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This is What They're Dealing With This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Do not let anyone push you out of the closet. You have feet. Walk!
                         - Anonymous


In this day and age, we would be ecstatic to say that America can accept and understand diversity. That we embrace innovation, creativity, and all the differences in the world. That this country is where everyone can be who and what they please. But are we really a nation free from hate and discrimination? Though America should epitomize liberty and respect, there is undeniably an abundance of hate and bigotry - especially when it comes to sexual orientation. We are all too quick to discriminate against homosexuals.

Homosexuals have long been the target of ridicule and bias. With such open bigotry, it's no wonder many feel they must remain hidden. Our nation declares that everyone is created equal, but a double standard, the betrayal of our own words, leads to hurt and grief. Homosexuals are often the victims of hate crimes, including "gay bashing," harassment (physical and verbal), and even being killed.

The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of America has many faces that are not seen and voices that are not heard. Many of those belong to the youth - the generation that we are a part of.

Because our world is heterosexually dominant, their reasons for concealing their sexuality are understandable. But take a moment and view the world as homosexually dominant.

Imagine not being able to serve in the military as an open heterosexual.

Pretend you lose out on your dream job because it's discovered you prefer the opposite sex. Picture constant positive images of homosexuals and negative imagery for heterosexuals. And how about the government refusing to recognize your lifelong commitment to a partner, and lacking legal and financial benefits because of who you love? For most people a world like that would be hell, but for homosexuals this is reality - every day is a fight for their lives and dignity.

The discrimination usually begins at home. Homosexuals come from all different races and religions and all walks of life. They come from even the most religious and military homes, proof that anyone can raise a homosexual son or daughter.

Gay youth are now coming out younger and in greater numbers than ever before. Recent studies estimate that four percent of the population is homosexual. Because their sexuality is shunned and condemned, many feel depressed and isolated. Many become afraid of their families and peers and begin to lead double lives, but that too can lead to depression and substance abuse.

Fear of the family will also take its toll when they finally decide to accept who they are and come out. Though many parents are accepting, others take it hard. Fifty percent of homosexual youth report that their parents reject them for their sexual orientation, and in a study of 194 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teenagers, 25 percent were verbally abused and ten percent had to deal with threatened or actual violence. Studies have shown that 42 percent of homeless youth identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Some of these teens - 27 percent - take it upon themselves to flee the brutality they call home and usually have arrangements for shelter. In their fearful state of mind some turn to alcohol and drugs.

Many teens will pretend to be heterosexual in hopes that denial will lead to change, and even consider suicide as a way to free themselves of the shame. In 1993, one study showed that 65 percent of homosexual youth had seriously considered suicide. In the U.S., it is estimated that a teen takes his/her own life every five hours because s/he's gay, bisexual, transgender or lesbian, and cannot deal with the stress of society (lambda.org/youth.htm).

Adolescent homosexuals are five times more likely to miss school for feeling unsafe, and 28 percent drop out. More often than not, homosexuals are the frequent targets of violence due to hate in high school; 27 percent have been physically harassed. More than 80 percent never report the incident. To ensure the safety of all students, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a Gay and Lesbian Students Right Bill. That requires all schools in Massachusetts to reach out to these students.

In a typical class of 30 students, eight will be directly affected by homosexuality in one way or another. Most teenagers, homosexual and straight, say the worst insult is being called gay and 84 percent report hearing homophobic terms like "faggot" and "dyke," while phrases like "That's so gay" and "You're so gay" used as insults are heard by 90 percent.

Many do not realize that some very important and famous people are gay and many will never know because 85 percent of American educators oppose integrating homosexual themes into their curricula. We're talking about people like Alexander the Great, Socrates, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Bernstein, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Andy Warhol, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Willa Cather, E.M. Forster, Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Martina Navratilova, Frida Kahlo, Rock Hudson, Janis Joplin, Aristotle and Ani D'Franco, along with many others (lambda.org/famous.htm). But since schools don't include homosexual themes, students won't learn about people like them or Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office - in 1978 - and who a year later was shot by a fellow council member.

There have been countless acts of violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender beings simply for who they are. That hate usually goes unnoticed by mainstream America, but the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance states: "With liberty and justice for all." It does not say: "Except homosexuals."

Please note: when I use the term homosexual I refer to all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

YozoraK said...
May 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm:
I'm honestly terrified of coming out to my folks.  Though they haven't straight up said they hate homosexuals, when anybody brought up is mention that they are gay, my family's response isn't pleasant.  I know when one of my family says something about a person might be gay and everyone else laughs, I give a look to that person who said the line about how I feel about it, though no one notices.  I know for a fact that my father doesn't like homosexuals because ... (more »)
 
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ellabella said...
Dec. 26, 2011 at 9:07 pm:
I completely agree with everything you say.
 
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SamiLynn said...
Sept. 1, 2010 at 12:14 am:
Thank you so much for this very VERY important, true, and informative article. I try to bring about acceptance as well. It hurts me when people use the deragatory terms, myself included sometimes, out of habit, because i dont mean it (but many people do). Thank you for using facts because some people believe this is all speculation, but it is very very true. Please, haters, take a step back and don't be close minded. Long live the Day of Silence!
 
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MisplacedTexan14 said...
Jul. 19, 2010 at 5:41 pm:
Just because famous people were homosexual doesn't make it somthing that is accepted. I am fine with homosexuals as long as they don't change the defintion of marriage, try to have schools teach kids about being gay and want to serve openly in the military. People have always sacrificed to be in the military. You can not be fat or underweight, there are height restrictions and there should be sexuality restrictions. I want to join when I'm 18 and I don't want to be bunking with a girl who is ope... (more »)
 
YozoraK replied...
May 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm :
I have some questions and some comments about your post.  One: how would homosexuals redefine marriage?  I know this is a constant issue today, but I honestly do not see eye to eye with the opposing side.  Marriage should be a union between two people because they love each other dearly, not just the two of the opposite sex.  And secondly (and this is more of a comment than a question): just because someone is openly gay doesn't mean that they don't want to serve thei... (more »)
 
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