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Support for Gay Teens Facing Homophobia and Bullying

In the past few years, more high-profile LGBT "coming out" stories have emerged. In a May 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, pro basketball player Jason Collins revealed he is gay, making him the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport (at the time, he was a center for the Washington Wizards, and had played for six pro teams over 12 seasons in the NBA). Sports media personalities and fellow athletes, including Kobe Bryant, offered immediate support for Collins. Tennis all-star Martina Navratilova (an 18-time Grand Slam champion who came out in 1981) called Collins a "game-changer" for coming out while playing in the NBA. Meanwhile, organizations dedicated to ending homophobia in athletics, including the You Can Play Project and Athlete Ally, are making strides to support young LGBT athletes in all sports.

Other prominent celebrities continue to come out and share their stories. Prison Break star Wentworth Miller gave a speech at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in September 2013 about his painful struggle with finding a safe community as a gay teen and hiding his sexual orientation from the general public until just recently, after his popular TV show ended. He said he attempted suicide at age 15. "Growing up, I was a target," he said. "Speaking the right way. Standing the right way. Holding your wrist the right way. Every day was a test, and there were a thousand ways to fail." The Golden Globe–nominated actor said he has found a safe community in the Human Rights Campaign and hopes his coming-out story shows fellow LGBT people "... that there is an 'us.' That there is a 'we.' That that kid or teenager or adult is loved. And they are not alone."

Elsewhere in pop culture, songs like Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and Macklemore's and Ryan Lewis' "Same Love" have climbed music charts around the world and helped spread support for the LGBT community.

Transgender people have also received more positive exposure in pop culture in recent years. Transgender actress Laverne Cox has been critically acclaimed for her role as a transgender woman in the Netflix TV series Orange Is the New Black. The Amazon series Transparent won the 2015 Golden Globe for "Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy," and star Jeffrey Tambor won best actor. Also in 2015, Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star Bruce Jenner publicly announced he is transgender during a high-profile "20/20" ABC News special, and received broad support by the media and across social media. He appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine announcing his transition to female: Caitlyn Jenner.

Political gains
Slowly but surely, U.S. laws affecting LGBT people have changed, too, signifying a change in the political tide and public sentiment. In 2011, President Obama repealed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that banned openly gay people from serving in the military or forced them to keep their sexuality a secret. In June 2013, the Supreme Court of the U.S. made a ruling that ended the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages. And in June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

A 2014 Gallup poll showed that 55 percent of Americans — and nearly eight in 10 young adults — support gay marriage. This reflects double the national support rate of 27 percent in a similar poll conducted in 1996, showing a growing trend toward acceptance.


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