Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
December 31, 2010
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
There are an estimated 4,200 homeless people under 25 in Los Angeles County and a disproportionate number of them are LGBT. So writes Alexandra Zavis of the Los Angeles Times in a December 12, 2010, article posted on the web. (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gay-homeless-20101212,0,4425366.story). She and a photographer spent a few weeks with LGBT homeless youth and wrote about their experience. The electronically posted article contains few things we did not already know, but the comments, 511 last we looked, were instructive.
A consistent type of comment, one that also appeared during the wave of LGBT suicides back in August and September, runs something like this:
“There are many homeless people. Why does the Times make it look as if society’s rejection of LGBTs is the cause for homelessness? LGBTs are homeless because they make bad choices, have other issues, and are addicts. There are plenty of LGBTs who are not homeless.”
Our response to those who write such comments points to the term “disproportionate.” For us that term is always a flag to look deeper. There are numerous reasons for being homeless, but the group that is disproportionately represented, LGBTs here, has at least one additional and unique reason. This technique works everywhere. There are plenty of reasons to be sentenced to jail, but the group that is disproportionately represented, young black men, has at least one additional and unique reason. There are plenty of reasons for not getting that promotion, but the group that is disproportionate not selected, women and people of color, has at least one additional and unique reason. You can fill in your own examples.
While working for LGBT equal rights, we often hear the accusation that LGBTs are working an agenda. Of course we are and the agenda is equal rights, but that is not what the accusers mean. They usually mean that our agenda is undermining American or Christian values and lifestyles. A comment to the Times article, however, took the agenda accusation to its extreme. One of the young gay man related that at age nine two men raped him. The comment was that this is how homosexuals convert heterosexuals to become homosexuals. Makes you sit up, rub your eyes, and ask yourself: “Am I reading this right?”
Then there are the comments based on the belief that LGBT is a freely chosen lifestyle. It will forever remain a mystery to us why anybody would choose a lifestyle that brings constant and universal disapproval, so much rejection, so much misery. We should perhaps write a blog to conversion therapy, but then again, why? It is so ridiculous.
The comments germane to the article repeat common themes, ones we have seen often over the years. The question becomes: In the face of such persistent hate and ignorance, what can we do to prevent the rejection of LGBTs by their families so that families stay together? We don’t have the answer other than to keep doing what we’re doing, try new approaches, new methods and amplify those that have success. It helps that we are seemingly gaining in the big issues: marriage equality, don’t ask don’t tell, and tolerance education in schools. Looking at the big issues is for us who work at the family level a good indicator of progress. And there is no mistaking this: we are making progress.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org