Yesterday, TCM ran Night and Day, the biopic of Cole Porter. In it Cary Grant plays the famed songwriter/composer Cole Porter and Alexis Smith plays his loving wife. Apart from whatever merits or lack of them that this movie possessed, it’s a great example of how gay people are robbed of their history. Cole Porter was gay but this is never shown; instead you see a heterosexual male deeply in love with his wife. It’s a good example of how the media—at least in the 40’s but into the 21st century as well, contributed (along with political, religious, and social institutions) to deny gay people a legitimacy, a presence, a history.
Also yesterday, the New York Times ran an article on “Helping a Child to Come Out” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/fashion/helping-a-gay-child-to-come-out.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), perhaps an indication of how much society has progressed, perhaps an indication of how little society has changed.
Among the interesting things pointed out in the article are these:
1. Gay teens have higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. Helen Kahn, the director of the Family Project of the Human Rights Campaign, attributes this to the stress of being different, of being stigmatized and the problems that come with reactions from “friends” and family.
2. Despite the attendant difficulties of coming out, one survey found that closeted gay children had an even harder time than those who did come out. Those who came out were significantly happier than those who remained in the closet.
3. Parents need to listen to their children—often between the lines—so that they can help the child come out in his or her own time. Parents also need to show that their love is unconditional, that the home is a safe place where the child can discuss anything.