Long post. Sorry, not sorry. It’s important, and please feel free to share a link to this post anywhere you want to, if you are so moved.
Since suicide is a contagious disease, and it’s in the headlines again, I think it’s urgent for parents, friends, family, teachers, coaches, and vague acquaintances of young gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, and questioning folk to be on the alert in coming weeks.
\LGBTQQ youth are statistically at extremely high risk for suicide, because, let’s face it—adolescence, middle school, and high school are awful to begin with. Teenagers are in the most oppressive, least supportive environment that most of us will ever face in our whole lives. For anyone who’s a little different, it’s a whole lot worse. For young folks who are dealing with all the usual adolescent crap AND are beginning to wonder if they’re even bigger misfits than everybody else around them, middle school and high school crap goes way beyond annoying and difficult to potentially fatal.
If you are LGBTQQ:
- It gets better! Life sucks now, but it won’t always suck. Just get through it somehow. Live into adulthood.
- Look around for the people who see you—they can help. They might not be able to relate to everything you’re going through, but they will help.
- If your family is awful, that’s not your fault—get the support you need wherever you can, and maybe someday your family will come around. They probably will. If they don’t, they suck, and they’re not your fault. Move on. Save your own life.
- Grow into adulthood—because IT GETS BETTER. Life will be really, really good someday, and the stuff that makes it hardest now will be some of the stuff that makes it the most beautiful later on, but you have to keep yourself alive to reach the promised land.
- If what you’re hearing in a church or shul or mosque or temple or wherever isn’t that you are loved, worthwhile, and meaningful, then it’s that place that is wrong, not you. These places are made up of people, and people get stuff wrong, but God isn’t taking orders from those people. Any god worth believing in loves you just the way you are. (And for that matter, any people worth believing in love you just the way you are, too.)
If you are family, friend, acquaintance, teacher, coach, or something to LGBTQQ kids:
- It doesn’t matter if you understand or can relate to the LGBTQQ stuff. You don’t have to. All you have to remember is that these are young people going through difficult stuff on their way to becoming beautiful, loving, fulfilled adults, and they need love and support like everybody else.
- They’re getting all kinds of messages that something about them makes them not good enough, and all those messages are wrong. Give them the messages they desperately need to hear: that they’re good people, they’re worthwhile, they’re lovable, they matter.
- And IT GETS BETTER. It just does. They need to know that.
- If what they’re hearing in a church or shul or mosque or temple or wherever is part of the problem, remind them that this place is made up of people who get stuff wrong sometimes, and God doesn’t take orders from those people. Any god worth believing in loves them just the way they are.
My own adolescence wasn’t too bad. I grew up with parents and other adults who might have been clueless at the time about LGBTQQ stuff, but they had that unconditional love thing figured out. As a result, the crap I heard at school and church didn’t get far enough under my skin to do real damage—but I sure heard a lot of damaging crap! And I know way too many people for whom the crap they heard at school and at church and worst of all at home became overpowering, fatal messages, and they’re no longer with us.
We’ve lost way too many good people to fear, despair, and ignorance. Please do not let yourself or someone you see become yet another one of them. IT GETS BETTER.