How to cope past the plague years

From the director of How To Survive a Plague comes a booklength narrative about AIDS. Andrew Sullivan’s review:

This was not a long, steady march toward success. It was a contentious, sprawling, roller coaster of dashed hopes and false dawns — a mini-series where major characters suddenly die and plot twists shock. Nine years into the fight against H.I.V., the average survival time had increased from 18 months . . . to 22. As late as 1994, after more than a decade of organization and activism and research, the activists had split between centrists and radicals, and the new class of drugs, protease inhibitors, were failing in early clinical trials. Worse, the deaths climbed in numbers year after year. AIDS was not an early crisis that finally abated; it was a slowly building mass death experience. The year with the most corpses in America was 1995. The darkest night really was just before the dawn.

Anyone born after 1980 can’t know how fear of contamination affects our ssxual habits, especially when plague victims fell around us.

‘An obscure knack – commemorating World AIDS Day

Despite the progress, so millions dead, including my uncle. Thom Gunn, one of the twentieth century’s great elegists, wrote some of the sharpest and most shattering poems about AIDS, many collected in the epochal The Man with Night Sweats. Here’s “Still Life”:

I shall not soon forget
The greyish-yellow skin
To which the face had set:
Lids tights: nothing of his,
No tremor from within,
Played on the surfaces.

He still found breath, and yet
It was an obscure knack.
I shall not soon forget
The angle of his head,
Arrested and reared back
On the crisp field of bed,

Back from what he could neither
Accept, as one opposed,
Nor, as a life-long breather,
Consentingly let go,
The tube his mouth enclosed
In an astonished O.

Raise a glass.

On the rankness of the phrase ‘identity politics’

I’m bored of explaining to people that an abortion is not a “social issue” – it’s a fucking economic one, as you’d know if you’ve ever thought about an abortion. Should the Supreme Court in 2017 or a future one overrule Roe v. Wade, rich women will still get abortions; it’s the poorer ones who will have to travel out of state or use coat hangers. What happened to the bipartisan consensus that mass incarceration was a grievous example of racism – does that wobbling turkey waddle named Tom Cotton have moral authority to resist it with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III the nominee for attorney general? Voter ID laws in states like Wisconsin compromise the right to vote of guess which segment of the population.

Far from being discrete zones of occasionally intersecting enthusiasms, my politics and my identity are a praxis that has defined my voting patterns, choice of profession, and hair style. No one asks white men to separate their biases and privileges from their voting habits, for not only would it be impossible but it’s who they are. Whether striking down miscegenation laws or allowing homosexual men and women to marry, always I get a sense that an elected official who is an ostensible ally is tapping his – usually his – foot and glancing at his watch, wanting to say, “OK, you got this done, let’s move on to more important things” but lacking the courage to say so.

Homos can be rehabbed — like arsonists

I always look for encouragement:

Ken Blackwell, tapped last week by President-elect Donald Trump to head domestic policy during the businessman’s transition to the White House, has made anti-LGBT statements for years. Among them: Homosexuality is a sin, and gay people, just like petty thieves and fire-setters, can be rehabilitated.

The Ohio politician has long endorsed a controversial mental health practice known as conversion therapy or reparative therapy. The goal is to cure a person of his or her homosexuality, and in the case of transgender people, to reaffirm the gender into which they were born.

In the past, treatments have included inducing vomiting and using mild electric shock while patients viewed homoerotic images. Since the 1990s, however, the therapy has been denounced by many medical and scientific societies and even outlawed in a handful of states. In 2015, the Obama administration expressed disapproval of the practice after Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender teen, took her life in Ohio after being forced by her parents to undergo conversion counseling.

While Blackwell will be overseeing a wide swath of domestic issues facing the new administration, one big question facing the LGBT community is whether a Trump administration will promote the discredited therapy.

I love the feigned neutrality — “one big question” is whether a Trump administration will tacitly or overtly encourage methods that break or destroy homosexual men and women.

Ah, Texas…

We live in a new political order, so prepare for more legislative mischief like the kind in Texas this week. For example, Senate Bill 92, which would overturn nondiscrimination ordinances protecting LGBT citizens in cities. The bill would prohibit cities or counties from passing laws barring discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, or any other basis for legal protections not explicitly mentioned in state law,” according to the Texas Tribune.

But it’s not even the worst:

Sen. Konni Burton introduced a bill on Thursday – which just so happened to be national Transgender Day of Remembrance – that would require public schools give parents “any general knowledge regarding the parent’s child possessed by an employee of the district” and records “relating to the child’s general physical, psychological or emotional well-being.”

This may sound vague — and even harmless. But Burton has explicitly said this is a response to guidelines adopted by Fort Worth school district earlier this year, guidelines that banned staff from telling parents about their child’s transgender status. The rule was quickly extinguished by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas’ leader in anti-LGBT policies.

If passed the bill would require elementary and high school teachers to narc on their students. Now, had Hillary Clinton won the electoral vote two weeks ago the Texas Senate would still have tried to pass this bill; but years later should opponents challenge its constitutionality the Clinton Justice Department might’ve filed friendly briefs before a Supreme Court with a non-Scalia on the bench. I….doubt Attorney General Sessions would’ve followed suit.

And the vice president-elect believed in gay conversion therapy.

Why we shouldn’t abandon people of color and queers

Sam Adler-Bell:

It may be true that due to demographic change, Democrats won’t need white working class voters to win presidential elections in the near future. But they do need them to win back state legislatures, gubernatorial races, senate and congressional seats. The thing about these “irredeemably racist” hinterland states is that they all have cities, and in those cites are minorities. These states also have women and immigrants and LGBT people and disabled people. As it stands, the marginalized populations in red states live under the rule of increasingly authoritarian statehouses and governors, whose priorities include depriving gay & trans people of their rights & safety, depriving poor and black people of the franchise, depriving working people of the right to organize, and depriving women of the right to get an abortion—not to mention empowering police, prosecutors, and immigration enforcement.

Unless leftists are content to condemn these populations to permanent white, nativist, reactionary rule, we have no choice but to prioritize organizing—yes, “winning over”—white workers in these states. Make no mistake: the most inspiring organizers in the country,many of them black and brown and gay and trans, are already and have long been doing this work. But the instinct among some liberals right now to write off Trump-voting states altogether is both politically and morally untenable and insulting to the organizers struggling—in an often hostile environment—to empower oppressed communities in the South and upper Midwest

Although I’m divided over questions like whether Keith Ellison should lead the Democratic National Committee, the idea of abandoning minorities and queers to the Scott Walkers and Gregg Abbotts and Rick Scotts strikes me as churlish, morally indefensible, and craven — as much as the chatter about California seceding and liberals moving to Canada. I heard the same twaddle in January 2005; our voices are louder now.

Erotic thriller ‘The Handmaiden’ decadent fun — for a while

If The Handmaiden gets too complicated, immerse in the upholstery. Park Chan-wook’s first movie since 2013 revels in double crosses and kink, moving confidently to a conclusion that if not exactly faithful to Fingersmith honors the Sarah Waters novel’s spirit and respects devotees of Victorian interior design. The director of Oldboy and Lady Vengeance has created a thriller whose convolutions prove rewarding for those who stick around. Distrust, however, the claims that The Handmaiden is a touchstone of queer cinema. It’s Bound with period flavor, set in foreign lands.

Kim Min-hee stars as Hideko, a young woman in 1930s Japan kept a virtual prisoner by her uncle (Cho Jin-woong), a buyer of rare books who has brought her up to read porn aloud (sample title: “Decadent Girls Who Sell Lingerie”). An orphaned Korean scam artist (Ha Jung-woo) conceives a plan whereby Hideko will install his pickpocket ally Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) as her maid while he worms his way into Hideko’s heart for the purpose of marrying her, taking her fortune, and sending her to the loony bin. “His ties to the colonial government even let us use electricity!” the suitor crows. Like Zhang Yimou at his most refulgent, Park treats the film’s first third as color-drenched conventionality as the inexperienced Hideko seems to fall in love with Sook-hee, whose butterfingers are so smooth that, in The Handmaiden‘s silliest bit of would-be erotics, she can rub down Hideko’s sore tooth while the latter sits in a tub of scented water. She’s also an expert pedicurist.

To divulge more of the film’s twists would be malpractice, I suppose. As in Bound and a myriad noir flicks, characters aren’t who they say they are and expectations change; even cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon gets into the spirit of the proceedings, often giving the movie’s final two-thirds the denatured tones of a horror film. I wasn’t bored watching The Handmaiden, but after an hour of skullduggery and toenails I got restless. The movie isn’t about anything except its own ingenuity. The politics of the Japanese incursion into Korea are referenced without resonating beyond motivation, and even this is a stretch: the Count could be any schemer who wants to eat the rich by joining them. An, um, interrogation late in the picture drags; often Park luxuriates in cruelty as if it were a set of expensive sheets (he does, however, include a shot of a giant octopus writhing in an aquarium, so there’s that).

As for the sex, it has the pneumatic precision of performers choreographed by a male director; it’s the only explanation for why the panting and thrusting shown in The Handmaiden and 2013’s Blue is the Warmest Color aren’t as salacious as Park and Abdellatif Kechiche, respectively, think. The depiction of convincing sex in good recent queer movies has depended on a sense of pent-up aching rivers (Andre Téchiné’s wonderful Being 17) or an expression of class triumphing over class (Joey Kuhn’s wildly uneven Those People). Although The Handmaiden certainly conveys Hideko and Sook-hee’s relief and hunger, they figure in a movie devoted to sensation. Lesbian hookups, blood, and plotting in an exotic remote era – The Handmaiden is queer in a facile way. “Men use the word ‘mesmerizing’ when they wish to touch a lady’s breast,” Hideko remarks late in the picture. I can’t best this description of Park’s method.

Teenage lust: ‘Being 17’

Once in a while you watch a movie that dredges buried emotions and nuances. Being 17 is one of them. Directed by the seventy-three-year-old André Téchiné, Being 17 is as observant about teenage lust as a movie made by a man half his age, even if you discount the fact that Téchiné has long had an interest in exploring love roundelays with the eye of a novelist and grasping the consequences with the heart of a family friend. I wanted to hug this movie.

Set in the Hautes-Pyrénées, Being 17 follows two young men who excel as fighters, not lovers. When Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) comes onscreen he has just cut his mop of blond hair; a silly purple earring aims to startle. These prove too much for Thomas (Corentin Fila), who trips him in class after hearing Damien recite Rimbaud. In retaliation Damien attacks on the basketball court. The war is on, as much about class as adolescent rage. On Damien’s large estate lives a family friend who teaches Damien boxing. Part of Téchiné’s achievement is to toy with the audience’s knowledge about what really fuels the boys’ contempt for the purpose of building curiosity about the architecture of their families, hobbies, habits. Damian’s mother Marianne is a veterinarian, his father a military doctor with whom she often Skypes; Thomas, an adopted child of mixed race, helps his father on the farm while his mom’s laid up with a pulmonary infection. During a house call (it’s a small town), Marianne tells the mom, Christine, that she’s pregnant. Because Thomas’ grades are slipping and the three-hour journey from home to school exhausting, Marianne proposes Thomas stay with them.

Marianne enforces a truce but it doesn’t last long. A broken wrist and a bruised torso are added to the damage report. At one point Thomas and Damien are so pissed at each other that after school they meet in an isolated snow-covered summit to pummel each other. Nevertheless, classic rivals still manage mutual respect. Téchiné’s shots of Thomas watching Damien’s ease in the kitchen (Marianne prefers drinking wine to cooking) and complete mastery of poetry and math adduce his veiled envy; the intimacy between Damien and his parents is a delight too (we Americans want parents with whom we can drink wine at seventeen). For Damien it’s Thomas’ spontaneity and natural warmth; in one of Being 17‘s attempts at brief poetry Thomas strips and dives into an icy creek, an act which leaves Damien breathless. But dichotomies don’t interest Téchiné much. Given a warm bed and people interested in his well-being Thomas proves as diligent a student as Damien; and his parents, grateful to Marianne, make up in love what they lack in sophistication; they genuinely want Thomas to do well on his “bac.”

Klein and Fila give wonderful performances; I hope they get recognized for creating modern queer archetypes. With her prominent jaw and white sunburned radiance, Sandrine Kiberlain’s Marianne not only matches physically with Klein but proves a third corner of a romantic triangle. Suffice it to say that Téchiné upsets expectations on this front too. But as The Witnesses, Wild Reeds, and My Favorite Season showed, a democracy of feeling animates his best work; he may be the greatest living French devotee of Jean Renoir’s oft-quoted line said by his character Octave in The Rules of the Game, “The truly terrible thing is that everybody has their reasons.” Alone and required to project authority, Marianne has her reasons too. A woman whose cheerful surface masks hidden resentments and passions is a movie cliche; Marianne, however, relishes the projection of cheer, in large part because she’s good at it. Entwined in this cheer is a deep sensuality (even Christine responds to it). In one of Being 17′s few violations of its interest in the boys Téchiné’s camera watches as Marianne’s husband Nathan, back from his danger zones overseas, makes love to her. Then she awakens — it’s a dream. That Téchiné regular Alexis Loret plays Nathan makes Marianne’s pangs understandable. And Damien is on to Thomas: he accuses him of catching a bout of strep throat on purpose (he turns off the space heaters and lets the bitter cold mountain air into his room) so that he can stay in bed and be attended by Marianne.

This accusation comes at Being 17‘s midpoint, and it’s a tribute to the sturdiness of Téchiné’s architecture that Damien’s motives are revealed as part of a pattern instead of an epiphanic moment; in his films our private thoughts, because formed by friction with external forces, have public consequences. Having sketched the other characters first, Téchiné returns to Damien. He asks Thomas to drive him to a thwarted online hookup with an older man (there’s a charming icebreaker when each reveals the other’s lied about his age). This man owns a large livestock farm, and Téchiné does what few directors would: interrupt the narrative so that the man can explain to Thomas, the farmer by birth, how his modern equipment works and the number of gallons of milk he produces (the scene doesn’t work; Téchiné’s quick, glancing approach is off a beat). Infuriated, Damien lashes back on the car ride home: “You’re more his type anyway.” Thomas is unprepared though for another confession. “I don’t know if I’m into guys or into you,” Damien says without affect, thus all the more shattering.

Attentive to the painful ritual of clandestine peeking, aware of the thin line between sadism and suppressed homosexual attraction, Being 17 isn’t a gay film so much as a queer one—in both the contemporary and classic sense of the adjective. It’s queer that the white Marianne would feel a shiver in the bones around the mixed race Thomas. It’s queer that the white kid—a child of privilege—with the Bowie posters on his bedroom wall would fetishize the farmhand of color. The singularity of Téchiné’s approach is to delineate the contours of a relationship but suggest the rest. Parsing every filigree but eschewing motivation has sometimes produced baffling pictures. A worthwhile aesthetic, nevertheless. Psychology matters less than behavior. It’s possible that Damien means what he says: he doesn’t know if he’s gay but he sure loves Thomas (his character doesn’t scan this way though; call it adolescent delusion). Thomas’ attraction to Damien may be as much situational as the frisson between him and Marianne. To be queer is to be aware of possibilities and, animated by the thought of transgressing, seizing them.

In its last half hour Being 17 does. While many plot threads get tied the film’s conclusion is as open-ended as Wild Reeds—and it ends with another beautifully executed whirling camera. I won’t reveal what happens to Thomas and Damien; the denouement may strain plausibility too, an exemplar of what A.O. Scott called in his review of 1998’s Alice et Martin “an excess of curiosity about the world it depicts — a surfeit of generosity, intelligence and art.” There are worse accusations. Being 17 is a film in love with characters, played by actors comfortable in their sets and with each other, interacting in a natural world; it’s a film that, thanks to Julien Hirsch’s camerawork, is in love with air, animals, and water (an important secondary character in Téchiné films like The Witnesses and Wild Reeds). Why did you trip me, Damien asks when the hostility ebbs. “I thought you were pretentious,” Thomas explains. Applause, please, for co-writer Céline Sciamma, whose own Girlhood last year limned similar charged moments. The shifting-sands texture of Being 17 reflects the muddle of youth better than any film I’ve seen in years. It’s one of 2016’s best.

Trump and LGBT voters

Like Asian Americans, gays would seem a constituency that would lean Republican because, so the thinking goes, we’re rich, like nice things, and don’t want to pay taxes. The reality is complicated. Most studies don’t include ethnic breakdowns of gay respondents of surveys; the result is, guess what, the respondents tend to be white college-educated men.

Besides, most LGBT men and women will not support a party that for decades refused to endorse work discrimination bills, marriage rights, and AIDS research. I don’t know what is so complicated. To placate the evangelical vote without whom no Republican can win, Trump chose as his running mate the governor who signed a bill allowing proprietors to keep men with lisps who mince out of their businesses. None of this matters to what this Out article calls a minority of a minority. And, boy, are they sad.

Charles Moran, a Trump delegate at the Republican National Convention, admits that it’s sometimes difficult to understand what Trump actually believes, but he also thinks the vitriol targeted at queer Republicans who support the nominee has gotten excessive.

“The righteous indignation basically slut-shames people for supporting Trump,” Moran says of the reaction from some liberals. Tall and thick with blond hair and a deep, enunciated voice, Moran is a longtime Republican fundraiser and event planner. We met at a coffee shop in Los Feliz, a liberal neighborhood east of Hollywood.

Moran’s gay friends have learned over the years to overlook his contrarian views, but some, he says, have come on board for Trump. One couple he knows well—white, upper-middle-class, “new landowners”—recently told Moran that they were supporting Trump because they can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton. Moran feels that “[Trump’s] level of authenticity is what’s driving people to him.”

“He’s a successful person. I feel he possesses the character and personality traits that will make a strong president… He didn’t walk in and make a certain set of promises, and then not keep them,” Moran says.

As stupid and deluded as Moran is about “strength” and keeping promises, the use of “slut shaming” in this context should embarrass anyone over the age when Mom prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for school. Donald Trump’s saying nice things about gays is as meaningful as the selfie with the taco bowl. I expect him to say, “Gay people? They’re great. Tremendous people. Some of these guys — have you seen them? Beautiful guys. Beautiful. If I swung that way, I’d hit on them.” It occurred to none of these people that after the Pulse shooting in June, Trump tried pitting the gay community against Muslims as if there were no such thing as gay Muslims. This must be the strength that Charles Moran has in mind.

The Clintons have played dirty pool when it comes to LGBT matters too, most recently when the triangulating Hillary, always on the hunt for new votes, said twaddle about Nancy Reagan and AIDS. But it’s 2016, and LGBT activists don’t need Michaelangelo Signoriles anymore to get a Democratic candidate’s ear

Against Me! look for some measure of peace

Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me

I know Shape Shift With Me is a singer-songwriter record because the vocals are mixed so that we notice how smart the words are. But lots of singer-songwriter records sound good – too good in many cases. Back when Butch Vig interfered with Against Me! he treated them like a noise-rock act with Sugar in their veins; now Laura Jane Grace and Marc Hudson treat the band like Bob Mould did the nobodies in his post-1994 solo records (the ones on which he didn’t play everything, that is); they treat them, to rewrite one of her new tunes, like some fucking band.

Nevertheless, about half of Against Me!’s seventh album crunches and roars and in places offends like I’m used to. The more original the songs, the more gleeful their purloining of images, lines, and slick tricks from generations of mopes, losers, and misanthropes. “Shallow graves of all dead rarts/I like dark clouds the best,” Laura Jane sings in “Dead Rats,” nodding to ancient Smiths over a mothballed sub-Slayer riff. In “Crash” the hook goes “Another crash. Landing,” like that, with the music stopping in its tracks; meanwhile, the character in the song promises to stay in “your” orbit a while like Harry Nilsson’s spaceman going round and around and around. But Laura Jane is most compelling when she’s burning not yearning. Often the situation’s unpleasant, as when he wants to grab the title character in “Rebecca” by the skull and kiss her (how romantic!). “Norse Truth,” the album’s manifesto, settles into a declamatory mode that a David Johansen or Corin Tucker would recognize except Laura Jane can’t be said to have a light touch: “Tits out for the boys/Hard cocks/hard cunts/line’em up.” As Laura Jane yells, “I wanted you to be more real than all the others,” the arrangement gathers her up, spins around, consuming itself. A meager diet, though. The guitars aren’t loud enough, the rhythm section not interesting enough. This explains why I’m quoting lyrics oftener than is my wont.

Testing the limits of her new identity, Laura Jane is searching for chords and arrangement commensurate with the tumult of the last few years. A song called “Boyfriend” relies on non-diegetic recognition for an otherwise familiar story that Billie Joe Armstrong could have sung during his basket case days/daze. But after 2005’s Searching for a Former Clarity kicked off a helluva streak the muffled, tentative Shape Shift With Me can’t help but disappoint me. Obviously I wish she finds the peace she deserves; finding peace comes before recording albums. She can wipe her ass with what we think of them anyway: “C’mon shape shift with me/What have you got to lose?” she asks in “Norse Truth” but adds, “Ah, fuck it.”

The pain in the ass of being pure at heart: Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean – Blonde

He’s one of the good guys. Since 2012 he’s been trying to write music commensurate with the urgency and force of his Notepad confession, only to discover that being semi famous means the audience views the art through the lens of the biography as if Frank Ocean were patron Sean Carter. This phenomenon can have an anesthetizing effect: songs with undeveloped melodies get a pass, mediocre singing confused with honesty. On his second official release in two days, Frank Ocean shows little interest in connecting. Because days are weeks in the internet hypercycle, listeners should have had a chance by now to form an opinion: Facebook needs you, folks.

“Less morose, more present,” he sings, intentions muddled, on one of Blonde‘s least memorable tracks – supplication or erroneous statement of fact? At its best Blonde exploits our unease if not boredom. Over swelling backing vocals and the tinkle of a piano, Ocean commemorates a love so devastating that it hollowed out life: “It’s all downhill from here.” Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do is Blonde‘s unspoken message. Not so far from the decades of fiction and Hollywood film in which homosexual love ended badly. The first two thirds of opener “Nike” shows an Ocean electronically distorted to sound like an ages-dead blues crooner summoned with a ouija board to testify about the wages of greed. From Robert Johnson to PJ Harvey those who summon the blues regard the form as prayer while still reveling in the sin — or at least the memory of sin. Ocean’s one of the few practitioners who eschews pleasure; it’s possible that’s why he leaves me unmoved (2011’s Nostalgia, Ultra had a song called “There Will Be Tears”).

With cases like Blonde I’ve found “Hamlet and Its Critics” a lodestar. Obsolete for decades and quietly renounced by the author himself (in 2016 we would call it expert trolling), T.S. Eliot’s essay lambasts Shakespeare’s most famous play for never finding the object that corresponds to the emotion expressed in the text. “We must simply admit that here Shakespeare tackled a problem which proved too much for him,” Eliot wrote. “Why he attempted it at all is an insoluble puzzle; under compulsion of what experience he attempted to express the inexpressibly horrible, we cannot ever know.” To expose his material to sunshine he employs the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Andre 3000, but, in a stroke of singer-songwriter control, subsumes them. The result is a midtempo crawl beholden to a private argot of heartbreak. “Maybe I’m a fool.” “Two kids in a swimmin’ pool.” “I don’t relate to my peers.” These phrases and clauses come from “Siegfried.” By themselves they have an Imagistic resonance; stuck in a sequence of unforgiving woe, the track dissolves.

An avatar who’s helped thousands of young men accept the questioning of their sexuality, Ocean is still testing the volatility of his own aesthetic mixture. An affinity for the genteel yawp of Bon Iver and the skeletal confessions of Waxahatchee doesn’t make him college rock, though; Ann Powers and Jason King have posited Meshell Ndegeocello as a influence, and I hear it. Without knowing a scrap about his life, I’d say on the evidence that Ocean hasn’t yet made the inevitable transition from the heartache of unrequited same sex love to checking out guys’ asses and abs. Based on the evidence of the music, pleasure itself arouses his suspicions; it could be that suspicion is an arousal. He knows the dark without knowing the possibilities of what you can do in the dark. To be one acquainted with the night, he should reckon with the light. When I hear the lines “showed me love/glory from above,” I assume they’re not about his beloved peeing on him – I want that kind of carnality. Maybe collaborators and samples stimulate his most inspired work. Until the next visual album, however, Blonde too often reminds me of what Eliot called Hamlet‘s biggest flaw: “We should have to understand things which [he] did not understand himself.”

For LGBT students ‘heartbreaking’ levels of violence at school

Pride-is-for-Kids-Too-LGBT-Youth-1125x635

A study completed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what many of us who are gay and/or work with LGBT students: they’ve got it bad and it has gotten worse. The NYT summarizes:

These children were three times more likely than straight students to have been raped. They skipped school far more often because they did not feel safe: at least a third had been bullied on school property. And they were twice as likely as heterosexual students to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

More than 40 percent of these students reported they had seriously considered suicide, and 29 percent had made attempts in the year before they took the survey. The percentage of those who use various illegal drugs was many times greater than heterosexual peers. While 1.3 percent of straight students said they had used heroin, for example, 6 percent of the gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported having done so.

The raw data:

Being physically forced to have sex (18% LGB vs. 5% heterosexual)
Experiencing sexual dating violence (23% LGB vs. 9% heterosexual)
Experiencing physical dating violence (18% LGB vs. 8% heterosexual)
Being bullied at school or online (at school: 34% LGB vs. 19% heterosexual; online: 28% LGB vs. 14% heterosexual)

Although the report acknowledges that “sexual contact” is vague and the surveyed were still in school, it nevertheless refutes the belief among conservatives and even complacent liberals that It Gets Better.