From The Shadows

“Hope is the dream of a soul awake.”  French Proverb~

I have thought over this blog entry for the past several days and even still, I cannot come up with the proper words on how to start this.  It honestly breaks my heart to even think about this.  But as it seems to continually surface in the news, I feel like I need to speak up… to lend my voice with those of my community so that the light might shine again for those that find themselves stuck in the shadows.

Behind the smiles and the friendships and the everyday lives is the pain and the suffering of someone’s soul.  Despite their outward appearance, they find themselves slipping farther and farther away and feeling as if there is no way out… no where to turn for help.  They might be young; they might be middle-aged; or they might be elderly.  It is defined not by any age or race or religion, but it usually ends in the same result… someone with no hope left just giving up.

Whether we know the individual or not, whether it makes headline news or not, it still affects those of us that are left behind.  We wonder how and why.  We look for absolution, though it never comes.  We carry the burden in our hearts and hope that there is no more.

We live in a changing time.  Though LGBT-rights have been making progress over the past several years, there is still much to be done.  For those that have gone before, we keep their memories in our hearts as we move forward.  For those of us that have lived through it, we know that it gets better.  We know that there are places to turn to when we need that helping hand… whether it be a family member, a personal friend, or an organization within the bigger community.  All we ask is that before things get so bad, that one seeks out help and guidance.  There is nothing wrong in admitting that help is needed.  Even I, at one point in my life, needed that crutch, and it helped me get through some dark days.  That crutch was that light that I needed to get me to emerge from the shadows.  And there is a light for all of us.  We just must take the time and not be afraid to reach out for it.

Amongst our changing world, there is plenty of hate, violence, and bullying.  It can seem as though that’s all our culture is.  But there is plenty of love, kindness, and hope that exists out there, as well.  Sometimes, we just have to look a little harder to find it.  No matter who you are… no matter of age, race, religion, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc… there is someone out there that cares about you, and they might not even know you.  It can be hard to turn off all the negativity that exist within life, but it can be done.

Albert Einstein once said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.”  Even if yesterday was horrible and today is no better, there is always hope for a shining light tomorrow.  Regardless of what life throws at you, you have the ability to overcome.  All one must do is plant his/her feet firmly on the ground and march forward.  Suicide is never an option and should never be considered as such.  There is much more to live for, and we all have a reason for being here.  Let us stop the hate and the bullying.  Let us reform our culture to be one of positive energy instead of negative.  Let us build people up instead of always tearing them down.  Let us remember that we are all someone’s father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, aunt or uncle or cousin, husband or wife, friend or foe.  No one deserves such harsh treatment that they wish to make an early exit from our realm.  Mind your words and your actions for they do have consequences that might not be considered.  Let us together end the suicides that are plaguing our community, and let everyone know, no matter where they are, that there are those of us out here that care about them and will help get them through whatever dark time they are currently in until they can once again emerge from the shadows.  No one is ever alone.  No one is ever alone.

For those that have already fallen, we will never forget them.  For those of us that remain, we must do better to make sure no one else follows them.  We must be willing to stand up and say “We Care!” and reach out to those that need us.  I am proud to stand up and say that “I Care!”.  The bigger question is, do you?  And if you are one that needs that helping hand, do you have the courage to seek that crutch that you need so that you can stand up with us?  I know that within your heart, you do.  So reach out today for your community is here to help you.

INFORMATION:
If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, please call 1-866-4-U-Trevor (1-866-488-7386).  You can also click on the link for The Trevor Project.  There are people there that are willing to listen and to help.  You can also look up your closest LGBT Center.  Remember, you are loved… whether you know it or not… and you can get through this.

“He who has health, has hope.  And he who has hope, has everything.” Proverb~

In Memory of Those that have Fallen…
Let there be light so there are no more shadows.

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For The Grace of God

As I am about to embark on a new age of my life shortly, I find my thoughts drifting into the past.  Sure…some of it seems bad, but in the end, everything is a learning experience that we all go through in some form or another.  Overall, I’ve been very blessed and have had an easier time with things when it comes to my sexual orientation that some people haven’t.

As with most in the LGBT community, my coming out was a deep and personal journey where there was no answers, just more questions.  But in accepting myself and who I am as a person, it made the journey a little easier and gave me confidence that I could handle it.  But not everyone has that luxury.  For some, it’s an entirely different ordeal altogether.  They are deeply lost and confused.  They are struggling with the way they were brought up with who they are as a person.  And it’s not something that is easily dealt with.  They have no support network…no place to turn for guidance.  So they come out and face the music….alone.  And then it’s the people that are supposed to love them unconditionally that take advantage of them and betray that trust.  It’s the parents that are shipping their children off to these ex-gay ministries to be cured of their homosexuality as if it’s a disease like cancer that has a medical treatment, or that it’ll just go away with a lot of prayer and eliminating the “homosexual influences.”

This is all basically a massive sham that even the LGBT community has turned a blind eye to rather than fighting these ex-gay ministries (like Exodus International) for the rights of their fellow brethren.  Most of those that are in these facilities are there against their will.  It’s the parents who are forcing them to go in the hope that deep prayer will “cure” their children and they can live happy, normal lives and blend in with the rest of the masses.  In this case, one would have to ask themselves, “Why would I want to be ‘normal’ if it means just blending in with everyone else?”

I can safely say that I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I was going to be gay.  The same as you didn’t wake up and decide that you were going to be gay or straight – depending on whichever you are.  It’s just what is.  And regardless, you should be proud of the individual that you are.

It is our faith that can play tricks on us through any of this.  We all come to terms with things differently and see different meanings in the written word.  For me, it took some soul-searching and deep thought to realize that I could still have my spirituality and be gay…that it was possible for the two to coexist.  But there are some that don’t get this luxury of soul-searching or being allowed to develop their own opinions.  Instead, it’s the parents that are forcing their children into sharing their beliefs and seeing the world through their eyes…even if that means that their kid comes out of these ex-gay ministries even more confused and alone than when they went it.

The parents rarely see past their own views and the “cure” for homosexuality to the kid’s well-being and mental health.  And though I’d like to blame the parents for this solely, I cannot, for the media and the culture of our nation have deeply influenced all of us.  It’s better to blend in with the rest of society than to be different from the norm in any way…according to what society wants from us.  And this is something these ex-gay ministries take advantage of.  They prey on families at their most vulnerable time when everyone is searching for answers.  And usually by the time those answers are found, it’s too late and the damage has been done.

My spirituality will always be with me despite the fact that I’m gay.  To me, God made me gay for whatever reason He chose…and I thank him for it, too.  It has allowed me the chance to see things in an entirely different light.  These ex-gay ministries (like Exodus International) should be ashamed of themselves for spreading the lies and false hopes, and for making people think that there is something wrong with them simply because they are gay.  Rather than using faith to conquer fear, they are using it to spread that intolerance.  And I’m sure they could quote me several Bible verses, too, to back up their claims.  But let me counter with this…isn’t one of the 10 Commandments to “love thy neighbor”?  To me, that form of love is to be unconditional.  If you’re trying to get me to change something because you don’t agree (or forcing me to), that’s not really unconditional love.  Unconditional love means you are respectful and like the many different aspects of what makes someone an individual.

And even all of us in the LGBT community should look down upon ourselves for we have not rallied to the aid of our brethren…to help them in their darkest hour.  It is, after all, up to us to fight these ex-gay ministries and to spread the word of the psychological stress that can result.  It is up to us to make it known that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual…even if society or religion says there is.  We’re the ones who must rally.  These ex-gay ministries must not be allowed to flourish under our noses.  We must be there to show these individual souls that they are not alone and there is an entire community out here waiting to embrace them.  And most importantly, to show them that there is nothing wrong with being gay.

Coming Out

To those of you who know me, the fact that I’m gay is not a surprise.  Even a couple of weeks ago, Clay Aiken finally came out to all of America….again, no surprise.  However, today, October 11, is National Coming Out Day.  So I wanted to take a moment to address something very important.

A 2005 Massachusetts Department of Education survey of 3500 high school students found almost 11 percent have seriously considered suicide. And that percentage is almost four times as high for 10-24 year olds who identify with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, or questioning.

It is not easy for most of us to come out of the closet.  Our own welfare is usually on our minds and how the outside world will treat us.  Then it comes down to our family and friends. And for those of you who have followed along with me through the years even know of my rough patches.  So I’m hear to say that there is help out there.

It’s called The Trevor Project.  It began in 1998 and is named after the short film “Trevor” that won an Academy Award in 1994, and it is a 24-hour helpline for gay youth.  They have more than 500 volunteers that are trained for 40 hours and get at least 15,000 calls a year.

If you know someone that is going through a hard time with being gay, or maybe you yourself are, and might be contemplating suicide, please seek help.  You are not alone out there, despite what you might think.  Don’t worry about being mainstream or being different from everyone else. Consider yourself unique to the world….a world you have a lot to offer.  I can’t promise you an easy journey and there will be those bad times. But there will also be those good times and new friends.  So please stop and think logically for a moment.  You are important, and your contribution to our society is as well. Sometimes, life takes those unexpected detours, but that’s the adventure that awaits us all.  If life was a straight line, it would be fairly boring. Embrace yourself and your uniqueness….and always remember, you’re not alone.

But if you, or someone you know, does need some help getting through those tough times, then contact The Trevor Project, and please seek that help.  You, and those that love you, will be grateful in the end.  🙂  And never be afraid to be yourself.

PHONE: 1-866-488-7386  (1-866-4 U TREVOR)

LINK: www.thetrevorproject.org

OTHER INFORMATION:

Warning Signs:

-A tendency toward isolation and social withdrawal

-Increase substance abuse

-Expression of negative attitudes toward self

-Expression of hopelessness or helplessness

-Loss of interest in usual activities

-Giving away valued possessions

-Expression of a lack of future orientation: “It won’t matter soon anyway.”

-For someone who has been very depressed, when that depression begins to lift, the individual may be at INCREASED risk of suicide, as the individual will have the psychological energy to follow through on suicide ideation.

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