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.

codependency

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.

Support

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.

The Hinterlands, An Original Musical Web Series Tackles Gay Teen Bullying

When you live in the middle of nowhere, growing up gay is pretty much the worst thing you can be.  The Hinterlands is an original musical web series about Paul, a 16-year old kid who lives in a rural area where there are few resources and little tolerance for LGBTQ kids, causing him to feel very isolated and terribly alone. Walking down the hallway at school every morning is like running a gauntlet; he is unable to avoid the insults, name-calling and physical confrontations that are launched at him, day after day, just because he’s gay. Paul begins to wonder if it’s worth it, as he doubts the bullying and suffering will ever end. He contemplates taking his own life, but comes to develop and nurture a sense of resiliency that will help him move forward in his life, despite aversion and obstacles.

Paul and his classmates have been assigned to make a mini-documentary about their lives. Through this construct, The Hinterlands allows Paul to tell his own story through a combination of iPhone self-documentation, web-cam confessions and traditional cinematography. The goal of The Hinterlands is to tell an authentic teen story from a teen perspective, so that kids can relate to the character and place themselves in the story, regardless of their own specific situation.

The Hinterlands was devised by the writing team of Michelle Elliott and Danny Larsen (CloakedThe Yellow Wood) and was directed by Brandon Ivie (A Christmas Story, First Date). The web series stars a number of establish and up and coming Broadway stars including Connor Russell (Disney’s Aladdin world premiere) as Paul, Erin Dilly (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Nice Work If You Can Get It) as his mother, John Bolton (A Christmas Story, Curtains, Spamalot) as his father and Zoe Considine (A Christmas Story) as his sister, Janie. Playing Paul’s peers at school are Caitlin Kinnunen (The Bridges of Madison County, Spring Awakening, next to normal), Daniel Quadrino (Newsies, Bye Bye Birdie), Andrew Brewer (Off-Broadway’s Cougar, The Musical and Nymph Errant) and Brianne WylieDavid Andrew Anderson (Meet John Doe) plays Gus.

The Hinterlands premieres October 28, 2013 and will be available online for FREE for kids across the country, along with resources and information for kids, parents and teachers who are confronting bullying. Watch the trailer below:

Weary of Bullies – Stand Up to Them

Bullying is a problem that exists in virtually every single school. In fact, we can’t think of a school that doesn’t have a bullying problem. Of course, statistics can be brought in and said that some schools have less of a problem with bullying than other schools. But the truth is that you definitely still have a problem with bullies. You definitely still have to figure out how to deal with bullies. You can’t just hope and pray that everything is going to be all right. You have to make sure that you know what’s going on all the time, not just when you think everything’s okay. There’s no time like the present to really make sure that you have things covered.

You have to think about the bigger picture no matter what you do. You can’t get worked up about the bullying if you’re part of it. Are you lashing out at people that don’t agree with you? I know it’s not fair, but we can’t afford fair when we’re the ones that are “different”. We have to show that we’re willing to be more than tolerant of other people’s beliefs. We have to show that we’re willing to take the conversation to a higher level. Attitudes about gay marriage are changing, slowly but surely. DOMA being struck down was a major victory for us, but we still have some roads to walk down before we can really feel equal in the eyes of others. That’s the problem, isn’t it? We’re trying to show that we’re just as good as anyone else. This has positive and negative implications.
You have to think about how to stand up to bullies in your life. You’re not going to be the only person bullied. Far too often we forget that bullying affects everyone.

Bullying

If you really want to put an end to the bullies in your life, you have to stand up for yourself. This can be tough when you feel like it’s only going to make it worse. But what you may fail to realize is that if you don’t stand up to them, they’re going to keep trying to hurt you. They know that their words are getting to you, so guess what you’re going to get in return? More words, more anger, more hurt and more pain.

Bullies have often been bullied themselves. In essence, they’re trying to seek power. Plain and simple. They’re trying to get into a world where they can’t seem to get things moving in the right direction. They’re hurting and they want to try to figure out how to make the pain go away. It’s the way it is.

Pain begets more pain, more misery, more sickness, more sadness. It’s the way it is. Just when you think that you’re going to be spared, there’s more pain involved. It’s hurtful. But somewhere down deep, you will find a courage within to stand up to the bullies. Once you cut off their power, bullies realize that they have to go somewhere else. There’s nothing like waking up to a world where you have resources to deal with issues. It can hurt dealing with people that want to see you suffer, but that’s part of life.

We can’t shrink away from bullies. Although we’re writing for gay teens, we are past the teenager stage…and guess what? There are still bullies. Standing up to them isn’t easy, but they’re everywhere. And they can tell whether you’ll fight them or not. The small abuses you put up with today can easily morph into bigger issues that you’ll need to face later down the road. The more that you focus on this, the more likely it is that you’ll get the type of resolution that you’re really looking for. Good luck!

Leave Your Worries Behind – You Have More Allies Than You Thin

The world of a gay teen can be pretty stressful if we really think about it. You have so many different emotions going on at once. You want to be accepted, you want to be liked, you want to have friends, you want to make sure that you have people that you can rely on and trust. But there are times where the life of a gay teen turns dark, to the point where we worry about your safety. How are you doing? Are you worried right now? Are you stressed out? Do you find that your life has taken a very dark turn? It’s okay to admit it if it has. There are plenty of gay teens that are dealing with abandonment and separation. There are plenty of gay teens that are doing with a feeling of hopelessness. There are plenty of gay teens that wonder what it would be like if someone actually just accepted them for who they are, rather than having to play a game where they wear multiple masks just to get along. There are a lot of stressors involved in the world of being a gay teen, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. That doesn’t mean that you have to give up on just about anything and everything that comes your way.

You can wake up to a better world, a brighter world, a world filled with action. You just need to make sure that you’re looking at the bigger picture from start to finish. You have to make sure that you’re focusing on something more than just pain. There are a lot of more allies out there than you think.

DOMA

If you look at Hollywood, you can see that our side is getting a lot more attention. DOMA has just been struck down, which is definitely a good thing. You also have plenty of gay representation in the media. Glee, anyone? Ellen, anyone? Elton John, anyone?

It’s not just about that, of course. We have plenty of gay representation on our side, but more to the point, we now have people that are coming out and telling people that it’s okay to be gay. Lots of straight people are embracing our cause, and that’s definitely a good thing. You have tons and tons of fans that are now saying how wonderful it is to express exactly who you are. You shouldn’t have to run from it, and people that can’t deal with it are just going to have to figure it out.

It’s on them. They’re the ones that are missing out on how awesome you are. If you don’t stand up to them, they will continue to believe that they can walk over people at will. Think about that!

Know Your Rights at School – Always!

Going back to school has never been such a transitional time in a gay teen’s life the way it is now. Just because you get all of your school supplies and your backup doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily ready for school. You need to know the rights you have at school, and you need to make sure that you’re getting your rights upheld at all times.

You see, it’s all about fighting for what’s right, not just taking whatever’s told to you. Every school has a Handbook with the obligations that every student must be bound by. Reading it can give you insight into how things are handled. You also want to make sure that you’re making school officials aware of any problems that you’re having. This isn’t just a nice sentiment — so many abusive statements and actions against gay teens occur because no one knows about it. You are going to deal with some teachers that may turn the other way because you’re gay, but you can’t worry about that. You have to keep fighting for yourself until you find a teacher that will back you up. You also need to realize the chain of power in your school. Just because a few teachers don’t get along well with you doesn’t mean that you have no allies or that no one will speak up for you.

Going back to school

If you can actually check out who’s on your side, you’ll get more insight. Don’t rush to getting angry every time someone says something nasty to you. It’s not easy to deal with, and we’re definitely not trying to downplay your emotions. But when you make yourself open to what they have to say, you’re letting the negativity in. There are straight people that are bullied as well. Bullying is a big issue for teens in general, and it can be downright nasty. You just need to focus more on the bigger picture ahead of you.

Why would you ever want to stop fighting for your rights? We’re not saying to stop at all, here. We’re saying that you need to avoid getting soaked in negativity. When people are attacking you, a firm order to stop is the way to go. If they escalate the situation, then you need to make sure that you get someone in a position of authority on the case. You can’t try to fight all of the battles and expect to win. Why not think about where you’re going next? You will definitely have a better chance at getting people over to your side, when you know the rights that you are supposed to have in the first place.

Realize that the school environment means that your rights may be a bit different than what you expect. For example, you’re not being singled out if everyone else is subject to random locker searchers, but you may be singled out if no one else has gotten searched but you have. It’s a thin line, but it’s a distinction that matters.

Make sure that you really look into this type of thing. It’s easy to say you will, but it’s also easy to back down and accept whatever slop people are trying to serve you. Fight back in style!

Finding Yourself as a Gay Teen Comes First

You need to make sure that you reach for your own happiness. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t even need to say this. However, the world that we live in is far from perfect, and that means that we have moments where we just don’t get things to connect properly. We get to a point where we really want things to be different…but is it ever?

Is it a point in time where you really get things moving in the right direction? Of course there is. As a gay teen, you need to realize that there’s a world of options waiting for you. You don’t have to sit in silence or in fear, thinking that you’re not worth it. You are absolutely worth it. Why feel like you can’t make anything connect together?

You are worth more than you think, and there’s no reason to assume that you’re not. You just need to want to do more with life than what you have. If you aren’t thinking about getting more out of life right now, there’s no time like the present to start.

 

What you need to do is start connecting with hobbies that are really going to make you happy. Some people like to draw, others like to paint, and many more like to play music. You’ll find something that works for you, but you do have to look around. The library is a great way to learn about the different stuff that people do as a hobby. I’m not trying to mock you, but maybe you don’t have the same opportunities that other people have. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to make fun of you. Not at all. On the contrary, we would definitely like to see you enjoy the same good time as everyone else. There’s no reason to feel shamed merely because you don’t have the same footing that everyone else has. Of course, it only feels like everyone knows these things. Everyone started out just as clueless as you — they just don’t want to admit it.

You also need to think about trying to get a way to look at what you want to do long term. Are you in a small town? You’re going to want to try to do everything you can to get out of there and towards a city. Even though the cost of living is going to be higher, the reality is that you’re going to have a lot more opportunity than if you’re in a tiny place that has the same beliefs across the board. Once it’s known that you’re gay, you’re not going to have that much time to establish yourself. Most things in a small town are based on relationships, which is why it can be so harmful to come out in a small place. If people feel that you’re suddenly unworthy, they can’t expect you to do anything for them. It’s all about value — the more people value us, the more that they’re willing to actually pay. [Read more...]

This Story Made Us Cry – But It’s Worth It

A lot of people that don’t understand what it’s like to be gay do harm without even knowing it. That’s what I first thought when I read this story about a couple who lost their son to drug abuse. It didn’t start that way, though — he was a young boy that came out to his mom and dad and was rebuffed. They were a religious family, and their son loved the church life…until he was made to choose between two things he felt very strongly about. It’s difficult to feel like you don’t fit in as it is, but then to have your faith taken away from you? That’s not easy at all.

The article is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-robertson/just-because-he-breathes-learning-to-truly-love-our-gay-son_b_3478971.html

It’s a tearjerker. In all seriousness. It’s not easy to wake up and admit that you had a heavy hand in your son slipping away from you. She deserves our respect for opening the dialogue. She’s lost her son, and she’s reflecting on that.

What we need to reflect on is loving each other. Yes, that includes straight people. Ii now that’s not going to be a very popular idea, but the truth is that they don’t deserve hatred. We can’t ask for an alliance and then talk about them like they don’t have feelings. Yes, I know that you’re probably hurting right now because you’re not getting the acceptance that you need form the straight people in your life. But if you let yourself get consumed by hatred, you’re not going to be happy either way.

What you need to do is make sure that you’re thinking about the bigger picture here. You need to be able to do the things that really matter to you, rather than just fixating on all of the things that can go wrong with your life.

Linda Robertson focused more on her religion’s views than loving her son. She paid a high, high price and my heart aches for her. I’m not a parent yet, but I know that if I got the chance? I’d love my child no matter what. Love is really what we’re all looking for. Acceptance is something that matters to us.

If you are facing that type of discrimination within your own family, just remember — you’re going to turn of legal age to get on with your life. The Internet is a great place for gay teens to get together and support each other. You don’t have to feel like it’s the end of the world. I know it can feel like that, but plenty of gay teens escape and they move on with their lives. You have to think about survival at a certain point. If you know that you’re in a family that doesn’t believe that you’re going to be able to be part of them unless you subscribe to their views, then the best thing that you can do is be silent. We never want to make anyone feel like they can’t speak up — but you might have to be cautious of who you come out to.

The death of Ryan Robertson is tragic, but we’re used to the loss of gay youth, aren’t we? May we never get so used to the sight of losing young people that we forget what truly kills them: ignorance. A lack of understanding is more dangerous than anything you can ever imagine.

If you’re really looking at the bigger picture, it’s easy to give in to the hatred, the lies, the fear. But you have to rise above that. Otherwise, we’re really just like them. Why hate anyone?

We’re all hurting, in our own way. If you take nothing else from this story, take from it that everyone deserves love. Never turn your back on anyone. You could wake up and find that you’ll never have a chance to make things right.