We are now four decades into the concept of Gay Pride. Gay Pride is a movement that celebrates the GLBT community. This movement emerged in the 1960s. It came out of a time when mainstream society tended to view being GLBT as something shameful or inferior to being heterosexual.
So what has been the legacy of forty years of pride been for today's GLBT teens?
For one thing, despite all the challenges that gay teens face, today's world also presents them with some pretty awesome opportunities.
For example, kids are coming out younger than ever before, and despite the setbacks of California's Proposition 8, and other states that have rejected gay marriage, the legal ability to marry a same sex spouse is a reality for the first time ever.
Additionally, today's teens are living in a world where Hollywood has moved from showing gays only as pathetic or predatory to portraying them in a range of multidimensional roles. Combine this with the fact that GLBT teens now have access to gay / straight alliances, community programs and Internet support, and we have a much more encouraging future to offer GLBT youth.
Of course, for all the good, gay teens still face a lot of challenges. To be sure there are countless benefits to coming out earlier, yet there are also drawbacks. Though many teens no longer have to live a lie, GLBT youth are still likely to be victims of both physical and verbal harassment. As a study done by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network found, nine out of ten GLBT teens had been bullied for their sexual orientation.
Equally disturbing are the facts that young men who have sex with men are contracting HIV in high numbers, and that GLBT teens are three times more likely to attempt suicide than are their straight peers. Additionally, a high number of young GLBT teens have been victims of sexual assault, and many have significantly older partners which can set them up for unhealthy relationships.
Is this a crisis. Yes. Is life worse for gay teens today than it used to be? No.
The positive strides made in recent years definitely outweigh the negatives. But even with a well-established gay rights movement, it is important to look at the situation of GLBT teens realistically.Be proud of how far we have come, but don't lose sight of the fact that there is still a ways to go.