Showing posts with label Gay Teen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Teen. Show all posts

April 24, 2019

This 15 Yr Old Alabama Kid Comes Out But The Bully Drives Him to Suicicide

                                    Image result for nigel shelby


A gay teen from Huntsville, Alabama, has died by suicide after enduring anti-gay bullying.
Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old freshman at Huntsville High School, was bullied at school by classmates because of his sexuality. He reportedly died last week. 
Tennessee Valley Rocket City Pride, a local LGBTQ advocacy group, shared the news of Shelby’s death on Facebook with links to resources for queer youth in the region. “There are no words that can be said to make sense of this devastating news,” the group wrote.
Students at nearby Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) held a candelight vigil for Shelby this past Sunday, April 21.

Rocket City Pride also addressed the topic of anti-gay harassment Sunday at its Easter Drag Brunch. According to Rocket City Now, Caila Malone, a local drag performer, recalled “being called terrible words even when I was in elementary school before I knew what they meant.”
“These bullies have to be held accountable,” Malone added at the brunch, “and until our state legislation shows that they have to do that, they’re able to run amuck and do whatever they want.”
Community members have launched a GoFundMe page to support Shelby’s mother in the wake of his death.
Suicide and other mental health issues disproportionately affect LGBTQ youth in America. If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact The Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention, at 1-866-488-7386. Visit The Trevor Project’s website for more information and resources.
Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.

November 26, 2018

Brave Teenager Comes Out in Sydney Catholic School Assembly

When Finn Stannard stood up in front of more than 1,500 students and teachers at his Sydney school, it was to say something he’d been weighing up for a long time.
“I have been working towards this speech for four years,” the then 17-year-old revealed to a packed assembly hall at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, earlier this year.
Then he told them all he was gay.  
Finn Stannard
Finn Stannard making his keynote address. 
St Ignatius’ / SBS News
“Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying,” he said in a video of the speech released exclusively through SBS News. “What if the world doesn’t like you?”
Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying.
“Life was easier living as the straight eldest son. I had spent so long behind the façade of a confident, heterosexual man that I wasn’t sure if I knew how to be me.” 
Finn, who has just finished his HSC, now hopes to share his keynote address - written to a younger version of himself - might help “all those people who are lost”, just as he was.
“I think that’s really the biggest reason I made sure I got up onto that stage and gave the speech,” he told SBS News. “I don’t think anybody should have to go through the feeling of loss that I felt like I’d gone through.”
Finn Stannard
Finn has just finished his HSC. 
SBS News
Finn’s speech in June was bookended by at times fierce national debates about sexual orientation, most recently whether religious schools should have the right to discriminate against gay staff and students.
Two of St Ignatius’ most prominent alumni, former prime minister Tony Abbott and his former deputy Barnaby Joyce, were high-profile opponents of same-sex marriage in the lead up to last year’s plebiscite.  
For Finn - who will next year begin university studies to become a secondary school teacher - it was the resounding victory of the Yes vote that gave him the confidence to press ahead with his idea of doing the assembly.
“When the results of the plebiscite came out, that’s when I knew that I could do the speech and it would be alright in the end,” he said.
Finn Stannard
Finn's speech received a standing ovation. 
St Ignatius' principal Paul Hines described Finn’s speech as a “watershed” moment for the college, which wanted to support his decision to publicly share his story and its message of acceptance.
“I'm not sure anyone chooses their sexuality, that's who they are and therefore we need to be open to that and to accept it and to make sure we live in communities of inclusion - and with that will come diversity,” Dr. Hines told SBS News.
We need to make sure we live in communities of inclusion - and with that will come diversity.
“Certainly that's the case in the world beyond so in my view that should be the case in schools.”
Finn, who is quick to acknowledge the support he received from the school, his family and friends, said there was no example of an openly gay student to look to when he was struggling to come to terms with his sexuality as a 13-year-old.
Instead, his speech detailed the toll of “countless rumors and unpleasant jokes”, as well as depression and anxiety compounded by the word “gay” being used as a throwaway playground jibe.
“It was these, seemingly small, yet cumulative experiences that made me feel like I would never be accepted,” he told the room. Finn told the assembly that his own experience demonstrated the importance of asking for help, as well as stepping up to help those in need - a message he hoped would resonate with those coming to terms with any aspect of their identity.
“Being different, whether it’s being gay or being part of another minority group, can be challenging but it does not have to be scary and isolating,” he told the room.
“Every single one of you can help, in your own way, by accepting others for exactly who they are.”
His speech was not the first time the school’s annual ‘friends listen’ assembly has sought to break down taboos. In a 2015 speech that later went viral, school captain Xavier Eales opened up about his battle with depression.
Finn’s mother Megan Stannard, who admits to being concerned about a potential backlash, said the family was instead overwhelmed by the standing ovation the speech received.
“The fact that Finn was supported, the fact that his message was heard - I was in tears,” she said. “I was just so proud of him.”
Finn Stannard
Finn, center, with his boyfriend Tom Moiso, left, and a friend at his school formal. 
Finn Stannard / SBS News
The benefits have continued to flow since. Mrs. Stannard said she has seen a new confidence in her son, as well as a recognition that he can make a difference to others.
“I think that’s any parent’s dream - to see them flourish,” she said. Finn has since been approached by other students at the school who were struggling with their sexuality. And earlier this month he took his boyfriend Tom Moiso, 18, to his school formal.
“I think the best part was seeing all these other people with their dates and not feeling any different,” Finn said.
Anyone needing support can contact Kids helpline: / 1800 55 1800, NSW counseling service, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

June 15, 2018

Young Gay Teens Digital Sex Live

Last summer in Wisconsin, a mother came home to find her 15-year-old son running up the stairs from their basement. He yelled that a man had broken into the house and raped him. A police officer apprehended Eugene Gross, who was 51 years old and H.I.V. positive, in a nearby backyard.
Authorities later learned that the teenager had met Mr. Gross on the gay hookup app Grindr and that they had met for sex before. Last month, Mr. Gross was sentenced to 15 years. The victim’s father broke down in court, saying, “The man sitting here, he destroyed my life, my kid’s life, my family life.”

It’s common for gay, bisexual or questioning minors to go online to meet other gay people. It’s normal for these kids to want to explore intimacy. But most online social networks for gay men are geared toward adults and focused on sex. They have failed to protect minors, who simply have to subtract a few years from their birth date to create a profile.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a new study in The Journal of Adolescent Health together suggest that roughly one in four gay and bisexual boys ages 14 to 17 in the United States are on gay hookup apps designed for adults (Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, Adam4Adam). Sixty-nine percent of them have had sex with someone they met through these apps. Only 25 percent use condoms consistently. Gay kids, especially closeted ones, don’t necessarily have the opportunities for intimacy that straight kids do: classroom Valentines and first prom dates. So they go online. Though they may be looking for friends or boyfriends, they mostly find sex.

On Grindr, it’s common to receive unsolicited naked pictures. A minor can make a profile within minutes and instantly start chatting with adult men who live nearby.
Teenagers are still developing their abilities to delay gratification and control their impulses. With just 12 percent of millennials reporting that their sex education classes covered same-sex relationships, it’s not surprising that many end up having unprotected sex.

Should apps like Grindr be held accountable when minors use them? Dr. Elizabeth Englander, a psychologist, an expert on the digital lives of minors thinks yes: “It’s an ethical line and a no-brainer.” 

Grindr’s terms of service state that users must be 18 or older and the app requires everyone to enter a birth date to join. But it could certainly do more to try to verify ages. Some gambling sites, for instance, make users upload a credit card or ID to prove their age. But this brings up confidentiality risks for gay men who don’t want to be out.

Grindr could also use algorithms to detect conversations between minors and adults. This would require employees to manually verify which conversations were inappropriate, but given that Grindr’s annual revenue may be as high as $77 million, the company could probably afford it.
When asked to comment, Grindr’s chief technology officer and president, Scott Chen, said that Grindr is “in the process of testing further safeguards for our account creation procedures to help ensure authentic and proper account activity, including verification through social media platforms.” He said the company takes the issue very seriously, is working on improving its screening tools and encourages users to continue reporting any “illegal or improper activity.”
This is heartening, but it isn’t enough. Age verification through social media is hardly foolproof since minors can lie about their age on Facebook, too.

In 2015, a man who had been arrested for having sex with a 13-year-old boy sued Grindr, claiming that its weak enforcement of age restrictions was to blame for the sexual encounter. The lawsuit was dismissed because Grindr is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which means it isn’t responsible for what users say on its app (including minors lying about their age).
And Grindr is hardly the only problem — there are many similar venues. When I searched online for “gay chat,” as a lonely, closeted child might the first hit was #1 Chat Avenue. Two minutes after I opened a gay chat room, a user wrote: “Any boys 13 or 14 with cameras? I’m 35.” After some deep searching, I found that you can report activity like this to moderators, but they aren’t always online. I reported it to the site’s administrator via email, but I never heard back.

In the end, it is largely up to parents to protect their children. Unfortunately, this topic combines two of many parents’ greatest fears: sex and technology. 

Parents can block apps like Grindr. But kids almost always outsmart us, and it’s probably better to educate them in addition to using parental controls.

Dr. Englander tells parents not to try to be experts on the technology. “Parents can instead be the experts on the importance of deeper in-person relationships,” she says. Explain to children that while what they find online may be exciting or interesting, they never know who’s on the other side.
Children need to hear that naked photos and videos are permanent (even when sent on Snapchat). They should know that sex between a minor and an adult is illegal. They need to be told that it’s dangerous to meet up with a person from the internet and that if they do so, they need to tell their parents and meet the person in a public place. They need to know the risk of infections from unprotected sex.

Parents also need to stay calm, so that the kids feel comfortable coming back to them if they ever end up in a bad situation, like if a scary stranger won’t stop messaging.
As a society, we have failed to create enough spaces for gay youth to thrive, pushing them online and underground. While we try to find ways to hold digital sites accountable, we need to talk to our kids about how to be safe online.

 By Jack Turban (@jack_turban) is a resident physician in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital.
 The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion),  
A version of this article appears in print on June 14, 2018, on Page A27  of The New York Times

January 19, 2017

Are You gay Teach? Student asks

At no time during my childhood or adolescent years did a teacher ever come out to me as gay — not even once. As an openly gay educator, I am just as disappointed about that fact today as I was three decades ago, when I was an effeminate young boy questioning my sexuality.

On the other hand, my teachers shared a never-ending supply of advice with me in regards to being poor (education is the key to prosperity), a Jehovah’s Witness (society doesn’t understand your family’s religious beliefs), and a Black male (never to backtalk a uniformed police officer). Yet while I can clearly recall several educators who seemed to contradict what it meant to be straight, no one professed to being a gay adult — either to me or any of my classmates. Even worse, school culture consistently conveyed to me that I was never even allowed to ask a teacher, “Are you gay?”

At Marin Country Day School, where I am an educator, never once have I hesitated to come out to a student. However, at a previous school where I taught, administrators announced at school meetings, “If you are gay or lesbian, at no time are you to come out to students.” And when I was a recruitment officer — publicly charged with both identifying and admitting families with LGBTQ parents — many straight parents asked me, “Why are we focusing so much on gay sex?”

Today, we live in a society where attitudes are evolving around what it means to be gay: Many heterosexual adults are supportive of marriage equality, adoption among same-sex couples is measurably increasing, and more employers have taken steps to make the workplace more inclusive for LGBTQ employees. However, even the most progressive educational administrators and parents are often uncomfortable with the idea of a K-12 teacher being openly gay in the classroom.

Unlike straight teachers, LGBTQ teachers must consider the risks of sharing their sexual orientation with colleagues, parents, and students.

Many teachers ask themselves, as I once did, “Will I forever be known only as the gay teacher?” and “What happens if my being gay raises unwarranted suspicions about interactions with students of the same gender?”

In 2014, Gary J. Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute estimated that “the percentage of adults who identified as LGB or LGBT varied across surveys from between 2.2 percent and 4.0 percent, implying that between 5.2 million and 9.5 million individuals aged 18 and older are LGBT.”

Chances are, of the roughly 50.4 million school-age children currently engaged in early childhood, primary, and secondary education in the United States, most will interact with an LGBTQ adult at least once. Whether through family friends, after-school and weekend activities, or in the classroom, school children will inevitably ask themselves, “How do you know if someone is gay?” or “Which of my teachers is gay?” How a gay teacher responds will shape a student’s perception and understanding of the emotional attraction between two adults of the same sex.

But a gay teacher’s fears about disclosing her orientation to a student or choosing to remain closeted are understandable.

A Nov. 18 report in The New York Times, headlined “Trump Victory Alarms Gay and Transgender Groups,” describes the frantic calls received by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading LGBT rights organization, in the aftermath of the election.

“Some callers wondered if they should speed up wedding plans so they could be married before the inauguration, in case a President Trump tries to overturn gay marriage,” an HRC spokesman told the paper. “Others worried that the military would reinstate ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the ban on openly gay and lesbian service members that ended in 2011.”

Although they may be lauded for their performance in the classroom, even in the most progressive of schools, gay teachers are usually still advised to deny their sexual identity if a student or parent asks, “Are you gay?”

Schools are often slow at keeping up with social change, and many administrators operate under the assumption that a less empathetic parent, or group of parents, will raise concern that an openly gay teacher is out to her students. That reality often leaves LGBTQ teachers distressed, and can unintentionally send the message to all students that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is unnatural. When Trump comes after Obamacare, puts up the border wall, and re-energizes stop-and-frisk, gay men and women must not return to the closet. Now more than ever, we need to push back and stand proud.

The first time a student asked me directly, “Are you gay?”, I hesitated to answer. While I had already prepared a response for this very moment, I quickly realized three things. One, that this would be the first of many times I would have to come out. (It is not like you come out once, and then everyone knows.) Two, coming out is stressful. (It is stressful for the person being asked, and I imagine it is also stressful for the person asking.) And three, how I respond to questions about my sexuality will shape how a young person understands what it means to be gay.

After what felt like an insanely long and awkward pause, I eventually gave the student my prepared response: “Would it matter if I were gay?”

While I have never been fond of responding to a question with a question, this exception always seems warranted to me. What it does for me is to create a brief moment to consider the student’s motivation for asking the question: Has the student heard something about gay people, either positive or negative, that I have contradicted? Does the student want to ask a question that only a gay person could truthfully answer? Is the student questioning his own orientation?

It also gives me a chance to weigh how to best respond. The “Are you gay?” question, and my subsequent response, play out differently depending on whether the student asking is a third grader or an 11th grader. In the end, my goal is always to show that being gay is as normal as being left-handed, hoping for rainy days, or having a preference for strawberry milk rather than chocolate milk. Over the years, regardless of the student’s gender, ethnicity, age, or religious affiliation, each time I have responded with “Yes, I am gay,” my students have replied, “OK, cool.”

In a June 1 piece for The Huffington Post, “Coming Out to the Classroom, A Teacher’s Story,” blogger and classroom teacher Paul Emerich France makes the best case for why teachers should come out to students.

“Mr. France, the teacher they knew and loved, was gay,” he wrote. “This new fact helped them see me, regardless of my sexuality. It taught them that sexuality is only one piece of an identity. Instead of equating the word ‘gay’ with ‘weird’ or a joke between friends, they equated it with someone they first knew as their teacher: an avid reader, writer, problem-solver, and musician.”

My hope is that every gay woman and man, educators especially, will reflect on their own first few times of coming out to family, friends, or new acquaintances, and remember what gave them strength. Those teachers still weighing whether or not to come out should remember that they are not alone — with every affirmation of our LGBTQ identities, we are reminded that each of us matters.

In December 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed “homosexuality” from the psychological disorders listed in the second edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. December 1973 also happens to be the month and year that I was born. When

I first learned the historic significance of my birthdate, I took it as a sign that I should devote my career to further normalizing being gay.

I serve those within my school community as a proud, openly gay man.

Yes, we live — and teach — in a world where it is neither prudent nor wise for a teacher to initiate a conversation with students about sexual orientation. But when a student asks, we must be confident enough to answer: “Yes, I am gay!”

Vincent W. Rowe Jr. is the director of equity, affinity, and diversity at Marin Country Day School. He has worked in education for more than two decades.

January 10, 2017

In Somalia Teen Accused of Being Gay is Stoned to Death, again

Kangaroo trial in 2014 in which a somali teen is sentenced to be stoned to death for having gay sex

MOGADISHU- Somali Islamist group al Shabaab shot two men and a teenager in southern Somalia on Tuesday, saying one of the men and the 15-year-old had been seen having gay sex, while the other man was found guilty of spying, a senior al Shabaab official said.

Hundreds of civilians gathered in a field in the town of Buale to watch them being shot, the second time al Shabaab has killed men accused of homosexuality, the official said, without giving details of the previous killing.

Homosexuality and gay sex is outlawed in most of Africa’s 54 states and can be punishable by imprisonment.

“The judge read their charges publicly and the three men were found guilty. They were executed according to the Islamic sharia. They were shot dead in Buale town,” Sheikh Mohamed Abu Abdalla, a regional governor for al Shabaab, told Reuters.

A Somali government official said any case of homosexuality in Muslim Somalia would be dealt with according to sharia law, although he did not specify what that would mean in practice.

Al Shabaab militants are fighting against Western-backed government forces in Mogadishu in a bid to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic, or sharia, law.

The al Shabaab governor said 20-year-old Isak Abshirow and 15-year-old Abdirizak Sheikh Ali were found committing a homosexual act by al Shabaab fighters.

Saeed Mohamed Ali was found guilty of spying for Ethiopian troops, who form part of an African force that has been fighting the militants.

The Islamist group once controlled the capital and much of Somalia but it lost control of Mogadishu in 2011 and has slowly been driven back into smaller pockets of territory since then.

 Feisal Omar

August 30, 2016

Gay Teens More Important than Religious Law


California’s ban on gay-conversion therapy for teens survived a free-speech challenge back in 2014. Now it’s survived another challenge claiming that the law targets religiously motivated conduct. The decision is legally correct -- but it’s a much closer case than the appeals court acknowledged. And it raises the extremely tricky question of how the state may regulate a psychiatric practice whose foundations are interwoven with religious beliefs.

The key to the free-speech decision from two years ago was that, California isn’t prohibiting speech per se. It’s outlawing a particular medical practice that happens to be accomplished in part through talking. Whether it’s a good idea or not, state legislatures have the legal authority to prohibit licensed providers from performing ineffective and potentially harmful medical treatments.

In other words, California almost certainly couldn’t ban an adult and a teen from sitting down together and talking to each other in a way that both believed would or could change the teen’s sexual orientation. Such a conversation would count as protected speech, outside the state’s authority to regulate. But when the conversation is instead treated as a medical therapy, it comes within the state’s authority to regulate the practice of medicine -- which is a course of conduct, even when it’s accomplished partly by the use of words.

Once they lost on free-speech grounds, the practitioners of gay-conversion therapy didn’t give up. They mounted a further challenge based on the establishment and free exercise clauses of the Constitution.

One advantage of the second challenge over the first is that it comes closer to capturing the subjective experience and motives of the practitioners of what they call “sexual orientation change efforts.” A 2009 report by the American Psychological Association said that “the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation.”

The same is probably true for the practitioners of such therapy. In an earlier era, the profession of psychiatry saw homosexuality as a curable disease. But now that the profession has largely abandoned this view, those medical professionals who maintain it are often not coincidentally deeply religious. They accept the biblical prohibition on homosexual conduct as morally binding. And they reason that a good God would not have imposed that prohibition unless it were possible for humans to adapt themselves so as to obey it.

It’s not an accident, therefore, that the religiously oriented Family Research Council, for example, advocates gay-conversion therapy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the practitioners’ religion-clause claims pretty summarily. The opinion first rejected the argument that the California ban violates the establishment clause by entangling the government with religion. It doesn’t, said the court, because it only targets clinical therapy. People remain free to pray with teens if they believe this may help them change their sexual orientation. This conclusion is certainly legally correct. The fact that some therapists might pray with patients in their sessions doesn’t mean the state can’t regulate the basic clinical course of conduct.

Then the court took on the more subtle question of whether it should matter that those who seek or perform conversion therapy are religiously motivated. The court admitted that there might be a constitutional problem if the law targeted only religiously motivated conduct. But it said that because the law includes all efforts to change sexual orientation, religiously motivated or otherwise, it doesn’t violate religious liberty. In other words, the court said, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to conclude that the primary effect of the law was to inhibit religion.

This issue is actually more complicated than the court made it sound. Suppose all or nearly all gay-conversion-therapy seekers and practitioners are religiously motivated -- an assumption that isn’t ridiculous. And suppose the state passed a law outlawing the practice on the ground that it was medically harmful -- while fully knowing that the practice is grounded in religious belief. Again, the assumption isn’t a heroic one. Would that violate the free exercise of religion?

The answer is controversial even among religious liberty scholars -- but it could well be yes. Compare a humanitarian ban on kosher or halal slaughter. In my hypothetical example, the legislature would know that believers practice such slaughter for religious reasons. The legislature’s own motives would be to make animal slaughter more humanitarian, say by requiring electrocution to kill the animal faster. Yet the overarching intended effect of the law would be to inhibit a religiously motivated practice. It’s possible that such a law might violate the free exercise clause, even if as written it applied to all slaughter, not just kosher or halal practices.

The point is that, when a social practice like medical therapy or animal slaughter is profoundly intertwined with religious motivation, the government can’t necessarily prohibit it just by saying that its own motives are secular -- even assuming they really are.

Yet the reason the court’s decision was nonetheless correct is that religious liberty isn’t absolute. Provided the state has a compelling interest in prohibiting a harmful practice, it’s allowed to prohibit it. The state could, for example, prohibit religiously motivated child sacrifice or widow-burning. Those practices could be entirely religious in nature -- but the state may still ban them because it has a compelling reason to combat the harm.

There’s a strong reason to believe that gay-conversion therapy for teens who can’t themselves fully consent is harmful. The state has a strong interest in prohibiting a potentially dangerous and unproven medical practice on that ground alone. It’s not that religious liberty isn’t implicated. It’s that it is overcome by other, stronger interests.

Noah Feldman

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners; But it does represents the view of adamfoxie Blog

October 15, 2015

The Dismal Struggle of a Gay Teen in Brazil


Miguel (name changed for privacy) is a Brazilian sixteen-year-old, and although his life is just beginning, he’ll tell you that his “story begins when [he] was about twelve-years-old.” Miguel is gay, and although this wouldn’t affect his life in some places, it dominated it in Brazil.
It didn’t begin to impact him until he was twelve, because that’s when he began to grapple with his sexuality. Miguel says that “up until that point I wasn’t really aware about sexual or gender dynamics…the way ‘gay’ was perceived was generally negative, and I reproduced that mindset. After awhile, I started realizing I had actual feelings for another boy.”

Miguel didn’t accept his feelings at first. He “wondered if [he] might have been confused between friendship and attraction.” Although Miguel acknowledges that “the feeling felt natural,” he still struggled to reconcile his feelings with the homophobic sentiment he was surrounded by. Sexuality wasn’t an everyday topic, but whenever it did come up, Miguel immediately felt uncomfortable.
Eventually, Miguel says he came to terms with his sexuality, mostly through the Internet. Surrounded by homophobia and unsure of what to do with his revelations, Miguel says he “dealt with it mostly online. [He] talked to friends and looked up forums and YouTube videos.” They helped him cope, and “learn how to go about living life, and feel safe about displaying [his] orientation.”

The encouragement he found in friendly, supportive online communities finally gave him the courage to take action offline. After a lengthy internal debate about whether or not it would be worth it, Miguel decided to come out to his father. Unfortunately, his reaction was less than positive. Miguel says he was advised to “for [his] safety and the family’s reputation, keep low about it.”
His father’s negative reaction was discouraging, but Miguel was becoming more comfortable with his sexuality. He says he “didn’t feel comfortable in the closet anymore, and started gradually coming out.” Miguel told a few trusted friends first, and although reactions were mixed, he received a lot of support. The confidence of his friends empowered Miguel. “Since I was experiencing my first crush,” Miguel says, “I developed an unhealthy dependence on him, and once I felt experienced sharing my identity with others, a bit more confident about my orientation and ready to share how I felt with him, I did. I feel like this is where I really started to struggle with being gay.”

To Miguel’s dismay, “he didn’t take it very well.” His crush took the liberty of outing Miguel to the entire school. “I had to learn how to deal with being perceived as gay by other young people, who really knew nothing about gay people,” Miguel says. His classmates taunted him with anti-gay slurs, and physically attacked him. Miguel noted that this could be the result of their inexperience with the LGBT+ community, their upbringing, or any number of factors, but he says he it “didn’t really matter” where their attitudes came from. The point was, “[he] was perceived negatively for being gay and felt unsafe at school because [his] classmates made it clear they dislike gay people.”

Although he had once felt relatively confident in his sexuality, the backlash led him to recant. “I was asked a lot of questions, and fought a lot of stereotypes people brought up, but I always denied being gay,” Miguel says. He felt alone in the world, and again began to question his sexuality. On the subject of his family, Miguel says “My relationship with my parents is something that probably changed a lot. A lot of parents are conservative, and in Brazil as much as other countries, and so I never felt fully accepted. This is probably one of the biggest struggles gay people find, and definitely one of mine.”

Miguel’s goal is to change the way LGBT+ people are perceived in Brazil. Miguel says that growing up, “I was surrounded by stereotypes, and initially that’s what hurt me the most, because people had this imaginary notion of what a gay person is. Example: my classmates associated femininity with being gay, so they believed the gay people always followed a standard.” He recalls an unnerving incident “talking in class about prejudices. One of the girls rose her hand and said, ‘but teacher, everyone has a prejudice against gay people.’ And in that moment I realized just how messed up the education of children on the subject was.”

Since most of the homophobic sentiment he spoke of encountering came from classmates and family, I asked what messages he saw in the media. There, he speaks of a marked improvement. Miguel says that “when talking exclusively about Brazilian media, the image of gay people is mostly shown on soap operas.” Miguel is hopeful for the future of LGBT+ representation though, because he’s seen an increase “in the past few years, exposure and representation of gay people.” He notes that the characters are often wacky and used as comic relief, but in his opinion, “the portrayals are getting more human and realistic over time.”

Some of Miguel’s friendships have ended, and some are still shaky as a result of his sexuality. He insists that he is just one person, and the stories of other LGBT+ Brazilians could be different, but he believes this is important and his story needs to shared no matter what. He notes that in American media much of the focus rests on LGBT+ rights in America, but there needs to be inclusion of other countries. He wants the media to pay attention to the struggle in Brazil, where people are still bullied and beaten for their sexuality and homophobia is the default. Miguel “hopes [sharing his story] helps.”

November 19, 2014

UK Attitude Magazine Coming Out with a Gay Teen Version

The gay lifestyle magazine Attitude has launched a spin-off aimed at teenagers, the first time a gay publication has been specifically aimed at a teen audience. 
The first edition of the digital magazine aTEEN features a photoshoot with the 20-year-old diver Tom Daley, who came out as gay at the end of last year. 
Charlie King, who was on the reality TV show The Only Way is Essex, appears on one version of the cover and writes a “coming out diary” in the magazine, detailing the bullying he suffered at school as well as a period of depression in his twenties. 
An alternative cover features Jaymi Hensley of the boyband Union J who, along with his fiancé, appeared in an advertising campaign for the menswear chain Moss Bros earlier in the year. 
The magazine also carries relationship and dating advice, information about safe sex, and other articles by young gay men.
Though currently only available in tablet form, either with the regular edition of Attitude or standalone, publishers say aTEEN could become a quarterly print magazine if the venture proves successful. 
Christian Guiltenane, an assistant editor at Attitude and former editor of OK!, who was behind the launch, said he wished a magazine like aTEEN had been around when he was growing up as a gay man. 
“There was nothing that appealed to a 16-year-old outside the metropolis - the established gay mags tended to be aimed at an older audience with a large income and a lifestyle far removed from my own,”he said. 
Attitude celebrated its 20th anniversary in March and counts David Beckham, Daniel Radcliffe, Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellan as previous cover stars.

August 30, 2014

Family of Georgia Gay teen Turns on him and Kicks him Out


When Daniel Ashley Pierce told his family last October that he was gay, his stepmother seemed to be supportive, and his father had no response.
All that changed Wednesday, when Pierce’s family attempted to stage a delayed intervention, berating the 20-year-old for “choosing” to be gay and demanding that he move out of the family’s home.
But Pierce, who, according to his public Facebook page, is studying business administration at Georgia Highlands College in Rome, might have the last word, as a video he recorded of the confrontation has gone viral.
The five-minute, profanity-laced video, originally posted by a friend of Pierce’s, has logged more than 2 million views, and a GoFundMe site set up to raise money for Pierce’s living expenses has raised over $56,000 in one day. On the video, which doesn’t show faces, a conversation among Pierce and family members escalates into a physical altercation with screaming and profanity. In a Facebook posting about the incident, Pierce said, “What a day. I thought that waking up at 9:48 and being 15 mins late to work was going to be the biggest problem today. But I didn’t know that my biggest problem was going to be getting disowned and kicked out of my home of almost twenty years. To add insult to injury, my stepmother punched me in the face repeatedly with my grandmother cheering her along. I am still in complete shock and disbelief.”
More than 21,000 comments have been left on the YouTube video of the confrontation.
Thursday night, Pierce posted another note on Facebook: “Thank you for all of your support. I need some down time for myself and I am in a safe place.”

(video is been darkened because of brutality but you still  have a clear conversation)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

February 14, 2014

Through The Net Gay Teens are Connected to a Larger Community and it’s Implications

In the past 20 years, the Internet has significantly changed what it means to grow up as a gay kid in this country.

Before the Web, many gay young people grew up in what seemed to be isolation, particularly those in small towns. But with the advent of online chat rooms and Websites dedicated to gay culture, communities formed, and that demographic began finding new support.

That change can be seen in the experiences of two women who grew up in the same town, two decades apart.
Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes. Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s.
 She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes. 
'The Only One'

Larry Gross of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication has been studying gay teens for decades.

"The experience that is so common for people growing up gay in the past is: 'I thought I was the only one,' " he says.

Growing up in Springfield, Ill., in the 1970s, Todd Bentsen never spoke to his high school classmates about being gay.

"Gay people — or people who were thought to be gay — in high school were ridiculed, or worse. So, you know, I kept quiet about it," he says. "I literally did not have contact with people my own age who were gay."

For decades, being a gay kid often meant holding tight to a secret you couldn't share, or having no one to talk to about feelings you might not fully understand. But the Internet, Gross says, allowed gay kids to find each other for the first time.

The Birth Of The Chat Room

Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes.
Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes.

Courtesy of Stephanie Sandifer
Stephanie Sandifer grew up in the small town of Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. "The only exposure that we had to anyone that might be gay were more of what we perceived as the stereotypes of that," she says.

In her mind at the time, gay men were supposed to be hair dressers, and lesbians were supposed to be gym coaches. These stereotypes didn't fit her reality. She had feelings for girls, but there were almost no real images of gay people in popular culture. And she felt there was no one in Sulphur she could talk to about it.

She didn't come out until college and didn't talk to her parents about it until her mid-20s.

"I still remember the first time I saw those Internet chat rooms on AOL," she says. "I was like, this is really different! And then suddenly we were able to get on the Web and find websites dedicated to the culture.”
Emily Kitfield, 16, says she's not sure if she would have been able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online. Emily Kitfield, 16, says shes not sure if she would have been 
able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online. 
Online Support

Mark Elderkin founded in the mid-1990s. "We couldn't keep up with the demand," he says, "and we would hit traffic records day after day. So we knew we were on to something."

And it wasn't just adults on sites like his. For the first time, gay teens in small towns had a place they could come out, a place they could talk.

"They're in their 30s now, these people who came out back then," Elderkin says.

Even today, they find him and thank him. He says the stories he hears are often similar, about how helped people come out and feel good about themselves. He also hears about parents who took away their kids' computers for visiting the site.

Before the Web, there was Usenet, listservs and chat rooms.

But the communication wasn't all positive. In the 1990s, there were scares about online predators and moves in Congress to censor the Internet. Some fears were legitimate. Elderkin says had special rooms for teens and community monitors to keep kids safe.

Emily Kitfield, 16, says she's not sure if she would have been able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online.
Emily Kitfield, 16, says she's not sure if she would have been able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online.

Courtesy of Emily Kitfield
Eventually, courts squashed censorship efforts, and slowly gay culture entered the mainstream online — and the world at large. Soon gay kids weren't just connecting on gay-centered sites: Friendster took over, then Facebook.

And today, many parents worry more about online bullying than the Internet corrupting their kids.

Finding The 'Courage'

Sixteen-year-old Emily Kitfield of Sulphur, La., is the kind of kid who uses "sir" by default. This year, the soft-spoken teen came out to her parents and her school.

"I don't think that I could have done it without being able to reach out to other kids and get advice from them," she says, "because it's really hard. I don't think I would have had the courage."

Emily lives in the same Lousiana town where Stephanie Sandifer grew up 25 years ago, but her experience there has been completely different.


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