they are the average teenager,
but behind closed doors they are a homosexual who is not only traumatized
by having to hide who they are, but who is also scared of the repercussions
if anyone finds out. Added to this, they are bombarded with a deep loneliness
and strong feelings of being 'different'. Often times, too, they feel a sense
of self-hatred, or self-loathing.
As a teenager, they are not fully aware of what
emotions are; where they come from; why they feel certain ways; and how to
understand and handle these emotions. They just know they hurt. They feel
alone. They struggle with these emotions 24/7. And they want the pain and
inner turmoil to 'stop'. Now.
While some teenagers struggle with guilt for
being gay or lesbian, for hiding that they are homosexual, or for lying to
their family and friends in general, they may see their hidden life as the
only way to remain safe. Of course, if their secret leads to sexual repression
- based on their fear of admitting they are homosexual - then the chance
of harming themselves mentally and emotionally increases tenfold.
Coming out is never a fun process for a teenager.
Once you've decided to come out it can be difficult finding the right moment
to do so. Some parents react better then expected, and for the first time
a weight feels lifted from the teenager's shoulders. Of course, the fear
of coming out in school is still there since coming out is a never ending
process in a gay male or lesbian's life. However, if the reaction is negative
this is the moment when the teenager not only feels a great amount of resentment
toward their family members, they also feel hatred and resentment for themselves.
It is common to believe that, "If only I was straight
Their omission can lead the teenager down a
road toward self-destructive behavior. Drugs, promiscuous sex with the threat
of STDS, and even suicide are common among gay and lesbian teenagers - simply
because these teenagers have not found a way to cope, or to understand emotions.
If you cry yourself to sleep every night wishing you were straight, then
you should know you are not alone. We've all struggled through
these moments. We've been there and wish that it didn't have to be this way
for the new emerging homosexual teenagers. We wish they didn't have to endure
the teasing, humiliation, and lack of respect we went through 20 years earlier
when we were coming out ourselves.
The most important lesson gay and lesbian teenagers
need to learn, and this is definitely not easy, is that they are who they
are - and that it is 'okay'. No one is going to change that, and no
one should. If family and friends cannot accept you for who you are, the
wonderful person beneath the layers of pain, it is their loss and not yours.
The best thing you can do is try to find support elsewhere.
PFLAG and other organizations can offer support,
or you may know of organizations in your area to help you through the transition
from in the closet homosexual to out and proud homosexual. The right group
can help you to see you aren't alone. There are many homosexuals - just like
you - who understand exactly how you feel.
Together we can bridge the gap between homosexual
teenagers and homosexual adults. The key for both groups is to educate. The
reason we are discriminated against is lack of solid information, lack of
the truth, and ignorance as to what homosexuality is or how homosexuals feels.
We cannot change the minds of those that are stubborn but together we can
support one another on the quest to educate those who are willing to learn
and take a chance to get to know some really terrific gay and lesbian teenagers
in the process!
following is a poem taken from our eBook,
Big eBook of Gay and Lesbian
Poetry. It speaks for
In Memory of Tim
They didn't think to check
he was always in his room
No one noticed
his private pain
They'd sometimes knock
he'd sometimes answer
he sometimes didn't
this time he didn't
When they entered
he was dead
at the end of a rope
the loneliness still apparent
in his lifeless eyes
no peace here