Commentary on Rolling Stones’ article “The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families”

homeless youth

Here is a link to the Rolling Stones article… “The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families”

This article hit a nerve for me… I will explain why. 

The research presented in this article is nothing new to me… I have sat with HUNDREDS of LGBT kids and listened to stories like the ones in this article… and much MUCH worse. People don’t want to believe that “Highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay”, but it’s the sad truth… I’ve heard it time and time again. The issue has gotten worse since the heated debates about gay marriage. And it’s shameful!!

Some people in this country like to boast that this is a “Christian nation”… if it’s so “Christian” which follows the teaching of Jesus, then WHY are there “between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States”?! I’m not speaking about homelessness in general (that’s a whole other rant!), I’m speaking about the estimated 40% of homeless youth who are LGBT.

Listen… I don’t care about your opinion on gay marriage. I don’t care about your opinion or belief about sexuality. It’s not relevant to what I’m talking about. As a Christian, it’s morally wrong to ostracize or demonize someone because they are LGBT. It’s morally wrong to kick a LGBT youth to the curb, and clearly we have been in the habit of doing exactly that.

So what are Christians supposed to do? Well, it’s pretty simple really. Just do what your religion teaches… love. Have mercy, compassion, empathy, reach out to those on the margins… I could go on and on. We all suck at doing it, but we have to keep trying.

mother t

And I would like to challenge you to ask your priests, pastors, bishops, deacons… whoever…. ask them what they are doing to reach out to this marginalized population… ask what they are doing to support them… ask how they are supporting both their physical and spiritual needs. Leave the arguing and debating aside for a bit… give the theory and theology a rest for a sec… and just SEE the humanity of those who have been deeply hurt by faith communities. LISTEN to what they have to say! LISTEN to their lived experience.

If you feel tempted to bible thump or “enlighten” someone by explaining some teaching… don’t bother.  It’s all LGBT people tend to hear from Christians.  Better yet, think about how often the faith community has sucked about living up to their obligation to love… think about how often they have taken it upon themselves to judge, rather than show compassion and mercy.

The Catholics are stuck with me and I can guarantee that I won’t stop asking these challenging questions. Actually, they aren’t challenging questions at all if we are doing what “highly religious” people are called to do.

circle

I’m an equal opportunity ranter, so allow me to throw a few jabs at the LGBT advocacy community while I’m on a roll.

“…as societal advancements have made being gay less stigmatized and gay people more visible… the average coming-out age has dropped from post-college age in the 1990s to around 16 today, which means that more and more kids are coming out while they’re still economically reliant on their families. The resulting flood of kids who end up on the street, kicked out by parents whose religious beliefs often make them feel compelled to cast out their own offspring… has been called a “hidden epidemic.”

does-it-get-better

For LGBT youth it can get MUCH worse!

“Tragically, every step forward for the gay-rights movement creates a false hope of acceptance for certain youth, and therefore a swelling of the homeless-youth population.”

While doing your advocacy work it’s imperative to SEE the crippling impact it has on the more vulnerable populations. So step up! “Gay-rights” doesn’t mean rights just for wealthy white gay men. Granted, I’m generalizing a bit, but you know there is some truth in it. It’s shameful that the LGBT community has been neglecting our homeless LGBT youth (and adult) population for so long. At least now it’s finally starting to change so it’s not so taboo to call it out, but I’ve taken my fare share of headaches for speaking out about this. LGBT people know what it’s like to feel like an outcast, so learn from that experience and be a voice for those who’s voice has been silenced.

“And yet, as hard as it might be to imagine conservative faiths backing down from their demonization of homosexuality, it can be equally hard to get activists to address the issue. “LGBT­ advocacy groups don’t want to talk about religion,”… “One, they don’t want to come across as anti-religion. And two, they just aren’t familiar with it. But the number-one hurdle to LGBT equality is religious ­based bigotry. The face of the gay-rights movement shouldn’t be what I call ’40-year-old well-moisturized couples.’ The face of the gay-rights movement should be a 15-year-old kid that’s been thrown out of his house and taught that he’s a sinner.””

Just like how Christians shouldn’t demonize LGBT people, LGBT folks can’t demonize religious people. Believe me, I know there are plenty of reason to want to do it, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. It just perpetuates hate. There needs to be an effort from both ‘sides’ to see the humanity of each other. Sometimes it’s best to just walk away, but other times one needs to stand strong and use their voice. So many of these LGBT youth (and adults) have been hurt spiritually, and so we need to work together to heal those wounds.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 1.37.57 PM copy

“The summer that marriage equality passed in New York, we saw the number of homeless kids looking for shelter go up 40 percent

That statistic is stunning!  It should be stunning to both marriage equality advocates AND religious communities!  And yet I rarely hear this spoken about by either group.  See, there is more in common with these two adversaries than we think…. they have both equally failed to protect these vulnerable youth.

“I feel like the LGBT movement has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to this… We’ve been so focused on laws – changing the laws around marriage equality, changing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ getting adoption rights – that we haven’t been fighting for economic resources.”

“No one wanted to see young people coming out and being cast into destitution. It didn’t fit the narrative.”

The narrative needs to change.

banksy-change

Advertisements

One thought on “Commentary on Rolling Stones’ article “The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families”

  1. Matthew 25:31-46. I meet many in the LGBT community who can relate similar stories of ostracism and rejection by clergy and family and peers. Acceptance of others seems so simple yet it is so radical and profound — such a gesture affirms the dignity and value of another human being. We need to listen to the stories of the LGBT community and respond to their basic needs as human beings. We encounter Christ in the needs of the marginalized and rejected. We reveal Christ in gestures and actions that affirm the value and dignity of another human being.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s