Teemu Ruskola


Gay and lesbian youth live in a different place. That place lies beyond our popular, medical, and legal understandings of homosexuality, which are premised on a central cultural fantasy that gay and lesbian youth do not exist. According to authoritative declarations by parents, teachers, preachers, psychiatrists, and courts, gay kids are not gay but merely "confused." In our received taxonomy of sexualities, there is no conceptual space for a coherently gay adolescent. The consequence of the fantasy of gay kids' non-existence is the discursive and material violence that gay kids confront in their lives. In the words of a 1989 report by the U.S. Department of Health on gay and lesbian youth suicide, "[liesbian and gay youth are the most invisible and outcast group of young people with whom you will come into contact." Indeed, the odds are that you will never know that you have come into contact with them. Lacking even the comparative impunity of gay adults, there is virtually no safe space for gay kids to identify themselves publicly.

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