Recently I watched the movie Pariah in my Introduction to LGBTQQIA Studies course. The movie portrays a lesbian teen named Alike, who hides her identity from her family. Alike finds herself struggling with her religious family, her parents’ marital issues, finding her first lover, and later being rejected. Fortunately, Alike is able to get support from her friend Laura, who like Alike is a lesbian.
The movie was split into two class periods and I found myself not wanting to leave after watching the first half because I was really enjoying it. The movie has taken me somewhat on an emotional roller coaster: happy for the character for finding her first lover, angry at her companion, horrified by the mother’s actions, in tears from Alike’s writing, appreciative of her father’s attempt to make things right, and finally content that Alike is moving on with her life to do what she loves. I really enjoy movies that get me emotionally involved because it makes it a better viewing experience. It allows me to feel attached to the characters.
The movie depicted the lives of many LGBT youth, but as mentioned in my previous post, not all of them end up with a stable plan and future. One of the reasons I wanted to bring up the film is to provide information about visual content that does a great job at showing the possible various components of an LGBT youth’s life. There is the family dynamic that in this case is split into two sides, the mother and then the father and the sister. There are the friends, the lover, and even the school dynamic. The school scenes show how her writing teacher treats and interacts with her with kindness and support. There is also some of society’s views that are depicted not only through her mother’s rejection but also through the older man at the shop who starts to talk about her in a nasty tone.
Even though the movie is considered to be a drama, there is also a lot of humor, which prevents the movie from being too heavy but at the same time it still captures the seriousness. I highly recommend this movie, because it reveals a tremendous amount about what some LGBT teens go through.
Through my class I was introduced to the Rolling Stones article about homeless LGBT youth who have been kicked out by their religious parents for being who they are and coming out. The article shared a few people’s experiences about coming out to their families, living on the streets, finding shelter, and trying to get their life together on their own.
I was shocked to find out that LGBT youth made up forty percent of the homeless youth in the United States. Unfortunately, one of the biggest contributing factors to this percentage is intolerant families who side with their religious beliefs. More and more LGBT teens are coming out to their parents on whom they rely on for financial support. They risk losing that stability in return for being honest with their families and in hopes of being accepted, but a lot of the times that may that be the case. I personally grew up in a religious family with some very devoted people. Even though my family’s religion condemns homosexuality, I have never heard or seen anyone express any disapproval towards the LGBT community. As a matter of fact my family members support gay rights and the LGBT community. Religion is supposed to serve as a guide to be a better person. In my eyes, not everything in religion is meant to be followed exactly, one has to use his/her own judgement to decide what is right and what is wrong to follow.
Besides the fact that religion needs to sort out its priorities, the country needs to work on programs that provide shelter for LGBT youth. There are not many shelters with lots of housing space to begin with so a large amount of resources need to be allocated to building safe spaces for homeless LGBT youth. This is extremely important, because these young people start off the chapter of their lives as open LGBT members on the streets. They need to be surrounded by people who are accepting and supportive, ones that they will not get harassed by. It is equally essential to establish more programs that will help the homeless youth to finish their education or move on to higher education. Such programs also need to offer job training, assistance with permanent living situations, access to healthcare, and availability to speak with professionals. Without the right support, many of these people end up getting into trouble. Homeless LGBT youth should be given the opportunity to be able to make it on their own.