“Dying for Acceptance” Article

This is [most of] an article from Psychology Today, written by John G. Taylor. It was posted in 2013, but concerns issues we’re absolutely still facing today.

See the full article HERE.

“Dying for Acceptance: Suicide Rates in the LGBTQ Community

When disclosing the truth of your reality exposes the harshness of others.

Often times in our lives we find ourselves wondering: “Who am I and what would happen if people knew the real me? Would they leave me, stop being my friend, or would they embrace me and accept me as I am?” These are the million-dollar questions that are plaguing the lives of so many people in America, and even across the world, today. The reality is that people may not accept you. So do you hide yourself. Do you commit suicide, run away from home, turn to drugs and alcohol to cope? Or do you say I don’t care it’s my life and I’m going to live my best life.

Source:

As a therapist, these thoughts represent many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adults that I have counseled as well as those that are living in our communities. I decided to write this article because of the alarming rate of suicide among LGBTQ youth and adults—all because they aren’t being accepted for who they are. This topic is considered by some as controversial and negative. It’s pressing up against the definition of marriage, it’s finding itself wrestled in our politics, and it has made its presence known in our legal system and our military. There is also a group of people that feels it shouldn’t be discussed, that we should just ignore it. These conversations happen every day in our churches, communities, homes, political arenas, and schools.

But the reality is that there are LGBTQ youth and adults filling up our schools, teaching our children, playing on our favorite football or basketball teams, providing security for our cities, serving our food, and cutting our hair. The fact is that the LGBTQ community is everywhere.

I’ve heard story after story from parents about the difficulty of understanding that a son or daughter is gay or lesbian. In equal numbers, I’ve also heard from youth and adults about their difficulty in disclosing their sexual orientation to their parents and friends because they fear being ridiculed, abandoned, judged, hated and isolated. This difficulty has led many to take their own lives. The statistics are:

● 5,000 LGBTQ youth now take their lives each year with the number believed to be significantly higher if deliberate auto accidents and other precipitated events are counted.

● 500,000 LGBTQ youth attempt suicide every year.

● Homosexual and bisexual junior high and high school boys are seven times more likely than heterosexual boys to report suicide attempts.

● Lesbians are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than heterosexual women.

● A majority of the suicide attempts by homosexuals take place at age 20 or younger with nearly one-third occurring before age 17.

● Gay male, lesbian, and transsexual youth make up about 25 percent of the homeless living on the streets in this country.

The LGBTQ youth and adults often talk about the judgment, hatred, insults, negative comments, and violence that are part of their daily lives. This daily abuse may result in youth and adults experiencing mental health problems such as: depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), agoraphobia (fear of being outside of the home), dissociative disorder, eating disorderspersonality disorderssleep disorders and adjustment disorders. Some also experience drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, and self hatred.

There have been many horrific stories in the media about LGBTQ youth and adults who commit suicide because they were being harassed. In New York: A 26-year-olde black youth took his own life and wrote on his Facebook page the day he committed suicide: “I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called social mainstream”.

Another story is Tyler Clementi’s, a student from Rutgers University who jumped off a bridge after being videotaped by his roommate while having a sexual encounter with a man. And there are more stories such as that of a 13-year-old student who shot himself in the head after being teased and harassed at school.

I recount these stories to show that these were real people that had real lives and because they were not accepted or feared being rejected, they decided to end their lives.”

Trans Actors

It’s a bit tricky to plan a multi-season TV show which includes a cast of children who are not supposed to age…

However, I have an easy solution (which was actually my first choice anyhow). I had always imagined adults playing Peter, John, Wendy and the lost boys.

The story itself is not meant to be taken literally, so age doesn’t need to be taken literally either. It doesn’t hurt that every one of the principal ‘child’ characters has gone through tough experiences which in many ways forced them to grow up mentally, if not physically.

But how to not confuse everyone watching it? Have a consistent difference in height and build between the ‘adults’ and ‘children’ on the island. Peter is almost always portrayed by a woman in stage plays, because they tend to have smaller frames.

 

So…which men tend to be shorter, with smaller builds? Trans men.

Now, before you yell at me, I’m aware that not all trans men or short or skinny. Not at all. And when I first had this idea it worried me that it might be weird to cast trans men as children. Would it send a message that we were infantile or somehow not ‘real’ men? That is in NO WAY what I want. Trans men are men. As a trans man myself, I’m very aware of this fact.

I was not at all surprised to discover that trans actors are few and far between. And I would conjecture that short trans men who are trying to break into acting don’t have too many opportunities to play leading men. So obviously, any and all trans actors would be welcome to try out for any role, but I thought that Peter and the lost boys would be a perfect opportunity to put a call out SPECIFICALLY for trans actors to come and audition.

Let’s actively CREATE rolls for trans men and women, instead of having an occasional movie about the struggles of being transgender, where the lead is played by a cis actor.

I would personally love to play a lost boy…

…except I absolutely hate being in front of a camera. So never mind.

“Hook’s Mother”

Lately I’ve been working on Episode Two of The Gay Adventures. Hook has just come face-to-face with Wendy, and although she’s roughly 30 years younger than him, she is the first “female” he’s seen in two hundred years, and he immediately projects all his ideas of Mother onto her

Unable to return to or even fully remember his real mother, Hook is desperate to get Wendy to fill the void his real mother never filled.

This episode is not only inspired by text from the book Peter & Wendy, but also my research into JM Barrie’s own past, and his eternal quest to get love from his mother which she never quite gave him.

[note: within the script I’ve capitalized the word ‘mother’ every time, since it’s representing the IDEA of Mother, rather than a specific person.]

Check out the first few scenes here [which includes excerpts from Barrie’s writing]:

“Hook’s Mother” – beginning of episode

 

EXT. NEVERLAND JUNGLE – DAY

In the spirit of transparency, I’m posting my latest draft of Act One of the Pilot of The Gay Adventures. 

Go to the Pilot Episode page, or click here to read it: Pilot – The Gay Adventures (Act One)

I know it’s not perfect, but I had a lot of fun writing it. If you’re familiar with the book, look out for bits n’ pieces from that! I hope I didn’t disrespect the ghost of JM Barrie by trying to emulate his style. Please forgive me, James.

Complete Honesty!!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t know what I’m doing. Now I’m going to get a little more real:

I’m a huge introvert, and part of that means that it’s really hard for me to post things online, especially something which seems self-serving (like promoting a TV project). I’m afraid that everyone will hate me and think my writing is terrible, and believe it or not, that doesn’t sound appealing.

So why do I have a website? Well, because I really love writing, I really, really love this project, and I really want to make something happen with this if at all possible. But I’m still learning how.

So here’s what I’m planning to do: Share my writing process and what I’m working on BEFORE IT’S PERFECT. I guess that’s necessary, because nothing is ever perfect. But I want so badly to be perfect, (not unlike Captain Hook).

Long story short, I won’t ever feel like what I do is good enough, so I might as well share my “shitty first drafts,” and even my shitty second drafts!

I want to invite you into my process, rather than focus on product. It may be slow going, because it’s not really in my nature to post what feels very private. But it’s also really important to me to share, because I do want to make something of this, and at the moment I feel very isolated.

I’m trying to find a community of writers, as well as connect more with the queer community, and—of course—queer writers.

With that in mind, here’s something I’ve been working on:

As a queer person, it’s not unusual to have struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts. I certainly have. Because of that, I have what I like to call an “intimate relationship” with Death. We’re on speaking terms. A first-name basis.  We sometimes meet for tea and scones. Conversing with Death

I’ve always thought that death is something not to be afraid of, but to be curious about. Death is a very curious thing, and something we will never understand fully.

To make sure I’m not confusing anyone, within The Gay Adventures, Neverland is a type of purgatory, full of queer people who have murdered or committed suicide.

I know, I know…it sounds cliché. Ever since Lost, it’s been a big trend to have the super-mega-twist be “And they were dead the whole time!” It’s become so common that it’s not surprising anymore. Parks & Rec could very well have ended that way.

But for the story I want to tell, and how I want to tell it, it actually makes sense for them to have been dead the whole time. So I’m not going to change that plot point. I will, however, change HOW the story is told.

First off, it’s a comedy instead of a drama. A comedy which takes death seriously, but doesn’t take humans too seriously.

Second, within the first few episodes the audience will probably pick up on the fact that they’re dead. It’s never going to be a secret (or “What a twist!”). What will make the show interesting to watch is the character arcs and relationships, as well as the unique perspective of observing the behavior of someone you know is dead, but who himself is unaware of that fact.

One of the topics that fascinates me within the show is: what happens when the characters inevitably suspect and later realize they’re dead? How did they react? What do they do? How do their priorities change? Does it immobilize or motivate them?

This, of course, got me thinking about what might do if I suddenly noticed I was dead.

I started writing an intimate scene between Hook and Smee, after they know they’re dead. I don’t mean intimate in a romantic or sexual way, I mean intimate in an emotionally exposed way. What’s more intimate than being honest with someone, especially concerning the things you fear? And no one’s better at being afraid than Captain Hook.

A scene like this would not happen until much later in the series:

EXT. PIRATE SHIP DECK – DAY

The sun sets on the horizon. Hook stands, straight-backed, watching the sun disappear. Smee approaches, and stands by his side.

HOOK: I’m afraid, Smee.

SMEE: Afraid of what, Captain?

HOOK: And if there’s nothing? Nothing at all?

SMEE: What do you mean, Captain?

HOOK: After this? Suppose we just go to sleep and then…nothing? Only darkness.

Smee comes to Hook and puts a hand on his shoulder. Hook doesn’t move away.

SMEE: I don’t think it’ll be so bad, Captain. Look what you got the first time.

HOOK: What did I get, Smee?

SMEE: Sandy beaches! Beautiful sunsets! (then) Me.

HOOK: No, Smee. I got mildew. Pythons. Just more uncertainty.

SMEE: Think of it this way, Captain: if what comes to you after your after-death is nothing, there will be no more uncertainty.

Brief silence.

HOOK: No more uncertainty…

***

Within the series, I’m not, nor will I ever be trying to provide answers. What I will be supplying are questions and wonderings, because I have a lot of those.

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Why I Don’t Identify with “Gay” TV

This is a personal thing. I’m most definitely NOT trying to say that all TV made by queer people for queer people is the same, or that it’s not good or not worth watching.

I’m really glad it’s out there.

But you know how sometimes one extreme leads to another? I think queer people feeling the need to HIDE who they were from society for so long made our TV shows into a kind of one-trick-unicorn.

At the moment, it seems like Queer TV can–for the most part–be broken up into two categories:

  1. Over-the-top reality shows (contests, drag race, hunky hunks, etc.)
  2. Ensemble casts in the big city having-lots-o’-sex and dancing at night clubs

I don’t happen to identify with either of those types of shows. I’m sorry to say it, but glitter gets everywhere. And one of my favorite colors is gray.

drag-race-2017-billboard-1500

I’m not really interested in sex, and would much rather spend the night in, reading a book, rather than going to a club. As a not-very-sexual (or romantic) person, I find myself thinking “Isn’t there anything else in the world we could focus on right now?” There’s more to the queer experience than relationship drama.

Isn’t there?

All I’m saying is that I wish queer TV embraced variance among queer people a bit more. We’re not all the same. Shocker.

My whole life I’ve felt like an outcast both with the popular kids and the outcasts. And that’s still true. That’s why I want to make a show for us betwixt-and-betweeners.

I didn’t fit before and I don’t fit now, and I’ll probably never fit.

I’ve always wanted desperately to make the kind of media I want to see. And what I’m most fascinated by is the human experience as a whole.

I want to write about the experiences we humans have which make us feel the most alone, yet which are arguably the most universal:

Why does no one love me?

Why do people seem to like me better when I don’t act like myself?

Why is every single person in the world happier and more successful than me?

Why do I feel so alone?

What is the meaning of it all?

As I’m writing these down, I’m realizing you need to have a certain amount of luxury to worry about these things. I’ll definitely take that into consideration.

I also realized that I might be trying to make entertainment for the introspective. The overly-introspective. The introspective-to-a-fault types. Which is most definitely not everyone.

I love the idea of making mindless entertainment which is not mindless. You can enjoy it without thinking, but if you want to think, there’s plenty to sink your brain-teeth into.

What’s more, the highly dysfunctional characters remind you that you’re not alone. If you can learn to love and empathize with characters who are so imperfect, maybe you can empathize a little bit more with yourself.

So let’s keep being ourselves, in our many, many forms. Let’s begin to recognize that while it’s absolutely fantastic to embrace our sexuality, there’s also people out there who don’t really relate to that.

Yes, I did take time out of my usual gay agenda to complain about the overuse of hunky, shirtless men on TV.

the_hunks

I hope I’m not alone here, or the show I’m developing will have no audience whatsoever.

It’s a very tricky task to represent everybody. And there certainly are shows out there which portray a variety of queer identities and types of people, and do an amazing job with it.

But I want more…

“It’s so Ass” part II

This is a follow-up to my previous post, when I overheard a 12-or-maybe-13-year-old describe something as “so ass.”

Out of curiosity, I looked up “That’s ass” in the Urban dictionary. What I found was both beautiful and compelling:

“That’s ass: Basically meaning that’s really shit, or that isn’t good, that’s ass is terribly underused in modern day society. People who do use it, use it to express their anger or sadness for a certain event, like running out of beer.”

So I guess the boy from the coffee shop doesn’t like sports video games after all. How sad.

But not NEARLY as sad as running out of beer. That is super-mega-ass, a phrase which I will be using relentlessly from now on, until my friends move away and my family disowns me.

“It’s so Ass”

You know when an old white man tries to write a script where the protagonists are teenage girls? It’s unintentionally hilarious. And I’m now following in those footsteps.

Even when I was a teenager I never understood what people my age were talking about. I’m currently trying to write a bunch of child characters, and I want to try and capture that beautiful mixture of imagination and self-centered-ness. Unfortunately, I never spend time with kids.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now and two teenagers (I’m guessing they were 13?) sat down next to me. Just for kicks, I took off my headphones to see how they talked to each other.

I heard a lot of words I didn’t understand. Let’s face it: I’m 25 now. My glory days are over.

That’s when one of them said that sports were cool, but sport video games were “so ass.” First, I tried not to laugh, and then I thought, Wow. I have no idea if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

“So ass” could mean something is “shitty,” or it could mean, “it’s the shit.”

In conclusion, I will never be cool. Ever.

Betwixt-and-Between

JM Barrie described Peter as a “betwixt-and-between”…not quite a bird and not quite a boy.

As of yesterday, it occurred to me that this description also makes a nice gender identity.

However, I don’t subscribe to the belief that there is merely ‘male’ and ‘female’ at two extremes. So when I say betwixt-and-between, in my mind I’m seeing layers and folds and colors and a variety of dimensions. As opposed to:

2000px-complete_graph_k2-svg.png

Between doesn’t have to mean between two. Why do humans tend to view complex topics like gender, politics and morality this way? Even cats and dogs, soft and hard, red and green, should not be done the disservice of being viewed simply as “opposites.”

So celebrate your betwixt-ness with me!

220px-Houghton_Typ_905R.06.195_(A)_-_Arthur_Rackham,_Peter_Pan_-_Away_he_flew

P.S. The quote “betwixt-and-between” is not from Peter & Wendy but from The Little White Bird, the first time Peter appeared in print.

asdfsIn the book, Peter is confused why he doesn’t seem to be like the other birds. He’s an “awkward shape.” Naturally, this strikes a cord with me, having grown up feeling very  awkward in my own body and not understanding how others could have a body they felt so free in.

I think there’s a lot of power to be found in reinterpreting the classics in a way which empowers those who have been underrepresented for so long.

A lot of people complain about queer people “reading too much into” straight relationships in books, movies, and TV. I think all that means is that we’re HUNGRY. Hungry for characters who are legitimately written with our experiences in mind, not characters which we have to tilt our heads sideways and squint to say “I can see myself.”

We’re so hungry that we’re willing to ship characters played by sexist and homophobic actors just so we can pretend we have representation.

Obviously, there are queer characters on TV. Many more than there used to be. But, unfortunately, they are still betwixt-and-far-between.

 

Smee Smew

Once upon a time, when I was looking for pictures on Google Images for people who looked more or less like the characters I was seeing in my head, I simply could not find anyone who looked like Smee!

This was surprising, since my picture of him was similar to the “Smee”s I’d seen in the movies. But nothing I found felt quite right.

That’s when I stumbled upon Lars: a man who embodied Smee not only in face & beard, but in spirit:

erger

This sweet, ginger-haired man jumped into freezing Norwegian waters to save a duck which was trapped under the ice.

noruega-e1539303999523.jpgerger (2)

I asked myself, what kind of person would do that?

Well, Lars, of course, but also…Smee.

A large part of what defines Smee’s character is that he’s the type who would help others before himself, almost to a fault. It’s why he’s put up with Captain Hook’s antics for so long with a smile on his face.

And part of what draws Smee to the Captain is that Hook is, in many ways, a duck trapped under ice. The only difference is, a duck knows when it’s drowning, and Hook doesn’t.

But the similarities didn’t stop there!

On a completely separate occasion, I was looking up if the word “smee” meant anything. It wouldn’t have surprised me if JM Barrie gave him that name for a reason, and since those who arrive in Neverland don’t remember their own names, I needed that reason.

Well, I’m not sure if the one I found was the one Barrie intended, but I did discover that a ‘Smee’ or ‘Smew’ is a type of duck not dissimilar to the one Lars saved:

Smew_duck_ma

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if Smee was nameless for longer than average in Neverland (because no one cared enough to name him), until one day he saw a duck struggling in the water—trapped somehow—and jumped in fully clothed to rescue it, without a second thought?

Smee_parrot_crop

 

Then, of course, he would be named after the type of duck he saved, and keep it as a pet and let it ride on his shoulder.

 

Naturally, Hook would disapprove, since the proper pirate shoulder decoration is a parrot.

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If this isn’t classy, I don’t know what is