Some years ago I was asked to see a troubled 16 year old boy who was taken to the ER by two of his female friends. The girls thought he was gay and had tried to show him some good straight sex and change his sexual orientation.
He resisted their vigorous sexual advances and panicked. One of the girls held him into the car while the other drove rapidly to the hospital.
He calmed down while talking with the ER doctor. His parents came and the ER doctor asked Mom to have him see me the next day for follow up.
Late the following afternoon Dale came to see me with his mother. Mom did not want to talk with me and left the exam room as soon as she introduced herself. I think she was worried about his sexual orientation and was in denial, as was his dad who didn’t attend.
His story of the assault was not pretty; but he told me the whole sordid story and explained he did not want to have sex with those two girls, they were not his kind. He informed me he was not gay, but his lack of sincerity was palpable.
During our time together we talked about many things including life, sex, depression, self-inflicted injury, and suicide and what he thought about people who were gay, depressed, cut themselves, or committed suicide. He seemed relaxed talking about these issues and well versed in them. I was comfortable that he was not in danger of hurting himself, most probably was gay, and wasn’t ready to come out.
I concluded our conversation by saying, “ One more thing before you go, promise me that if you have any problems related to being happy with your life or your sexuality you’ll come back to see me. Also promise that you’ll never hurt yourself on purpose or attempt to ‘off’ yourself without coming to see me first. Can you do that?”
“Good, take this paper and pen and write down those promises, sign, and date it. Then I’ll write, ‘If you call me, I’ll see you and help you with whatever problem you have’.”
We completed the paper work, placed our signatures on the bottom, and shook hands. “Deal?” I asked.
“Deal!” He exclaimed with a big smile.
Mom came back into the room. I told her Dale had shared the entire story and I thought he would be fine. I also told her about the contract and gave each of them a copy.
Although she feigned relief, I felt she didn’t know much about LGBTQ sexual orientation and didn’t want to learn. She surely didn’t want to stay and talk about anything. I knew she needed help, but felt she would be more receptive at a later time.
I gave them each one of my cards, bid them good bye, and asked them to call me in a couple of weeks, or before, if they needed me.
I did not see them again, but contrary to what I had told Dale, I did worry about him because neither he nor his parents had called. I fully expected they would. There were a lot of things they needed to know about medical care of gay adolescents and about parenting them. I was pleased to run into Dale in a restaurant a year or so later. He was in a booth talking with two boys his age.
“Hi Doctor,” he began. “These are my friends, Thomas and James.” He turned to them and continued, “He’s my doctor, but I haven’t had to go see him for a long time.” He turned back to me and said, “I still have your card, and I’m doing well, great, actually.”
I asked about his folks; he assured me they were doing great, too.
It was clear that he had come out of the closet and was happy.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this boy and others like him since then, and have read extensively about “Sexual minority youth”. I want to take a few minutes to express my thoughts.
Let’s set the record straight: no one chooses to be gay or straight!
Since the turn of the century, gay, lesbian, and other minority youth have been “coming out” at unprecedented rates. Scientists do not completely understand the neurology of sex, but suffice it to say that the part of the human brain that determines sexual orientation differs in males, females, homosexuals, and other sexual minority men and women. The differences define what type of stimulus will produce sexual arousal and lead to sexual satisfaction for that individual.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Although most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are quite resilient and emerge from adolescence as healthy adults, the effects of homophobia and heterosexism can contribute to increased mental health issues for sexual minority youth. LGBTQ adolescents, in comparison with heterosexual adolescents, have higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation, higher rates of substance abuse, and more risky sexual behaviors.”
To discriminate against a person because of their innate physiology, over which they have no control, is as totally wrong as discrimination against bald men, women with big feet, or anyone with a different skin color.
Many churches teach that homosexual activity is “against nature”, and therefore against their beliefs and wrong. Some hold that sex between same sex partners is no different than sex between unmarried heterosexuals; to them, both types are morally wrong. That may or may not be your belief, and civil recognition of same-sex marriage is not likely to change church beliefs. The important thing to keep in mind is that while individuals of any gender or orientation do not choose that orientation, they can choose to be, or not to be, sexually active. I repeat, no one can choose to be gay or straight. It’s in their intrinsic make-up, and to date, no scientist, moralist, or any other person has discovered a method of changing one’s orientation.
Sadly, violence against sexual minority youth is a serious problem. In 2011, the FBI reported 7,713 victims of hate crimes. An analysis of data for victims of single-bias hate crime incidents showed that:
- 47.4 percent of the victims were targeted because of the offender’s bias against a race.
- 20.4 percent were targeted because of a bias against a particular sexual orientation.
- 19.2 percent were victimized because of a bias against a religious belief.
- 12.2 percent were victimized because of a bias against an ethnicity/national origin.
- 0.8 percent were targeted because of a bias against a disability.
Perhaps the media are going overboard to make these sexually minorities accepted in schools, industry, and on main street, but we must consider them as loved by God, and treat them like we treat our other friends, and like we want to be treated. Let’s just stop the discrimination!
Having said all that, there are some medical issues important to LGBTQ youth. Statistics tell us that men who have sex with other men generally have more sexual partners, more high risk behaviors, and more sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, sexual minority youth are at increased risk for homelessness, substance abuse, anxiety disorder, depression, and suicide.
I never saw Dale again and continue to think about him wondering if I should have called to check on him. I relieved my conscience by knowing he had my card and could call if he needed me. Perhaps as the social stigma against alternative sexual orientation fades, LGBTQ people will be more willing to seek medical care and these medical problems can be treated earlier or prevented.