First crushes. Surging hormones. Add to the typical teen turmoil the fact of being gay, and matters of sexual identity can profoundly affect how, and even whether, kids live their lives. Meet the members of a private peer-support group for gay and lesbian teens in Worcester, Massachusetts, and hear some stories that range from shocking to poignant.
From its title, When a Kid Is Gay sounds like a self-help guide for stressed-out parents of gay kids, a step-by-step program on what to do ("(1) do not panic, (2) stop panicking"). In actuality, this sensitively but realistically made special is a testament to the strength and determination of teens and young adults who are slowly but surely finding their way out of the closet. Profiling a gay and lesbian youth group in Worcester, Massachusetts, the program offers different looks at various group members who are all dealing with different aspects of coming out: Jason is wrestling with his religious beliefs, Chris is dealing with a hostile family environment, Jeremy is adjusting to being out in the real world, Amy feels she can't bring her girlfriend home to meet her parents, and such. What makes this quietly affecting special topnotch is that these kids are real, articulate, and honest, easy to identify with--this isn't some glossed-up Beverly Hills 90210-style video. They're going through all the pain and pressure of coming out and admirably wrestling with complex issues at a very young age. Kids who are just starting to explore their sexuality would do very well to watch When a Kid Is Gay, if only to see that the solitary experience of coming out is something that's universally dealt with by all members of the gay community. It won't offer any answers to specific questions, but When a Kid Is Gay does offer courage and hope to kids who are wrestling with their homosexuality. --Mark Englehart