It's Not Just about Cupcakes: LGBT Youth Are at Real Risk

6 years ago

Rainbow CupcakeOn the one hand, I’m glad baker David Stockton of Indianapolis denied some college students rainbow-colored cupcakes for their National Coming Out Day celebration.  It gives us a clear idea of who not to give our rainbow dollars to when ordering our Big Gay Wedding cakes, for example.  I’d much prefer to know the businesses I frequent aren’t taking my money and donating it to anti-gay causes, for example.  There are plenty of gay-friendly bakeries to choose from instead.  And of course, there’s always Betty Crocker and a little food coloring.

On the other hand, it saddens me to see this kind of petty example of the obstacles our youth face in the same week that saw two young people die of self-inflicted injury when the anti-queer harassment they faced became intolerable.

Tuesday, 13-year old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, California died a week after he was found hanging from a tree in his backyard. He had attempted suicide to escape the anti-gay bullying and harassment his classmates confirmed had been ongoing for years.  Yesterday, Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi’s family confirmed that Tyler threw himself off of the George Washington bridge to his presumed death after a video of his sexual encounter with another man were posted on the Internet by his dorm roommate.

Back in Indianapolis, David Stockton said he decided not to fulfill the gay students’ cupcake order because he was concerned “about what message the rainbow confections would send to [his] two young, impressionable daughters.”

I know, it seems laughable that he fears the impression colorful cupcakes will have on his kids, but seriously, he has an excellent point.  I have two young, impressionable daughters myself, and I am a firm believer that the messages we send our children through our actions are far more impressive than anything we tell them with words.  Because of this, I have a bit of advice for David and anyone else wondering what to do if the gays ever come asking for your services:

Send your child messages -- in words and actions -- now that will prevent the kind of shame, self-loathing and fear that is the basis for the statistic that one in three youth suicide attempts stem from a young person’s concerns about his or her sexuality not being acceptable.  If your children grow up gay, remembering how you denied some fun-loving college kids cupcakes because of their sexuality, what will they assume about your feelings for them?  Contrarily, if your gay brother’s partner is invited to carve the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner every year, what will your kids assume?

The fact is that gay kids grow up in every kind of family, under every kind of circumstance, all over the world.  Your cold intolerance of difference now will not only fail to prevent your children from being gay, it might drive them from you, or even -- God forbid -- drive them to such self-loathing and fear that they hurt or destroy themselves.  But acknowledging the presence of gay people in your family’s life and treating them with hospitality and kindness might mean your children come to you, rather than giving in when the kids at school are driving them to the edge.

Related Reading on BlogHer

"All that you have is your soul." Tracy Chapman

Photo Credit: Jenna Hatfield.

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