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Gay kids...

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Gay kids are under a lot of pressure when what they need is love and direction.


Childhood is filled with anxiety over things like that Monday morning test in English, sporting events, and how long will that pimple be on my chin. Being afraid of who you are is based upon outside pressure. I commend those who have reached out to this boy with kind support in the public forum.

It reminds me of a time when I was sitting on the front porch of a gay guesthouse in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I was thirty that year and looking forward to a week of vacation among the gay family of men. A young man, perhaps sixteen, passed by the house several times and then on his third pass stopped on the sidewalk. "Is this a gay house?" he asked.

The three of us on the porch exchanged glances...and then the other two got up and went in the house. I went down the steps and told the young man we needed to take a walk. "Why did they leave?" he asked. How could I explain that what he saw was fear, but then I had to tell him something.

I mentioned that he had walked by the house several times until he had worked up enough courage to ask his first question so he must understand that being gay is not always easy. In our society an older gay man talking to a young, and underage kid, is viewed with fear. It wasn't fair and it built a wall between the generations that hurts both sides.

I did not have the same fears because we were in a public place and there were no laws against walking with someone. I would say his story was typical. Sixteen, living in a small rural town, and only at the beach for a few days. He was not out to anyone but he understood his feelings and was scared. This was in the time before the internet otherwise he could have found some support there.

I suggested that he still had a few years to go in his period of isolation, but that once he turned eighteen there was a world of information he would find available to explain his feelings. High school is a tough time for any kid, but a gay kid must really feel the pressure. I shook his hand before we parted and told him it would get better. I hope I was right.

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This, to me, is a wonderful example of what mentoring is all about: sympathy, sharing, and support. It can take place over time or it can be a momentary encounter like this that may yield positive long-term consequences.

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