I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I didn't have gay allies loving me and supporting me since long before the time I came out, until the very moment in which I am writing this article and I expect beyond the time that I transition into my next life. Then I coach myself to stop and simply bask in the gratitude of not having to know. The truth is I have had so much love and support that I have at times found myself having to work through embarrassment of not always being able to relate to the plethora of bullying, violence, and family ostracizing that others go through.
In September we witnessed five suicides by LGBT teens, and just this week on Tuesday evening the sixth was discovered. This LGBT teen was 19-year-old Corey Jackson on the campus of Oakland University in Southeast Michigan. According to the investigation, thus far this suicide does not seem to have been elicited by bullying.
Melissa Pope, director of Oakland University's Gender and Sexuality Center, said the issue points to a larger, hidden epidemic of suicides among LGBT youth.
While the national press has picked up this issue over the last two months, we have been losing high numbers of LGBT youth to suicide for decades. In recent years, we've labeled the cause as bullying. But the root cause goes deeper, to the very core of our society that discriminates against the LGBT community on all levels, including the denial of basic human rights that are supposed to belong to every person.
This is why I think it is so important to acknowledge our LGBT allies. This past week GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) hosted National Ally Week, which occurred in schools and their GSAs (Gay Straight Alliance) throughout the country. "Allies" is the term we use to refer to people who do not identify as LGBT individuals but support the community by standing against homophobia, anti-LGBT legislation, violence, bullying and harassment.
I am calling on all people, along with GLSEN and our students, to both honor LGBT allies and to take a stand for love, in service to the ending of homophobic violence in our schools and in the world, misogyny, hatred, and fear.
Will you join me in taking a stand? If so, let us know in the comments section that you agree to the statements below:
I stand in the belief that all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, deserve to feel safe and supported, living life fully expressed in their love and in their truth.That means I agree to:
- Not use anti-LGBT language and slurs;
- Be compassionate and empathic, even when I don't fully agree with others;
- Support efforts to end bullying and harassment wherever I can (at work, in school, in my church, etc.).
Also, if you are LGBT, tell us your story of important allies in your life. If you're an LGBT ally, what's your story, why is it important?