Sunday, October 3, 2010

To all the queer kids: It Gets Better. (video)

In the wake of a rash of five teen suicides in the LGBT community this week, the elders of the queer community owe it to the next generation to tell our stories, so that they know that as bad as it can be now, it does get better.

Today's kids have an important tool that my generation didn't have: Social Media. They have instant access to resources we could have never imagined. But with everything the web has to offer, what it can't provide is the face to face, person to person interaction that is at the heart of what makes us human. A computer monitor can't give a reassuring hug to a kid who feels alone and unworthy.

In the 70's when I was a teen, I didn't know any gay kids. I had suspected that a few were, but I didn't hang out with them because I believed the "guilt by association" message that had been drummed into me all my life. I suffered crushing depressions that were made worse by constant harassment at home and in school. It wasn't until I met my first boyfriend that I suddenly allowed myself to believe that I was okay and lovable.

Too often our community lets our young people down by either ignoring them or taking advantage of them when they do turn to us for help. We can do better. We must do better. September's rash of teen suicides, as horrible as they are, aren't new. Teen suicide in our community has been a problem for a very long time, we're just hearing more about it now because of the web and the 24/7 news cycle -- and thank God we are.

There were times as a kid when I felt like ending it all. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people aged 15 - 24. One third of those are LGBT kids, tormented by peers, family members and well-meaning -- but misguided -- churches.

What can you do? Support the efforts of groups like Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays  (PFLAG), The Trevor Project, a national organization dedicated to suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth and Gay Straight Alliance clubs in your local schools by contacting GLSEN: The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Dan Savage and his husband Terry have launched a web-based campaign using celebrity spokespeople to get the message out to our community's youth to let them know that It Gets Better.
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