LGBT teenagers are of the highest risk for suicide. A recent event in my home state of Utah (which has the 12th highest rate of youth suicide in the US) garnered national attention for this very problem. And it is a problem. Imagine feeling like an outsider who doesn't fit in (not hard to do if you've ever been a teenager), who perpetually wants to be like everyone else...yet for whatever reason you cannot. You constantly hear words like "queer, gay, and faggot" at your school, online, even at your church. Those words may not even be directed at you yet they are always used negatively. They are used synonymously for stupid, lame, not good, "girly," and much worse. To describe what you are. You may even try to change who you are. Read your scriptures, fast, pray, be really good, maybe even look at pictures of naked girls...trying desperately to change. But nothing works.
Can you ask your friends for help? Those 13, 14, 15 year old friends who mock one another for anything unmanly as being queer? What would they think, would they actually help or think you were joking or maybe even that you wanted to be their boyfriend...gross!? Maybe not the best avenue to explore. Maybe Church is a good place to go for help. The place where you learn to love your neighbor as Jesus did and that you are a special child of God. Yet isn't that the same place where you have heard that being gay is an "abomination" and a "whoredom," scary words. On second thought maybe not. What about your family, your loving mom and dad who want so much for you to be happy. Will they embrace when you tell them, still love and accept you for who you are or can you more imagine your mom's confused look and your dad's disappointing eyes?
It is not hard to see why this is such a difficult issue for an adolescent or an individual of any age. We need to reach out with compassion and love to those that are suffering, those that feel "different," for whatever reason and say "Hey you know what, you are a loved child of god and my sister or brother...exactly the way you are."
Next post I am going to continue with LGBT issues looking more specifically at the interplay between religion and sexual orientation. So on that note I'll close with how the amazing follower of Jesus, Shane Claiborne, came to his stance of homosexuality:
"I had all these ideas about homosexuality and civil union and gay marriage when I was in high school, and then I met a kid who was attracted to other men and he told me that he felt God had made a mistake when He made him and that he wanted to kill himself. If that brother can’t find a home in the Church, then I wonder who have we become. So for me, that’s a starting point—we need to attract the people Jesus attracted, and Jesus attracted the broken, the confused, the hurting, the abused. The people who walked away angry at Jesus, the people Jesus called a brood of vipers, the people Jesus ticked off—they were the self-righteous, the arrogant, the pretentious, the teachers of the law."
Till next time give some love to someone different than yourself. (o:
As always please comment, question, and discuss below.