Sunday, April 26, 2009

Here I am again...

I haven't abandoned this blog. I just can't get on it to post during my down time at school. All blogs are blocked in the first place, but I used to be able to use a proxy server to get around that. I know that's not what the school would have wanted, but I figured I wasn't really doing anything wrong. I'm not above breaking the rules if the rules seem senseless. It may be part of my Asperger's or ADD or whatever it is I have. I wouldn't want me any other way, so I don't worry about it.

Anyway, so here I am again on a beautiful (if a bit too hot) Sunday, catching you all up. I hope to be able to blog more regularly again. It's hard to track progress when updates are sporadic.

Quite a lot has happened in the last week, on several fronts. First of all, I'm moving forward on my Suicide Prevention events. The online event now has 26 attendees on Facebook. I never could figure out how to get the event invitation to work on Myspace... it seems to get caught in an endless loop every time I try. So I just posted a bulletin about it and hoped for the best. I may write on some people's comment space as well. We'll see.

Putting this event together--as well as the offline event, which I'll blog about in a second--has been the hardest thing I've ever done. It's not that it's really difficult to set up an online event or anything like that. It's that reading the stories of people who have committed suicide really upsets me.

I started writing Shades of Gay because my best friend used to be suicidal because of his sexual orientation. He didn't deserve to suffer the way he did, and every day I thank G-d that he is still alive. But reading these stories makes me realize how many people aren't as lucky, and how easily it could have gone the other way. More than once I've found myself crying over the needless suffering and waste. So far I've found six stories, and all of them sound the same. This person had a ton of potential. This person was doing good things for their family/friends/community. This person's suicide shocked everyone.

It's time for this to stop. 1 out of 3 suicides is LGBT related. That's about 1500 people a year.

This should be considered a national crisis just as much as AIDS or any other epidemic. Hell, the fact that there are 5000 suicides a year for any reason should be considered a national crisis. The fact that a full third of those suicides are related to being a member of a group making up just 10% of the population should be doubly so.

Anyway, as hard as it is for me to read these stories, I have to keep reading them, because I want to be the voice of all those who have died and who have wanted to die and who still want to die. This is not the way G-d intends human beings to live, it's not the way we should live, and it's going to stop.

Another thing I did this week was create a short video letting people know about this problem. I think if we can put faces and names to statistics, the majority of people can be reached. I'm not worrying about the extremists, the truly committed homophobes who protest the funerals of gay suicide victims and claim that they deserved to die. I'll leave that battle for someone else, thank you very much. But I will try to reach the ordinary people who aren't aware a problem exists, and the ones who are homophobic by default, simply because they've never met a gay person and therefore have had no reason to question the attitudes they've been brought up with.

I'm also trying to reach the people who already care, the people who are LGBT supporters. I'm hoping those people will join me in making a difference.

I've got web sites and press releases and videos galore out on the World Wide Web, and I just pray that it makes a difference. I want to do something important. I want to help people. I want to put an end to needless suffering.

One last piece of news: I am likely having a candlelight vigil followed by a dinner on May 22, in honor of the birth of Harvey Milk and of suicide awareness month. I am working with the LGBT Center of Raleigh to secure a space for the event. Tickets will be $7, and will go towards the LGBT Center as well as the Trevor Project Hotline.

If you do not live in Raleigh, I encourage you to have your own event and let me know about it. I will post pictures, videos, etc.