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Archive for October, 2010

Last month there were a string of reported suicides by queer youth, and there were most definitely many more tragic suicides that weren’t deemed worthy of attention by the press.  In response to this, one of the campaigns to bring attention to this issue, and to help give hope to queer youth, was started by gay columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller.  The campaign, “It Gets Better” enlisted everyday people and celebrities, from the Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson to a person such as Stephanie, to spread the message that suicide is not the answer, and that life gets better.

Over these past couple of weeks there have been a lot of conversations in my circle of friends around these suicides, some people haven’t been able to understand what would drive people to these drastic measures, others have revealed that this has been something they have struggled with as well; for many it has been a very emotional time.  When these discussions were happening, queer youth who hadn’t considered suicide said that a large part of the reason they didn’t was because of support groups–either family and friends, religious groups, or Gay Straight Alliances–not because they didn’t face bullying and hardship.

When GSA’s were brought up several of us reflected that our high schools never had organizations designed to give support to queer youth.  In my high school the principal flat-out refused to approve an organization that would perform that function, the school board passed a measure designed to censure plays with gay themes (deeming them obscene), and the nearby McLean Bible Church ran (and still runs) a program called Out of the Darkness designed to “[support and equip] those who want to overcome sexual promiscuity, addiction, sexual abuse, same-sex attraction and other forms of sexual brokenness.”

All of these measures led some of my friends to attempt suicide, it caused others to stay in the closet because they feared the environment they would encounter, others were just very discreet about who they revealed their orientation to, and a very few decided to be very flamboyant to draw attention to the fact that queer youth did exist in our school and community, no matter how hard authority figures tried to ignore that fact.  The time has come for these problems to end, high schools need support groups and safe zones, people need to realize that the words they use can and do hurt, and sometimes have dire consequences.

So, even though this isn’t a youtube video, I still want to say, that it does get better.  It may still be hard at times, and sometimes life may throw a curve ball that throws you off balance; but it gets better.  Please take a look at the “Make It Better Project” to find resources and strategies to begin building positive change in our schools and communities.

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So, it’s October!  I am about a month away from departing for Cancun and I don’t know how I feel right now.  It is so weird to be a student, knowing that I am going to graduate this year, and also knowing that I am going to miss two weeks of class in order to participate in the international climate talks.  Sometimes I’ll be sitting in class, or at work, and realize that real life is happening.  When that happens I have to squelch a panic attack and remind myself that, really, real life has been happening for a while and I am just freaked out by the upcoming transition (and then I make a note in my planner to have a beer when I get home before I open my night’s reading).  Other nights, though, I feel like time is stretching on forever, and I am really, really happy with where I am right now.

Those moments, the ones where I am most content, help me achieve a slightly different perspective as to why I am going to Cancun.  The reason I am going, overall, is because I feel that climate change is much too big to be ignored; but there are two sides of that reason.  There is the side most similar to how I feel when I panic about real life–that side says that the world is slowly being washed down the shower drain and there is nothing to do but desperately try to plug the drain with whatever I can in order to make a difference, and that is useful.  Really, that attitude can be incredibly motivating and provide a real sense of urgency; but if I stay in that mindset too long then I get burnt out.  That is why I really enjoy those quiet moments, they help me realize that I am not the only person working on this.  Everyday there are more and more people waking up to the truth that we need to save our planet.

I was talking with my family recently, and if an outside observer were to read a description about our political beliefs (to be overly simplistic in descriptions: I am…really liberal, while my parents are moderate Republicans) and then see how we were all agreeing about the need to protect the environment they might scratch their heads.  But one thing preparing for COP 16 has really helped me come to realize is that the environment is not a Republican/Democrat issue, it is not conservative/republican, and it does not belong to any (or a lack of any) religion/spirituality–protecting our environment is a human issue.  We may all have different reasons for wanting to protect the  environment, and there are people who seriously don’t care at all; but we need to get passed the simplistic analysis about why someone would care about the environment and approach everyone with the acknowledgment that even if we disagree about specific frames or reasons, what we agree on is so much bigger because it is essentially an affirmation of each other’s intrinsic worth.

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