Being a teenager is hard at the best of times. With hormones raging, and confusion over self-identity it is a time many young people find difficult to cope with. This is more so true for young gay men and women, who find themselves in a whole new world altogether. While everyone else’s feelings grow towards the opposite sex and “the norm”, a gay teenager’s grows fonder for their sex, and it’s tough.
Bullying is a major worldwide problem. People often fear the unknown and for teenagers especially this is true. The social pressure of secondary/high school to try and “fit in” and be one of the “cool kids” leads many down dangerous paths of intolerance that seriously hurt those around them.
Being different isn’t a crime and in fact should be embraced. It is the difference in the world that make it the beautiful place to live. The celebrities we look up to so reverently and adore, are often the most different. They defy convention and go out of their way to make themselves not fit in.
The saying often goes people fear what they don’t know
So why are teenagers so intolerant to their own classmates? They admire the weird when it is on a screen, but fear it when it is in their own back yard. They seek out the different and the so-called “weird” people and go after them. As if it is some kind of duty to protect convention and the status-quo.
As a teenager, being different opens you up to the fear of being isolated and bullied. Bullying is a disgusting atrocity of our societies, one that we simply haven’t done enough to extinguish.
The consequences of such actions are even more horrifying. Young gay people are so much more likely o take their own lives than their straight counterparts. With a 20% higher risk, these kids are the most vulnerable people. And yet, year after year nothing is done to stop this.
Who is to blame for all the intolerance and the bullying? Parents? Partly. These parents need to teach their children the importance of tolerance, and how society can only function if we accept every individual for who they are.
The social pressure of secondary/high school to try and “fit in” and be one of the “cool kids” leads many down dangerous paths of intolerance that seriously hurt those around them.
Teachers? Partly yes also. These are the people who see teenagers day in, day out. They notice changes. They can see when a kid is being bullied or left out. Many choose to stay silent, which is distressing to say the least. They also need to teach the kids about being tolerant and inclusive.
The Media? Yes. The media has a great way of reporting the crimes of bullying, but forgets about the consequences. Television shows play up bullying, with the bullied being somehow triumphant in the end. Real life isn’t as simple. The media needs to show the effects of bullying, as well as promote equality.
Schools? Yes. Schools, especially in Western Society has an fixation of “the same.” From uniforms, to hair, to make-up, these so called pillars of our society are so hell-bent on making every child look the same, they forget the beauty of difference. It also creates intolerance, as if the institution is promoting intolerance, how are these teens meant t be tolerant.
Themselves? Of course. It may sound harsh, but teenagers aren’t stupid. Many are on the cusp of adulthood, and desperately trying to act older. They know what their actions entail. They aren’t that ignorant or stupid. Bullying damages people, and there is no way even a thirteen year old doesn’t know this.
Each Other? Definitely. Peer Pressure is the biggest hazard in school. The pressure to act out. The pressure to smoke. The pressure to drink. The pressure to hurt another human being. There is a fear that is they don’t join in they too will be ostracised and they themselves bullied.
Society? Most Definitely. While the Western World in particular likes to paint itself as a tolerant society, the truth is it is not. And until true equality and inclusion of all races, religions and sexualities are embraced, of course there will be intolerance and fear.
The saying often goes people fear what they don’t know. This is never truer than in the case of teenagers. Teenagers are the ones who fear the most. Life is hurtling towards them at a scarily fast pace, and yet they are expected to both grow up, stay young, mature, but learn all at the same time. It is a lot of pressure for a young person.
Add being gay into the mix and it is soon easy to see that being a gay teenager is not an easy task. Trying to battle all of the above, with the stress of extreme emotion, and often self-hatred can only wear someone down. If they are being bullied on top, sometimes life can just get too much.
Life is tough. It is a battle to keep your head above the water more times than not. But it is important to remember that everyone else is also in the same boat. Everyone gets screed. Everyone feels alone. Everyone gets down.
Life should be about holding each others hands through the difficult times. It should be about everyone standing tall and helping each other. The world is unfair. But if everyone was a little more tolerant, it might be a little bit better.
If you feel down or depressed please don’t keep it to yourself. Talk about it with someone you trust, or your family doctor. Talking can make all the difference. There are also many gay community groups in every society that can help you as a gay teenager. Please just talk.