Alex Blaze

It's Gotten Worse for Gay Teens

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 05, 2011 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Quote of the Day
Tags: Dan Savage, gay youth

"I think it's gotten worse for gay teenagers. One of the advantages I enjoyed at school 30 years ago that you could fly under the radar. I was a weird kid with no interest in girls, I liked musicals and I liked to bake and I like to read and people did not automatically assume I was gay. Nowadays, there's an awareness... that an interest in musicals, an interest in baking and a disinterest in girls if you're a boy - case closed, you're a fag."

--Dan Savage

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Could Dan Savage PLEASE stop saying things that are harmful to non-heterosexual people? While I love the It Gets Better project, I'm very uncomfortable with its spokesperson.

He did not seriously say that things were better for gay teens when they were invisible. I did not just read that.

As an Asexual, I can tell you that invisibility hurts. Invisibility means that when someone acts hurtfully towards you because of what you are, nobody acts to protect you because they don't know what the issue is.

Things are definitely not perfect for gay teens, but at least with more visibility they have the possibility of finding allies.

I'd also like to point out that Savage's stereotyping here erases bisexual, asexual and transgender teens.

As usual, Savage is full of crap. I was that weird teen and everyone thought I was gay. I had the snot beaten out of me for it on a regular basis until I learned to fight back and got myself suspended for a few days for beating one of my tormentors so badly he needed stitches.

Once again we see that Dan Savage judges the world solely by his own experience, which usually turns out to be nothing like life for the rest of us.

Dan seems to be mistaking visibility for danger. He neglects the reality that increased visibility and heightened awareness also brings greater understanding and acceptance. Yes, people generally have a higher awareness of kids who may or may not be gay, but that also means that more people are able to prepare and respond to the needs of queer youth. More awareness also means that there is less excuse for institutions to be unprepared to handle those needs or for them to be unresponsive. Nowadays, there is comprehensive workplace training to support queer youth, places for them to go to get help, peers who are accepting, and public awareness and acknowledgement of their presence.

Sure you could fly under the radar in those days, but it also means that if you were found out, you were on a boat without a paddle. No one would support you, no one knew how to help you, and there was nothing and no one for you to identify with.

I really question how useful this kind of hyperbolic, exclamatory statement is, or worse, how out of touch Dan might be now.

Chitown Kev | April 5, 2011 12:31 PM

Of course, that contemporary teenager that Savage talks about could very well be straight.

Annette Gross Annette Gross | April 5, 2011 1:35 PM

We didn't know my son was gay when he was in high school. And he wasn't so sure himself. But he was unhappy and depressed, and we didn't know why. If he had come out earlier, we could have helped him. Heck, if he had come out earlier, he would have been happier, knowing exactly who he was. Luminum is correct. With awareness comes the ability to help GLBT teens and address whatever issues they have. We now see parents in PFLAG whose kids come out as early as junior high. These kids won't suffer as much depression and low self-esteem as kids years ago did. Many of them have parents who are enlightened and supportive, and have resources to help their kids. Yes, GLBT kids still get bullied, but they have more support from their straight peers and straight adults. There is much more understanding and empathy now than there used to be.