The crimes of hate (I’d rather call them crimes of fear) committed against so many of our youth, and so many LGBTQIA folks in general, all start with the seed of a fearful thought. Thoughts unattended. Unreasonable. Unfounded. Unbelievable. Inexcusable ignorance.
What are some things we can do to proactively alleviate, stave off, prevent, remedy, and ultimately heal such fears–before such poisonous ideation metamorphosizes into, possibly, much worse scenarios? The question feels like a hopeless one, but we must continue to ask it.
According to StopHate.us, LGBTQIA folkss from all racial, social, and religious backgrounds are the third-highest targeted group for hate crimes in the United States. Why are allies included in these statistics? Because allies are often questioning (possibly queer, but not yet aware) people who are mistaken for being gay, or whose gender identity is questioned (after which time the person/their rights are violated).
The psychological impacts of hate crimes continue to reverberate in our general communities at large–let alone our LGBT communities–affecting relationship dynamics between friends, family, and even feeling secure within yourself–whether or not you are part of the LGBT community.
The teenage suicides that the queer community’s becoming more than well aware of statistically came to the fore again this year–in droves. It’s a shock to the system, a totally unpleasant surprise, but we must always stay vigilant, so that we can take good care of our own.
Along with these tragic deaths has come political backlash–most usually citing LGBT living as a political bargaining chip and point of argument rather than a personal, intersocial, and some might posit, a spiritual/at-birth choice. In light of the resurgence of LGBT youth suicides, children and youth whose only desire is to love and be loved in return (this innate desire is every single soul’s birthright) chose to transition to another plane rather than deal with the pain of bullying, aggressive/inappropriate behavior, and feeling hopeless. At such an age when sexuality is a big question mark, it’s quite likely that these sweet kids and young people’s lives were lost over assumption, presumption, ignorant folks deigning to identify a sexual identity on someone else’s behalf. An identity which at many stages in life–young and old–could very well be in flux and barely solidified or acted upon.
And what of the survivors? Friends and family left behind after a crime’s committed…to unfortunate and fatal effect, or those who are lost and bereft after a teen suicide has occurred, or other queer youth even reading such stories…. A common reaction to such news stories is the perpetuation of even more fear: a young woman or man who may be LGBT or questioning may hold themselves hostage, frozen in a space of perceived hopelessness or powerlessness, which is the unfortunate goal of such crimes and bullying mentalities in the first place. Even Constance McMillen, the lesbian teenager who was fully supported by the ACLU, attended a high school where the very administration itself would rather cancel prom than have an out lesbian attend said prom with a date…just like everyone else.
For all of the anti-LGBT acts of violence that are reported, many more are not, because of that perceived sense of powerlessness. Community, knowing that you have friends, extended family, and resources out there, is key. How can we bring that sense of support, connection, and hope to light? One thought, action, kind and compassionate act at a time.
There are many ways you can create light, enlightenment, and healing in the face of such complicated situations, so that you’re not beholden to the fear of them, and how they might touch upon your life at home, work, or school. Your lighting a candle in any way, shape, or form, can help better the situation for others as well, bringing as much resolution as can be reasonably expected. Your taking action as an activist can most definitely help. Your local–or even state LGBT center always needs volunteers.
Posting and sharing positive and healing resources, clicking a “Like” button on human rights/equality stories on Facebook, anything to tip the scale and bring balance to the number of supporters who remind us “It Gets Better” (like the YouTube series of loving, supporting videos of the same name)…all good. Obviously the more you do and the more public the forum, the more helpful. All actions are born in thought, however, and your Good thoughts, your loving and supportive thoughts, most definitely count. Your positive viewpoint could be just the seed of Compassion that an activist needs to birth a campaign, a book, a video, a–do you follow the meaning here?
These youth we’ve lost…let’s honor their memories by making sure we help them leave in their wake ideas of love, empowerment, restoration, thoughts of universal equality and rights for all. Every single soul. Let’s stay awake.
Kids don’t always have the life experience to know that they have the Life-given right to hope. Let’s remind them. Often. Hope is key. Knowing support exists is key. Visioning and acting, acting out a state of empowered beingness and spirituality and sharing that with others, especially youth, is so very important. Let’s do this. Together. One restorative thought at a time, one healing action, meditation, and activity at a time, we can bring Love, Harmony, and Healing back to our inner, outer, and extended worlds. Don’t believe this? Try it and see if you can prove me wrong.
The resources below consist of tangible ways, large and small, that can bring upliftment and love to the tragic, unfair, and quite incomplete idea of hopelessness. Hope happens. And you and I can be just the very arms and legs, hearts and minds, bodies and souls and spirits, to put that hope in loving and perpetual motion.
Suggestions for Healing and Resources:
Support our youth. There are many resources for lesbian, gay, transgender, and questioning youth. The more prominent national resources include COLAGE (Colage.org), The Matthew Shepard Foundation (Matthewsplace.com), and LYRIC (Lyric.org). The Trevor Project, like other supportive spaces for our youth, features a 24/7 hotline for teens and youth. Visit TheTrevorProject.org or call 866 4U TREVOR.
Report, Relate, Inquire: The National Center for Victims of Crime – NCVC.org – For all victims of all types of crime – includes anti-stalking resources, women-only and teen only resources, and more. You can also send them anonymous emails through the site and call their helpline toll free from any phone: 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255)
Release The Past And Heal Today: RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is a resource for male and female survivors of abuse as well as current reportage, and has both a toll-free and virtual helpline for folks of all ages. Call 1-800-656-HOPE.
Meditate. Send thoughts of healing, hope, and light to the situation for all involved through a Higher Power that feels best to you. Upon reflection, perhaps you might send a letter of thanks and appreciation to organizations, activists, and government officials who are taking immediate, genuinely helpful, and appropriate measures to rectify situations.
Entertain yourself with good ideas: Rent relevant films with healing themes and debrief afterward. You might even want to hold a small local screening at your place of worship/community or at home with friends and family. Movies can prove to be a great catharsis when you don’t quite have the right words on hand. Focus on cinema that offers up constructive alternatives and supportive scenarios.
Express yourself: create a song, a piece of artwork, a photograph, a story, anything that metabolizes your feelings, whatever they may be, into a new, transformative energy.
Get political: Your local LGBT Center (ask at 646-546-5126/LGBTCenters.org), or other groups like HRC, and ask how you can be of support, volunteer, or donate time or money to help hate crime survivors to heal.
If you are straight-but-not-narrow and want to know what you can do to help, organizations like PFLAG and GLSEN (PFLAG.org, GLSEN.org) have an abundance of literature and resources specifically created to educate and empower to act those who support those in the LGBT community.
Last but hardly least, take the best care of yourself that you can and then some, allow yourself to know it’s okay to reach out for help even if you’re “only” dealing with heavy emotions in light of challenging issues, news, and events (you are precious to the Universe–whatever you are dealing with is relevant and precious), and continue to thrive and grow in the most important relationship of all: the one within yourself.