Making Up Gay Youth Suicides as We Go Along
Waidzunas, T (2011). Young, Gay, and Suicidal: Dynamic Nominalism and the Process of Defining a Social Problem with Statistics, Science, Technology & Human Values
[Click here for abstract]
How does something come to be true? Because it really is true or individually or collectively we choose to believe that it is? Your perception, as I might have suggested previously on this blog, can suffice for your reality. In that regard, whenever I read some bunged-up statistics claiming that pewfs in general and young pewfs in particular are topping themselves with gay abandon, I am immediately compelled to ask: why would anyone tell such monstrous lies?
What end could they be seeking to achieve?
Perhaps, as Waidzunas (2011, n.pag.) suggests, such blatant dishonesty can start out rather naively and with good intentions. In some detail, he recalls how a 1998 article in Rolling Stone magazine served to solidify the myth that gay youth in the United States were exponentially more likely to kill themselves than their straight counterparts. The desired purpose of that article was to raise public awareness about the health and wellbeing issues that gay youth faced.
Over time, the dodgy evidence upon which the aforementioned article was based became, as Waidzunas (2011) quaintly puts it, ‘black boxed’ from scrutiny. No one bothered or even seemed to care to critically analyse the grandiose and ever burgeoning claim that gay youth were so much more likely to plunge off the perch than straight youth were and ultimately, that uncontested claim morphed into a sacred truth (Waidzunas, 2011). Both gay lovers and gay haters alike shared the fantastic view that…
Gay youth are suicidal bombshells (Waidzunas, 2011)…
So why does it matter, then?
Well, I would agree with Waidzunas (2011) that this myth…
- creates the false impression that to be suicidal is a ‘normal’ and expected part of life for gay youth;
- emboldens the dangerous scientific endeavour of conflating homosexuality with psychopathology; and
- obscures the ‘real’ issues that confront gay youth in their specific socio-cultural milieu.
‘…according to an increasingly universal discourse found in many scientific documents and media reporting, all gay youth are equally at increased risk for suicide, regardless of level of family acceptance, school climate, sex, race, class, nation, region, or any other imaginable variable. The erasure of difference in the attribution of risk leads to the depiction of youth in very different circumstances as equally at risk, effectively ‘homogenizing’ the category ‘gay youth.’ This glosses over the complexity of human lives by lumping many people into one category represented by a single number (cf. Porter 1995, 84-86), while it also facilitates the commensuration of diverse life experiences by applying a common metric of suicide risk (Espeland and Mitchell, 2008)’ (Waidzunas, 2011).
Contrary to all this pernicious rabble and citing Savin-Williams (2005), Waidzunas (2011) contends that gay youth can rebel against their pre-determined ‘suicidal script’ and can instead demonstrate immense resilience. We are now perhaps in a liminal phase regarding this matter, a period of heightened ruction whereby the expectation that young pewfs will check out willy-nilly is slowly but surely being replaced by a definitive ‘fuck you, will I!’
The string left hanging here is that bucket full of lies called the ‘suicide prevention industry’, and its addiction to making up stories to serve its own nefarious ends…
This scathing piece by Melissa Raven, which berates the truth-handling abilities of the many monkey gland salespeople, who nowadays constitute the bulk of the broader, mental health industry…