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#WSPD – LGBT suicide

In my last blog I talked briefly about suicide.

Here’s an excellent follow up from Anthony Venn-Brown.

I can’t begin to stress how serious this problem is! It’s why I’m here. I fought with suicide ideation constantly my entire life for these exact reasons. I survived. I lost my faith as a result, but I have no regrets about that. For me, I realised that my entire Christian belief system was unnecessary to be a healthy, happy functioning human being who could bring unconditional love to myself and the rest of the world.

Many do find a way to reconcile their faith with their sexuality and gender identity, and Anthony is one who has done this with integrity. Check out his site ABBI.

Read his post here.

Suicide

Over the last few years, as I’ve developed the Silent Gays project, I’ve observed something very disturbing.

People put forward many ideas about why young guys, in particular, commit suicide. This article is powerful and points to one of the major issues concerning young guys inability to talk about themselves and share what’s going on inside.

But there is one problem that is never addressed – how many of these young men were LGBT?

We know for a fact that LGBT teens have the highest demographic for suicide, but this information never makes it to the mainstream awareness surrounding the issue! The question is very rarely asked “were they struggling with sexuality or gender issues?”.

Despite the legal acceptance of LGBT people, and efforts to break the stereotypes, young male culture is still cruel and belittling to anyone outside the typical image of the “tough guy”. As a result, so many guys become very good at successfully hiding their sexuality, and live in constant fear that they could be “outed”. The tragic thing is that when it finally becomes to much, and they take their lives, no one has any idea why. There were no signs of anything wrong – something you hear far too often. As I talk to more and more people, I have found so many who have experienced this and fortunately made it through to tell the story.

We must include this aspect in all our efforts to work through the suicide problem. Suicide prevention programs must directly address this, otherwise we are going to let thousands of young guys tragically end it all for reasons we don’t apparently understand. I now firmly believe it’s a far bigger aspect than we would care to admit, and this is reflected in the lack of material around this in mainstream suicide programs.

We’ve come a long way with addressing the suicide problem, but we have a heck of a long way to go. I’m going to be focussing more on this in the Silent Gays resources, but it’s up to all of us to bring any change.

Please, help raise awareness however you can.

For help – 
New Zealand: www.outline.org.nz
USA: www.glbthotline.org
England: www.switchboard.lgbt
Australia: www.au.reachout.com
There are many other services available world wide specialising in helping young LGBT people. Just ask Google.

Masculine vs feminine

One of the most confusing and misunderstood areas about sexuality and gender are the core concepts of masculinity and femininity. Even amongst LGBT people there is often confusion!

The general stereotype says you are either an effeminate gay or butch lesbian, and the other stuff is just too hard to understand.

One of the confusing issues is how we relate the body (physical gender) with the psyche (the mental aspects). Masculinity and femininity are fluid concepts that are not confined to one  particular body. We all know guys who exhibit feminine qualities to some degree and women who show some masculinity. man with makeup

We could define the typical masculine psyche as tough, decisive, pursuing achievement and status, self reliant, aggressive etc. The feminine could be defined as gentle, thoughtful, caring, nurturing, sensitive etc (Wikipedia gives a very thorough breakdown of masculinity and femininity).

So for LGBT people there is a heck of a lot of stereotyping in all this, especially as far as the heteronormative understanding is involved. Traditionally gay guys are supposed to be very effeminate and lesbians are supposed to be butch. Of course the reality is nothing of the sort, but obviously it’s easier to differentiate an effeminate guy from the crowd and assume he’s gay, and the same with macho women- they stand out.

The problem is that its a continuum (sliding scale) – everyone on this planet has a mix of the masculinMasculine-Feminine-Energye/feminine psyche, irrespective of their sexual attraction or gender identity!

So just because you may be attracted to the same sex doesn’t mean you are obliged to behave a certain way. There are gay guys who are really macho – fitting the classic masculine psyche, and there are lesbian women who are 100% feminine. You would never know they are “same sex attracted” from how they appear or act.

Even transgender people can be somewhere on the masculine/feminine continuum. For example, a guy could identify as a female in terms of gender, but still have a high degree of masculinity, and the inverse with a woman. Basically I’m saying everyone is different.

This can become a problem when, for example, a young guy “comes out’, but due to his exposure to the stereotypes he assumes that being gay means going to gay bars, watching drag shows and acting feminine. This can be hugely damaging and cause a lot of deep conflict for a guy, who may simply want to live an average male life with an average male partner. Sadly, even the pressure from within the LGBT community itself can be a problem.

We need to let go of every stereotype! We are ALL somewhere on the continuum of sexual attraction, gender identity, gender expression, and even physical gender attributes (Intersex)! There simply isn’t the “gay or straight” box that people get locked into.

We still have a lot to learn, and we need the freedom to find where we fit in. That freedom needs to be from society as a whole and just as importantly, from within the LGBT community itself. Fortunately times are changing, and fast! Let’s give each other the freedom to be our true selves.

 

I was a chronic liar!

Lying.

We hate liars. We are taught from day one that its absolutely wrong to lie, and when we catch people lying it destroys trust and credibility.

But we all tell little lies every so often. We twist the truth a little, tell “white lies”, you know the story. It’s even justifiable if the truth could do more damage than a careful lie!

But I lied all my life. I lied about who I was. I lied to myself every day. I lied to my family and friends. I lied to everyone.

I felt like I had no choice, but it ate me up from the inside out. “Coming out” as gay was inconceivable. Confiding in friends wasn’t even an option – even those who I had some sort of “same sex” relationship with wouldn’t talk about it. We just “did it”. We had to lie.

Lying is so incredibly destructive. Obviously to those around us, but even more so to ourselves. It causes us to slowly build a false reality, a dual reality. It splits us, creating cognitive dissonance. It begins the process of mental illness and for some this can end in death.

I lied to my wife (both of them). I lied to my family. It was the only thing I could do to survive. But it nearly killed me.

This is why personal integrity is so important to me now. I ached to be “integral” all my life. You can’t imagine what a relief it is to have nothing to hide any more!

When I say I’m free, I really mean I’m finally living whole and with integrity. I am who I am, open and transparent. Perhaps too open sometimes, but I don’t care. It’s such a massive relief to tell the world that I no longer have anything to hide. I’m not lying to you any more! No more skeletons in the closet. No more fear. No more self hatred.

I’m free! Yeah, it’s all relative, and I know there are still many parts of my identity and “being” I don’t understand. I’m still influenced by the deep scars of the lies, and my emotions betray that far too often. But I’m free of the need to lie – about anything actually.

Life is good!!

Gay or trans or…

I’ve seen so many stories about young people coming out and their parents having to process the fact they are gay. They say things like they always knew they might be gay because they were so into the opposite gender roles and toys.

A boy may have always been into “girl things” from as young as they can remember, so when they finally come out as gay, its almost a relief, although the road from there on may be pretty rough.

But there’s an interesting point I’ve heard in so many of these stories: they’ve come out as “gay” when the real issue is obviously to do with gender!

For example, my own experience as a child was not particularly feminine. I had no desire to behave in a feminine way whatsoever and was very happy being a boy. Heaps of boys though, want nothing more than to be like a girl. The assumption is that all gays are feminine, and a stereotype is enforced on the kids.

What makes this really difficult is that the parents may have done an amazing job of accepting their child as gay, without even stopping to think about gender identity. Even the kids themselves may never have been given the option to explore how they really feel, so they assume they are just same sex attracted, and that all same sex attracted people are effeminate, or butch.

Sexual attraction and gender identity are completely different things. To recognise this is the next step on our journey to real diversity and equality. It gives us the power to break all stereotypes and allow everyone to be exactly the way they are made, no matter what that looks like!