Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No More Dead LGBT Youth

I am going to be really loud right now. I am sick and tired of LGBT youth seeing suicide as their only option. I'm sick and tired of youth suicides in general but especially gay youth, especially now. Recently several gay youth (or perceived gay youth) have killed themselves because they were bullied or had to deal with very public homophobia. I want to take a moment to remember the lives of Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Zach Harrington and other victims of hate, and homophobia. What are we to do? We CANNOT sit and tolerate this. These suicides are not just 7 youths, or mere bullying as the media would play it. It is part of a larger problem. There is an acceptable level of hate in this country sometimes towards Muslims, towards undocumented workers, Latinos, and Blacks (African Americans, Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, etc.), and towards the LGBTQ community. This post concerns the LGBT community at large because I see these suicides in the same arena as hate crimes. Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, Lawrence King, Jorge Steven López Mercado, Ahmed Khalil, Satender Singh, and countless others have been murdered because people did not like that they were LGBTQ. I am MAD and not just because I'm gay. I remember what it was like to be in a place of utter darkness and seemingly no escape. A place that it hurts to think about. Suicide seems like your only option in that place. It hurts! When I saw these young faces, back to back, I remembered those days and it hurt me deep inside. I wished I could go back in time and tell them it's not the end of the world, that things will get better, that there are people out there who will love them and accept them, that they will find love, and that they will find friends that don't make them fit any gender box. Having out gays in their lives telling them that "[they're] not sick, nothing's wrong with [them] and God doesn't hate [them]" (from the movie Milk). These are beautiful young people gone too soon. I'd share my story and tell them that it gets better. It does. I am surrounded by friends and family that love me and support me. Some of them very unexpectedly. Yes as a community and a movement we are not at full equality (are we there for any minority group?) but in many ways we have moved forward since the 50s/60s. We cannot be made illegal. We are not illegal. We cannot be silent. I AM NOT SILENT! They expect us to be, though, and watch more lives be lost and taken. We cannot do this. It's not a you thing or a me thing but a we thing. We CAN (good song)!

I'm relatively out. I'm out on campus, and to my immediate family and some extended family (and to all my readers now). I try not to hide my sexuality, or my beliefs about it. Part of the way I can make change and YOU can make change is by coming out of the closet (as a gay person, a lesbian, a bisexual person, a transgendered person, and as an ally [or however it is you identify]). If we are out we can examples for others to be able to come out, or just to simply see that it's okay. If we are out we can have more courage to speak out and may not be the only voice. It's not easy to post your views on the internet for the world to see but I have to do it. If you are compelled to I would encourage you to but it's not for everyone. It may not be your time to come out. If it's not, then wait. Coming out is a process. In my stage of coming out I need to be vocal about injustice. I have support. That's key, I think. Find that support. We are seeing gay youth kill themselves and we are losing future leaders, teachers, nurses, doctors, advocates, & friends. Hopefully my being out in high school was able to help some middle school student or peer (my high school was a grade 5-12 school). I hope my being out in college has helped others to feel comfortable in their skin. I'm the VP of the Latin American student club at school and I am out. We have to break down those barriers.I hope I am doing that.

There are those close to me that worry about me, my parents in particular. They worry that I'll be a victim of a hate crime, that I'll be killed. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm never afraid. I am, but that fear is trumped by my inability to lie, to myself, to others, to the world. That fear is turned into strength to fight for those who cannot be out, to speak out for the voiceless for those who have their voices taken away from them. I cannot be afraid to speak out. To fight. The freedom that comes with being myself is helpful in trumping the fear. Sometimes my friends and I discuss how in other generations people were willing to give their lives but that while some of us care a lot many of us are not willing to give our lives for anything, no dream, no goal. It reminds me of what Milk said though I have altered it.

If a bullet should go through my head, let it go through EVERY border fence built on nativism and racism, If a punch or kick should break my skull let it break EVERY closet door, if a bomb should disintegrate my being let it destroy EVERY door abuse is hidden behind...

There are many who expect us to remain silent and suffer our torment alone to the point of suicide! We cannot let those voices win. There are NOT always two equal sides to every story. It's not safe to be out everywhere but that's slowly changing! If we are not strong enough to be out whatever the consequence can we ever hope for a future dreamed up by Dr. King, hoped for by Harvey Milk! I'm not advocating going to gay haters and starting trouble but who will fight for us if not us! If I choose to re-enter the closet I may not be made into a victim but I will be killing my soul, trying to change into something I'm not! If I don't share myself will my children have to bear this burden? Will they have to fight this fight? I want my children to be born into a better world. We are in some ways further along than what many may have imagined, out gays in office, legal gay marriage, gay adoption, out characters on TV and in movies but we are also years away from where we could be/should be! I pray that should I be killed or if we lose another life, that it not be in vain; that none of the lives of LGBT individuals lost are in vain.
I hope that these ideas (though few) can be shared and we can move towards a safe world for all! Where my skin, language, identity, sexuality, hair texture, ideas, political affiliations do not make me a target for hate and violence that is condoned, accepted or considered not worthy of speaking on! I must be OUT (in many aspects) if only to let one gay, lesbian, transgendered, questioning, queer, boy, girl, Latin@, Black, African-American, Asian, Muslim, Christian, Pagan, Jew, etc. not suffer in silence and move towards suicide but rather to feel courage and move towards love, for self, and others! Life should not be about escaping the pain but about feeling the joy! Every rain cloud comes with clear skies, every storm with a rainbow and every death comes with new life. Let us be reborn.

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