It’s already January 4. What do you mean you haven’t come up with any New Year’s resolutions? Or rather, New Decade resolutions? We’re not big fans of using arbitrary dates to set life goals, but now is as perfect a time as any to make promises to yourself to do good, to try harder, to effect change, and grow stronger. We’ve been floating a few ideas around Queerty HQ, thinking of realistic ways to improve our own lives, and the vast demographics of our readers, and we think we’ve found a few. Today, we’re going to present some reasonable New Year’s resolutions for young people. And throughout the week, we’ll have tips as we move up the age bracket. Of course, your collective wisdom is better than ours, so suggest any we’ve missed (and there are many!).
Come out. You don’t have to tell your parents, or even your siblings or aunts, that you’re questioning your sexuality (or that you’ve firmly concluded you’re gay or otherwise). But tell your secret to someone you trust. A friend. A school counselor. And if that’s too much, try your own reflection in the mirror. Talking about your sexuality, or those feelings of “being different,” will make it less confusing, and less of an onerous part of your identity. Even if you’re growing up in a conservative household in a small town in the Bible Belt, put out feelers for at least one person who you can confide in.
Be safer on the Internet. Facebook. MySpace. And even Adam4Adam and Grindr. All these social networking tools have great purposes, but giving up all of your privacy — and your home address and telephone number — shouldn’t be among them. They also shouldn’t be tools for meeting older strangers at a local park. It’s easier than ever for young, isolated queers to find an online community that feels like home. But don’t confuse connectedness with inviting personal harm. Nobody will be able to convince gay, bi, and trans tweens and teens to never meet an Internet stranger in person, and for these folks, we insist: Tell a trusted friend or family member exactly where you’re going, who you’re meeting (even email your friend the photos you received), when you’re expected back, and even arrange to call to check in every hour. Or, better yet, bring someone along to your meet.
Stand up to bullying, in and out of school. If you’re a victim, tell your guidance counselor or teacher. If you’re comfortable, tell your parents. There is no reason to sit in silence any longer as you’re teased and tormented. And if you happen to witness someone else being bullied? Stand up for this person, even if he won’t. Report the harassment, and follow up. You could change your classmate’s life.
Have your first kiss. It’s a terrible thing to leave high school and head to college without getting your first queer smooch. We’re not saying get to third base here, but if you find someone you fancy, and they’re receptive, give it a go. And then learn about the risks of doing anything more than kissing.
Give yourself a history lesson. There’s a reason you can be a 14-year-old boy and say you’re “interested in: men” on Facebook, and that’s because of the LGBT heroes, from pre-Stonewallers like Bayard Rustin to the Dan Chois of today, who refused to let little things like sexuality and gender identity get in the way of humanity. Learn about these people, and how history is on our side. Particularly because your textbooks won’t.
Meet Justin Bieber. Jonas who?