26-Year Old Gay Youth Activist Joseph Jefferson Kills Himself in Brooklyn

Joseph Jefferson graduated from New York City’s Harvey Milk High School in 2002, the nation’s first public school for gay and lesbian youth. Jefferson, who lived in Brooklyn, remained active in his community, working on HIV prevention and outreach for Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD) and People of Color in Crisis (POCC). A visible member of New York City’s ballroom scene, Jefferson recently worked as an assistant to New York City Black LGBT event promoters Laurence Pinckney and James Saunders.

On Saturday, Joseph Jefferson hanged himself, leaving this message to his friends on facebook:

“I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called ‘social mainstream’.”

Author and activist Nathan James:

“As an advocate for LGBT youth, Mr. Jefferson surely made a positive impact on those he met and counseled. But this same nurturing and enrichment he offered to others, was absent in his own life to such a degree, that he felt the only way to deal with the pain of his existence was to end it.”

From Joseph Jefferson’s Facebook page (via alternet):

“Belonging is one of the basic human needs, when people feel isolated and excluded from a sense of communion with others, they suffer. I have been an advocate for my peers and most importantly youth because most have never had a deep emotional attachment to anyone. They don’t know how to love and be loved in return.”

Joseph Jefferson’s favorite books included Don Quixote, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Becoming a Person of Influence, Jane Eyre and 48 laws of power.

Again, author and activist Nathan James:

The only question remaining before us today, is whether we will continue to bewail these increasing suicides, without making active measures to prevent them… That next young man who is feeling overwhelmed, is already on his way to the top of that bridge.  he’s already fashioning that noose.  He’s already cleaning his gun.  We cannot afford any more delay.  We are the help, the only help possible in some cases, and it’s already late.

 

There will be a tribute tonight to Joseph Jefferson at the “I Love My Boo” forum at GMHC on West 24th Street in Manhattan.

Joseph Jefferson had resources. He had a community. He knew other gay people, he had support from peers and benefited from the social outreach programs developed to foster self-esteem and self-worth in LGBT teens. Joseph Jefferson didn’t just engage with his community — he led it. But even so, Joseph Jefferson at 26 years old hanged himself because he could no longer bear the burden of being a gay person of color in a “world grown cold.”

Do you hear that, world? We can coordinate panels, vigils, cute videos, purple t-shirts, rallies, awareness-raising sessions, marches and outreach programs until we’re blue in the face. We can preach to the choir ’til we lose our voices but it’s not enough. The world needs to change. The entire world. Are you paying attention. The whole world needs to change. There are people who don’t want to listen to anything that comes their way directly and there are people who are afraid to admit they do want to listen to anything coming their way directly and so the only way you can change these people is to go above them to a larger level and that level is the entire world.

I want you to think about what you can do to change how people think.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2697 articles for us.

81 Comments

  1. Oh god, no. This is too tragic, I am left sad and speechless. So sorry that my fellow humans can make someone’s life so miserable that ending it seems preferable. We have so far to go.

  2. What do all of these suicides mean now that they are happening on a weekly basis? I suddenly don’t know how I feel about it anymore. At first they were shocking and awful and heartbreaking. Am I becoming desensitized to the severity of it because it is being highlighted more frequently in the media? I just don’t know how I feel about it right now…

  3. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a so called friend the day before wear purple day.
    He said that it is stupid for people to wear purple in honor of suicides because the people that died by suicide are selfish and were too weak. And then he went on to tell a story about a gay guy hitting on a group of guys at a bar. They told him to stop or something bad might happen, he continued to hit on them. So they took him outside and killed him. So my “friend” says, I know they shouldn’t have killed him but they did tell him to stop.

    WTF? Do people really think it’s ok to kill gay people just because they are making them uncomfortable? Or that these gay suicides are because these people are so ashamed of their “gayness”. I don’t get this world.

  4. This one hit me hard. Because I can totally relate to where he’s coming from.

    I have had a very whirlwind year, both personally and professionally – travelling all over the place, a lovely affair turned nasty heartbreak, being more recognised but also being more isolated. The people that I used to consider family (the local burlesque community) have now distanced themselves from me because they feel I’m too political, too outspoken about racism & feminism & human rights. I’m considered something of a queer leader in some circles, especially for migrants and minorities (being one myself), but I’m still reeling from a dream-girl-turned-nightmare and I can’t get a girl long enough and I feel like the worst example of Queer ever. Even my sister, who I was very close to (as 2 eccentrics in a conservative family), told me she can’t connect to me anymore.

    There are people who support me and love what I do, but they’re all so far away. My career may be taking really interesting turns, but I feel like it’s all a mask for how lonely and empty I feel inside. If it wasn’t for my totally awesome yet exhausted-by-now boyfriend I wouldn’t know what to do.

    I’ve just come back from an overseas 3 week trip, and the exhaustion & adrenaline loss & news & depression has led to me waking up every morning feeling like I want to die. Only sleep has stopped me from actually actively harming myself. Half a day is lost as my biochemicals recover, my meds kick in, food kicks in. It’s so tiring.

    I see the It Gets Better videos, and I wish someone would tell me, PROVE to me it gets better. I battled racism growing up and now I just find that it gets *different*. I may not have such strong racist attacks as before, but there’s still subtle idiocies, people who don’t get that racism isn’t just high-level KKK super-intentional stuff. People I thought would know better who disappoint me with their ignorance and unwillingness to understand why I may not always be so polite. I’m dealing with my sexuality belatedly, in my mid-20s, and I feel like everyone else got this shit sorted in their teens and I missed out on ample time.

    Does it get better? I don’t know. I can certainly understand why Joseph did why he did. Sometimes you feel like a divide-by-zero error, that you will never quite fit in or belong no matter where you go, that you will always be the outsider (even if an accepted or loved one). You can care so much for others but it doesn’t mean you will receive the same love and care back. You fight for the rights of others but who will fight for the rights of yours?

    Add chemicals and hormones and brain activity into the mix, as well as the tendency of activists to put themselves last and forget about self-care, and what you have are walking timebombs too worried about making sure everyone else doesn’t tick off.

    [/rant]

    • I can see where you are coming from.

      I myself have struggled with this very same issue for a while now. I have never told anyone this, but suicide crosses in and out of my mind like cigarettes do to a smoker. Ok maybe not that much but you can get the point. I see it as a way out, if things get too hard, why not? When I hear the words “It gets better”, I do not truly believe that it gets better, just as you have said. I do not see it in my life. I feel like I do not fit into most places. My work, my few friends that I do have, and even my family. I feel like it has always been this way, but how does it get better? I am currently serving in a military that will not let me be open about who I am. I myself am not even certain who that is just yet. And a part of me thinks that I will never be certain.

      I look back to my past and I think of all the times I sat at home crying because I had nowhere to go and no one to go with. And it wasn’t because of my sexuality.

      So this breaks my heart every time one of these kids kill themselves. This last one didn’t feel like he belonged anywhere. And that makes it hit a little more close to home. When people say that people who die by suicide are selfish or weak because they won’t stick it out. It pisses me off. I recently took some voluntary training on how to talk people out of suicide. It teaches you to connect and try to understand the person. Most of the people there stated that they couldn’t understand why somebody would want to kill themselves. And that actually makes me sad.

      So while this has turned into a novel, this was just a way for me to talk out all my feelings. I have never said this to anyone. So there, yay me.

      • <3 <3 <3

        there was a comparison I read recently which made a lot of sense: that suicide is like jumping off a burning building. You're already in so much pain as it is, what else could be worse? and in our state we just feel like we'd be less of a burden if we just didn't exist.

        • I did my master’s thesis on suicide and I’ve felt suicidal a number of times in my life already, so I feel I know something about it. It’s exactly like that: “jumping out of a burning building”.

          Normally when you feel that someone or something is attacking you and hurting you, you understand where the pain comes from and somehow you manage to defend yourself from that person or thing. But when you want to kill yourself, you cannot identify the source of this unbearable pain or kill it because it comes from EVERYWHERE. So the only way to stop the pain is killing your ability to perceive the pain.

          It’s like a million hands strangling you, like the world falling over your shoulders. You cannot defend yourself from that source of pain. And nothing works, because you can only drink or do drugs to some extent. You are just sick of the pain, you want to be numb and stop feeling anything. It’s the ultimate act of self-defense, only the self disappears after that.

          • Same here I don’t do drugs or drink but i think about suicide on and off. i just feel this disconnect from the world from people.
            I told my mom about how a man hung himself from the bridge near my house. she told me she couldnt understand how someone could have nothing to live for and i felt depressed hearing her say that.
            When I watch bad movies I watch til the end cause I always think there will be good parts and when its finished and there were no good parts I can say well at least I know. I feel like thats my life.
            Welllll that was depressing but so am I

          • What you guys have said, it feels nice to hear I’m not the only one. That for some reason when someone says “How could anyone do that?” I get even more sad inside. Because I do understand that unbearable pain. And that aloneness. So when someone says they can’t understand it it makes me feel impossibly more alone.

          • I understand so much. I have been exactly there. But also I am not there any more and that is the point. I woke up this morning happy, and I am looking forward to today. There have been whole days/weeks/months/years when I didn’t believe that ANYONE could feel that way, let alone that I ever would, because what was there that’s worth living for? I promise that actually there is a lot, there is so much. But you won’t get to see any of it if you go now. You should stay. And if nothing else you should phone one of the helpline numbers because seriously, it was a lady on Breathing Space who convinced me not to go and she didn’t even know she was doing it. You don’t even have to be suicidal to call, you can just need someone to talk to. xx

        • Hey y’all.

          Pretty much ditto on a lot of what’s been said above. The “It gets better” mantra – I question it. I thought about suicide a lot in the past, but a lot has changed since then, and I am no longer that person.

          A lot of people have put their email address out on this website for those who want to talk. Again, mine is [email protected] hotmail dot com. I don’t think it is odd at all if you contact me, and I promise not to get all “advice-y” on your ass.

    • First of all, Tiara, kudos for speaking up. I’m aware that may not seem like much, but we’re supposed to stay positive or something. Also, I really do mean it. Lately, I’ve relapsed or entered a low period or whatever the hell they call it, and it’s making me crazy. The worst part is that I haven’t been sleeping well, because I tend to use sleep as a reprieve. When I’m asleep, I don’t have to think or feel or anything. I’m the one who always takes care of everyone else, and I’ve always been that way. I feel that disconnect which at times seems impossible even to me, because I’m fairly good at connecting with other people. I hate this. So much. It’s so frustrating. When I did counseling awhile back, she told me that I had all the coping skills, and there wasn’t anything new she could teach me. I’m aware there’s not a miracle cure, but if I could get a little more encouragement than that, I’d appreciate it. She didn’t even mean it in a discouraging way, but that’s how it came off. I think I’ve found the biggest thing that helps me is talking and sometimes, a lot of times, talking to a stranger is easier than talking to someone you know. I’ll extend the same invitation Diver did. E-mail me. We can talk to both of our benefits.

      almostnormal1534@yahoo.com

    • I can’t even type out what I want to say, because even acknowledging those feelings for a moment makes me this much closer to my own suicide. When I see all the It Gets Better videos, I think “why hasn’t it for me?” and it hurts even more.

      Why are so many of us suicidal?

      • Because of hate. Because we are hated. But you know what. Even if you are happy just a couple of times a year, just a couple of hours per year; if you die you’re gonna miss that, too, along with the bad times.

        • those few times when I am happy are also excrutiatingly painful. I feel joy, I feel the grin spreading across my chin, I feel accepted and liked and seen, but even in that beautiful moment, I feel like my soul is being cleaved because I hardly ever feel like this. And to feel accepted, liked and seen, I have to push down all the things that on all the other days make me rejected, revolting and invisible. Like a social infection.

          • Oh god I know EXACTLY how this is. Like “damnit if I could be this happy why am I not this happy more often!?”

          • exactly. And while there’s a lot of reasons, the biggest one is “I’m feeling this happy because I’m being true to myself, and nobody around me minds” Knowing that I can’t drag that happy feeling into the rest of my social situations is the kick in the gut. This happiness doesn’t last. It’s my cotton candy. Such a rush of sweetness, but it dissolves without leaving anything lasting.

  5. “I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called ‘social mainstream’.”……..Joseph Jefferson

    It makes me so sad to read about Joseph Jefferson a kind and compassionate young man. who thought his only way out was death ! The so called social mainstream is filled with self rightous people who proclaim hate & bigotry are the normal way of life ,they, in most cases are so caught up in their so-called self importance that basic human kindness is non exsistent in their lives. So blinded by hate that It has to be their way or the highway ! They revel in breaking the human spirit. Instead of using their energy for the good of mankind they choose to spew their hate. I would rather have a million Joseph Jeffersons in this world than one of them ! My heart goes out to the family & friends of Joseph !

  6. This one hit hard, in a different way – he was one of us, he was one of the ones who spent his life telling people it gets better, he should be one of the ones comforting people and uploading a video to the channel and telling kids that living IS worth it and working out how we’re all going to change the world so we can survive but he isn’t, he’s gone.

    This is proof that support and community are just never going to be enough when it comes to this. When educated young people, when our leaders are killing themselves because they can’t bear to live in a world like this being the people that they are, nothing we are doing is enough.

    And I don’t know what to do now apart from have a little cry in the library and hope that the next young person on the edge of giving up finds some reason to hang on. What can we do now? I think my heart is broken.

  7. frankly, i think it’s always been like this. it’s only now that there’s so much attention being paid to it. lgbt people have been suffering for years. the media’s only just gotten a whiff of it now. so sad.

  8. I am so very, very sad. Many of us are trying to support, but we aren’t doing enough. Maybe we don’t know how…but we are up against deep ignorance and fear.
    When I read the comments under Adam Lambert’s “It Gets Better” video, I weep. “A Change Is Gonna Come”, but when and at what expense?

  9. I’m so glad this post exists because it shows that the problem is not only high school and it’s not just about hanging in there and having just a little more patience. Homophobia is ugly, even if you are out of high school and you have a community and a great job. And by ugly I mean, people want to belong and are sick of feeling different, and so many times the gay community still feels like a ghetto and no one wants to be in the ghetto.

    So it’s not about being alone or young or jobless or whatever. It’s about being hated. At all ages and all conditions, just because you’re gay.

    As a gay person you are hated in countless millions of subtle ways every day, every second. If you are sensitive enough to feel these millions of microscopic stabs coming at you endlessly, it gets to a point where you are simply bloodless and die.

    Think for a second, what if Barack Obama was born in 1861 instead of 1961. He had the same talent and willingness to become President, but he’d probably be a slave in the field of some white man. And the problem with gay people today is, it’s going to be SO MUCH BETTER for real, but in 200 years. It’s going to get better, but not in my lifetime. It’s not enough.

    Watching the itgetsbetter videos I think, it’s like telling a black man in the 1850s that one day he’ll be respected, or a woman that she might have a career. But what if that woman is 20 or 30 and cannot go to school. It will NEVER get better IN HER LIFETIME, ever.

    • It’s not just about being gay. You could be in a gay-friendly community and still experience racism, ableism, sexism, all sorts of bigotry. Queer people aren’t always fountains of acceptance.

      • Exactly, and because it’s a small community compared to the rest of the population, you still feel your choices are limited as to the people you can be friends with. I often find myself thinking “I wouldn’t hang out with this person if I were straight”. In many ways, I have more in common with my straight friends than the gay ones. Because unlike the latter, the straight ones have been selected out of a bigger community.

    • Brutal and true. I think I eventually realized that since this was my situation (that I would never experience a world that didn’t hate me), the facts on the ground were that my response to the situation (and not the situation itself) would be the decisive factor. Not saying that everyone else has to come to this conclusion, and I’m not suggesting anything about what other people should think. I’m just stating my experiences here. I used to think about suicide all the time, but things aren’t that way anymore, and as far as I can trace my thinking, this seems to be why.

      • Personally, the problem I have with the “change of mindset” required to endure the situation and organize a “proper response”, is that it shuts me off from things I want. I’ll give you an example. I think that a common behaviour or strategy among queers is to become dismissive of the ‘outside world’ of straight people and learn to value isolation and be contented with “being different”. It’s called adaptive preferences: since all I can have is apple juice, I’d better make myself like it.

        But I am SO not like that. I’d never be able to isolate myself from the world at large and I am most happy when I meet new people and see new places and read new books. I work in public policy because I care about PUBLIC issues. I care about ALL. So for me it’s very hard to endure the rejection of the majority, because I love to find the good sides in every person and people and cities and nations.

        If I started being comfortable with being treated as queer and different, I would stop enjoying what I love most about life right now and my whole brain and cognitive structure (not to mention career) would be hardly impacted, if not fall apart. So for me it’s really hard to endure this huge conflict between such two big and important and core parts of myself.

        • “I think that a common behaviour or strategy among queers is to become dismissive of the ‘outside world’ of straight people and learn to value isolation and be contented with “being different”. It’s called adaptive preferences: since all I can have is apple juice, I’d better make myself like it.”

          I can see what you are saying here. I have the same point of view a lot of the times. I go into a city and see the urban homos living in their gay bubble. Huh? It would never work for me. To me, life is about putting yourself out there, not sequestering yourself. And I’m really butch/masculine of center/whatever they’re calling it these days, so that adds another dimension to being out in “regular” public.

          “If I started being comfortable with being treated as queer and different, I would stop enjoying what I love most about life right now and my whole brain and cognitive structure (not to mention career) would be hardly impacted, if not fall apart. So for me it’s really hard to endure this huge conflict between such two big and important and core parts of myself.”

          No sane person would be comfortable with such treatment. The only workable approach I can see is to just plow right through it. It is stressful, but what other options are there?

          So yeah, I don’t have any answers, but I hear ya. Sucks, don’t it??

          • I don’t find the thinly-veiled disdain for urban gay culture to be helpful. The establishment of urban gay ghettos in the US following the war in the 40s has been successful, in that it has enabled the gay population to reach a critical mass. Without that, how would we have been able to organize to resist the persecution we faced? By grouping together we were able to create a culture and to get dates.

          • Historically Jews have benefited immensely from living in ghettos; that was probably the best option at certain times and ages. But if Jews are not living in ghettos nowadays it probably means that there are better options!

          • Gay people outside cities have been resisting, creating culture, and getting dates all along. The critical mass can be a good thing, but at times it comes at the expense of the more varied, homebrew brand of resistance and culture building that springs up in non-urban areas. I’ve lived in cities, and I noticed that gay people there have templates for behavior and decision-making that they can follow. Out in the sticks, there’s no template, and it’s sometimes more of an improvisational, open source process. There’s no example to look at, so people come up with all kinds of wild solutions.

            In cities, I saw people who turned away from a lot of the elements of where they came from in order to adopt certain attitudes and habits of thought that were accepted in cities. People were ashamed to admit they grew up in some rural areas. I became interested in why that was.

          • I’d love to hear some examples of the improvisational, open source processes queer rural communities use 🙂

        • I so know what you mean. Before I realized I’m gay (which wasn’t too long ago) even though I was in denial, which created all these repressed emotional issues to begin with, I had this really optimistic outlook on life. And like you I’m someone who loved to meet new people, wanted to travel the world, read everything I could get my hands on. When I realized I was gay there was a moment of relief from all the denial, but it didn’t last long. And suddenly my world just got so much smaller and I didn’t want it to. I didn’t choose for it to. While the gay community is one I’m proud to say I’m a part of, I’ve been feeling so separated from everyone else. Distant from people in my life I thought I would always be close to. And it’s still making me sad a lot of the time and some days I just don’t know how to cope.

        • “Adaptive preferences,” it’s great to have a term to describe what I’ve been doing for years. I chose (am choosing) to dismiss other queers in order to try to keep my love for women at bay and be accepted by society at large.

          Hasn’t worked out psychologically, in fact it has led me to have suicidal thoughts myself, especially when I was a teenager (now late 20′)and making the conscious decision to “only like boys,” thinking I would eventually… only like boys.

          I’m sorry to hear that so many of you are feeling so sad, but I also appreciate your honesty.

          I completely understand why Joseph still felt helpless despite all of his wonderful contributions. I sometimes wonder why I have decided to go through my pain instead of ending it. Mostly I think I’m just stubborn – like I don’t want to be beaten by it. But also I’m hoping there’s still time for it to actually get better, and I want to be around to see it.

  10. Can you please include the phone number for the trevor project in posts of this nature?

    For those who need a caring person to talk to, the number to call is 866-488-7386.

    Thanks.

  11. You know, reading people’s comments on this awful story only added to my sadness. Im so upset that people think that it will never get better, because that seems to be what a few of you are thinking. I am 110% sure that there’s a lot of people on this site who would argue differently, that things can improve, because they can. Look, I know what it feels like to be disheartened, I am myself regularly, jeepers how could I not be after reading yet another story about homophobia, or when I go out and get rejected by another woman (happens waaay too often!) but then I remember just how much things have improved in only a few years time. For example, when I wrote this letter to the minister for justice in my country-> http://lgbtnoise.ie/?tag=louise-fitzgerald we had no rights at all, I mean nothing, a few short months later and now we have civil partnership, yes we’re not fully equal yet but it’s progress, things changed, attitudes changed, we became even more accepted in a country where being gay was only decriminalised in 1993. When I wrote that letter I was desperate and depressed, as a gay woman I had no rights….but now I do, things got better, and they can for you aswell. Im so upset that this lovely fella thought that the world had grown too cold, it can be a scary apathetic place at times, but it can also be amazing and warm and lovely….but now he’ll never get to experience that. If attitudes can change in super ridiculously Catholic Ireland where it was actually illegal to be gay up till the 1990’s they can change everywhere and they will, I just wish people like Joseph felt the same way.

  12. So how do we change the entire world? How do we eradicate privilege? How do we make this world worth it? I do everything I’m supposed to: I vote in every election (even the school board), I call out bigotry in its various forms, I teach the kids in my life to be better than their parents, and I try to be open and honest and present, but it isn’t enough. People are dying every day (not just by suicide) and it’s just so heartbreaking. I don’t know what to do next, but I think we need to stay connected, encourage each other, and move past the sadness toward action.

      • I was very suicidal my entire life until 2 years ago when i finally gave in and attempted it. i got a place after a year of couch surfing, and then around the time that my queerness came up at work, i was cut back from full time to 1 day a week of minimum wage manual labor. I could not handle the idea of being homeless again, and i couldn’t bear the thought of wasting away my days working for soulless corporations. All of my options looked miserable.

        So i did it. But before it was too late, i realized that i would never be happy again if i died. I would never know how things could have turned out. i dont believe in an afterlife, so this is it for me.

        so, i didn’t let myself die. A week later i became an activist and have been at it ever since. I decided to cut ties with anyone that made me unhappy. I spend as much time as possible in the sun and climbing trees. Reading. I have great friends now who i did not know back then. I can still get depressed, but i haven’t seriously thought of suicide in a long while now.

        The person i am now is awesome, and i would not exist if i hadn’t given myself a chance.

  13. This really saddens me. Joseph taking his own life. I know it seems like there will no end to this in your young lifetime, but it is happening as we speak…quietly. You see people are getting to the root of the problem…and it’s about time. How many centuries has it been with this hate, and bigotry. But the powers-at-be are talking and making strides. You see there is more research being done on gay people, and what makes them different. They are learning it is not a choice. Also, the gay religious sect is also fighting for their rights to be accepted and allowed to be themselves for they are different. More churches are accepting them, and even ordaining openly gay clergy. One Church in particular is making great strides…the Episcopal Church. Never let anyone especially a Christian tell you that God does not love you. Ever. You hold your head high and tell them to go back where they came from…hell. No one should try to keep you from your God for He was the one who created you. Never think life is not worth it for it is, and you are beautiful. You are not different, you are special. So, it’s important to weather the storm, and be yourself, and stay close together with those who understand. Keep busy, do things that you enjoy doing eg. hobbies, sightseeing, listening to beautiful music, whatever. Those of you who are believers the Gay Christian Network.com is giving you hope, and reassurance, and great Fellowship. Check them out. So, stick together, smile, and keep on trucking. It does get better, and it will. Peace and Much love to you all.

    A Big Hug,
    Sue

  14. Beautiful piece Rie.
    Today I’ll be guest-teaching a 9th grade class at a private Jewish high school about diversity and tolerance (yeah, in 55 minutes) and I’ll be bringing this article to read from.
    thanks hon, you make me proud.

  15. Love your closing paragraph.

    I feel what so many commenters are saying… I think that’s what’s so disturbing about these necessary reports: It could’ve been me, too.

    2010 was both horrific and euphoric. If I’d make that choice this year, or any of my other bad years, I would never have met my girlfriend. To say my relationship takes away the scary place would be a lie, but I’m so glad that I’m around to experience it.

  16. I…don’t know how to deal with these posts. On the one hand, I completely recognize how important it is to publicize each and every one of these cases, so that people realize this isn’t a one-time issue and that these suicides aren’t stopping. Too often something like this will hit the media and then coverage will stop a week later, but the issue hasn’t gone anywhere. I think it’s great that Autostraddle is helping to ensure that that doesn’t happen.

    But at the same time, I find them incredibly triggering. I know that in some cases talking about suicide can lead to more of them (see http://www.crisiscentre.bc.ca/get-help/frequently-asked-questions-about-suicide/#2 the last question on that sheet), and on a more basic level reading these things makes my depression, at least, feel heavier.

    The easy answer, obviously, is for me to not read these posts, but I feel like I have an obligation to read these people’s stories. And even if I don’t read the posts, headlines like these are in-your-face enough that I get the effect anyway.

    So basically I don’t know how to reconcile my desire to hear these individual’s stories and my need to protect myself, and others, from the news. Anyone have any ideas?

    • Unfortunately, I literally have the same problem. I want to read these. I want to know what’s going on. I feel like we need to remember these people so that their legacy continues and change keeps happening, and of course, that wouldn’t be conducive to my own health.

      The only thing I can think of is to try and couple articles like these with something positive or several somethings. I know there are times that nothing helps, but we have to try. Also, I think you can gauge your mood that day or hell, even in that moment. If you’re particularly low, save the article (or whatever) for another time. As I stated above, talking is always. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger than someone you know. Feel free to e-mail me.

      almostnormal1534[at]yahoo[dot]com

  17. When I was 14 I tried to kill myself. Seeing these guys and girls go through that is just so awful, because I know how it feels. I do think the It Gets Better project is good, but we need to let all the LGBTQ humans know that it’s time for us to do something more than just wearing purple or not speaking for a whole day. We need a Civil Rights movement again and fast. Because this man knew that it got better from high school and he probably told kids that, but he couldn’t handle how crappy the world can be.

  18. This makes me feel so hopeless.

    I came pretty close to killing myself last week. And it’s not that I’m being bullied or that I’m the constant target of overt homophobia or that I don’t have family and friends who love me a lot. It’s just that the world is a very hard place to exist in when it seems like it was not made for you. And all the It Gets Better stuff is great and if it’s saved even just one person from hurting themselves, then hooray, it’s all worth it. But honestly, fuck if I don’t see a single sign of things getting better in this world, ever.

    Something needs to change on a grand scale and I fear that it’s beyond our capabilities.

    • True. Although life sucks on a grand scale, what saves me for the moment is that sometimes it can be really wonderful. Even if it’s just a few moments per year, maybe two or one. I still can be very happy at times. I know it’s rare, but if I go I’m gonna miss the next few hours of happiness and I don’t want that 🙂

    • You do not need a reason to feel suicidal. If you were that close to committing suicide, I beg you to please seek help. My cousin committed suicide and she was seeing someone, but only her family doctor and it wasn’t enough. I just don’t want more people to die for no reason.

      There are a lot of biological reasons for depression, just like your lungs can break so can your brain. So sometimes its not just about having enough reasons to feel upset because sometimes there is no common reason its just happens!

    • Please stick around. I know it sucks right now. It does for me too. Let’s both stick around, say hello to each other, check in sometimes. ok? it would hurt us so much to lose one of our own.

  19. This is terrible. I am worried that because of the increasing coverage of suicides I fear that we may get copy cat suicides though.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copycat_suicide
    Most news stations dont report suicides because of it.

    While i feel it is important to have coverage on the story, I am unsure how frequent copy cat suicides occur and I would not want more deaths because of it.

    quote-
    “The more similar the person in the publicized suicide is to the people exposed to the information about it, the more likely the age group or demographic is to commit suicide. Upon learning of someone else’s suicide, many people decide that action is appropriate for them as well, especially if the publicized suicide was of someone in a similar situation as them.

    Publishing the means of suicides, romanticized and sensationalized reporting, particularly about celebrities, suggestions that there is an epidemic, glorifying the deceased and simplifying the reasons all lead to increases in the suicide rate.”

    • This was how I felt about the Chantale & Jeanine suicide. The coverage was so graphic. I was worried about how much the coverage was going to hurt the surviving loved ones, and how much was just the Toronto Star trying to sell papers, and in the meantime, minimizing the situation and making it fit the “gay suicide pandemic”.

      We as a queer community have a lot of problems. A lot of us are mentally ill. But it is entirely possible that the reasons behind these recent actions are more than bullying, and we might be focusing on one very important trigger, but not seeing other ones. But I’m a bit tipsy and high as I write this, so I might not be making any sense.

  20. wow. these comments are amazing, thought-provoking and just so fucking sad. the world we find ourselves in totally sucks right now and i really hope that “it does get better.”

    but what is “better”? is it sunshine, singing birds, starched shirts and big paychecks? i mean seriously. i’ve recently had to think about my own “better” and what that really looks like. after my own attempt to leave this world (which had nothing to do with being queer or the world hating me due to my queerness), i’ve had to really look at how i find balance in my life. and i gotta tell ya — i ain’t found it yet — and i’m getting kinda old, so i wonder if i’ll *ever* find it.

    and maybe that’s it. the search for that balance is what keeps us going… i don’t know. i know a lot of us get tired of chasing this dream called happiness and when we stop its hard to get started again.

    connection is key. reach out to someone. check in. shout out. keep hope alive. we have to be there for one another. and from the sound of these comments, we’re here.

    and that’s my $0.02. keep the change.

    • I wonder about that… about how much these suicides have to do with ppl being queer in a hostile world (even tho this one was explicitly framed in such a way) & how many have to do w/ ppl’s inability to connect/reach out to other people, or to love and feel loved. The latter feels much more real to me & i think is something to address from within the community: how are we creating spaces where people feel connected? how are we promoting healthy loving friendships and relationships? how can we change the ways we are living to ensure that people don’t feel so lonely & isolated?

      maybe this is even a result of GREATER queer ‘liberation’… whereas before, the communities were forced to be more inclusive, more caring & healing, due to outside threats, now we feel like being gay is “normal” and is maybe tough in high school but will be all dandy by college, and that alienates a lot of people.

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