Gay Culture: Challenges and Resilience in Adolescence

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Although my friend’s story has a happening ending this is not the outcome for everyone struggling to be accepted due to their sexual differences. Being straight, gay, or bisexual is not a choice. An individual cannot choose his/her sexual preferences nor can they choose to change. Gay people are represented in all walks of life, across various ethnic backgrounds, all nationalities, and in all social and economic groups. As children enter in adolescence, many gay teens already distinguish their sexual orientation, whether or not they have revealed it to anyone else.

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This can be an extremely daunting experience. Similar to their straight peers, gay teens face stresses about their grades, friends, fitting in, school, sports, and activities. But in addition, gay and lesbian teens often deal with the added stress of having to hide who they are and if they will be harassed about being gay, or whether they will face stereotypes or judgments if they are honest about who they are. Since the dawn of time, gays have struggled to fit into a homophobic society. From very young ages both women and men alike have been ashamed and afraid to divulge their sexual orientations.

In fact, adolescence is the most common life period for suicidal ideation and attempted suicide (McIntosh, 2000). Yet, the issue of adolescent suicidal behavior is even more problematic for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. The difference between the percentages of suicide attempts made by gay, lesbian and bisexual is much more significant than that of non-gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals. Research has found two consistent factors specific to suicide among gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents, stress related to disclosure, and verbal and physical victimization (Hershberger, Pilkington, & D’Augelli, 1997).

In the 1995 documentary by the National Film Board of Canada explores the evolving homosexual culture of the time. The documentary features men of all ages speaking openly about the daily challenges they face about their sexuality and the challenges they face daily in a straight, and mostly homophobic, society. The documentary draws from intimate conversations with men who have struggled with self-acceptance. It explores the relationships between these men be they long term and monogamous or purely sexual brief encounters. In this documentary, the men who were interviewed openly share the details of the first moment in which they realized their sexual orientation. They describe this experience as “swimming against the current”. Being different in a society that strives to make everybody as similar as possible is very difficult. These men openly share the well-meaning, yet twisted, advice they received from friends, religious authorities, and even complete strangers. The prejudice, stereotypes, and rejection are quite painful, and to not cause a confrontation, many have learned to keep their homosexuality secret. However, some rebel and chose their personal certainty over their careers, religion, friends and perhaps the most difficult part – their families. The others turn to more drastic measures as measured above. The documentary film supports this claim (Laurent Gagliardi 1995).

For all groups, regardless of sexual preference, culture is defined by a set of shared beliefs, customs, activities and language. Culture is transgenerational and manifests itself through ways of thinking, food, clothing, art and a variety of behaviors and language that are in addition to the group’s identifying definition. African-American culture is more than having a different skin color; Hispanic culture is more than coming from a Spanish-speaking region; Jewish culture is more than going to synagogue. Much like a brand, a culture summons up a host of feelings, thoughts and ideas (whether true or stereotypical) about what it means to belong to that group, what they’re about, and what they do.

Due to the June 26, 2015 legalization of same sex marriages families of the same sex parents are now adopting or have children of their own (through artificial insemination). However, many question the psychological effects and well-being of children. In a comprehensive review published in the Medical Journal of Australia, (13) thirteen child and adolescent health experts from the Melbourne Children’s found children raised in families with same-sex parents do “as well emotionally, socially and educationally” as children raised by heterosexual parents. “The consensus of the research — pretty clearly, over several generations — is that children of same-sex parents do as well, if not better, then those children raised by heterosexual parents. In addition to equivalent social and educational outcomes, these studies conclude that children raised by same-sex couples show better psychological adjustment, and greater open-mindedness towards sexual, gender and family diversity.” (Marriage and Family: LGBT Individuals and Same-Sex Couples)

However, studies also concluded that same-sex couples and their families face “devaluing and discriminatory” messages regarding LGBTIQ issues and this can have negative psychological impacts. Children and adolescents with same-sex parents are emotionally affected when they and their families are exposed to homophobia, discrimination, prejudice and social stigma. The effect on children could be both direct and indirect. Studies found that same-sex couples who are subject to discrimination experience anxiety, and that’s not good for children. we also found that children raised in same-sex parent families worry about being teased or bullied by their peers, particularly in the school environment. “As a result, they feel distressed and guilt and a sense of shame, and this is harmful to their wellbeing and sense of self, much more than the actual raising in the families.” “Young LGBTIQ people are much more likely to experience poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than other young people,” Professor Oberklaid said. “Sadly, this is largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination they and other LGBTIQ individuals and communities face in our society.”

In conclusion, we unfortunately live in a world of hate, crime and bullying because one’s color, gender, race and sexuality. The world will never be homogeneous however, we have made great strides in accepting the gay culture as well as other cultures for that matter. Whether homosexual or heterosexual, love is always the same. Love is not masculine or feminine. Everyone, regardless of their sexual preference, deserves to find love, be loved and be happy.

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Gay Culture: Challenges and Resilience in Adolescence. (2020, Feb 15). Retrieved from