A Take on Recent Gay Suicides

Masha Makhlyagina

Staff Reporter

These words are forced. They are hard to write. They are hard to read. But do it.

Last night I was at the Allies meeting and finally, finally all the pain of the recent suicide tragedies swept over me.

Why is Sex on the Hill going to talk about the web of suicides? Because it all ties back to the world that we live in, the world where we are fascinated by who people love, who people kiss, who people hold hands with, and who people are attracted to. While my friends have tried to make Allies a safe, positive space for non-heterosexual individuals and their straight allies, I can’t spin this into an entertaining piece because the hearts of those mourning all across the nation are not amused. We are wretched with loss and we acknowledge that this is the saddest marker for a need for our efforts’ continuation.

According to the Trevor Project, which aims to promote acceptance and prevent suicide of LGBT individuals, non-heterosexual youth have a suicide rate that is four times that of heterosexual youth. This number skyrockets when these individuals come from rejecting families, especially with transgender youth. Want concrete numbers? Suicide was the third leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years of age in 2009. Over time, we have seen that suicide is the second-leading cause of death on college campuses, a fact that rings painfully pertinent for loved ones of Tyler Clementi.

A streamed video of a homoerotic act between Tyler and another male student at Rutgers University outed Tyler as “gay”. Shortly after the video scandal, Tyler jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge.

Openly gay Raymond Chase of Johnson and Wales University hung himself. So did Seth Walsh and Justin Aaberg, who were only thirteen years old and Billy Lucas, who was fifteen. Asher Brown used his stepfather’s 9 mm Beretta to take his life after being teased for “gayness.” In most of these cases, harassment has followed the student like a dark, unshakeable cloud. Every teasing, disgusting word thrown at them was the equivalent of the rope or the gun that ended their lives.

Why are we so obsessed, maddened, and driven to harassment…violence…hate… by someone’s declaration of what gender they love or are attracted to?

You might disagree with homosexuality. You might feel disgusted by it and distance yourself from all things having to do with “not-straightness” (and I pity you if you do, because you’re missing out on having some terrific people in your life). But keep your putrid hatred to yourself. Every rejecting act you throw at us is sharpening the murder weapon of a crime you don’t want on your conscience.

“If you or someone you care about displays any of these warning signs, do not hesitate to call The Trevor Lifeline at: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) to speak with a trained volunteer counselor.” Or visit www.thetrevorproject.org. Please.

Reporter’s Note: My friend Hanna Barker wrote an incredible blog for Admissions that can express my emotions and those of the members who were present far better than I can (It is titled “In response to the suicides of gay teens across the country” and can be found at http://admissions.mcdaniel.edu/tabid/3520/Default.aspx).