Kids today don't know how good they have it. I came out at 30. While my friends had no problems with my newfound gayness, to this day my family still won't talk about it. In contrast, our newest college intern at OneGoodLove came out publicly at 15. His friends embraced him, his extended family gave him a standing ovation, and his mother decided to write a book about it. The world has changed.
In light of the recent Supreme Court rulings in favor of marriage equality, there is no doubt that things have gotten better. The federal government is finally recognizing and fighting for LGBT equality, mainstream media have been flooded with positive images of LGBT role models, and support networks like the Trevor Project and PFLAG are more vibrant than ever. It is therefore not surprising that the average age for LGBT youth to come out has dropped from 23 to 16 in recent years.
While all of these gains have helped change the tide, I believe that technology has amplified these societal shifts to allow LGBT youth to come out at earlier ages. With the youth generation perpetually entrenched in their laptops, cellphones, and iPads, young LGBT people have constant access to the aforementioned role models and support systems, which tell LGBT youth that their emotions and attractions are not aberrant but normal and regular, perhaps even extraordinary. And technology has allowed these messages and support networks to spread this hope to a larger subset of the population than ever before.
So a questioning kid in Columbus, Ohio, can now quietly call the Trevor Hotline from his bedroom while watching an "It Gets Better" video on YouTube and streaming an episode of Modern Family. When he's ready, he can post a status on Facebook declaring himself a "newfound gayby." And when 300 of his friends from all over the world like his status and leave him messages of congratulations, he may finally have the courage to kick down the closet door, walk downstairs, and come out to his parents.
Thus, though they're still far from perfect, things have gotten better, and much of the LGBT youth culture is benefiting from these recent social gains. However, we cannot let that be enough. It is ironic that the increased support and connectivity that has resulted from the technology boom has also led many young people to become disconnected and despondent. We cannot let this happen if we want to continue to grow as individuals and a community.
So I urge the youth culture to take a stand. To the LGBT youth who have come out early, benefiting from the social gains that your older counterparts fought for: Don't let that be good enough for you. Get out there and give back or fight on. It is important to note that "it gets better" implies a perpetual progression. Though life may be good as it is, it will continue to get better. So further the social benefits and gains for your generation and the ones to come, and remember that progress dies when the current generation says, "That's good enough for us."