In the last few days I have read from grieving mothers, dads, friends and family of more than one suicide of a LGBT teen in Utah. Being in the Mama Dragons group gives you insight into these terrible tragedies. They are really happening. If you are raised in a Mormon atmosphere these risks are even higher right now. These are real lives being cut short. The challenges for these youth are very real. The messaging happening around them deeply affects them even if they have loving, embracing, supportive parents. They are aware of things being said in their social circles. They watch the posts/comments online. They are aware of the expectations that others have of them. They are keenly aware of the opinions of others regarding their sexuality. The church they are connected to asks a lot of them and sends lots of mixed messaging. They are often told this is a choice and if they just relied on faith more…..they could choose to be in a heterosexual relationship. Some of them are in family situations where they hear very painful things and know if they came out they would not be supported at all. They are often told if they truly love God they should remain alone, not date, not fall in love and have families. Their dreams of the future are filled with cracks from some of this messaging. They are being torn apart as they try to make sense of it all and find meaning for the future. Many of them are silently and privately suffering.
If anybody thinks teens are choosing to be gay to be cool…..that’s bullshit and ignorant. Nobody would put themselves through this by choice. Being a teenager is hard enough without these enormous additional challenges. None of us chose our sexuality. This is about WAY more than sex. This is about meaningful relationships. This is about living a healthy life that includes dating, holding hands, deep emotional connections, romantic moments and getting comfortable in your skin. This is about dreams of a future that include love. They need to know these are all possible. They need educated information. They need safe places and safe people. They need to not feel isolated. They need counseling. They need to know their futures can be filled with all the wonderful things everybody else is working toward: relationships, families, fulfillment, happiness, inclusion. They need to know they are not alone. They need to know they are not damaged and that there is nothing wrong with them. They need to know it’s not because they aren’t trying hard enough. They must hear all of these things to combat the onslaught of negative/damaging/hurtful messaging that seems to constantly be out there. The recent laws granting them rights/protection have also brought a lot of hurtful/negative/damaging discussion from people. They are aware of these and are reading this stuff! We’ve got to ACTIVELY combat that if we want them to survive.
I want all of you reading this to know I’m a safe place. You can turn to me if you are feeling alone. I’ll listen. You are amazing and incredible and wonderful just the way you are. You have a life worth living ahead of you and it gets better. Please please reach out to others and talk through this. If you aren’t sure where to turn here is a list of helpful numbers/sites/groups. There are so many of us that care about you and want to help you. You are not alone.