Are gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth more likely to take more risks than their heterosexual counterparts? According to Dr. Robert DuRant and Dr. Robert Garofalo, US Centers for Disease Control, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. Here is a excerpt from their study entitled "Youth Behavior Risk Survey," published in the May 1998 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics:
"Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay youth appeared substantially more likely than their non-gay peers to engage in more 'risky' behaviors more often and starting at an earlier age, whether the risk was cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, steroids, multiple sex partners, or sharing needles."
When I looked at this piece of research, at first I was skeptical because some researchers have bias inserted into their research. Who knows, maybe Pat Robertson commissioned the CDC to conduct this study? However, both doctors are well respected professionals and the Centers for Disease Control is an outstanding medical research organization. Having said that, I believe the research findings to be valid and accurate, as a result of the research findings and my own personal beliefs.
At this point, one might ask whether I believe the conclusions posted in the CDC report. My answer is a resounding yes. Drugs and sex are a definite part of gay culture and their proliferation has caused many young men to contract diseases which has resulted in many other social problems. In my life personally, I do not indulge in illegal drugs, smoke, or drink. I believe that the gay community, with gay bars being a huge culprit, are responsible for some of the problems held by gay community members.
Looking at the higher statistics of risky behavior for gay youth, I believe that society as a whole is also at fault for not providing adequate assistance to needy individuals. When, as a child, someone is brought up to believe that (s)he is not worthy of loving, as is the case in many family units, this might lead to a reduced sense of self-esteem. As many studies have shown, gay youth are more likely to commit unsafe or unwise acts if they have low self-esteem.
Lastly, we have the gay community which advocates dangerous activities. Many folks in the community, but not all, have "getting a new piece of ass" in the forefront of their minds. Even though sex is a wonderful thing, abusing this privilege is causing STI and HIV infection. Although, I would like to believe that our community is advocating a safer lifestyle for our youth, it is my strong belief that we have not come far enough on this issue.
As a person on the older edge of what most people would consider youth, I have many choices I must make, which might be mentored by those people who are younger and more open to lifestyle suggestions. Any decision I make is one which I will have to live with the consequences. Although this 'zine is aimed towards youth, your actions are very important and set the "tone" of what is acceptable in the gay community. Making the conscious choice to set a good example is very important to developing our next generation of healthy and strong gay youth. Set that example and you will not regret the decision you have made. May health be with you and your loved ones.
Peace and Pride,