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The challenges of growing up gay

Posted by mandyf on June 4, 2012

The challenges of growing up gay are a little different for everyone because each person is in a different situation. There are definitely some added challenges for some people, especially those of earlier generations. The thing about those added challenges of growing up gay is they are uniquely our own, yet we constantly have every heterosexual Tom, Dick, and Sally telling us what they are and how to handle them which is the biggest challenge of all. In order to make the points as clear as possible as to what some of the twists are to the challenges of growing up gay let’s look at them one by one.

Dating has always been a big issue. In current times attitudes have changed significantly so the challenges from the standpoint of social acceptability are not as extreme to those who are now old enough to be called Owls and Dandies. Dating as a teen is awkward for everyone to some degree, but at least as a heterosexual the odds are pretty good that most members of the opposite sex are in play. That is the challenge for the gay teen of today, fishing in a limited dating pool. That is not to say the do not face any social adversities, just not as bad as it once had been when hitting on the wrong person could get you tied to the bumper of a car and taken for a drag as a part of normal “justice.”

There is always the fear factor when the time comes that a gay teen may want to come out to their family. Straight teens never face this. Even in families that profess to be the most liberal and accepting of all of natures diversity, when it comes to their child being gay some automatically enforce the double standard. It is not at all uncommon for some parents to be fine with the neighbors son being gay or someone at works daughter being a lesbian, only to flip out when it comes to their baby. This is and always will be a huge challenge.

Add in the internal struggle for self identity that all teens go through with the twist that the gay teen has to deal with coming to terms with being something that is often mocked or they have been told is wrong. It is hard for them to understand why this is so when it is something they cannot control. Sure there are all those straight people that will tell them to go get therapy, or pray the gay away or beg “can you just not do it?”, but they are as useful and informative as a gunshot wound. For some reason they continue to force mentally challenged “logic” like that upon gay teens with the idea it helps them. It is as idiotic as asking a straight teen to change their identity because it just cannot be done. As a result the gay teen can suppress that identity for no other reason than to shut people up, or express that identity and be labeled as a disobedient deviant by those “helpful” people. Either way it is a huge challenge.

Of course there is the spiritual challenge a gay teen faces in some cases. Depending on the faith system they have been raised in they can find them self dealing with a truly nasty situation. On the one hand they are told they are created in the image of their maker, that the maker is perfect so therefore makes no mistakes, and that to defy the maker is a sin. They then have to come to grips with the conundrum that if they accept that and their natural orientation is towards members of the same sex, to act against those is therefore sinful to their creator. However if they do that they will be labeled as a sinner by many other humans because of that. They then have to decide which is worse or if everything they have been told about whoever their god is, is even true. No matter what they decide or do, they are left in a spiritual game of twister.

The list of challenges a gay teen faces could go on forever, just as they could a straight teen. The thing is a gay teen has some added aggravation. In a world in which we are constantly told to be ourselves and embrace who we are, the gay teen is all too often told only to do that so long as it is everything but being gay.


One Response to “The challenges of growing up gay”

  1. Libby Keane said

    Thank you Mandy for a very good post.

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