I received a phone call yesterday. A friend needed advice, as one of his employees had come out to him. And was suicidal. Very suicidal. He had changed his bank account to his parents names, showing planning and forethought. He asked my friend "Please don't ever tell my parents, no matter what." Needless to say, my friend - who is remarkably open and well-trained on GLBT issues - was a bit shaken. He was making the requisite referrals and phone calls to the Counseling Center, but wanted to know more about specific issues with GLBT individuals and suicide. So we went over coming out, the suicide info I have wedged in my brain, and specific strategies for coping and triggers to watch out for. I had forgotten how draining a 30 minute phone call could be.
When I hung up, I stepped out of crisis intervention mode...and the tidal wave of emotions hit me. I was defeated, as this was someone who had been through a panel discussion in the past. I worried about what I could have said differently...what more I could have done to let this kid know he's okay. I felt hope, because in some ways, the system worked. My friend knew the signs to watch out for, knew how to talk to the kid, and knew where to turn for more help. I felt proud, because my friend felt he could call me and trust me to have something helpful for him. But mostly, I was pained, as I know what it's like to hate yourself so much you want nothing more than for your life to end. And I never want anyone to experience that again. And that's where the anger began.
Anger at a society and culture that allows messages about the low self-worth of GLBT people to go unchallenged. Anger at religious leaders who either remain silent, or rail against the sinful evilness of human beings with beautiful souls. Souls with only one "crime" on their record: loving someone a dogma says is the "wrong" person. So this person, Mr. Falwell, is why I believe you are dangerous. This young person, ready to end his own life, is why I stand up against you so vehemently, Mr. Phelps. This struggling soul is why I speak out, speak up, and will continue to do so until death silences me, Mr. Bush. Your intolerance and ignorance is killing him, and thousands like him. STOP YOUR LETHAL CAMPAIGN OF HATRED AND DENEGRATION. As the tears form in my eyes, my fists also clench in rage.