Monday, December 28, 2009

Does It Take a Whole Gay Village to Raise Our Own Youth

It takes a whole village to raise a child is an old African Proverb that I would love to see reflected upon all youth. Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas I was perceived as a young heterosexual man for my entire time living there and it was a lie that I was living, I had known since I was a little boy that I was different and that I felt an attraction toward other boys; however I did not want to be rejected from the village that I was being raised in. In our society we actually teach our children that it is not okay to be different without even realizing it, youth everyday are denying who they are just to fit in. Where is the village that is there to raise our young LGBT youth, since they are being forced out of this other village that society has created?

Earlier this year I heard two horrifying stories about two little boys who took their own lives because their classmates where bullying them because they thought they were gay and I was deeply hurt, because I felt like I was letting down my own. Although I did not personally know either one of these children I saw so much of a young Dwight in them and that was a connection I could not let go of. As I sat on my couch watching Oprah the tears began to run down my face and I revisited the memories I had of children teasing me and the many prayers that I sent up to God asking him to make me normal, this village that I was being raised in had brainwashed me into thinking that there was something wrong with me and that I would go to Hell for me being the way that I am. In my adult life I want to be that support system that teaches youth through my example that it is okay for you to be different, it is okay that you may not want to play sports with the other boys or with baby dolls with the other girls, God created each of us all differently.

As a young person it is very important to see role models that you admire, so that they can aspire to be great, it was not to long ago that some of the first black shows reached television and people of color old and young were very excited to see themselves on TV. One show in particular that comes to mind was The Cosby Show that showcased a very successful African American family that reflected the African American community positively, as a young black boy that meant a lot to me and I wanted to be just as successful; however I began to get sad as I struggled with my sexuality and had no one to see in a positive light to help me with those difficult feelings, questions, or curiosities. This is why I have put so much effort in my own work, such as my series targeted at young LGBT Christopher Street (which has been tagged as a gay 90210), my reality dating show Dating Dwight (which shows that gay men do more than just have sex), and my blog Dishin’ It with Dwight (which highlights different topics from entertainment, fashion, and self empowerment topics) powered by The Future I have put so much effort in all of these works to create positive images of gay men of color, so our youth can see themselves in the media doing great things. I want to be their gay Michael Jordan, Madonna, or Beyonce’ I want gay youth of all colors to look at me and say if Dwight Allen O’Neal can do it, so can I.

The catch phrase for my series Christopher Street is “How many people does it take to hold a street together.” By saying that we are recreating the old African Proverb and urging the LGBT community to come together and mold our youth, because our mainstream community many times fail them and if they do fail them we should be there to help our own and offer them love, support, and most importantly acceptance.


Kreth said...

Wow...dat was hella insightful. I can really identify as i grew up in Little Rock as well. I agree dat if we had more mainstream public figures dat we would b better off. Its ok to admire MJ or Beyonce but u may never knw their tru intentions or beliefs wen it comes to da LGBT community. I am really proud of u, Dwight and dis site b/c I do knw ur tru intentions. Gud Luck n keep on enlightening and empowering us all.

kiemie said...

I totally agree! as a child, I might not have been one who worried about the teasing and negativity, but I do remember the challenged I faced in "finding my own way." There arent any outlets for our youth and that why we in the gay community grow up so fast. Our role models are often found on...Christopher Street. and not that theres anything wrong with the west village and its inhabitants(both permanent and temporary) but there have to be other options. Your post has given me some great ides to ponder. Keep up the great work!

Jake Jacobs VI said...

I think this post is great! I love it! To add to what you said, people find if far too easier to go with the way things are than to step outside the box and become pioneers in their own right. That's why things such as gay marriages and rights are just, now, becoming a a big thing. We are the generation to make a change and the change starts within the individual first and then it will transcend into the community they are apart of. The gay community, as a whole, is in shambles and needs a major awakening; all the way from the talks of acceptance to HIV/AIDs. Its not a game anymore and this "hush hush" mentality is what's driving more people into the trenches of their homes and less into open arms of the people who they are alike and that share some similarities.

thegayte-keeper said...

It certainly does take a WHOLE gay village to raise our own youth and it is HIGH time we all got the message...TOO many of us are caught up in things that prevent us from taking ourselves to the next level while we all die day by day...

The FUTURE said...

Well said by everyone... We are the leaders... We all need to stand up and take our own leader ship roles and assist in the development of our own community's future. Just because you are living an out lifestyle does not mean you are paving the way for others behind you. We need to each leave a legacy that can learn from us and become positive examples for the ones behind them... Lets get it done!!! Dwight Allen O'Neal




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