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(Not right) Rite of passage (that needs to pass): The plight of being young, gay, & American

by Jeremy Hooper

"When they know us they don't vote against us," that's a truism of which we've been aware for quite some time. But before the popularity contest of general elections, there comes that daily popularity referendum known as high school. And in many ways, this earlier, locker-laden campaign season can affect an individual more directly and long-lastingly than even the cruelest of ballot initiatives.

So The New York Times is hoping to cut through the noise and yet to the heart of LGBT youth. Youth, in their own words:

NYTComing Monday, May 23: Audio and photos featuring the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers from around the country.
The New York Times embarked on the project “Coming Out,” which begins Monday, as an effort to better understand this generation’s realities and expectations, and to give teenagers their own voice in this conversation.

The Times spoke with or e-mailed close to 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender teenagers from all of parts of the country — from rural areas to urban centers, from supportive and hostile environments. The newspaper contacted them through various advocacy groups around the country, as well as through social media like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The Trevor Project, which provides counseling to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths in crisis, among other services, posted a call for teenagers to tell their stories to The Times, resulting in nearly 250 responses.
‘Coming Out’: Gay Teenagers, in Their Own Words [New York Times]

"When they know us, they don't flip the freak out when we bring a same-sex date to prom?"

"When they know us, they don't turn 'smear the queer' into a varsity sport?"

"When they know us, they don't use 'gay' as a synonym for 'dumb' or 'wrong' or some other pejorative thought?"

"When they know us, they don't act like life is some sort of bad teen movie plot wherein the plain young lesbian wallflower will suddenly become the hottest girl in school if she simply removes both her glasses and her sexual orientation?"

"When they know us, they don't ever have a chance to become the kind of people who'd even think if voting against us?"

The when to know is now. Here's how:

Screen Shot 2011-05-23 At 8.41.14 Am
[Coming out -- New York Times]

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