With the recent spotlight on the horrific epidemic of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth bullying and suicide, it's easy to get disheartened and feel that things are spiraling out of control for our young people. Yet in the face of continuing tragedy, like Tuesday's news that another young gay teen killed himself in Michigan, we can find a challenge to all of us for greater action in raising awareness around suicide prevention.
Chicago certainly hasn't taken this challenge lying down. The newly created Chicago Ambassadors of The Trevor Project, the national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts LGBTQ youth, has been embraced by the entire community. The town was "painted purple" to show support for LGBT kids on Wednesday's Spirit Day and business after business has stepped up to host events and help raise awareness around this important issue. But wearing purple is just the first step, a beginning of a conversation, in a long process of creating an environment in our country where young people can come out and be themselves safely and without fear or shame. Long after this issue fades from the news, LGBT young people will still need help and resources, so once again the community is coming together to raise awareness and encourage LGBT youth.
Roscoe's Tavern (3356 N. Halsted St.) will be hosting a star-studded Benefit for The Trevor Projecton October 25th at 10pm, a night to celebrate and encourage the lives of LGBT Youth. All the money raised will benefit the Trevor Project and their life saving work. Shawn Hazen, Director of Special Events at Roscoe's Tavern, certainly sees the need for this event:
After 23 years of love and support, Roscoe's has a responsibility and duty to step up and give back to our community when it needs help. After the rash of recent tragedies, the Trevor Project is more important than ever and we look forward to a very successful evening that will help them continue their essential work.
The benefit will feature many local performers who have generously donated their time for such a great cause. The line-up includes performances by Amy & Freddy, Honey West, Stephen Leonard, Teri Yaki, Mercedes, Mimi Marks, Monica Munro, Debbie Fox, Dida Ritz, Phoenix O'Hara, Maya Douglas, Victoria LePaige, Kaycee Ortiz, Naysha Lopez, Sasha Colby, Frida Lay, and Mokha Montrese.
Keeping this focus on our community's youth is extremely important, especially when you realize that Illinois and three of its neighboring states (Missouri, Michigan, and Indiana) are among the top 15 states when it comes to the number of calls that the Trevor Project receives on their suicide prevention hotline.
Out of all the most startling statistics surrounding the risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth, like that they are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts, is that there is hope. When a young LGBTQ person knows they aren't alone, like when they know a supportive adult or have a Gay/Straight Alliance in school or have knowledge of the resources provided by the Trevor Project, those horrifying statistics are more than cut in half.
That's why events like Roscoe's Benefit for The Trevor Project are so vital. We can raise much-needed funds to expand services and resources to LGBTQ youth while at the same time raising awareness of those issues in the community.
And that one person we reach could be vital in saving a young life.
So be sure to come out, support the benefit and the businesses in the community that give back in such a big way, and get involved. We started the conversation on Spirit Day and now we can follow up with action and community involvement.
Together, we can celebrate our young people, let them know they aren't alone, and save young lives!
Follow Waymon Hudson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WaymonHudson