Originally posted on gayteens.about.com
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the Prop 8 trial.
Prop 8, the November 2008 ballot proposition that changed the California state constitution to define marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman, ended a six month period during which California's same sex couples had been legally able to wed.
The legitimacy of this ballot measure is now being questioned in court.
One of the issues that has been raised during the trial has been the role played by leaders in the Catholic and Mormon churches.
To demonstrate just how hostile these religions often are to the gay community, testimony from Ryan Kendall, a young gay police officer, was presented. At 13, Kendall was forced into anti-gay conversion therapy after his evangelical Christian parents learned of his sexual orientation. He testified that despite the therapy:
"I was still gay...I knew I was gay just like I'm half Hispanic. My home life had changed a lot. It was like night and day. Before this I had parents who would write me notes and make me lunch. Then they were verbally abusive, calling me names. My mother would tell me she hated me or that I was disgusting or I was repulsive. Once she told me she wished she had an abortion. She told me she wished I had Downs Syndrome or had been mentally retarded."
I am sure such testimony was shocking to a lot of people. But it is probably pretty familiar to many gay Christian teens, some of who make their way to the site that I run for GLBT Teens on About.com. These are teens like this boy, who wrote on the GLBT Teens forum,
[When I came out] my super-Christian friends turned out to be jerks. I got kicked out of Christian school for being gay...I have to see a Christian counselor, who is telling me that I don't have to live gay even though I feel that way about guys.
Or this teen who left a comment on the site saying:
"I'm sixteen and I'm bisexual leaning towards gay. My parents are Christians and so am I. I very much believe in God and know he loves me, but my mom has cancer and my brother committed suicide earlier this year and I don't know if she could handle me coming out. My dad hates gays and thinks we are all just accidents and that we convince ourselves we are gay. I can't stand it. I've contemplated suicide and running away but I can't tell my parents I'm gay. Even as I write this I'm hiding and writing it on my iPod. I don't know what to do."
"I don't know what to do." That's something you hear up a lot from gay Christian teens. It's also something you hear from adults who would like to help them. And while it sometimes feels like there isn't a lot that can be done, what is clear, is that banning gay marriage, sending kids to reparative therapy and telling them that their faith condemns them, is contributing to a mental health crisis among gay kids.
So what could help gay Christian teens? One thing is for them to learn the truth about their religion. And the truth is, much of the religious condemnation for being gay is interpretation, not scripture.
Don't believe me? You can read more about that in What the Bible Really Says About Being Gay...