32 years ago today, October 11, 1987, I went to Washington, DC for the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights and the unveiling of the NAMES Project Foundation’s AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall. Ever since then, that remarkable day has been commemorated by our celebrating National Coming Out Day, honoring those who make the brave and life-affirming decision to come out. We also honor those who can’t come out, who aren’t ready to come out, who don’t live where it is safe for them to come out.
As I marched in our nation’s capital demanding our rights, I remembered having last visited DC with my family as a child. Those same majestic buildings that welcomed me in a patriotic way when I was just 5 years old were now impenetrable to 22-year-old gay me. These same government agencies ignoring and imperiling us. I wasn’t alone thankfully, I was protesting in a sea of change agents. But being young and gay and feeling like the world is stacked against you is terrifying.
I read a recent report from The Trevor Project (the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25) on the vital role we all have in ensuring the safety of our LGBTQ youth — especially for those who don’t have an accepting adult in their life:
- Nearly 80% of LGBTQ youth reported discussing their sexual orientation with at least one adult.
- Among those, 79% said at least one of those adults was accepting of them.
- Greater than 25% of youth who did not have at least one accepting adult in their life reported attempting suicide in the past year.
- Youth who reported having at least one accepting adult in their lives were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year than those who did not have one.
Today it is critical to think about the young people in our lives that we can be that lifeline for. Today we can reach out and affirm our love and support for them. Today we can all help save a life. Give a life-saving donation here.
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I was interviewed about Gay Like Me and the LGBTQ community’s Unfinished Business at The Atlantic Festival last month. In my conversation with contributing editor Matt Thompson, I spoke about parenting, gay rights, soccer star Megan Rapinoe and lots more. The Atlantic wrote an interesting follow up article discussing how my views differ from Andrew Sullivan’s. Read that here or watch the video below.