The Hard Truth About Returning Home For the Holidays as an LGBT Youth

Growing up is hard for any child, but making the transition from teenager to young adult as an LGBT youth is even harder. The level of discrimination that’s allowed is absolutely ridiculous. Just when you believe that you have things under control, someone else comes in to stereotype and degrade you. But thankfully, things have gotten better for many LGBT people. We’re on TV, in newspapers, represented in the sciences, and just about anywhere else that we want to be. Hollywood has realized that unflattering portrayals of LGBT people aren’t acceptable, and that’s really improved the image of this community tremendously.

Yet there’s one part of life that hasn’t seemed to change all that much, and that would be the families that we moved away from in order to pursue work or school. When you return home for the holidays, you may have found things have changed.

LGBT Youth

For example, if you have a significant other, they may not be welcome at the house. Before you take the time to book travel accommodations, you need to have a serious talk with your family. They need to meet the people that matter in your life, but you also need to realize that you can’t force them to change. If you encourage them to open their minds a little bit, you’ll go further than condemning them for being homophobes or transphobes.

Other relatives that come down for the holidays may not be comfortable with it at all. However, we’ve found that this is the best time to educate people. All you can do is maintain the best boundaries possible. You don’t have to get into arguments for the entire holiday season. You can just stick to talking about your experiences, and let everyone else make their commentary. Some LGBTs feel that you shouldn’t have to prepare everyone for a visit from you. In a perfect world, we would certainly agree. Yet this world isn’t perfect, but we still have to live in it. When our friends went home for the first time, they tried the “surprise” approach. They had never come out in high school, and now they wanted to reveal their true selves in front of their loving parents. It didn’t end well at all, and they had to fly back to college at their expense before really participating in the holiday festivities. We think it’s sad, but that whole situation could have been prevented by a few phone calls or Skype chats. The reality is that we can’t make the whole world tolerate and accept us. There will be people that just can’t think any other way, and they will have the unfortunate distinction of being our family. [Read more…]

The Equality Fight is Far From Over, Part 2

It’s only been a little under a month since the landmark Supreme Court ruling opened the doors for same-sex marriage in all 50 states. And since then, the fires of discrimination and prejudice are still burning brightly. Oh, some people are busy talking about how a decision that affects two people they don’t even know infringes on their rights. Thankfully, we live in a country where things can’t be decided based on a majority religion.

But setting aside marriage, there are plenty of areas for us to fight for. Even if you’re not thinking about getting married yet, there are issues that affect you as you grow up, go into the workforce, and even when you start looking for suitable housing.

Equality Fight

In 29 states, you can be denied service at a hotel or another establishment, simply because of your sexual orientation. Yes, that’s right: you can get legally married, but if the hotel doesn’t want you to sleep there with your new spouse, they don’t have to allow it. This is the case even after gay marriage is now legalized in all states. Some say that it’s perfectly fine to discriminate along these lines. However, if a sign outside a hotel said “We only serve men” or “Asians only, please”, that would be absolutely unacceptable. What if there was a sign that only atheists could stay at the hotel, and Christians had to go somewhere else? Christians would take to every radio show possible to decry such a thing. Yet it’s OK to do this to gay people?

This is where people say, “Well, you choose to be this way!” We disagree with the idea that one chooses their sexual orientation. Some people are gay, some people are straight, others are bisexual, and some are transgendered. The idea that anyone would choose to visibly identify with a group that’s targeted for a wide array of discriminatory practices is absurd. Why would anyone want to risk being bullied, alienated, denied jobs, pushed out of clubs, refused services, or even viciously beaten if they could avoid it? [Read more…]

Gay Marriage Is Legal, But There’s Still Work To Do

On June 26th of this year, gay marriage became legal in all 50 states. That’s right, you read that right; every single state. So even if you live in Mississippi, you can still marry your partner. Happily ever after, right? Homophobia died on the same day that same-sex marriage became legal, right?

Of course not. In fact there are multiple county clerks around the country resigning and otherwise protesting the changes made based on their religious convictions. It is shocking that anyone in this day and age would bring their religion into a civil matter? Not really, because they do so every single day.

This is the reason why gay pride parades exist. Not necessarily because people are showing off how proud they are to be homosexual, but rather that they are fighting for the basic right of celebration and enjoyment that everyone else enjoys. No one thinks twice about a heterosexual romance movie, but sparks fly when the two love interests are of the same sex. It’s this odd taboo that we still have in this country.

gay marriage is legal

Let’s be clear about something: gay marriage is legal, but that doesn’t mean that the fight is over. Many of you are reading this while still in high school or college. So marriage might not be on the horizon, and that’s okay. Just because you can now go to the courthouse and get married doesn’t mean that you have to go out and do so. There will always be a segment of the gay community that doesn’t marry, for its own reasons. Some people feel that they don’t need legal marriage in order to have the partnership they want. Other people feel that it’s critical they get married. [Read more…]

Gay Marriage Comes to South Dakota – Finally!

The fight for marriage equality shouldn’t be this hard. After all, it’s not like anyone’s asking straight people to suddenly take on a gay partner forever and ever. It’s merely an acknowledgement that other people want to have the same rights that many straight people take for granted. Alas, the battle for equal rights is going to be a long and very drawn out one. But today we have some great news. A federal judge in South Dakota ruled that a ban on gay marriage is simply unconstitutional, and gay marriages must be acknowledged by the state.

This means that couples in South Dakota can finally be acknowledged as married, after all the dust clears.

We keep seeing sharp comments around news articles, questioning whether or not these announcements matter. We think that in order to answer that type of question, we have to look at the people affected by it. For a straight person, gay marriage is something that they can take or leave. It’s something that pops up in their news feeds on Facebook, or they see it when they read the morning newspaper offline. Maybe a coworker mentions something in the workplace, and a few people nod their heads. Free speech is a bit more curtailed at work, so the uptight coworker that thinks marriage should be between a man and woman only can’t necessarily voice their opinion. The trouble with creating a non hostile workplace is that you can’t police people all of the time. When you’re gay and trying to be a professional, it’s hard not to participate in these types of conversations. It’s difficult in part because there’s so much at stake.

gay marriage south dakota

When we’re talking about gay marriage, we’re actually talking about someone’s future. We’re talking about the natural inheritance rules that are limited to only a chosen set. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered among us don’t get to have a legally binding wedding. This means that there’s always a chance for a legal battle. How could anyone say that’s okay? What happens if one partner dies? Are you going to fight for gay rights when it’s time for the surviving life partner to take those assets and keep them for the next generation? Gay couples want to adopt children, another issue that tends to light people up. They make the argument that gays shouldn’t adopt because they can’t get married. Now gay marriage is slowly but surely being taken off the table. Now what is the excuse for not allowing gay adoptions?

We see articles that talk endlessly of the concern that children raised by gay couples will turn out to be far more dysfunctional, but no one ever stops to think about if that’s the case for the children born to straight people.

It’s a nasty double standard, and it needs to end in 2015. But you can be part of the change movement in a few small ways. [Read more…]

Support for Transgender Youth is More Important Than Ever

What does it mean to be transgender? We’ve heard it described a few different ways but one description rings in our heads the most: like being born in a bad costume that you can never, ever take off without undergoing intense pain. You know that if someone describes being transgender like that it’s time to pay attention. Unfortunately, we’re not paying attention. Being gay, lesbian, or bisexual has its share of challenges, and we’ve talked about them endlessly in the past. But what does it mean to be transgender, and why are we ignoring the problem?

We think that the conversation on transgender youth needs to definitely be out there. It’s okay to be LGBT, and that definitely includes transgender. But when you have no articles discussing your lifestyle, it’s hard to feel included at the table. We’ve read some reader feedback about this, and felt it was time to correct the situation. Since we’re not transgender, we apologize for any hurt feelings that the lack of inclusion may have caused.

Transgender Youth

Being transgender means a complex series of decisions. Do you consider yourself a male or a female? Do you want to look at gender reassignment surgery? Do you want to dress as a woman, but keep the genitals of a man? There’s no easy answer here, and there’s no wrong answer either.


As a society, we need to allow the discussion to take on more than just genitals and dresses. We also need to highlight transgendered people in the media. Laverne Cox is speaking out about transgender issues. She is an MTF transgender activist and actress who wants the world to accept transgendered people as who they are, rather than as whom the world thinks they should pretend to be. Media representation is the fastest way to increase people’s view of transgender issues, but it’s also a way that criticism creeps in. People tend to reject what they don’t understand. Unfortunately, gay and lesbian people tend to also be in that category. We have to embrace transgender people as allies, not as enemies. We’re all in the same battle. Don’t you want them to have the same freedoms that you enjoy? The “gay agenda” has enjoyed a long time in the sun, but there’s room in the sun for everyone’s issues. We don’t have to pick and choose, though it can feel that way at times. Throw in subjects of race, class, and disability, and the conversation gets even more complicated. [Read more…]

Should You be Openly Gay On Campus?

Everyone wants to fit in whether they want to admit it or not. Even though we’re a gay community, we’re not going to say that there aren’t times where we wish to fit in a lot better than we do. Even as adults, we still look back on our school days and wish that people could just accept us the way we are. Unfortunately, people aren’t always that accepting or forgiving.

As more gay youth find the courage to graduate from high school and start thinking about college, a question hangs in the air: should you be openly gay on campus? Can you be openly gay on campus without risking your entire college career?

There are plenty of openly gay students. I think the question is unfair, because not everyone wants to be openly gay. Not everyone wants to open that part of their life up to public scrutiny. You can’t expect for zero criticism to take place. Anytime you reveal that something about you is different, people are going to talk about it.

Coping with the College Crowd

College is rough because no one really teaches you how to cope. You will find your “niche” in college as long as you stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be weird. Many, many college students are waking up and realizing that being against gays is wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being gay, and we need to treat it as a healthy, normal part of someone’s sexuality.

Openly Gay

The changes, in our opinion, also start from within the gay community. Pressuring someone else is come out is never okay. On the other hand, we should be encouraging to other people that want to be out, but find that they just can’t get themselves to commit to such a big change right away. If your university has a group for LGBT people, join it. If there’s a bigger group in the city where your university is located, join it! You won’t meet like minded people unless you go out there. Some gay people expect everything to be handed to them, and that’s just not the case.

We’re not saying that you’re automatically going to get along with other LGBT youth, just because you share a designation. That’s not the point of this. The point is to find people that you’re going to resonate with. Being locked up in your dorm room isn’t going to help your social life.

Should you “come out” to professors and other staff members? Not as much as you might think. For staff that will be potentially involved in social issues, it might be a good thing to “own up” to being gay. But for your run of the mill professor that is grading your papers and teaching you different subjects? It’s frankly none of their business what your sexuality is. You’re free to love whoever you want to love. The school should have a strong anti-discriminatory policy. But here’s the thing about those politics: they only work when you’re committed to speaking up. If someone is threatening you, file a complaint. Get help. Don’t just assume that your voice will be silenced because you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

We know firsthand how tough college can be, so we’ll touch on the subject numerous times before the school year is over.

Codependency and Gay Youth

Do you feel like it’s impossible to actually get anything done in your life because you feel like you have to take care of other people? Does it always feel like just as you start moving forward, other people have to drag you down? Do you feel hopeless, like nothing you ever do will come out right because someone will just come along and break it? Friends, you might be dealing with codependency.

A lot of gay youth actually come from homes that are less than stellar, and that’s okay. I’m from a dysfunctional family myself. What I’ve learned is that I can’t really function unless I’m fixing the problems that other people leave in my midst. That’s a tough way to live, because it means that you’re controlling other people. Even though you might feel that they can’t take care of themselves and they require you to fix it, you really are mistaken here. See, when we step in and take over other people’s responsibilities, we’re making them dependent on that service for the long run. It’s not that they can’t function, but that they simply choose not to function very well. It makes a lot more sense to take the path of worrying about your own life.


I think that codependency strikes gay youth harder because we feel like we “have to” fix everything even more, since we’re the “weird ones”. We’re the ones in the family that “aren’t right”. This is a bad way to live, because it means that you’re basically apologizing for being gay. With every action that you do to save someone in your family, you’re apologizing for being gay.

Friends, there’s no need to apologize for being who you are. What needs to happen is that you stand up for yourself and really look at the life that you’ve created. What type of life would you really lead if you weren’t worried about what everyone thinks about you? What type of pleasure would you get out of life if you didn’t have to stop and fret about what other people do with their time? How would you feel if you could focus on your own burdens rather than feeling like you have to carry the entire world on your shoulders?

There are ways out. Try to look for a therapist that works with LGBT youth, or LGBT people in general. Regular therapists might work, but they may have a bias against you, or try to indirectly shame you for being who you are. There are lists of gay-friendly therapists in just about any city.

Remember our post about building your own gay support team? If nothing else, this is one of the biggest reasons why you need a support group around you. Because when you aren’t able to set your own boundaries, you need someone confident enough to do it for you until you develop that skill. Notice the difference: they’re not going to be propping you up forever. There will come a time where you have to spread your own wings and fly to your own rhythms. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it just means that you have to look at more than just what’s pleasant. This path can be rough, but don’t worry: we have you covered.

The next post will go more in depth to looking for LGBT youth friendly therapists. Stay tuned!

Your Gay Support Team Awaits

Trying to be a gay youth on your own, with no support group, is downright insanity. I know that most will tell you to just toughen up and go it alone but this is a bad idea for a lot of different reasons. For starters, you need to realize that if you try to go on your own, you’re just setting the scene to be disappointed. It actually makes a lot more sense to focus on building the right team. Unfortunately, chances are good that nobody’s really taught you about the type of support team that you’re supposed to actually have. You can’t just go with anyone. I hate to break it to you, but not everyone is looking out for you. Not everyone is worried about your success. You have to be able to move forward and embrace a brighter future than that. It’s okay if you’re having some second thoughts, or you’re really worried about the future. It’s just a matter of letting go and letting things unfold as they’re going to unfold.


Trying to control your support team is a bad idea. Trust me, there are going to be times where your support team says something that you absolutely disagree with. You’ll hate even hearing about it, but they’re going to tell you anyway. And that’s the first step to getting a support team in place. You need to pick people who aren’t just going to agree with everything you do. That’s not support, that’s enabling. What you must do instead is to look at the type of people that are going to be able to stand up for you. We are attacked by many voices around the gay community, but that doesn’t mean that they’re right. Your support team can tell you who is worth listening to, and who is just…well, noise.

Another point that you’ll want to think about is the type of skills your support team has naturally. If they’re not really interested in helping you, then they are going to bog you down in some pretty rough ways. It’s better that you get a support team that really has the skills to lift your life up from every corner. You want to move? Having somebody in your network with a truck helps! What about when it’s time to look for a job? You want to move with people that are truly movers and shakers. Even though you might be young, there’s still a lot to think about. Just leaving it up in the air doesn’t work out at all.

Think long and hard on who you really want within your support term, and then go from there.

Bringing Gay Partners Home for the Holidays

Are you looking at trying to go home for the holidays? If you really love your family, you probably dream about a warm, comfortable evening at home with the people that matter most to you. However, in the gay community we don’t have the luxury of just assuming your families are going to accept everything about us. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the potential for major conflict.

If you’ve just recently come out as a gay person, you might struggle with the decision to go home for the holidays, let alone actually bring your gay partner with you. Whether you’re the other half of a gay couple, or a lesbian couple, or a bisexual couple, you have to think about all parties involved. Even though you might feel the urge to just bring home your special someone regardless of what your family thinks…this is the wrong idea, for many reasons. If your family is hostile to the idea of same sex relationships, they’re not going to treat your partner with the kindness, respect, and grace that they deserve. Could you really sit there while your family talks about your partner behind their back, or otherwise shuts them out of the flow of conversation?

Gay couple holding hands

I had a girlfriend for a time and we couldn’t go around her family. They made sure to let me know in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t welcome, that they didn’t approve of my relationship with their relative. That’s a hard battle to win. Sure, they might tolerate you in time but you don’t want to just have tolerance. You want to have acceptance. You want to have love as time goes on. If you’re constantly chasing some idea of acceptance by just hanging around until they break down, this isn’t a good idea either. You need to still consider that sometimes, families just don’t heal the way you want them to heal. They don’t do what you want them to do. And while you may love them, the best remedy is often to put a lot of distance between you and them.

This is the best way to make sure that you’re on the right side of the line in terms of your own sanity. Pushing a gay partner on your family as a surprise isn’t a good idea even when your family is accepting. Logistics in families is a touchy topic. There might not be enough resources to go around, and adding an extra person that wasn’t announced can be troublesome.

So where do you really go from here? You need to sit down had have a good discussion with your family several weeks before you plan to visit them. See where they are at emotionally. If they are still feeling from you revealing that you’re LGBT, and then they aren’t going to be receptive to your partner.

You may go home and find that they do not allow you and your partner to sleep in the same bed. Even though this is annoying, frustrating, and a bit outdated, the reality is that it’s your parents’ house, not your house. You cannot dictate terms to a house where you don’t live there regularly. You have to go with what they want and what they feel is best. Try to handle it politely, even though it might make you upset. Besides, just think about all of the hot gay action you can get when you’re back in your regular place!

The time is right to be open, up front, direct, and honest with your family about your lifestyle. Be prepared for questions, but really? We’re coming to the point where even the most conservative of conservatives has at least one gay friend. Times are truly changing!

Supporting a Family Member That Recently Came Out

When we’re dealing with our own issues as gay people, we can forget how important it is to support our fellow gays at every single turn. Indeed, if you’re just hoping that everything will fall into place for a gay family member that just came out of the closet, you have a lot to learn. The experience of coming out is different for everyone. If you had a great experience, then you might not realize how hard it is when others don’t have as good of an experience as you do. It’s time to make absolutely sure that you’re standing by the family member, and there’s ways to make it work.

First and foremost, you need to let them own the conversation. It’s very tempting to start teaching, or preaching, and that’s not the attitude that we need to cultivate here. You need to be the personal that goes with the flow and treats this all as very normal. Now, this doesn’t mean that you get to cut them off mid-sentence or assume that you understand all of their pain. Even though both of you are gay people, your experiences are going to be naturally different.

Supporting a Family Member

It’s going to be difficult not to make assumptions about what happened, or any type of fallout related to the issue. Some people will have a problem being this open and honest, while others will handle it very well. The way you handle it says a lot about your own skills, of course.

Are you looking to spend more time with the family member that came out? Believe it or not, they might not want to talk that much about being gray. Don’t try to force the issue or tell them about the power of counseling. If they are a grown person, they know what types of resources are out there for them. You can remind them a couple of times, but you just need to step out of their space as quickly as possible. That’s going to be the key to getting things done in a big way.

While you’re sitting here thinking about all of your plans, you might as well think some about your hope for the future as far as it relate to your relative. Do you have children that you need to include in this person’s life? Do you work together with a family member? If so, you may need to help them work through what they’re going to say at the office, if they choose to say anything at all.

Now is the perfect time to look at how you can truly be a shining member of the gay community.