Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Teens coming out in middle school.

The New York Times has an excellent article about teens coming out in middle school, how things have changed, and what remains challenging for them:

Coming Out in Middle School
Published: September 23, 2009

“When I first realized I was gay,” Austin interjected, “I just assumed I would hide it and be miserable for the rest of my life. But then I said, ‘O.K., wait, I don’t want to hide this and be miserable my whole life.’ ”

What has changed, that more kids are coming out at a younger age?

Not only were there increasingly accurate and positive portrayals of gays and lesbians in popular culture, but most teenagers were by then regular Internet users. Going online broke through the isolation that had been a hallmark of being young and gay, and it allowed gay teenagers to find information to refute what their families or churches sometimes still told them — namely, that they would never find happiness and love.

A humorous moment of frustration for one boy:

“It’s not like I have a lot of options anyway,” he said, echoing what I would go on to hear from many gay middle-schoolers. “I like guys who are nice and caring and don’t act like jerks to everyone. But this is middle school, where guys think it’s funny to pick their nose and fart really loud and laugh.”

One thing I found particularly interesting is how many adults instantly think coming out or having a Gay-Straight Alliance at a school is somehow about sex, but for the most part these kids are pretty innocent. For them it is about being comfortable and honest about who you are, and being able to talk openly about themselves, their hopes and dreams. Which is what I would want for any middle school kid.


Mayra Lazara Dole said...

Yes, the internet has helped tremendously to connect LGBTQI teens. Wooo hooo! On the other hand... although many are coming out, there are still plenty, especially religious Latina/o teens, living closeted and fearful of being exposed.

I LOVE your site, visit often, and recommend it highly! (I'm the lesbian author of the LGBT teen novel, Down to the Bone).

Dawn said...

I'm glad you enjoy it!