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Rob Watson

Views & Voices

Did you hear the one about the homophobes who wanted to adopt out their lesbian daughter?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jokes are supposed to be funny.

They always start with a set up and then build to a crescendo where the plot twists and the listener bursts out laughing. Last week a “joke” went viral, but no one was left laughing.

The “joke” was an article titled, “Parents put 16-year-old daughter up for adoption after learning she is gay.”

It came from a site called “The Memoirs of DEACON Tyson Bowers III”, and had previous iterations on the Daily Bleach and Christwire.

The site it came from had other “credible” material such as “Kentucky man sues mother for not aborting him,” “Dangers of Pride Week, “Study: Lesbians more likely to eat fish,” “African American scientist invents synthetic watermelon,” and “Gays building secret penile shaped resort island.”

The piece was written as humor…satire… but none of the 72,000 who shared it took it that way. They believed it to be real.

Who could blame them? The article described the mindset of a homophobic couple from “Southern Carolina” who upon learning their daughter was “gay,” sought to put her up for adoption. Those who believed the story did so because even though it was fake, the mindset itself is painfully and horrifically real.

The story sped through Facebook and pages posted it, in most cases temporarily, only to take it down again with the apology that they had fallen for the hoax.

The most heart wrenching thing to observe were the sweet souls who were willing to step up to help. Numerous people sought more information because they actively were looking to adopt the abandoned teen in question.

Here is some news for them, and for those of you who cared about the 16-year-old girl in the fake story: She exists.

The story was bogus, the situation was a lie, but she is the truth. She is 16 and 15 and 14. She is male, she is female and she is transgender. Her parents did not try to adopt her out… they simply kicked her out, and slammed the door behind her.

“She” is our homeless LGBT youth.

She not only exists, she makes up to 40% of the total of all homeless teens, even though LGBT teens make up only 3 percent of the total population.

Writer Cathy Kristofferson researched and wrote an important piece in which she paints an accurate and urgent portrait of the LGBT homeless teen.

Of the disproportionate rate she states, “Simple. Youth who come out to their parents are rejected by those parents at a rate of 50%, with 26% immediately thrown out of the house to become instantly homeless and many following soon after as a result of the physical and verbal abuse that ensues after their declaration.”

Empowered by the gains in equality and acceptance with the heightened visibility the adult gay community has welcomed of late, youth are emboldened to come out at ever-younger ages while still reliant on parents who are a flip of the coin away from rejecting them.

Simple factors of 4 tell the story of parental rejection and its effect on queer youth homelessness:

  • 2 out of 4 will be rejected by their parents when they come out;
  • 1 out of 4 will be kicked out by their parents when they come out;
  • 3 out of 4 homeless queer youth will say parent objections to their orientation led to their homelessness.

Youth homelessness is bad enough on its own but being queer further compounds the difficulties. Devastating statistics like 62% of queer homeless youth attempt suicide only begin to tell the story of the additional hardship endured when compared with their heterosexual counterparts.

Queer youth experiencing homelessness are:

  • 3 times more likely to commit suicide, and 8 times more likely due to parental rejection;
  • 3 times more likely to turn to prostitution and survival sex;
  • 6 times higher incidents of mental health and substance abuse issues;
  • 7 times more likely to experience sexual violence at a much higher risk of victimization by rape, robbery and assault.

So, yes. There was an article passed around the other day, and thousands were rightly outraged and cared.

The article was a fraud, bur your feelings and mine were not. We need to not focus on the tomfoolery of the internet and focus instead on the WHY, the reason behind our feelings.

The WHY is that there are real kids out there that need not only our indignation, but our action.

Last Christmas, I suggested reaching out to them in the spirit of the season. Now I am suggesting it in the spirit of what is right.

If you wanted to adopt the 16-year-old in the story, find the real her and adopt her. If you wanted to send money, start a program, get involved, please do it. If you felt passion around it, please channel that passion into action.

If we don’t, then the unreal story becomes real. It becomes an allegory for the progressive community who chose to adopt out its youth in need. We are better than that.

Let’s not have the next viral story be ours.

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29 more reader comments:

  1. not even funny

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:30pm
  2. Disgusting.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:31pm
  3. Well it did bring the serious issue to peoples attention…even if it was a fake story. Now more people are angry about the injustice occurring to Queer teens all over the nation (and the rest of the world too).

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:33pm
  4. Great article.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:34pm
  5. Agreed. I want to read the article. The follow up almost had me in tears.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:35pm
  6. I think the point is missed here.

    The truth is, people really DO throw their kids out all the time. This bit of satire brought a lot of awareness to that issue, no?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:40pm
  7. I would not call them parents!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:42pm
  8. I’m not understanding the article at all. I’m not sure if it’s saying that this is real or fake or if it’s a joke or if this really happened. The only part that I do understand is the heading and I don’t like what I’m reading. Please help me to understand the article better.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:42pm
  9. author is saying that while the original article was intended as a joke, the issue of homeless lgbt youth is not.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:49pm
  10. Why are people mad at the authors of the article or the website it was on? That’s what satire does, it opens our eyes to what’s really going on, sometimes through being parabolic and/or humorous, but sometimes simply through giving an example of what’s really going on out there. Like the old saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger (especially when said messenger is bringing a serious issue to light).

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:49pm
  11. I hate to say it, but I actually believed it. But it did get some people’s attention. And it’s a sad thing that keeps repeating itself. Peace.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:49pm
  12. So sad!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:50pm
  13. you should read the article. the point is NOT missed, that is exactly the point the author is making.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:51pm
  14. @ Rose: Basically it’s saying that while the story about the 16 year old girl getting abandoned after coming out was a fake story, it happens every day to a large amount of our youth, and that it’s not a joke.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:59pm
  15. For those still not getting it: Christwire, Tyson Bowers, et al are satirists. Satire is a kind of humor meant to draw attention to a social or political issue using jokes or outrageous elements, such as Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” in which he suggests that poor Irish sell their children to be eaten by rich people.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:00pm
  16. fantastic article, very well written.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:05pm
  17. So they “protect” a fetus from abortion, they “adopt” a child to raise. They “fight” for the right to life. Yet they “dump” a child when he/she is gay. What happened to that protection of life and adoption?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:07pm
  18. That was painfully deep.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:08pm
  19. Thank you for helping me understand this better. That breaks my heart that parents would do that to their child. Parents who do that to their child don’t deserve to be parents at all.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:08pm
  20. What an abomination to parenthood & love!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:11pm
  21. Disgraceful !!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:41pm
  22. If you would throw out your child because they are gay you dont love your child in the first place.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 4:20pm
  23. ITA A HOAX

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 9:38pm
  24. I hope the daughter sues for emmancipation and then sues her parents for child support.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:31pm
  25. This is a joke. The article states that this was a joke made by a news publisher. Although the joke had good intent, for it states that the girl in question is supposed to represent the LGBT youth that are rejected by their parents. I have been lucky enough to have parents that don’t care about my orientation.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:46pm
  26. Read the article, please.

    Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:11am
  27. You can help abandoned LGBTQ kids:

    Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:12am
  28. 40% of homeless children some as young as 9 or 10 are LGBT youth and they are homeless because they came out to parents who are supposed to love unconditionally

    Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:12am
  29. Great article and sentiment Rob. I dont think most, even in our community are aware of these staggering numbers. Sad!

    Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:14am