Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sorry James Dobson, but today’s gay and lesbian children aren’t doomed after-all--- no matter how hard you try to make it so

Andrew has a post over at his place that caught my eye. It is titled Healing the Wounds and it starts off by citing a survey on gay and lesbian mental health. It is a study that gives me great hope that our gay and lesbian children today won’t be as vulnerable to the the twisted, tortured, closeted existences that the Larry Craigs and Ted Haggards of earlier generations endured before them:

The study found that, across all race/ethnic groups, younger cohorts of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (those in age groups 18 – 29 and 30 – 44 as compared with 45 – 59 years old) had lower prevalence of almost all mental disorders categories, and the difference was statistically significant for mood disorders. Younger cohorts also had fewer serious suicide attempts than did older cohorts (but this was statistically significant only for the middle cohort).

This is good news for any parent who has a gay or lesbian child. Watching people like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig literally self-destruct from years of lies, self-loathing, and deceit has been a very difficult thing to watch. Their public humiliation had a close-to-home palpability that truly made me fear for my own son’s mental health and sense of self-worth. I could only shake my head and pray that we’d sufficiently proved to our son how much we loved him and how inconsequential his sexual orientation was to that fact.

But it sure didn’t help that my husband and I, like most parents, didn’t learn our son was gay until so late in the game when our influence on him was waning and he was so close to leaving home for college. I really worried that he might believe that all those years of telling him how much we loved him would suddenly be cancelled out because he wasn’t who we thought he was. Thus our final months with him at home were a desperate almost comical attempt to fit into a short amount of time what we thought we’d already accomplished during his 18 years growing into a young man: reaffirming to him (ad nauseam) that absolutely nothing could ever change how we felt about him.

Andrew’s take on this study is quite interesting and worth quoting in its entirety:

The civil rights movement has already made the lives of gay people better (apart, it seems, from John Waters). The younger generation has to deal with so much less pressure than mine did, let alone those emotionally tortured in previous eras. Why some want to prevent this improvement, why they actively want to promote depression, anxiety and low self-esteem among gay people - and why they think this is better for society as a whole - remains a mystery to me. But that is currently the position of the Republican party. My best guess is that they're simply afraid of what they do not know or understand. And so they seek to persecute it.

I believe he is right about how much easier this younger gay and lesbian generation will have it and why, but I also think he is being entirely too kind and forgiving towards the Republican Party and their motives for demonizing a whole segment of American society. But regardless of what the Republican Party’s reasons for persecution were, it really doesn’t matter much anymore, they may have tried to make life miserable for gays and lesbians these past 6 ½ years, but it looks like the biggest victims were the tortured souls within their own ranks. Share


Jan said...

Hey, thanks for this--I can feel guilt as a mother with all my kids, but esp. with my gay daughter. I'm glad to know she's healthy--as she appears quite healthy!

Anonymous said...

Do we know if this study means "lower than older gay folks, but still higher than straight peers" or if the younger generation has closed the statistical gap?

My reading of the information provided says that things are getting better, but they're not there yet and that GLBT kids are still at higher risk.

If anyone knows any different, it'd be welcome news.

Tracy said...

Glad to see you're back in the game, S.M. I missed your rants and moments of glee while you were gone!