As a proud queer youth of color and board member of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, I wanted to share this thoughtful statement that reflects my sentiments regarding the recent LGBTQ youth suicides, the state of our community & our continued struggle moving forward:
Recently, there has been great a deal of attention focused on the rash of suicides among young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender nonconforming, or who are perceived as such. As queer youth and people who support them, it breaks our heart each time we lose another member of our community, our families, and our world. We appreciate the message of "it gets better," but worry that this message combined with the focus on LGBTQ youth as suicide risks continue to oversimplify and portray only negative realities.
LGBTQ youth kick ass, everyday throughout this world. They do so while dealing with coming out, being misunderstood for their gender expression, getting harassed by police, while being told they are too loud, too flamboyant and too much. Many of them do this while experiencing layers of marginalization on account of their race, class, immigration status, and gender. And still, they dance, they create, they form community, they change the world, they give strength to others, and grow stronger themselves. Yet, they are only shown as bullied, suicide risks, criminals; a drain on systems, as something to be dealt with.
Many of us have stood at that brink and considered ending our lives, we know depression, fear, and isolation. We understand that people (not just youth) can be cruel, insecure, and scared of difference and change. We also believe, sometimes buried deep inside of us, that our future and our today holds great promise. You will find ways to make it through, to deal, and people to talk to about it. Many of these folks have teetered on that edge only to survive to be able to hold us and love us. There is strength in the LGBTQ community, the strength of having been there and loving each other more for it.
We ask that the media, organizations, and the wider world focus on LGBTQ youth not only as victims, but also as people who are changing the world. We ask for reconsideration on how the media report on suicides and how they perpetuate this cycle in emphasizing only one side of being an LGBTQ youth. Additionally, we ask that our fellow LGBTQ organizations show the strength, resilience, and self-love that grow out of staying alive. This is why we do this work.
In an effort to lead by example, NYAC is proud to bring the 2nd Annual LGBTQ Youth Awareness Week and spotlight Fierce Queers, five young people dedicated toward empowering their communities. Find out more about supporting LGBTQ Youth Awareness Week or participating in efforts from GSA Network's "Make it Better" web campaign to GLSEN's action alerts on the Safe Schools Improvement Act and Student Nondiscrimination Act by visiting our website.
The National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC), founded in 1993, is a social justice organization that advocates for and with young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) in an effort to end discrimination against these youth and to ensure their physical and emotional well-being.