It could be because of news stories that show violence against us. Giovanni Melton was 14 years old when he was shot and killed by his father in Nevada. Gabriel Fernandez was 8 years old when he died in the hospital due to abuse and negligence. Gabryel Magalhães was 16 years old when his father killed him. All of these boys were presumed to be gay and their loved ones took it upon themselves to fatally hurt them because of this. Thankfully, not all people who are closeted fear that coming out will result in death and when most people come out, they do receive positive words, acceptance and love. Yet, this is still something that queer youth hear about.
It could be because of the resistance society has to those coming out. There is still a lot of confusion about those who identify as bisexual, pansexual, aromantic, asexual and those who are transgender, non-binary, gender-fluid and agender. In person and on social media, people keep asking what these words mean and why people can’t follow the norms. The world is more progressive and luckily to most countries, everyone is given the same rights and opportunities to be who they want to be. But these sexual orientations and gender identities blur the black and white perceptions on gender and sexuality that society still clings to, and prevent people from living their lives how they wish they could.
It could be because of the media. Most LGBTQ+ characters on television and movies are represented stereotypically, by actors that are not queer, are killed off unnecessarily or are treated as a means to a heterosexual relationship. Tactics like queer-baiting, where characters are suggested to be queer, but are not depicted on screen or are unhealthily portrayed and Bury Your Gays trope, where the only happy ending for queer characters result in death, negatively highlight the mishandling of LGBTQ+ representation. Organizations like LGBT Fans Deserve Better and The Trevor Project, a suicide and depression hotline dedicated to assisting LGBTQ+ youth, try to combat this representation by bringing awareness on how much these characters mean to queer youth and the emotional and mental affects it has on LGBTQ+ members when these characters are represented poorly, stereotyped, or killed off. LGBT+ youth are five times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual youth.
It may be all these factors, it may be more or it may be none. Whatever it may be, LGBTQ+ youth are still uncomfortable with themselves. We are still uncomfortable about accepting who we are, we are uncomfortable about living our life how we want to and we are uncomfortable about how people to react to us. This is a chance for the world to normalize us, accept us and talk to us about who we are. We are the future; don’t just listen to our voice, but listen to our words.
Photo: Valeria Boltneva