I'm far from the only one to point out that these suicides are not actually evidence of a new phenomenon, and that issues affecting people with non-normative genders and sexualities often don't received widespread media coverage until they affect white and/or socioeconomically privileged folks. And my friend Rebecca does a far better job than I could of critiquing the most visible response to recent events over at her blog (which I'm also going to go ahead and add to my blogroll). I do want to reiterate her point that perhaps the best way of supporting youth at risk is to listen to them. Listen to them and hear what they're going through, what they need, hear what they want, and respond accordingly. Because I'll tell you a great big secret: youth can, do, and are helping themselves. The best way for adults to help is to support youth-led efforts.
While I don't want to go on at length about this recent spate of suicides, I will acknowledge that it's saddened me: that LGBTQ youth are killing themselves, that they have been killing themselves for as long as I've been alive, and that it took this look for almost anyone outside our community to care or even notice. In the context of a rough couple weeks around issues of sexuality in my own life, I've been starkly reminded of how frequently and deeply challenging it is to be a queer person in a brutally anti-queer and -trans world.
Have you guessed by now that this might not be my most upbeat post?
It has, as I mentioned, been a tough time. If you're reading this you likely know that I struggle with depression, which has the unique ability to make me feel both lethargic and anxious at the same time. I spent a while in August and September sleeping half the day and worrying the rest, without actually accomplishing anything. And it was frustrating. But I'm sorry to say that what jolted me out of my funk was the unexpected and unwanted outing of my girlfriend to her family.
Although I was lucky enough to tell my family that I am queer on my terms (for the most part), I know that being outed is painful, scary, and unsettling, especially when you are not ready to come out, don't identify as queer, or are depending on your family for support. Unfortunately, my girlfriend was in all three situations. Even so, I would have hoped for her to get a better response than her mother asking about her "problem" (i.e. dating me, and whatever her mother implied about her sexuality from the newfound knowledge of our relationship) and whether it was "psychological or physiological."
And that, dear readers, is where I'll leave off for now, with promises of a part II as soon as possible. Sometimes when I'm gathering my thoughts on a difficult matter, I need to take a break to make sure I can get through it, and that's what I'm going to do right now. Goodnight.