The Silver Lining of All the Hate

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Cross-posted with Equal Writes*TRIGGER WARNING*

by Elizabeth Cooper

I feel like I'm "supposed" to feel one way or another about major LGBT news stories - generally some variation of happy or sad and/or mad. Let's complicate that original impulse. All of the stories Brenda mentioned are objectively, very sad. And the momentary win for same-sex marriage in California this summer was very happy and exciting. But there are other, perhaps unexpected, impacts of both stories.

Today, I went to a lunch about Bisexual Health, sponsored by Health Professions Advising, the LGBT Center, University Health Services, and Women's Center. One comment noted that in light of the general positive trend towards acceptance (exemplified by support for same-sex marriage), people have been expressing hate that much more vehemently. The presenter pointed out that while LGBT people already firm in their identity can brush off hateful words, these words can deeply hurt those still questioning their identities. The youth that are currently being highlighted in the media as victims and survivors of anti-gay sentiment are among those most vulnerable.

But there is a silver lining. In the wake of these heartbreaking deaths, we as a country are forced to take homophobia and transphobia seriously. LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts. These incidents have started a dialogue on what we as policy makers, teachers, students, etc. can do to help what is clearly still a problem.

And what some individuals are doing warms the cockles of my heart. The comedian Dan Savage started a YouTube channel called "It gets better" about how life for LGBT folks "gets better," even great. Savage said that, "hearing about these kids that have committed suicide, the reaction as a gay adult is always, 'God, I wish I could have talked to them for fifteen minutes or five minutes and told them it gets better...'" was the inspiration for the channel. So now LGBT adults across the country are telling youth how life has gotten better for them. Over half a million people have viewed their stories.

That said, these tragic stories could also be very triggering. Whatever your reaction, I encourage you all to go to "an open discussion to talk about these incidents and how they impact each of us as well as our community at large" hosted from 1:30 to 3:00 pm today, Friday, in the LGBT Center. The discussion is meant to be "a confidential setting with no set program or agenda." I encourage you to talk and listen about these events and how they impact us as individuals and as a community.

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