Co-authored with Ken McNeely, President of AT&T California
June 28, 1969, seems to be such a long time ago, especially to today's youth. However, it was only 44 years ago when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. Although there were no smartphones or social platforms to add fuel to the rally cry, this event sparked the Stonewall riots, a high-impact turning point for the LGBT rights movement. Now, each June, we commemorate this important event with National LGBT Pride Month. We celebrate how far the LGBT rights movement has come, but we also remember how far we have yet to go.
Bullying continues to be a troubling issue for teens and young adults alike, and anti-LGBT bullying specifically has negative impacts, increasing the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times. Unfortunately, it is no surprise that LGBT youth attempt suicide at greater rates than straight youth.* But suicide is preventable, and we can all help save a life. It is time for all of us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we can do to encourage just one young person to stand tall and be proud.
Today, stirring and proud moments are captured every day with mobile devices and posted to social sites. According to a recent report from Publicis Groupe's Digitas, mobile phone usage among LGBT community members focuses squarely on important life moments.
Imagine if the brave people who stood firm at Stonewall had had mobile devices and social networks. Would history have rewritten itself? It's hard to say, but the word would have spread so much faster. Outrage could have spread at the speed of a text message or social update. Moving moments could have been caught and documented with the click of a camera phone. Change may have come sooner.
According to the Digitas study, 35 percent of LGBT 18- to 24-year-olds used their mobile device during the coming-out process. Statistics like these about smartphone usage in the LGBT community underscore why companies like AT&T, with organizations like The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth, are collaborating through their Live Proud campaign, featuring Adam Lambert. The program encourages young people to celebrate their proud moments with the help of social networking. It also presents an opportunity to draw attention to the need for support of a community that has been battling for equality for quite some time.
It's why The Trevor Project launched TrevorSpace, a special social networking site that gives LGBTQ young people and their allies the opportunity to express themselves in a safe and affirming online community. With a membership of more than 60,000 and reaching 138 countries worldwide, this virtual safe place can be life-changing for young people simply looking for a welcoming space to express themselves.
So as we pause to reflect on history this June for Pride month, we know that now we have the opportunity to change the course of history, empowering our youth to stand proud and share that pride in flash, but most importantly they can know that there are places they can turn, online or off, in case they face a crisis.
How times have changed. Let us remember that there is a long way to go, but now is the time to celebrate progress.
In celebration of Pride season, the AT&T "Live Proud" campaign is inviting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community and beyond to take part in an effort centered on awareness, empowerment and, most importantly, pride. In return, AT&T will contribute a minimum of $25,000 and up to $50,000 to The Trevor Project, the national leader in crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth. See their Facebook app for details.
Need help? Call 1-866-488-7386 for the Trevor Lifeline.