Kermit once sang it’s not easy being green.
That was back in 1970 when the Pride Movement was just beginning. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for Kermit to do a 2K12 remix for kids, teens, and young adults in the Last Frontier.
Being gay is never easy. But on top of that add the craziness of puberty, the confusion of figuring out who you are, and the geographic isolation of living in Alaska. As a transplant from the east coast I admit that it sometimes feels like we are thousands of miles away from where all the action is happening. New York City, Washington D.C., and Seattle all have entire gay neighborhoods (or gay-borhoods as one of my friends lovingly calls them).
But the truth is that there are wonderful and welcoming communities right here in our great state. Even if you don’t live in Anchorage, Juneau, or Fairbanks, support is just a phone call or internet connection away. It Gets Better was a project started by Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller in September 2010 after yet another gay young adult committed suicide. They decided to start posting videos on YouTube telling their stories about how life gets better as you grow up.
And it is getting better. As isolated as we may feel sometimes there are many more resources out there than there used to be. The Alaska-based radio show Kids These Days has a new topic each week for families raising children in Alaska. And this past week the topic was developing sexual identity. The show features an expert talking about the psychology of coming out and Dan Savage offers his advice as well.
But the part of the show that I enjoyed the most were the personal stories told by Alaskan youth. Katleyn Lanier-Moylan talks about the bullying she experienced for being raised by two moms. Verner Wilson III speaks about his struggle growing up gay and Alaska Native in Dillingham. Mya Dale bravely shares her coming out story and how she came to realize she was a lesbian.
The best way to feel less alone in this big, wild state is to reach out to others and connect with people. The Kids These Days page has such a great list of resources that I won’t even try to summarize it here – just scroll down below the list of in-studio guests to see the links.
Or even better, get involved with Alaska Pride. Being a part of Alaska Pride will introduce you to LGBT youth just like you! You can help build the youth float, organize a youth event for Pride week, or write on the Alaska Pride Blog as a guest blogger. You can make a difference and make friends at the same time. If you want more information about getting involved contact Michael Brenner at firstname.lastname@example.org or Thomas Azzarella at email@example.com.
So the next time you feel down about being green (or gay) and think “it could be nicer being red, or yellow, or gold” (or straight), remember that green can be “big like an ocean or important like a mountain or tall like a tree”. Take a line from Kermit’s book: I am green and it’ll do fine. It’s beautiful!
How has it been for you growing up in Alaska? Are there any resources for gay teens in rural Alaska we didn’t mention?