Saturday, October 29, 2016

What’s With The Profiles This Week?

This week, I noticed that Facebook people had turned their profiles gray, black or white.  I thought they might have done this for upcoming Halloween.  Upon closer observation, I learned that those faces had turned color for National Asexual Awareness Week, celebrated October 23-29th this year.

Listen, Believe and Respect
Founded in 2010 by Sara Beth Brooks ACE WEEK has become a tradition in October. To make the public aware of asexuality each year, efforts are made to educate the public by:

  • ·      wearing asexual pins, stickers, colors, etc.
  • ·      supporting an asexual person.
  • ·      printing and handing out material about asexuality.
  • ·      writing a blogspot about asexuality.
  • ·      putting up a poster about asexuality.
  • ·      talking to local groups about asexuality.
  • ·      taking AVENS survey at asexuality.com
  • ·      using inclusive speech.
  • ·      acknowledging asexuality as an option.
 
It is hard to imagine that in our seemingly hypersexed society that there are an estimated three million people or ACES as they call themselves.  You might think that a person who is asexual is afraid of sex or relationships, may have been molested or has an hormonal imbalance.  But these hypotheses do not ring true. 

Asexuality does NOT mean:
  • ·      you’re necessarily celibate.
  • ·      It is not a disorder.
  • ·      It’s not a choice.
  • ·      It’s not a gender identity (although they may be trans, non-binary or genderqueer). 
  • ·      It’s not an abstinence pledge.
  • ·      It’s not caused by a loss of libido or age-related circumstance, inability to find a partner or fear of intimacy.
So, What is Asexuality?

  • ·      It’s an orientation where a person doesn’t experience sexual attraction to any gender.
  • ·      It affects females more than males.
  • ·      A common theme of ACE identity is feeling broken, alone or even ashamed of one’s sexual orientation.
  • ·      asexual people may want friendships like everyone else, to fall in love, experience arousal and orgasm and be any age or background.

Inclu    Included in this umbrella group are:

  • ·      aromantic: lacking interest in or desire for romantic relationships.
  • ·      demisexual: lacking sexual attraction towards any person unless one becomes deeply emotionally or romantically connected with a specific person.
  • ·      grey-asexual: experiencing sexual attraction but not strongly enough to act on them.
For more information, see http://www/AVEN.com and http://www.asexuality.com




Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Color Purple: No, Not That One!



Last week, my Facebook profile was purple. So was my Twitter icon.  Why?
And what was that Spirit Day that many used as a hashtag?

History of Spirit Day…

Spirit Day began in 2010 by Brittany McMillan, a Canadian teenager who wanted to show her solidarity and support for LGBT youth by wearing purple. Spirit Day commemorates young LGBT people who have lost their lives to suicide. The color purple is intertwined with Spirit Day and is represented in the rainbow flag.

Always celebrated on the third week of October, Spirit Day falls during National Bullying Prevention Month. Started by GLAAD (formerly Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, but now has a focus on advocating for Bisexual and Transgender), Spirit Day is now a global event.

Why We Need Spirit Day

According to www.mental health america.net/bullying and LGBT youth/ LGBT teens have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis.

Out of fear, 60% of LGBT students did NOT report incidents to school.
One-third who reported an incident said the staff did nothing in response.
LGBT youth are nearly twice as likely to be called names verbally, harassed or physically assaulted at school compared to non-LGBT peers.

The 2011 National School Climate Survey reported:
LGBT youth are more than twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
Only 37% of LGBT youth report being happy.
With each instance of verbal or physical harassment, the risk of self-harm among LGBT youth is 2 ½ times more likely.
LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual peers if frequently harassed.
LGBT youth have lower grade point averages if harassed.
One-third skip school one day per month due to feeling unsafe on school premises.

However, if LGBT students had allies in the school staff,

Their school staff intervened twice as often in schools with comprehensive bullying/harassment policies.
The LGBT students had higher GPA’s if their school staff consisted or six or more professionals and were supportive.

 





Saturday, October 8, 2016

Is Religion Getting In The Way of Coming Out?




Last week, I was invited to a Pride Club at a Catholic College in Westchester County.  October is National Coming Out month and I was at the college to answer questions from club members about how to come out to parents. As a gay son’s straight mother who had written an advice book When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need to Know, I was familiar with the subject, but hardly omniscient.  

Fifteen students showed up for the meeting.  Some were straight allies, others were LGBT.  They were dressed in sweats, hoodies, flannel shirts, camisoles, one had temporary purple hair, one was in stocking feet.  Whatever their appearances, they had one issue in common: they wanted to come out but were afraid.

One student, a Hispanic lesbian from Cuba, told the group that she was afraid to tell her mother and father because they were Catholic and would disown her.  “You know the Hispanic culture, it’s traditional and macho. My family is not going to like having a lesbian in the family.”  Miss  Frightened wanted to maintain ties with her family, but was scared they would reject her.

This young woman’s dilemma is not uncommon.  Religious parents who have been indoctrinated that homosexuality is wrong and quote the Bible as proof often have a hard time reconciling their religious tenets with the often unexpected reality of their child’s sexuality.

What can a parent do to accept their LGBT child?  They don’t have to reject religion entirely.  There are always more open-minded preachers, more LGBT-friendly churches.  Realize that God created all men equal and teaches us to love our neighbors.

To become more accepting of children’s sexual orientation, parents can  discuss this issue in PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians & Gays with nationwide chapters.
Parents who are tempted to put their LGBT kids in conversion camps should do research.  They will see the negative effects of conversion therapy or gay-to-straight therapy that has been outlawed in many states because it is not  effective, but can do harm.
To educate, videos parents can view include Karslake, Daniel, For the Bible Tells Me So, First Run Features, 2007.  This documentary on the intersection of religion and homosexuality in the United States focuses on the way conservative Christians often interpret The Bible in order to deny homosexual rights.
Vines, Matthew, https:// www.youtube.com/user/vinesmatthew.  These lectures empower LGBT-affirming Christians in non-affirming churches.  Matthew Vines is the founder of the Reformation Project and author of God and the Gay Christians.
There is support for accepting Gays and Lesbians within one’s religion.  For example, there is a LGBT Catholic organization, DIGNITY (http://www.dignityusa.org).

“Do I Have To Tell My Extended Family?”

Another worry of these students is are they obligated to tell their aunts, grandparents, cousins once their parents know?

As it is the child’s story, it should be up to them whom they wish to tell.  Are they out at school and to friends?

As a parent, you should ask an open-ended question such as “Have you thought about how and when you want to tell Granny?  It is conceivable that your child may want you to tell the relatives rather than he having to tell each one. You may have to weigh the pros and cons of telling if the relative is conservative. You don’t want to imply that he should keep it a secret from certain people or act as if he should feel embarrassed or ashamed for others to know.

Coming Out takes nerve and should be done in a quiet setting.  If you think your parent will react violently, it is best to wait until you’re not living in the same house as your parents and are not financially dependent on them.

But once you reveal your true self that you may have been hiding, it can be incredibly freeing and create a closer bond between parent and child.