Gay Youth Hub




Study: LGBT Youth Report Online Harassment Three Times More Often Than Heterosexual Peers

  Same difference

A recent study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network shows that nearly three times the amount of LGBT youth respondents reported bullying and harassment online as compared to their non-LGBT peers, reports The Advocate.

Additionally, the report demonstrates that LGBT youth were twice as likely to report being harassed via text message.

Based on a national survey of 5,680 students in middle and high school, effects of bullying reported included lowered self-esteem, higher likelihood of depression, and lowered grade point averages.

However, noting that respondents reported increased peer support, access to health information, and opportunities for civic engagement, Michelle Ybarra, the president and research director of the Center for Innovative Health Research said that the Internet “does not serve to simply reinforce the negative dynamics found offline regarding bullying” but “also offers LGBT youth critical tools for coping with these negative experiences."

The study found LGBT youth nearly twice as likely to research medical information online, with transgender youth proving particularly proactive in that area.

In April, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed an anti-bullying bill into law strengthening protections for LGBT students and students with disabilities.

Previously, 'Same Difference': Documentary Film Looks at LGBT Youth - VIDEO


Review: Exuberant Coming-Of-Age Dramedy ‘The Way He Looks’ Charts Blind Teen’s First Love

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BY JOSEPH EHRMAN-DUPRE

Buoyant, clever, sensitive; words can do very little to express the exuberance and authenticity of Daniel Ribeiro’s near-perfect debut feature, The Way He Looks, based on his 2010 short film with the same cast and premise. The film screened this week at NYC's NewFest. A coming-of-age dramedy with a highly original narrative, the movie’s title is provocative for calling into question the ways we “see” the ones we love and just how narrow our worldview may be.

WayHeLooks2At the center of a sun-dappled, pastel-colored Sao Paulo, Brazil is Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo, right), a teenager who was born blind and bears the brunt of several surly bullies' wrath at his suburban high school. He longs for independence from his overbearing parents “like every teenager” director Ribeiro was quick to point out at the film’s talkback. His only real friend is Giovana (Tess Amorim, below left), a neighbor and classmate; they adore each other and spend every day together. Their routine is interrupted by the arrival of a cute new student, Gabriel (Fabio Audi, below right), who becomes fast friends with the pair. When Gabriel and Leonardo pair up for a school project, though, Giovana quickly becomes jealous, and the two boys grow even closer. 

It’d be a shame to give away too much more, but suffice to say that the film takes unexpected romantic turns while retaining a bubbly and heart-warming sheen. It won the Audience Award at NewFest for good reason. The applause following its screening was deafening.

WayHeLooks3Perhaps the most engaging element of the film is the way it film negotiates Leo’s blindness. We are constantly reminded that Leo cannot see the world around him, or even the people he is closest to in his life. One spooky dream sequence finds him interacting with shadowy black-and-white figures of his classmates, but otherwise the film plays with the idea that sound is Leo’s most prominent sense, and that the people around him are privileged to be able to see. When he and Gabriel go to the movies, the camera lingers on their mouths as he describes what is happening on screen, and the sounds of the cheesy sci-fi film are heightened; at another point, Gabriel and Leo sneak out to “watch” a lunar eclipse, a concept which Gabriel struggles to explain to someone who has never seen one.  Leo’s blindness is, therefore, a prominent plot point, one which heightens the tension surrounding he and Gabriel’s relationship with Giovana and each other.

At the film’s talkback, Ribeiro discussed the different vision of love that he hoped the film could present, one based not on the pretense of physical attraction and visual memory, or on fixed notions of sexual orientation. The Way He Looks is not a coming out film in any sense; the word “gay” is never used, Ribeiro stated proudly. Instead he sees it is a natural experience of romantic interest, that someone should fall in love with a person without the confines of a specific label. In this sense, Ribeiro recognized that his film is an ideal vision, though that does not mean the characters exit the narrative unscathed.

WayHeLooks4The Way He Looks deals frankly with jealousy, bullying, parent-child conflicts, and confusing sexual desires. There are tough scenes, and despite the sunny lensing and cheery outlook, every character has faults. Still, rarely have I left a theater feeling as fulfilled, or as happy to have gotten to know the characters on screen. Perhaps because the film’s love story, constrained by lost sight, is the most original, sensitive, and touching one to come along in quite some time.

Watch the film's trailer as well as the original short film (which *spoiler alert* gives away the whole movie), AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Review: Exuberant Coming-Of-Age Dramedy ‘The Way He Looks’ Charts Blind Teen’s First Love" »


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Casts Only 'No' Vote on Proposal to Help City's Homeless LGBT Youth

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The Toronto City Council voted 37-1 on "a proposal to find ways to better assist homeless young people who are gay," the Toronto Star reports:

The three-part proposal asks the city’s shelters chief to look into allocating 25 per cent of beds in an existing youth shelter to people who identify as LGBTQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, two-spirited).

It also asks the city to issue a call for expressions of interest in operating a shelter or transitional housing for gay youth, and requires the city to provide anti-homophobia training to all shelter employees.

The lone dissenting vote? Homophobic Mayor Rob Ford.

According to the paper:

Ford, who has a long history of homophobic remarks and opposition to gay initiatives, placed a temporary “hold” on the proposal Tuesday to prevent it from passing unanimously without a vote. He did not explain his opposition.

The vote came a day after Ford refused to stand during a council ovation for the organizers of the World Pride festival. He said later that he is “not homophobic,” but he would not explain why he did not join in the applause.

Despicable.


'Same Difference': Documentary Film Looks At LGBT Youth - VIDEO

Youth

Filmmakers Joshua Sweeny and Kyle Wentzel are shedding light on the powerful effects that school environments have on LGBT youth in their new documentary Same Difference. The film tells the stories of two gay-identified boys, Graeme Taylor and Justin Aaberg, growing up in the midst of drastically different social settings:

Graeme Taylor, now 18 and off to college, grows up and goes to school in a supporting environment that allows him to thrive. Justin Aaberg (1994-2010) unfortunately grows up and goes to a school filled with intolerant backwards policies and scandal. Justin was just one of nine LGBT youth that took their lives while attending the Anoka-Hennepin School District between 2009-2011.

Same Difference focuses on the Anoka-Hennepin School District, which was identified as a suicide contagion area between 2009-2011 by state health officials after a slew of bullying-related deaths. Sweeny and Wentzel are currently in the process of raising funds to complete post production on the film via their IndieGogo page with 26 days left to go. Completion of their funding goals will bring the film to the festival circuit as well as to classrooms in order to better equip teachers and educators to handle discussions about LGBT identity in youth populations.

Watch the trailer for the film, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'Same Difference': Documentary Film Looks At LGBT Youth - VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Wingnut Linda Harvey Releases Study Guide For 'Ex-Gay' Book

Anti-gay hater and all-around wingnut Linda Harvey published her bookMaybe He's Not Gay: Another View on Homosexuality in January 2014. Her new mission? Ensure that the title is as accessible as possible. Parents and children can download a "student study guide" on her Mission America website to help guide them through the thoughtful advice and kind words of what amounts to an "ex-gay" self-help book.

HarveyJoe.My.God. reports on the study guide press release:

"Youth groups, college roundtables, and adult Sunday school classes can now explore the many facets of the issue of homosexuality through in-depth discussions centered around Maybe He's Not Gay," said Harvey, founder and president of Mission America. Harvey is a Christian radio talk show host, a speaker, columnist and author who writes frequently about the homosexual political agenda and its destructive impact on America, particularly on our youth. The guide is available at no cost on the Mission America site. This highly-acclaimed book is tailored especially for teens and young adults but has been praised by adults who appreciate its common sense, biblically-based approach to a difficult and controversial issue. Published in January 2014, the book presents the view that adolescents who claim a "gay" identity are not getting the whole picture and have been misled into believing the "LGBT" identity is risk-free and inborn like race. They have also been persuaded, contrary to research and many personal testimonies, that there's no hope of change."

Though the book was reportedly removed from Amazon for violating a rule against promoting self-abuse, it is now readily available for purchase.


Film Review: 'Broken Heart Land' Weaves Unexpected And Tragic Tapestry Of Grief

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Broken Heart Land, an expectation-eschewing documentary from directors Jeremy and Randy Stulberg, begins with an all-too-familiar tragedy in the rural American landscape: the suicide of a gay teenager. From there it weaves a far different story than one might anticipate, opting for a complex exploration of a family struck by death and a town in the throws of an identity crisis. 

The setting, Norman, Oklahoma--home to the University of Oklahoma--is seen by many citizens as a bastion of liberal goodwill in one of the nation’s most conservative geographic regions. In reality, though, the town is largely inhabited by Christian conservatives and other folks who fall uneasily within a murky spectrum of political thought. 

BHL2Two such people, Van and Nancy Harrington, are the parents of Zack, a reserved guy who came out in high school, seemingly without significant fanfare and with ardent support from his family. We learn very little about Zack, save for his participation in the high school color guard; his sudden suicide leaves him even more of an enigma. Only when his grieving parents receive the coroners report do they, and the audience, find out that Zack was HIV-positive and had been treating himself with drugs bought on the street. It is a surprising turn of events within the film. One friend, overcome with emotion and unsure whether or not to speak on the matter, recounts the way that Zack finally told her, after over a year of hinting, about his status. The wound of his death is clearly still fresh for everyone involved, and this particular revelation throws them for a loop. The trailer, which we reported on previously, framed Zack’s HIV-status as the central mystery within the narrative, but its reveal comes early, both in the run time and in the mourning process. The film actually seems far more concerned with picking up the pieces and understanding just how great an impact Zack’s death had, particularly on his mother and rather surprisingly on small town politics.

BHL1Just before Zack’s death, he may or may not have attended the Norman town council meeting where an LGBT History Month proposal was discussed and voted on. The mystery of his attendance reflects the unknowable qualities of his personality, but it is no matter in comparison with the bigoted and disturbing diatribe unleashed by many of the town’s most influential conservatives, including Chad Williams, an assistant pastor of a local mega-church and an eventual candidate for town council. 

The dueling campaigns of Williams and an openly lesbian opponent form the backbone of much of the documentary, framed by the broken and embittered family at the center of the tragedy. Both Van and Nancy Harrington are self-proclaimed Republicans and supporters of the LGBT rights movement, an almost oxymoronic combination these days, and their understanding of politics is shaken throughout the film by national trends (see: the Tea Party) and the closer-to-home town council race. Nancy joins a Norman group called Moms Of Many (MOM), formed in the wake of Zack’s death. She learns about the representation of the LGBT community in politics, campaigns for Williams’ competitor, and, in a particularly tense scene, confronts the pastor after all of her LGBT-related questions are ignored at a debate amongst the candidates. Van is largely seen sitting on a couch at home, watching Fox News, and smoking a cigarette; the grief is palpable and nearly unbearable. 

Still, both he and Nancy traverse an arc, from disbelief and upset about Zack’s status (his keeping it from them more so than the fact that he was positive) to a state of sad but empowered motivation to create change. We eventually see them dedicate a bench in Norman to their son and march in an AIDS Walk in his memory. 

BHL3Ultimately the “broken heart land” of the film’s title seems twofold. It is a comment on the nature of grief and tragedy, rendered so vividly in the lives of the Harringtons, and it is an observation about the shifting, highly oppositional politics of a nation, and particularly the midwest. The Harringtons are a family awakened to their own faults, their political aspirations, and their beliefs. The same, unfortunately, cannot necessarily be said for Williams and others in the more conservative contingent. They stand behind a “we love everyone enough to tell them that they are wrong” facade, never owning up to what the filmmakers and the Harringtons come to believe: something, many things, must be wrong in a society where someone, Zack, would take his own life. LGBT inequality, non-comprehensive sex education, and perhaps even organized religion come under fire. While there is no conclusive reason behind Zack's suicide, beautifully-read passages of his tormented poetry and journals accompany nostalgic video footage throughout the film, giving prophetic voice to a young man no longer able to speak his mind.

Broken Heart Land is a powerful, unexpectedly political, and deeply sad documentary. At its center lies a teenager who could have lived a long, fulfilling life, given the support he deserved all along.

You can stream Broken Heart Land online at worldchannel.org, or catch it airing The World Channel through this weekend.


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