The Real Tragedy

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that gay and lesbian youth make up about 5% of the total teenage population in America.  But gay and lesbian youth make up over 40% of the teen suicides each year.  Forty percent.  The raw totals are impossible to calculate, but somewhere between 600-1200 teens kill themselves each year in part because of their sexual orientation. 

We are loosing hundreds of kids a year because they somehow get the message that there is something about themselves that is so awful that they would be better off dead.   

That’s why the ballot initiatives last night mattered.  

Because what runs through my head is the image of a fifteen year old teenager sitting alone on his bed watching the election returns.  He has braces, is a bit gangly, and he curses Jessica Simpson for recommending ProActiv, because it clearly doesn’t help with anything.  When he looks in the mirror each morning his hair is a mess and he assumes that he must be the ugliest guy in the entire high school.  And on that bed while watching election returns he hears CNN call over and over:

Voters resoundingly reject gay marriage in Florida.  

Voters give thumbs down to gay marriage in Arizona.  

Voters send message in Arkansas that homosexuals are not fit to adopt childen.  

California voters put a halt to same-sex marriage.  

He sees pictures of happy, ordinary people jumping up and down and cheering at the news.  He sees their smiles and faces and they look just like his neighbors.  They look just like his family.  He looks at himself in the mirror and thinks about the things that he’s never talked to anyone about…the thing that he is ashamed of.  He looks in the mirror and can’t remember a single time in the last year when he was actually happy about anything.  He looks in the mirror and wonders if he is going to be just as miserable for the rest of his life.

Then we lose him.


Gays will get married.  We will be allowed to adopt children.  Of that, I have no doubt; after all, we live in America.  

But how long will it take to get there?  And how many will be lost because we went too slow?


It’s very cheesy, yes, but its a reminder to me of the real faces behind all of this.  I can argue the politics and the policy until I am blue in the face.  But I never want to forget what matters in the bitter end.

9 thoughts on “The Real Tragedy

  1. The thing that breaks my heart is the fact that so many people are trying to make decisions for other people. I don’t understand why you would want people not to get married if they were both consenting adults.
    Married people pay more taxes. Married people are more stable in society.

    I was deeply disapointed by the fact that states would even stoop to ban couples from adopting. The interesting part about the Arkansas measure is that it is not “aimed” at gays. It says only “married couples” can adopt. That means that even heterosexual couples who are unmarried cannot adopt. It also makes it illegal for singles to adopt as well.

    A sad day on a glorious day. It is bittersweet for people who are gay. I’m sorry for the close mindedness of some of the country. We will get there. We are moving in the right direction.

  2. In addition to all of that ridiculousness, they’re not taking into account the fact that there are countless kids who need to be adopted or need foster parents. The fact that there is such a dire need and they will narrow down the pool of applicants even more? This summer where I worked, I worked with lots of kids from foster families, all heterosexual parents, and most of them were so unfit to raise children and only in it to get money from the state. How can we say that these people, who are barely regulated if at all, are more fit to be parents than anyone else simply because they’re heterosexual? I just find it to be a joke. Preaching to the choir, I know, but I just had to say it. But you’re right- someday, it’s just that slowly but surely isn’t gonna get here fast enough to help those suicidal teens and those foster children in need of families of any kind.

  3. Tracie, I couldn’t agree more. I’m very glad you shared your thoughts, because sometimes I worry that what runs through my head is too skewed because of my personal investment in the issue. But, I’m very glad to hear that my concerns are mirrored in yours.

    This adoption ban is the strongest indicator of the roots of the problem. It makes no logical sense to deny children the right to loving, stable homes. The real motivation behind this ban is that simply to punish homosexuals, or at least make it clear to the world that there is something not right/normal/legitimate about gays. People are free to have that opinion, but our government should not make policy based off of that opinion alone.

  4. Ha, Kasey, maybe I should start with the County Board first? Can I count on your to walk door to door with me? Or for a donation of your time to plan a fundraising party? Or to at least plan the vegetarian menu at the fundraising event?

  5. I’m sure there are exceptions, but aren’t the “anti-gay marriage / anti-gay adoption” people and the “pro-life” people the same people? The people who want to bring more children in the world who will need homes amd deny same-sex couples the right to adopt these kids?

  6. This blog is stupid. Does this fool think he has anything special to contribute that isn’t already being said out there in the blogosphere? What community college or middle school does this goof go to?

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