This Fight Isn’t Over

Just as it seemed rights for LGBTQ people had begun to normalize with marriage equality and the death of DOMA, new battles have begun as conservatives passed odious bills in North Carolina and Mississippi.

But there is another battle that never went away, and it was driven home to me twice recently, prompting this blog.

Most of you probably know that the television show “Once Upon A Time” aired an episode that included a storyline in which Red (Riding Hood) fell in love with Dorothy (Kansas/Oz Dorothy), and had to wake her from a sleeping curse with true love’s kiss. It was a fantastic, tender moment, but of course, it also triggered protests like THIS ONE.

It’s funny, I don’t remember those same moms protesting the show when Regina was sneaking the sheriff into her bedroom during Season 1 or when she and Robin Hood spent a romantic night together in her cemetery vault (how’s that for mood-setting?). It seems their protests are reserved for two women sharing a kiss.

When I posted about the protest on my Facebook page, a friend commented that she wondered what the gay kids of those moms would take away from their mothers’ outrage over a kiss, and how many of them would eventually be a suicide statistic because of it?

That sentiment echoed my own thoughts, partly because I had just been friended on Facebook by a woman whose twenty-year-old gay son just committed suicide this past January. She is turning her grief and heartache into a campaign to help bring awareness to this fight that is far from over.

I’ve been hesitant to blog about this because the very last thing I would want to do is seem to be using this mother’s story as a marketing ploy, but all of these events tie in too closely with each other and with the themes in my novel, Turning for Home, in which a forty-ish woman is still dealing with the lingering effects of the bullying she and her best friend, Hobie, had to deal with growing up gay in a small Ohio town.

The effects of bullying on kids is well-documented in numerous places, as is the fact that LGBTQ youth suffer bullying and physical violence at a higher rate than other groups of kids. Here are a few sources on that topic:

The Trevor Project

The Centers for Disease Control – statistics on LGBTQ youth

For every kid who actually attempts suicide, three or four more have contemplated it.

I remember what it felt like as a teen. Every bad thing that happened felt like the end of the world – and my “bad things” were so mild compared to what some kids deal with. I had a great circle of friends, all of us middle-class in a well-funded school in a nice middle-class neighborhood. I can’t imagine what it must be like for kids who come from more violent schools and neighborhoods, or households where they are sure their parents will disown them if they come out. It’s estimated that about 40% of the homeless kids out on the street are LGBTQ kids who were thrown out of their homes.

The important thing that Turning for Home does is to show the adult aftermath of bullying, as we go through the school years with the protagonists, watching them grow up, and then see what became of them years later. There are a number of other books that deal with the issue of bullying and teen suicide from a more current point of view:

10 LGBT Teen Novels that Tackle Teen Suicide & Bullying 

Those of us old enough to have made it through our teen and young adult years, realize that almost none of the things that seemed so terrible back then truly are earth shattering in the larger context of our lives. Things really DO get better.

Of course, to get to that point, you have to get through those teen years and it can be horrific for some. HERE is a heart wrenching suicide note from a teenage boy who attempted suicide because of the relentless bullying he was subjected to.

If teens could only see far enough ahead to realize that suicide is not the answer to their problems. It tears their families apart, and leaves unanswerable questions for those left behind to deal with. It may seem like the only solution at the time, but there is help out there.

TEEN LINE – an organization for teens helping teens

Help For Gay Teens

Another documentary that is fantastic in helping to deal with religious fanaticism is For the Bible Tells Me So. It really deals with the topic in a loving and positive manner.

With all of the advances in acceptance and tolerance in recent years, kids remain the most vulnerable among us. This a battle still very much needing to be fought.

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12 thoughts on “This Fight Isn’t Over

  1. Caren,
    This is wonderful. I love your juxaposing of other scenes from the show. And what about the violence depicted as well? Is that good for young people to see? Have these 1MM Moms read the original versions of the fairy tales, not the “Disneyfied” ones??
    I worry about these Moms, their insular viewpoints are born out of fear. Fear of change, fear of the future, fear of the unknown. It reminds me of the mantra I used to repeat as a teenager from Frank Herbert’s Dune:
    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

  2. Thanks for blogging about this important topic, Caren, and sharing these links. It’s hard to believe the vehemence of these anti-LGBTQ measures and protests. Somehow it seems like bullying in a different form, so it’s no wonder that some of the kids who are bullied might feel that the whole world is against them.

    The frightening statistics on LGBTQ youth homelessness are not unique to the U.S.. Toronto recently opened its first shelter specifically for LGBTQ youth. It’s great that it’s available for those who need it, but it’s sad that this resource needs to exist.

    P.S. I think I better start watching Once Upon a Time! 🙂

    • Lisa, it’s fantastic that Toronto now has a shelter geared toward LGBTQ youth. I know NYC and LA do, as does London. I’m not sure about other large cities. But kids in small towns face these issues, too. We’ve known kids taken in by their friends’ parents when their own kicked them out. And, yes! You need to start watching Once Upon A Time!

  3. A powerful blog here, Caren. And I love that quote from Dune, Radical. Yes, teen years are tender years and burgeoning emotions can be disruptive to a young person. The national messaging can be encouraging with the political success with the Supreme Court, but then to see the hatred it has unleashed in NC and Mississippi is scary to adults. I can not imagine how it appears to a teen. I like loved Turning for Home and I do not think you are being opportunistic at all and n mentioning it. The story shows that bullying has been going on for a long time. It shows the years long effect of that bullying. And it shows that as adults, it is now time to put a stop to it. Listing the resources you do helps with that.
    I’m only hoping that the reaction to the 1MM mom’s protest will show a teen that not only does it get better, but if they can ‘hang in there’ just a little longer, then the rest of society, or at least a large segment of it, will be there to greet them with open, loving arms when they come out.

    • Thank you, Solar. As much as I share your sentiment about hoping these kids will see society greeting them with open, loving arms, I woke this morning to the news that Tennessee’s governor passed a bill allowing counselors to refuse to treat patients based on their personal beliefs – a bill that can only be aimed at LGBTQ patients. That doesn’t change their code of ethics, but still…. Sigh.

  4. As a follow up to my previous comment, this discussion triggered a memory of a high school friend. She and I worked on our high school yearbook together. When I think back to those days, I’m sure she was gay. Her mother was a strict Catholic and I know my friend had struggles at home. My friend disappeared after high school, and there were rumors that she had been put into some kind of therapy. At that time, electro-shock therapy was in vogue. I’ve always wondered if my friend had been subjected to that. I’ve never been able to find her on social media or elsewhere. She had a very common first and last name, but I certainly would like to know what happened to her now. Let’s pray that society continues to make progress, even if in fits and starts, and this silencing of anyone is a thing of the past.

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