Few researchers have examined the emotional consequences of day-to-day encounters with heterosexism.
Heteroterosexist attitudes by family appeared to be especially stressful for gay youth, in part due to these youths’ emotional and financial dependence on their families. The holiday season, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, accounts for many family disruptions over the issue of a child’s sexulity. Youth see this period and the typical gatherings of their nuclear family as an opportunity to begin talking about their true selves. Not coincidentally, this time of year is when the highest incidents of family disruptions occur. Large cities such as San Francisco and New York see an influx of gay youth fleeing their homes and ultimately seeking social services. Relatedly, when television covers an LGBT matter, be it marriage equality or the trauma of the Orlando, FL mass killing at a gay bar, conflicts ensue in families. In 2011, when New York State passed marriage equality, the Ali Forney Center of New York reported a 40 per cent increase in drop-in rates at its youth shelter in New York.
Coping Strategies for Gay Youth
Obtaining information and support through the Internet
For many youth, the Internet served as a means of locating gay-affirmative support that might otherwise have been difficult to obtain. One individual posted poetry about his experiences on a website and received feedback that helped him to increase his sense of self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation. For this youth, the process of writing poetry had other benefits as well, including cognitively reframing his predicament and venting.