About a week ago I remember opening up my computer in the morning, logging on to Facebook, as usual. Somebody had posted a story about a gay young man who had committed suicide. I skimmed over the article, took a deep sigh, and went on with my day. I was saddened, but honestly not surprised. I mean come on, can people honestly say that they are going to preach hate from the pulpit, deny us basic rights and protections, treat us like second class citizens, harass our youth on a daily basis and then act shocked when things like this happen? And these are only the reported deaths.

 Another story was posted. Then another. Five in total. I didn’t know any of these boys. I have never met them; now I will never have the chance, but this is personal to me. And judging from the reaction of the community, it’s personal to them too. You would be hard pressed to find an individual who identifies as LGBT who at one time (or multiple times) did not consider death as the easier option. We’ve all been in that place where the light at the end of the tunnel is so dim, we lose faith that it even exists. We all struggle with finding a place in a society that makes no room for us. Over time, I have mostly accepted that this is the way things are. Come Out Orlando is doing its part to change that, but it’s an uphill battle.

 I think that is what has disturbed me most about this whole situation. The intolerance and homophobia in this country is so high that it drives our youth to suicide, but in my mind, it isn’t the least bit surprising. That is just the way things are and have been for some time.

 This is unacceptable. Things shouldn’t have to get better. Teens shouldn’t have to “get through” being gay in high school. Things need to be better. We owe it to LGBT youth to make things better for them than they were for us, not just tell them to suck it up and stick it out. I’m sorry, but that just isn’t good enough. People need to be educated. Hearts and minds need to change. The kids responsible, who bullied and harassed  and pushed until they broke someone, didn’t hatch the idea themselves. Clearly they were getting signals from all around them that this was a perfectly acceptable course of action.

 These types of situations are garnering more media attention as of late, but they aren’t new, and they will persist even after CNN has moved on. Please, if you take anything away from this, take the initiative to do something about it. Call out that person who says “that’s so gay”. Let someone know that no matter what their religious beliefs, making someone feel like less of a human being is not okay.

 My heart goes out to the friends and family of those boys, and of all the LGBT people who felt that death was the only way out. I remember what it was like to feel like there was no hope that things could ever get better. It’s a dark, lonely place to be stuck in. Having the acceptance from even one person can make all the difference. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please seek help. The Trevor Project offers a 24-hour hotline: 866 488 7386. There are people who care about you, and there are people who will accept you.  We at Come Out Orlando are deeply committed to  “educating and facilitating positive change” and are one of many organizations working toward equality within the law and in society. It is our hope that one day, things will in fact, be better.

10/26/2010 01:16:53 am

I just read this today, I have no words to describe how nice this was to read. Your absolutely right, they shouldn't have to stick it out. School should be a place of education and safety. I'm so glad to have you as a friend and as a member of come out Orlando, fighting for equality day by day. Your one of the best guys I know. :D

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