An Artist Photographs His Trysts With Older Men

Like many gay men searching for intimacy in the modern day, the photographer Matthew Morrocco has found his share of it online. But the glossy Adonis of the Instagram era is not his type. He prefers older fellows, some of them more than twice his age. When he was twenty, he began courting such strangers on the Internet. With their consent, he photographed the ensuing trysts. The year was 2010, and his ambition, he writes in the afterword to “Complicit,” a new collection of portraits, from Matte Editions, was to preserve the queer history that an era of marriage equality, in all its progressive promise, is making increasingly remote. Many of his companions had survived both the AIDS crisis and heights of homophobia unknown to younger generations. Their very company, he writes, was an instruction in the art of persistence.

“Complicit” presents an ethnography of men who have matured past their physical prime, perhaps, but not beyond erotic interest. Morrocco’s models sometimes appear as bashful fragments, their limp forms sunk in a sofa or snarled around a tree. More often they flaunt their undress: one strikes a come-hither pose, and another snubs the camera, as though to test its dedication. The photographer himself emerges as a spectral presence in the series, invading the frame, on occasion, to heed his subjects’ desires. He fondles the jaw of one, paws the buttocks of another. In the collection, he writes of learning from these men how to seduce, to age gracefully, to seize the past: “The education I received outweighed anything I had experienced before.”

In our current moment, which is newly vigilant against imbalances of power, Morrocco’s celebration of sex between young and old men risks inducing discomfort. But “Complicit” presents the photographer and his models in tender symbioses. In the spirit of his collection’s title, Morrocco bares as much skin as his subjects do, as if to mimic their vulnerability. In interviews, he has said that he took visual cues from the amorous languor of nineteenth-century French portraiture, but many of his images recall the complex perspective of Diego Velázquez’s “Las Meninas,” a work from an earlier era. As in the famed Spanish painting, a carefully placed mirror often unsteadies the vantage of Morrocco’s images. His camera work casts the viewer, by turn, as a participant and an interloper.

Take, for instance, a scene of the photographer lounging on a couch with a bearded man named Rod. The image includes two nested reflections. The first is from a large wall mirror that overwhelms the center of the shot, its gilt frame resting askew on the hardwood, concealing Rod’s body and Morrocco’s legs behind it. Within this reflection there appears a second, smaller mirror, located somewhere in the vicinity of the viewer, and containing the cloudy reflection of what at first appears to be a third man. Someone enticed by the intimacy of the series might find himself startled—is that me?—only to realize that it is Morrocco’s face, mysteriously displaced to shield the image of his muse.

The Biggest Myth About Gay Sex

We are all pretty obsessed with penetration. And if you were to believe pornography—something that, at this stage, we should all know is not an accurate sexual how-to guide—anal sex is the ultimate goal when two guys get together. It’s what Western culture would have you believe, too; ass-play has long been associated with gayness, and with good reason. Dating back to the ancient Greece, anal sex played a role in the expression of same-sex sexuality (albeit, with fewer varieties of lube).

The art of anal sex is the thing that, both positively and negatively, has come to represent gay men. It’s a thing that’s helped persecute us and it’s a thing that’s helped us fight back against that persecution, one fuck at a time. But anal sex isn’t about sexual orientation, as any straight guy who’s into pegging will tell you. In other words: There’s more than one way for gays to fuck.

Meghan Trainor was wrong; it’s not all about that base. That’s because the concept of first, second, and third base don’t really apply to gay men because our endgame is different. It means that leveling up the bases like you’re playing Super Mario progressing to battling Bowser and rescuing Princess Peach—i.e. penetration—isn’t how our game ends. Rather, gay sex is more like firing up your PlayStation and playing Fallout 4. For the non-gaymers in the house, I’m trying to say that gay sex is an open world. It’s not linear, and your goal should be about exploring as many side quests—whether that’s oral, mutual masturbation, spanking, or rimming—as possible before you reach the game’s conclusion.

Sex isn’t one-size fits all, and that applies to anal. Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of anal penetration, or have tried it and found that it really isn’t for them. This should be common sense, but it’s worth repeating. Additionally, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for a partner. To limit oneself to just a single flavor is to shut out a smorgasbord of new experiences.

Sure, we’re all guilty of getting caught up in the moment and forgoing preparation. But really, there’s a lot more to anal sex than just penetration. Douching and warming things up a bit are recommended for optimal pleasure, and y’all, ain’t nobody got time for that. It’s probably why, according to a 2011 study of 25,000 men who have sex with men published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, less then 40 percent of respondents reported in engaging in anal sex with their last sexual partner. In reality, we’re just not having anal sex as much as everyone thinks.

If we’re to believe the above figure (which, for the sake of argument, I am), anal sex really shouldn’t hold the importance that it does. Of course, culturally and historically, gay men have been narrowed down where the act of sex itself defines us. But really, if we minimize anal sex and place it on the same shelf as oral or masturbation, how much pressure would that alleviate? Personally, I found the guiding cultural nudge towards anal sex immensely stressful that it diminished the joyous faucets of sexual expression. For young men who are experimenting with same-sex activity, removing the pressure of reaching the summit of anal sex could be the difference of someone acting upon their desires comfortably and consensually and someone slipping into a hole they’re not that all that happy with.

Don’t get me wrong here: I’m not advocating for the end of anal. Instead, I’m attempting to myth-bust presumptions about gay sex. Being gay can be hard enough by itself without then also worrying about the pressures from within our own community to conform to some sort of standard. Use your sexuality as an opportunity to free yourself from the shackles of sexual expectations. Because if there’s one thing in this gay old life that shouldn’t be formulaic it’s sex. Now, go forth and fuck.

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The Biggest Myth About Gay Sex

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Kevin Hart Is Deleting Old Anti-Gay Tweets After Being Announced As Oscars Host

In a since-deleted tweet, Hart joked that he would break a dollhouse over his son’s head if he were caught playing with the toy.

Last updated on December 6, 2018, at 5:37 p.m. ET

Comedian Kevin Hart is cleansing his social media feed after anti-gay tweets by the performer recently resurfaced following his announcement as the next Oscars host.

“Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay,’” read a 2011 tweet that Hart deleted sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.

Benjamin Lee, an editor at the Guardian, was one of the first to point out Hart’s old tweets following the Oscars announcement. “I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets,” Lee tweeted, adding screenshots from some of Hart’s since-deleted tweets in which he said someone looked like “a gay bill board for AIDS” and called another person a “FAT FAG.”

I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets ???

Lee wrote a piece documenting Hart’s history of anti-gay sentimentNight School actor’s 2010 stand-up bit where he said, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.”Hart maintained that he wasn’t anti-gay and had “nothing against gay people,” but added that if he could prevent his son from being gay, he would.“Hiring Hart is an indicative misstep that highlights how homophobia, casual or blatant, is still de-prioritised in comparison with other discriminatory belief systems,” Lee wrote.

Representatives for Hart and the Academy did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.

Although Hart denied being anti-gay in the past, a quick search through his tweets showcases his flagrant use of the word “fag,” “homo,” and “gay.”

After seeing this @benfraserlee tweet, I did a search for every time Kevin Hart tweeted „fag,“ „homo,“ or „gay.“ It was…a lot. And he seems to have basically stopped tweeting those words after 2011 — i.e. the year his first stand-up movie became a hit.

There were also tweets were he seemingly mocks gay men, including one tweet from 2009 where the star said, “I just saw the biggest gay guy ever! This nigga looked like hulf hogan with heels on! I can’t lie I got scared!!!!!!”

The Oscars have removed celebrities from participating in the ceremony for similar transgressions, like when director Brett Ratner was forced out as producer of the 84th Academy Awards in 2011 after using the word “fags.”In a response to the Hart controversy, actor Billy Eichner said on Twitter, „What bothers me about these is you can tell its not just a joke-there’s real truth, anger & fear behind these.“Eichner added that he hopes Hart has „evolved since 2011.“

Rich Ferraro, spokesperson for GLAAD, the LGBT media monitoring group, told BuzzFeed News via email, „GLAAD reached out to ABC, The Academy and Kevin Hart’s management to discuss his rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage. They have not yet responded.“

Writer Jonah Weiner profiled Hart for Rolling Stone in 2015 and shared some of the transcribed notes from that interview on Twitter on Wednesday.“I’d never apologize for what was never intended to be disrespectful — I’d never allow the public to win for something I know wasn’t malicious,” Hart told Weiner.“I think people take things so serious — you send out a tweet, and I’m not apologizing for that,” he said.

In the piece published in Rolling Stone, Hart also defended his joke about having a gay son.

“It’s about my fear. I’m thinking about what I did as a dad, did I do something wrong, and if I did, what was it?” he said. “Not that I’m not gonna love my son or think about him any differently.”

Hart also told Rolling Stone he wouldn’t tell such a joke today because people are more “sensitive.”

“I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren’t necessarily big deals, because we can. These things become public spectacles,” he said. “So why set yourself up for failure?”

Michael Blackmon is a culture reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Kevin Hart Is Deleting Old Anti-Gay Tweets After Being Announced As Oscars Host

How to Embrace Aging as a Gay Man

We’ve all seen the viral tweet: “Gay culture is being a teenager when you’re 30 because your teenage years were not yours to live.” It’s a heartbreakingly relatable sentiment, and a wryly funny one, because it’s rooted in truth. When you’ve spent a portion of your formative years in the closet, it’s difficult to escape the feeling that you need to make up for lost time.

Doing that’s not easy. It would be unfair to suggest that gay male culture is completely focused on recapturing youth, but there’s definitely a subset of the LGBTQ community that equates being young with being sexually desirable. Open any gay hookup app and you’ll find guys looking for, or calling themselves, a “twink,” decades-old queer shorthand for a young cis man who’s probably white, probably slim, and probably has little or no body hair. It’s difficult to pinpoint when someone might lose their twink credentials—is it turning 26? Gaining weight? Growing a beard? And if he continues to date younger men as he gets older, he might become defined by another, less flattering label: “chickenhawk”—essentially the gay male version of a “cougar.”

Twinks and other young queer men don’t necessarily have it easier than the rest of us—far from it. Roo, a gay man from London who turns 30 next February, admits that he felt sucked into a collective „marketplace mentality“ for much of his twenties. „I think we put so much currency on certain facets of ourselves and other gay men when we’re that age,“ he says. „It’s all about how much sex you’re having, how many people are in your DMs, how many likes you can get on a selfie, how many followers you have.”

As he approaches his 30th, Roo says he’s happy to leave this “naive and childish” mentality behind. „My value now is in how good my mental health is, and asking myself, ‚Am I taking care of myself properly?‘ I mind my own business and try not to compare myself to other people.“

Roo’s ability to think more logically about his self-worth as he gets older is impressive. But is it achievable for everyone on the cusp of 30? I spent the last year of my twenties going out to gay clubs more than ever before—even the ones I’d previously dismissed as “basic” and “just for out-of-towners.” I had plenty of fun, but eventually burned out and began to dread waking up to yet another Uber receipt and nuclear hangover. It was only later that I realized I’d partied harder because, subconsciously at least, I thought it was my last chance to go out dancing without looking out of place—without looking “too old.”

It’s ridiculous to claim that society places greater expectations on aging gay men than other groups—look at the way women are judged if they’re still “single and childless” in their thirties. But the pressures imposed by heteronormative society can definitely affect queer people, too. „I didn’t really think much about turning 30 until maybe three months before it happened,“ says Bu, a gay man from Manchester. „Friends and family started making comments like ‚Oh, you’re getting old now—and you’re still not married.'“ Bu also felt „expectations“ from his family to have achieved certain traditional markers of professional and personal success. “ I had this realization that I hadn’t done anything of the sort, which led to anxiety and regret,” he says.

For Bu, heteronormative expectations combined with youth-centric attitudes within the LGBTQ community combined to create a toxic double whammy of panic. “As a person of color, I’m already marginalized for something I can’t control—my race and ethnicity,“ he says. „Now my age was going to be another factor reducing the pool of guys interested in me. People were calling me ‚daddy‘ and rejecting me based on my age right after telling me I looked 23.“

Looking to our queer elders can provide some comfort in aging. Martin, a gay man from Lausanne, jokes that at 46 he’s „probably ancient in gay years.“ Six months ago, he experienced something akin to a “mid-life crisis” when he and his partner separated. “I definitely felt some intense emotions about my own mortality and wondered if I would find love again,“ he says.

Over time, Martin believes he “made peace” with being single and began to “enjoy my life as it came.“ He realized that with experience comes benefits. “ I feel like my sex life has gotten better in my late forties than it was in my late thirties,” he says. “I feel more self-assured and I’ll happily go to a club and dance on my own. That inner knowledge of myself, both bad and good, means I have a quiet confidence in who I am rather than what I have or do.“

As a gay man, getting older means unpicking two intertwined strands of prevailing thinking: those imposed by heteronormative society, and those imposed by our own community. Once we do, we can fully embrace the cliché that “age ain’t nothing but a number.” And if all else fails, there’s a certain reassurance in the knowledge that Blanche from The Golden Girls was getting laid—a lot—well into her sixties. May we all be so blessed.

How to Embrace Aging as a Gay Man

Coming Out As Gay In Elementary School

Kate Reese, a 13-year-old living in Reno, Nevada, used to think there was something wrong with her.

“I began realizing I wasn’t necessarily straight when I was around 5 or 6,” Reese said. “I saw girls holding hands and thought, . Girls were just more interesting.”

Reese may have gone quite a few more years thinking that the innocent schoolyard crushes she harbored were indications of her deviance. But she was able to seek the language to describe herself, and assuage her worries, in a way older LGBT people never could — she had the internet.

“Now I understand what ‘queer’ means, because all of the information is online,” said Reese, who privately started identifying herself as queer sometime in the fourth grade. “Now I understand LGBT terms, and that it’s not a choice. I thought something was wrong with me until I saw all this research. Now I know people like me are out there.”

Kids like Kate Reese have been coming out as LGBT at increasingly younger ages. While studies in the 1970s documented LGBT people coming out, on average, in their early twenties, the latest research demonstrates that the average age has dropped to anywhere between 14 and 16. Caitlin Ryan, a Ph.D. at San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project who has been researching LGBT adolescents for over 25 years, began extensive outreach and in-depth interviews with queer youth in the early 2000’s. “We found the average age of coming out was a little over 13,” she told BuzzFeed News. “And it’s dropping down even more.”

Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, co-founders of Everyone Is Gay and co-authors of “People are coming out younger because they’re seeing themselves, finally, in mass media.”

As public favor for LGBT rights steadily grows, the number of resources for those who are queer or questioning undergoes tangential upswings.

“The information age has removed [a] barrier that prevented earlier generations of LGBT adults from figuring out who they were,” Ryan said.

On one hand, LGBT people coming out at increasingly younger ages is a testament to American culture becoming less hostile toward queer people. The forces that kept many older generations confined to the closet until college and beyond — fear of intolerance, self-loathing over unidentifiable feelings of otherness, living without exposure or access to other LGBT people — are steadily losing their power. The next generation is growing up with gay characters on their televisions, pansexual rappers on their playlists, and queer micro-communities on their Tumblr feeds.

But the change also means that there is a new generation of families scrambling to raise LGBT kids who have specific needs and challenges — kids who are growing up in a society that, while increasingly LGBT-tolerant, is still plagued by hate crimes, job discrimination, and the more banal, everyday sort of homophobia borne by casual ignorance.

“Every week, all over country, parents call me,” Ryan said. “They say, ‘My daughter is 7, 8, 9 [and they’ve just come out]. Where do we go for help?’”

She added, “There are very few places where families can go to understand what’s happening to their children.”

BuzzFeed News spoke with families and LGBT youth advocates about the brave new world of identifying as queer before puberty — what identification looks like for these kids, and what it asks of the people who raise them.

“Being gay was something I never really questioned,” said Chloe Charbonneau, a 12-year-old from Stockbridge, Massachusetts. “In preschool, I had a crush on a girl. I might have had crush on a boy in elementary school. But I always did like girls.”

Like Kate Reese, Chloe spent early childhood scared and confused about crushing on girls, especially after being called an anti-gay slur for the first time in the fourth grade. “From then on, I pretended to like boys, because I thought that [gay] was a wrong thing to be.”

Chloe stopped pretending this year. They first identified as gay, then, a few months later, also began identifying as genderless (as a result, Chloe now prefers “they” and “them” pronouns). They recently came out to their parents through a letter.

“It caught us by surprise,” said Chloe’s dad, Gregg Charbonneau. “We didn’t know this was brewing inside [Chloe].”

Amelia, a Midwestern mother of a 10-year-old boy who first began identifying as gay when he was 7, said that her son’s unabashed outness tends to startle many adults who would rather not think about children having sexual desires. (Amelia is a pseudonym; she blogs under that name to protect her young children’s identities.)

Ryan said that many adults don’t readily understand sex and gender identity in adolescents. “When they think of gay people, they think of sexually active people,” she said. “They don’t think of children. But sexual orientation is much broader than sexuality. It deals with connectedness and relatedness. It’s spiritual and social, as well as romantic and sexual.”

“We have feelings and we have experiences at super-young ages, and it’s not always about sex,” said Russo. “It’s about who we have butterflies in our stomachs for.”

Amelia, through her blog and in interactions with the adults in her gay son’s life, tries to battle this stigma. “As a society, if we can open up our idea to what gay means, we can be a lot less uncomfortable with the idea of children identifying,” she said. “It’s about how they think, and what they feel, and who makes them blush — who they want to hold hands with. We all remember feeling like that, from a very young age.”

Because many adults are taken aback at the idea of children who aren’t yet sexually active having sexual orientations, a pervasive misconception plagues LGBT kids: They simply must be too young to know for sure.

“Maybe he’s not really gay,” adults have said to Amelia about her son.

Kate hears it all the time too. “Oh, you just don’t know yet” she quoted her naysayers.

“Before this current generation of kids, children weren’t raised with gay people,” Amelia said. “They weren’t raised knowing what gay was. Having people in their lives who are married to people of their gender is all a new thing. A lot of gay adults say, ‘I knew I was gay when I was in kindergarten, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe what I was.’”

“It isn’t that kids [today] are different people earlier — it’s that they’re understanding who they are earlier,” Russo said. “Instead of the 12-year-old version of me that was like ‘I don’t know why I feel this way about my best friend, I guess I just really want her to be my best friend,’ now [queer kids] have words for that.”

Those words are now just a quick Google search away.

Chloe, like Kate Reese, searched for answers online. “Before this year,” Chloe said, “I identified 100% as a girl, and I never really questioned it very much. Over [last] summer and early this school year, certain feminine things started seeming strange for me. I got very confused for a time. [The pronouns] ‘she’ and ‘her’ started sounding weird, and made me very uncomfortable. When I came across genderless [online], it just clicked.”

Chloe explains more about both their sexual orientation and gender identity in this slam poem they wrote for seventh-grade English class.

When Kate first came out to her mother a couple of years ago, she “didn’t know exactly how to identify [herself].” Now, at 13, Kate still hasn’t settled on an identity — and that comes as no surprise to her mother, Emily Reese.

“She isn’t confused,” Emily said. “Queer makes sense.”

A couple of years ago, when she was 11, Kate cycled through the non-straight possibilities before coming out to her family — was she gay? Was she bi?

She chose, and still stands by, identifying as queer.

“I prefer not to identify as anything specific,” she said. “Queer just means I’m not straight.”

Kate is planning for potential shifts on the spectrum. She knows her parents won’t let her date until she’s 16, so she’s not sure if she’ll end up dating exclusively girls, or if people of other genders might end up in the mix. But she said she’ll be open to possibilities that come with the discoveries of growing up.

Amelia, who has three sons, feels strongly that parents shouldn’t just assume their children are straight until proven otherwise. “Considering how much more fluid the younger generation is about sexuality,” she said, “[Information about and access to queer culture] shouldn’t only be made available to gay identified children — it should be [available] to all children. There are kids and adults coming out of the closet every day.”

When parents come to Owens-Reid and Russo worrying that their child’s professed queerness might only be a phase, this is what Russo tells them: “Even if your kid has a different identity in two years, supporting them now is what’s really important.”

While more LGBT kids are coming out before puberty precisely because the climate of LGBT acceptance grows continually warmer, queer youth still face plenty of obstacles.

“We have so many conversations [with] parents who are super supportive [of their LGBT children], but are really worried about their kid facing discrimination, or problems at school, or just problems in the world at large,” Russo said. “[This is] is a really legitimate concern. When we, as queer people, walk through the world, we’re looked at differently and sometimes treated differently. There are some states where we can be fired from our jobs.”

Kate said that because of the stigma queer kids face, many of them she knows at her school still choose not to live openly. When Kate brings up LGBT issues in classroom discussions, “everyone just goes silent.” Kate’s mother, Emily, drives her to a LGBT youth group in town, since there’s no straight or gay alliance at her school.

Emily is proud of Kate for being vocal about her identity and passionate about LGBT issues. But there isn’t much of a rulebook for raising a queer daughter.

Emily has to worry about the parents of Kate’s friends, for example. She told BuzzFeed News some of the questions that run through her mind before playdates: “Do they know [Kate is queer]? Should I tell them? What if their son or daughter isn’t out to their parents?” She also said she wouldn’t allow her straight teenage son to have sleepovers with girls — so what should she do about her queer daughter having sleepovers with girls?

“It’s a bit of a pickle,” Emily said. “But [Kate and I] are open about it, and we talk about it.”

In February, Amelia blogged about the first time her son was met with anti-gay sentiment: A boy in his class told him that being gay was illegal (something that boy picked up from his parents). While newer generations are more gung ho on LGBT rights than any that have come before them, some members of older generations are still prone to espousing more traditional — and less embracing — beliefs.

All young people aren’t saints, either. Many can be cruel. “It’s a little rough in my grade,” Chloe said. “Some kids give me a hard time. Some aren’t homophobic, they’re just new to the idea. Other kids are very open to me and to other [queer kids]. But some really disagree with who I am. They make [their disagreements] obvious, and it does hurt — but it’s manageable. It’s not horrible. “

Kate, who runs an iFunny account dedicated to connecting with and supporting other LGBT kids, said she gets “quite a bit of hate” from trolling commenters. For the most part, the space is a positive one filled with messages of camaraderie with other queer youth, but Kate said she’s received her fair share of nasty comments, including “die, fag.”

Like Chloe, though, Kate says she can endure the hate speech.

“In the comment section,” she explained, “people can write whatever they want. You can’t change them unless you delete them. It sucks… but it’s OK.”

Kate’s and Chloe’s resilience can likely be attributed, at least in part, to the strong support of their loving parents. The landscape is decidedly bleaker for LGBT kids who come from what the Family Acceptance Project calls “highly rejecting“ families. According to their 2009 study, researchers determined that queer youth from these families are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide than those in supportive families.

Rejecting behaviors can extend from the seemingly more benign — like refusing to engage a child in discussion about their sexual orientation — to the more severe.

According to Jeff Krehely, the director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, “We are seeing a new epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness largely because youth are coming out earlier. They are coming out to their families at age 12 or 13 instead of 18 or 20.” In conversation with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, Krehely said that “in some ways, this is a good thing — it means they are getting societal cues that it is OK to be gay — but they are not old enough to be able to live independently yet, and they face rejection by parents and families, and emotional and/or physical abuse at school.”

“Families are protective against major health risks [for LGBT youth],” Ryan said of her research. But, she added, they could conversely exacerbate those risks — sometimes inadvertently.

“Many parents have been involved in rejecting behaviors that they thought were actually helping their child,” she said.

“If you’re the parent of an LGBT kid, you need to get on board,” Amelia said. “You are the most important — and sometimes the only — advocate your child has. You need to be very proactive in nurturing and celebrating who your child is.”

Some aspects of those celebrations are not always easy. In his interview with BuzzFeed News, Chloe’s father Gregg sometimes slipped into referring to Chloe by “she” and “her” pronouns, instead of “they” and “them.”

“It’s hard, with my own child, to get [the pronouns] embedded in my brain,” he said, correcting himself after a few accidental “she’s.”

“My pronouns are a struggle for [my parents],” Chloe said, “but they are trying — which, to me, is very important. It matters that people get [my pronouns] right, but what matters more is that people put an effort into making me feel comfortable.”

Kate said something similar about her own parents. “My dad doesn’t really understand gender issues,” she said, “but he’s always supportive.” She refers to her mother, her father, and her new stepfather as “sweet and awesome.”

“We need to be prepared to love our kids no matter what,” said Emily. “As soon as we start putting what we want for our kids beyond happiness and safety and health, we are looking for disappointment.”

Kate’s father came out as gay while Kate was still growing up; he and Emily, Kate’s mother, consequently divorced. Emily, who wrote about being the straight spouse of a recently out gay man, credits the experience with her ability to be a better mother to Kate now than she otherwise might have been.

“If Kate had come out to me 10 years ago, I would have reacted much differently,” she said. “I grew up in a fundamental Christian church.” Emily didn’t start questioning some of her previously held beliefs about LGBT people until she discovered she had married one.

“I would hate to alienate or harm my child in any way,” she said. “I can’t imagine doing that to my kid. I used to be one of those people. I’m really grateful I’m not anymore.”

The Charbonneau family: Cherisse, Chloe, Cole, and Gregg.

“If you’re a parent of a young LGBT kid, it’s important to come from a place of openness, instead of a place of fear,” Amelia said. “There are going be those people who send us hate mail and aren’t going to support our child. But there’s also a lot of well-meaning people out there who are just simply trying to understand. We have an opportunity to educate. We can get a lot further if we aren’t all silent and scared, if we’re asking questions, if everything is out in the open. There is no shame — there can’t be.”

“Maybe it seems obvious, but: Listen,” Gregg said. “Just listen to your kids. Don’t ever judge them. Don’t try to explain how they’re feeling because you really don’t know. Don’t assume you know anything. Listen to what they have to say, and just be there for them, and be supportive, and be behind them 100%.”

Gregg added that other parents of LGBT kids shouldn’t be so adamant to hold onto the conventional ideas surrounding gender and sexuality with which they’ve likely grown up. “Having these gender issues happening to my child, who is my life, has really made a lightbulb go off — the whole binary gender system that I grew up under just doesn’t really make sense,” he said. “Fluidity between male and female makes sense. I’ve seen and felt these things throughout my life, and I think we all do, but there haven’t been words for it before. Going through this with my family really drives it home.”

With the World Wide Web at their disposal, many LGBT kids go beyond googling gay search terms — some are also using technology to connect with, and support, queer youth from around the world.

Kate doesn’t have many queer friends at home in Reno, Nevada, but she has plenty on the internet. “It’s very important to me, having LGBT friends online,” Kate said. “My straight friends in life don’t understand issues queer people have to go through.” She added, „I’m not interested in romantic stuff, but it’s nice to have queer friends.“ Chloe has also befriended other queer kids online by moderating a popular Instagram devoted to celebrating trans visibility.

Amelia’s son meeting his „boyfriend,“ Darren Criss, who plays Blaine on .

The young people BuzzFeed News interviewed are just as active in their own real-life communities. Amelia’s 10-year-old son, for a second-grade project on civil rights leaders, taught his young peers about Harvey Milk, while Kate competed in a National History Day contest with a project on the AIDS activist Cleve Jones. Chloe recently gave a presentation to their middle school’s faculty about how to support LGBT kids in the classroom.

“I presented on why I think it’s important for [LGBT kids] to feel safe and accepted at school, because that’s a place where a lot of us struggle with who we are,” Chloe said. “Everyone in the [LGBT] community should feel safe coming to school — and almost all of us don’t.”

Chloe’s biggest cause is unisex bathrooms. “Bathrooms are places where trans people face a lot of harassment,” they said. “In schools and pretty much in any public building, there should be a unisex bathroom, no matter what.”

Kate, for her causes, wants to see more LGBT teen representation in the media, as well as an increase in visibility for queer people of color. “People make out being gay as a white thing, and it’s awful.” She also thinks the contemporary LGBT movement should be more focused upon transgender rights. “Transgender people are natural,” she said, “non-binary people are natural, and different sexualities are totally natural.”

Shannon Keating is a senior culture writer and editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

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Coming Out As Gay In Elementary School

Utilizamos cookies, próprios e de terceiros, que o reconhecem e identificam como um usuário único, para garantir a melhor experiência de navegação, personalizar conteúdo e anúncios, e melhorar o desempenho do nosso site e serviç Cookies nos permitem coletar alguns dados pessoais sobre você, como sua ID exclusiva atribuída ao seu dispositivo, endereço de IP, tipo de dispositivo e navegador, conteúdos visualizados ou outras ações realizadas usando nossos serviços, país e idioma selecionados, entre outros. Para saber mais sobre nossa política de cookies, acesse link. Caso não concorde com o uso cookies dessa forma, você deverá ajustar as configurações de seu navegador ou deixar de acessar o nosso site e serviços. Ao continuar com a navegação em nosso site, você aceita o uso de cookies.