Of the many emotions a gay man or woman feel, perhaps the most powerfully pervasive is fear. The fear of being found out is real enough, but the worry does not end there. There also lurks the fear of being called names, being assaulted, perhaps even killed. For adults these fears are horrible enough. For a lesbian and gay teenager, who lack experience and life skills to cope with them, such fears can be overwhelming. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth face many problems as they realize they are homosexual. Often they don't know even one other homosexual person and feel very alone and misunderstood. They see very few role models, no one to identify with.
No one knows their secrets, no one shares their pain. No one will stop others from name calling if the name calling is about homosexuality. Who would dare to speak up?No one speaks up, not in junior high and high school. College, perhaps; pride events are more easily seen then, but in high school no one speaks up. Imagine dearly loving someone else and having to keep it totally secret because if you don't you will be punished -- cast out of your home by your family, ostracized by your friends, perhaps losing your job. This is the world of the lesbian and gay young person. The feelings homosexual youth face are only the beginning of the problem. As they recognize that they are different and discriminated against, they lose self esteem and become depressed. Many become suicidal and develop a feeling of extreme depression and helplessness. Those who don't commit suicide live an adolescence of silence and oppression, rarely being able to speak up without being struck down by peers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Task Force on Youth Suicide issued a report in January of 1989 concluding that lesbian and gay youth may constitute "up to thirty percent of completed suicides annually" and that "homosexuals of both sexes are two to six times more likely to attempt suicide than are...
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