Friday, December 9, 2011

Resource for Gay Youth and Those Supporting Gay Youth: Speaking Out!

And since I'm mentioning resources that have come my way from fellow bloggers and friends of this blog (and since I'm also talking today about the theme of hope in light of Advent), I'd like to recommend a book sent to me by author Ann Tonsor Zeddies after she had read some previous Bilgrimage postings.  Ann has published a number of science fiction works under both the names Ann Tonsor Zeddies and Toni Anzetti. Her books Steel Helix and Typhon's Children have both been shortlisted for Philip K. Dick awards.

The book that Ann kindly sent me is a collection of short stories edited by Steve Berman entitled Speaking Out!, designed to give hope to gay and gender-questioning teens seeking to understand who they are and to find a place in the world.  I haven't yet had time to read more of Speaking Out! than Ann's story "Waiting to Show Her."  If this story, which is an evocative sketch of the budding love of two teenaged girls for each other (with interesting Catholic allusions), is any indication of the quality of the other work in this collection (and I feel certain it is), then this book is a valuable resource both for teens seeking to hear voices that assure them they are not alone as they struggle with questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, and for adults who want to offer support for these teens.  

And the need for such resources grows more apparent every day, with the news just breaking that, two days ago, a gay teen in Tennessee, Jacob Rogers, committed suicide after years of coping with bullying at school.  This comes on the heels of that video to which I linked several days ago, in which another gay teen, Jonah Mowry, shared his pain due to years of school bullying.

When and how this vicious hounding of young gay and gender-questioning youth is going to stop, I can't foresee.  That it has to stop if we want to lay claim to being any kind of humane society with any kind of concern at all for values of life is exceptionally clear to me.

And that we're all involved, and must be involved in the solution to a problem whose roots run everywhere in our society, from the complicity of teachers and school administrators with students taunting their gay peers to the complicity of our communities of faith, which are all too often part of the problem and not part of its solution, in the view of most Americans: this is clear to me, as well.

It would be wonderful if people who care about the Jonah Mowrys of the world could find ways to get resources like Speaking Out! into their hands--while offering tangible and concrete support.  It's, unfortunately, too late to reach Jacob Rogers.  Or Tyler Clementi, whose mother has just spoken to the media for the first time since his suicide in September 2010.

She misses her son.

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