Does Being Different Mean Your Life Is Over?

I was reading the other day that 40% of all gay, lesbian, bi and transgender youth attempt suicide, which was substantially higher than their heterosexual counterparts. To me this still says something is wrong within our culture? It seems to me we need to be on the lookout for kids that are at risk and begin to form stronger networks to offer support for such youth. Though we live in a modern era where sexual difference seems to be more acceptable, there are still places like Montana and outlying areas where kids still live in fear. As a young kid growing up in a very small rural area, I know these feelings first hand. But, I was also lucky to grow up in an area where the community recognized and accepted people for their differences. Though they may not have understood it, there never seemed to be any malicious intent behind some else’s attitudes. In small communities where everyone struggles to maintain the daily existence, there seems to be a mutual respect for each other despite our differences. What really became the issue for me was my own internalized homophobia of what I might become. I resisted and resented this difference all during high school. I recognized the attraction to boys and often fooled around with other boys that came to spend the night at our ranch. But, I think it was more out of curiosity, because nothing sexual ever happened other than some mutual masturbation out in a shed or the woods somewhere. But I did look forward to watching the older boys shower in the school locker room after school gym class or sporting events.

I do remember reaching a moment of crisis when I was a sophomore in high school, where I had just hit the bottom and my life in a small town seemed utterly hopeless. I had not had any sexual experience with either sex at that age, but my fear of my desire for other boys seemed insurmountable and I had come to the conclusion that there was definitely something wrong with this attraction that was so deeply rooted in me. I was an odd ball kid, no doubt about it. I was very creative in all aspects. My grandmother had taught me to cook and sew, both of which I loved and was very proficient at doing well. My grandmother used to say “a man needs to know how to tend and look after himself”. My great grandfather’s wife had died giving birth to their third child and he raised my grandfather and his siblings on the ranch alone, never remarried and was able to tend to all the family needs on his own, so it was not uncommon for a man in our family to have these skills. But beyond that, there was this brooding uncertainty lurking that was becoming too strong to ignore. Then finally one night, in a moment of complete desperation I too, tried to kill myself. I tried to overdose on a bottle of pills, but luckily a good friend found me and was able to take me to the hospital to have my stomach pumped and I was able to recover. My family knew, but it was never really mentioned, and the whole event was mostly swept under the rug without anyone finding out what had even happened. My network of the few friends I had, who did know, came closer to keep an eye on and protect me. I still struggled with these issues for many years and really didn’t engage in sexual activity until I was in my early 20’s and then still had issues of self-esteem into my 40’s.

I guess my plea is: if you see or recognize kids that are different, having issues dealing with identity at this age, please reach out to them.

One thought on “Does Being Different Mean Your Life Is Over?

  1. BDSpellman

    >amen! You've hit upon the whole reason for my time active in gay politics here in Montana. We have to protect the children.



Comments are closed.