A majority of Americans say they support legal recognition of same-sex marriage amid growing evidence that the public has become more comfortable with gays and lesbians, according to a new CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday.
According to the survey, 54 percent of respondents now say that marriages between gay and lesbian couples should be legal, with only 42 percent opposed.
The results also indicated that the number of Americans who say they have a close friend or family member who is gay jumped from 49 percent in 2010 to 60 percent today, the first time in CNN polling that a majority of Americans have said that.
Looks like coming out is having the positive effects Harvey Milk predicted.
Parents of LGBT kids don’t have an easy time of it. Parenting a child is difficult at the best of times, but adding the complexities of sexual diversity to the mix can make parenting downright terrifying.
It’s worse if those parents are practicing Christians.
Kathy Baldock writes clearly and firmly to Christian parents of LGBT kids in her latest post at CanyonWalker Connections. She’s not advocating marching in parades and becoming a fierce advocate and PFLAG zealot, she’s advocating simple acceptance.
If God has given you a gay child and you are trying to make that child heterosexual, that is not “the way of him”. If you try to impose change on your child or reject who he is (yes, that is really what you are doing when you tell them to “not be gay”), there are some general , predictable consequences.
If you reject your glbt youth they:
- Are EIGHT times more apt to attempt suicide than those who are accepted
- May suffer depression SIX times more often than those who are accepted
- Are THREE times more likely to get involved in drug abuse than those glbt that are accepted
- May contract HIV and STD’s THREE times more than accepted glbt youth
Are you catching the key words here? “than those who are accepted” The unhealthy, risky behavior is a result of rejection. Mom and Dad, you are completely in control of that dynamic. If you withhold love, acceptance or security from you glbt youth because of their sexual orientation, you will, in all likelihood, be damning them to these statistics. I cannot imagine any parent knowing this and choosing to ignore it.
If you’re the parent of a gay kid and don’t know what to do, contanct me. I’m available.
If you’re an LGBT kid who’s been rejected and kicked out of the house- or is about to be, contact me. We’ll find a safe place for you to be. Promise.
My email: Dgsma@hotmail.com.
Please read Kathy’s full post here.
And then share it with your friends and Christian parents.
In gratitude for life, love and surprises, I’m re-running this.
It’s all still true.
Cinderella I Ain’t
Originally published March 15, 2009
We were at the Black and White Ball last night in Missoula to benefit the Western Montana LGBT Community Center. It all started out fine. My clothes fit, I looked pretty good, Ken was handsome, a great circle of friends- dinner with people I love very much, and a ballroom full of people who supported me and my relationship as much as I supported theirs (or their desire to have some such). The atmosphere was nurturing, mostly. There were a few people obviously avoiding other people, but it wasn’t ugly or drama-filled or really at all awkward.
I was enjoying myself and my partner and my friends and the party immensely, and then something happened.
It crossed my mind later that the old cliche’ “there I was minding my own business, when suddenly…” seems to apply here. I really was. Minding my own business, I mean. I was talking to Hobie about something sort of innocuous but interesting, when Ken grabbed my hand and said to Hobie, “Could you excuse us for a minute?”
I was confused. Ken doesn’t really do that. Interrupt, I mean. And he hasn’t ever just grabbed me and pulled me aside for any reason that I can remember. I thought, “Oh shit, I’ve had a few drinks and maybe said something that I shouldn’t have and this is his way of telling me to keep my big mouth shut. That’s sweet- and a little embarrassing. I wonder what I said?” He was pulling me toward the front of the ballroom- toward the band, which was playing “A Rainy Night in Georgia” and the less crowded area of the dance floor. I figured I should ask him what was up. “Is there something wrong?” I said into his ear. He just grabbed my hand tighter and took me out onto the dance floor. “Nope,”he said. “I love this song and just wanted to dance with you.”
I was stunned.
Ken doesn’t dance. Or so he says. I’ve tried to get him to dance with me, but he’s always refused saying he feels he looks like a big, awkward bird and has no rhythm, is accident prone and etc. I always say it doesn’t matter, I don’t care what you look like or how you dance and still, he’s not been up for it. And so, we haven’t danced.
I didn’t push it, because there are certain things I don’t like to do- long distance running for instance, that Ken enjoys. I figured if I let some of mythings go I wouldn’t be pressured to go jogging or spend six hours in a shoe store. It’s that compromise place you reach when you love someone so much you realize that part of what you love is their difference– there’s no need to be exactly alike or enjoy the same things. Otherwise, why bother having a partner at all? I want someone who shows me the view from their life, through eyes and experiences not my own. And this he does. Sometimes with a grace that takes my breath away. Sometimes it’s more akin to blunt force trauma. Mostly it’s somewhere in between. But tonight-
He pulled me close and kissed me lightly and we gracefully moved to the music. In a room filled with people that didn’t see us as freaks or perverts or abominations of nature, we simply danced. A very normal thing for people in love to do in a public place where there’s music….
It was wonderful. Stunning. Perhaps one of the best moments of my life. I felt safe and at ease and excited and, well, just right. I still do.
And as the music ended, and I felt all warm and happy, full of love and grateful for the surprise of this man, I found myself thinking, ever so briefly, “I’m going to return the favor someday.”
I don’t think it’ll be running, though.
“Why can’t they just let me have this? Why does it have to be such a fight?”
These words came from the mouth of one bisexual client, but they have been echoed by almost every bisexual client I’ve ever had- and there have been many. They were describing the pain, the anger, the sadness felt as a result of comments and treatment by gay/lesbian friends.
Surprised? I’m not. I hear these stories of pain all the time. You’ve probably heard comments like, “Bi? More like bi now, gay later; She says she’s bi, but it’s just a college thing; He’ll screw anything with a hole- that doesn’t make him bi, just a dog, etc.”
There’s a perceived pecking order in our communities, generally with wealthy, healthy, gay, white males at the top and poor, differently abled, positive, transgendered Christian bisexuals of color at the bottom.
OMG. Did I just say that out loud?
It’s a human trait to want to feel satisfied and happy, and to avoid feeling like shit. There’s nothing inherently wrong in that. However, sometimes the finessing of our feelings can get a little sloppy.
Psychologically, one of the fastest ways to feel good is to make someone else feel/look bad. You know it’s true. We all do it- or have done it. The problem is, when this behavior occurs, the good feeling it brings to the perpetrator is fleeting. So, like an addict who is becoming used to the heroin, it takes more and more to feel good as time goes by. It’s also not very sophisticated psychologically, it takes far fewer skills to simply react or attack than to actively evaluate and respond with integrity.
People tell me what they see, and I also know what I myself have seen. We see the cliques that form at clubs and bars and in social circles- the packs that hold court and put down and look down. We see sides being taken in problematic relationships. We see people flirting overtly and disrespectfully to our dates and partners right in front of us. We see posturing and gossip intended to intimidate and hurt.
There are also power struggles in our organizations and communities- outcries of pain and rage among members who feel left out or ignored by those in power. From ENDA to the HRC to our local AIDS organizations, people are struggling to be heard, fighting to be included. Ironic, huh?
Many of us were bullied in school because we were different. Some would argue that we are still being bullied by public policy and perception today. We know what it’s like to take that kind of abuse. Maybe we think that’s what people in power are supposed to do, because we certainly know how to dish it out. In fact, we do it so well, someone responded to a survey I was doing about LGBT Community by saying, “I’m more afraid of my gay friends than my straight friends- they can hurt me more.”
And so it goes.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we can be fantastic and loving and supportive as a community- we have plenty of examples of courage and loving kindness. My concern however, is with the amount of pain we can cause each other, which seems so contradictory to the kindness and support many of us have experienced. Is it a sign of confusion? A result of bullying? A type of post-traumatic stress disorder manifesting in confused and non-reflective behavior? Are we so desperate for security that we will trample over others in order to get it? Have we become so interested in self-preservation that we’ve lost all compassion for the other wounded people around us?
I certainly have my suspicions.
Maybe I’m oversensitive to this because in my work I hear so many stories of pain and confusion- it’s the nature of the beast. I hear about the anger and sadness felt by people who feel disadvantaged by their peers- real or perceived. I hear tales of insecurities exacerbated by pressure from LGBTIQ culture. I see the damage caused by the struggle to fit in to two worlds- and in the case of bi or trans persons, more than just two. Maybe my sense of this is over-exaggerated, hyper-inflated and ridiculous.
Maybe. But the pain felt by my bisexual clients is real. It is echoed by others, by me and maybe by you reading this now. That’s my concern- the suffering we cause each other, often out of ignorance or fear.
I have a proposal. A not-so-modest one.
It hinges on the science of personal development and experience which says that self-understanding unfolds over time. It develops gradually. That applies especially to sexual orientation of LGBTIQ persons who face the added difficulty of pleasing several different groups of people- and attempting this with the added difficulty of often having to do so with a still-developing brain. My proposal is this:
When our own people are easy targets for us, let’s refuse to take the shot.
When a person says, “I’m bisexual,” let’s give them that. Let’s allow them that place of self-understanding and respect. Let’s quit being so hard-assed, bitchy, petty and small-minded about defining people- it’s damn near impossible anyway….
Let’s even take it a step further: When someone isn’t wearing the right clothes or eating the right food or going to the right places or in the right job, or… you get the idea- let’s find ways to be supportive instead of destructive. Look a little deeper and maybe we’ll see the fear and the pain and the anxiety and the need for a friend. Maybe we’ll see people that remind us of ourselves at some point along the crowded way….
I’m proposing that we let each other be human- that we actively work towards respecting and understanding each other and create a community, not just a Political Action Committee. And that will take some work. It will mean taking steps outside of our established circles, being a little uncomfortable, standing up when someone’s being put down, looking a little more deeply instead of making a shallow snap judgment.
It will mean being more reflective, more responsible humans.
I think we owe each other that.