Dear Gay Teen

Dear Gay Teen:

It really pains me to know that young people would rather kill themselves than endure one more day of hatred or suffering . As a gay man that has endured some bullying and harassment, I know it's hard being gay, and it shouldn't be, and it won't always be. Trust me.

I remember a time, actually the day before I came out to my parents, I was harassed on my way home from high school on the bus. I was 14-years-old, and this robust tall guy had a huge problem with me being openly gay and wanting to play for my high school's football team. Actually, that same day, the football coach - whom I'm convinced was slightly homophobic -  handed out fliers for tryouts to everyone except me.  I was determined to prove that coach and any other homophobes wrong. I showed up to practice, and, at first, I wasn't good at all - I couldn't catch the ball, the plays were confusing and I, actually, didn't really understand football. I kept asking myself, 'what is the point of running with this ball and getting tackled, and possibly hurt? This is dangerous!'  That day, during tryouts, the guys were definitely a bit tough on me; I was tackled, thrown, dragged, bruised, dirty and sweaty - all things I hated. But, I welcomed the experience.

After that first practice, it was weird because I felt that I had gained majority of my future teammates respect - the rest would come later in the season. They honestly didn't believe that a skinny, scrawny openly gay man could play football nor take the pain. They were wrong. But, one guy was relentless in voicing his opinion about gay guys to my face. That day on the bus, after tryouts, he got in my face and yelled some really hateful things about gay men and what he thinks being gay means. Even at age 14, I had a certain boldness about me; I didn't take crap. I would always say whatever came to mind, no matter the other person's size or weight. Looking back, I was either really tough or really stupid. But, what surprised me on this day was that I didn't have to stand up for myself. . .  my future teammates did. I stood there and cried - it was the ugly cry, too.  I was really overwhelmed. I couldn't believe that these guys that I didn't know before practice, had the courage to stand up for me. It was at that moment that I realized you can change the way people think, and people want to be accepting but sometimes they just don't know how. 

The point of this story is, people act in a discriminatory way because they're ignorant and afraid of someone different than them - they feel challenged. I admit sometimes you can't gain everyone's respect, some people are just set in their ways and beliefs, and can't be changed for the greater good. And, those people enjoy pouncing on the weak.

More than nine teens/young adults are dead by their own hand because
they just couldn't take any more. When will the time come when we let people be who
they are without any judgments?  How many more lives to do we have to
sacrifice before we realize that being gay is a sexuality not a character
flaw?

For some of us gays, it may be a tougher road than others. But, you must know that no one is worth killing yourself over.  You have to live your own life for yourself; no one else.
 
Just remember, gay teens - It-Gets-Better!

- Lenox Magee

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