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We march to keep them living

Rally and march to bring awareness to LGBT youth suicide.


David Melson, Executive Director, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons
Bonnie Graves, Board Member, The Trevor Project
Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director, Soulforce
Rev. Mike Daggett, Human Rights Campaign
Andrea Shorter, Deputy Marriage and Coalitions Director, Equality California
Caitlin Ryan, Director, Family Acceptance Project
Danielle Askini Jansson, National Program Manager, Gay-Straight Alliance Network

What: A rally and candlelight march in San Francisco is planned to bring awareness to what some have called a suicide epidemic.

When : Friday, October 8, 2010

6:00 p.m. Media question and answer with speakers
6:30 p.m. Rally with speakers from several national and local organizations leading the fight to end youth suicide.

7:45 p.m. Candlelight march from Civic Center up Market St to Harvey Milk Plaza (Castro & Market)

Where: Civic Center Plaza (between Mcallister and Grove St. on Polk St), San Francisco, California

Why: While acceptance of LGBT people continues to grow in the larger population, suicide amongst LGBT youth continues to be high and is even rising in some areas. Just last month (September) it was reported that nine teen aged boys committed suicide. Most of the nine boys committed suicide after being bullied at school because they were or were perceived to be gay.

“We want to stand up and say ‘NO’ to the idea of one more life being cut short,” explained Robert Moore, Director of Advocacy and Outreach for Affirmation. “Our youth need us to stand up and hold our schools, teachers, administrators and the bullies accountable when it is reported that a youth is being bullied at school. We must also let our youth know we are here for them, we must say come to me when you need help, talk to me when you need an open ear and cry on my shoulder when you need to cry,” said Moore.

Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons was founded in 1977 and is the leading organization providing support and advocacy for LGBT Mormons throughout the world. The group will be holding their 33rd Annual Conference in San Francisco October 8-10. More information is available at

Filed in Uncategorized | 16 responses so far

16 Responses to “We march to keep them living”

  1. 1Better Messageon 05 Oct 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Perhaps a much better conference message can be found in this awesome video “It Gets Better” There is a end to school bullying:

  2. 2fiona64on 05 Oct 2010 at 4:08 pm

    @Better Message:

    I think we’re talking apples and hubcaps here. Yes, the message that you can survive bullying is an important one. However, the point of the Affirmation gathering is to point out the huge number of GLBT suicides that are happening (five just last week *that we know of*).

    Anything that brings attention to this matter is important. Further, it is my opinion that we need to stop ignoring the bullying (including that which comes from the pulpit) and start calling people out on what they are doing. *That* is the only way it stops.

    “Kids will be kids” just results in more kids being dead because they don’t have the life skills and emotional tools to manage the ravening pack of dogs that goes after them every day. It’s the kids at school, and NOM, and Yes on 8, and DADT, and everything else coming down all at the same time on young people … beautiful young people who hear all around them (perhaps even from their own parents, whether they are “out” to them or not) that they are not worthy of life and love.

    I credit three teachers with the fact that I survived bullying; my parents told me to “rise above it.” The high school principal, when I was physically assaulted by one of the people who bullied me, told me to go back to class and act as though nothing had happened, lest the reputation of the BMOC be damaged (“He’s such a good example to so many kids here, you know”). Three teachers told me that things would get better, and gave me a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Many of these kids don’t have those three teachers. It’s up to us to reach out in every way we can to let them know that they are valued.

  3. 3Marcos Puertaon 05 Oct 2010 at 4:17 pm

    That’s right. Bullying is bad. We should treat LGBT people kindly. I don’t think there is any evidence however that being gay and having an LDS background puts one at higher risk for suicide. In fact, rates are much higher amongst other groups that feel “bullied”. These are the REAL risk factors for suicide:

    Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety
    disorders and certain personality disorders
    • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
    • Hopelessness
    • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
    • History of trauma or abuse
    • Some major physical illnesses
    • Previous suicide attempt
    • Family history of suicide

    From the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action (2001).

  4. 4fiona64on 05 Oct 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Marcos: the rate of suicides among LGBT youth is 4 times that of any other group. (this article is from 2007, BTW).

    Perhaps, when talking about LGBT youth with LDS backgrounds, the “hopelessness” factor that you mention should be taken into account. After all, those kids are told that they should either enter into heterosexual marriages or remain celibate and alone. They are told that there is something wrong with them and that they need to be “fixed.” They are told that they are like drug addicts, gamblers and porn addicts — instead of being told that they are beautiful young people.

    Because I am *sure* that you’re not trying to imply that GLBT youth have a mental disorder because of their sexual orientation.

    BTW, putting the word bullied in what we called sarcasti-quotes when I was a journalist tells me that you do not know how serious this issue is. It doesn’t stop when people leave school; there are issues with bullying in the workplace as well. And why do these bully bosses exist? Because they learned during their school years that it was acceptable behavior. Bullying leads to depression (you know, a mood disorder?) … which leads to suicidal ideation in many cases, particularly among young people.

  5. 5Marcos Puertaon 05 Oct 2010 at 7:46 pm

    You are reading too much snarkiness into this. I really was talking about people who truly are bullied (as are many LGBTQ), thus the quotes I included as a reference, not your desired sarcasti-quotes. (I’ll leave the quotes out to avoid any further accusations).

    What groups are you comparing them to and where is your data coming from? Substance abusers, most of which are not gay, have the highest risk among youth, not gays. The elderly have the most disproportionate suicide burden. American Indian/Alaskan Natives also bear a relatively high burden.

    As far as hopelessness: You should read Joshua’s posts. He is gay, mormon and full of hope. He accepts his feelings and turned it over to Christ. Same story for Ty Mansfield – they are a great inspiration. Stuart Matis never could accept gay feelings and asked God to be changed which may not have been possible.

  6. 6Lauraon 05 Oct 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Marcos – Is it possible, do you think, that a young gay man might have heard President Packer’s talk on Sunday and then, with renewed energy might begin (again) to excise the “unnatural” “addictive” “temptation” of same-sex attraction from his life? Might it be possible that such a young man (or woman) infer from President Packer’s testimony that a loving Heavenly Father would never cause a His child to be born with those tendencies – might it be possible for that young LDS member to infer that the same-sex attraction was his/her OWN fault (because it wasn’t God’s fault)? That if he/she prayed more often or studied the scriptures more intensely or attended more temple sessions or denied him/herself privileges due to just feeling attracted to someone (not acting on the attraction, just having the attraction), that, perhaps, by being more stalwart and worthy the temptation would be removed? (Kind of like Stuart and others.) How long must such a person fight that fight praying, hoping, striving for the worthiness and faith to have the not-from-God temptation/addiction/unnatural tendency removed? One year? Ten years? Twenty years? As long as it takes? If an apostle promises you that faith will remove your problem but your problem never goes away, does that say anything about your faith?

    Do you think it might be possible that someone could hear this message, try harder, fail, and then fall deeper into despair/stress/loneliness, perhaps far enough that he/she would consider suicide?

  7. 7fiona64on 06 Oct 2010 at 6:19 am

    Marcos wrote: As far as hopelessness: You should read Joshua’s posts. He is gay, mormon and full of hope.

    I guess you’ll pardon me if I LOL at this. I’ve been reading Joshua’s posts for more than a year. He’s a gay man, married to a woman, trying desperately not to be gay. I guess I don’t see that as hopeful, but as self-loathing. What I feel when I read Joshua’s posts is pity. :-(

  8. 8fiona64on 06 Oct 2010 at 8:28 am

    Um, Marcos? There is no question on a death certificate about someone’s sexual orientation. We do know a lot from kids who are “out” suiciding, and from their suicide notes that mention their sexual orientation.

    That said, there is a lot of evidence to indicate that GLBT youth suicide far more often than their hetero counterparts.

    Enjoy (if that’s the right word).

  9. 9Marcos Puertaon 06 Oct 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Laura – Absolutely, a young gay man could feel that way. Which is why open dialogue with such a young man needs to continue. He shouldn’t lose his temple recommend for same sex attraction feelings. We definitely need to be more inclusive of gays in our congregations and families and make a place of honor for them in Zion. Their challenge to stay morally clean is much greater than mine. I would take such a person as my general authority any day. We are caught up in sexual fulfillment in this country. Sex is everywhere and we’ve been misled to think it is a prerequisite to happiness. Yes, not acting on those feelings would be nearly impossibly hard. Just like any other “why”question, I don’t know why, I just know the Lord loves his children and makes a way here or in the next life. Delaying gratification is hard to come to grips with.

    You are suggesting that if Mormons accept homosexual sex as normal, they would feel less excluded and the suicide rate would go down. This has been studied in European countries which are much more accepting of homosexuality, and their suicide rates are the same as ours. The truth is the depression that goes with homosexuality isn’t a function of societal acceptance of homosexuality.

    It seems to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the message you’re trying to get across is that the church should accept monogamous homosexual temple marriage. Is that really what you are saying? If so, how do you reconcile it with basic scriptural doctrine on gender and families? ?

  10. 10Marcos Puertaon 06 Oct 2010 at 5:44 pm

    BTW I am referring specifically to suicide rates among homosexuals.

  11. 11fiona64on 07 Oct 2010 at 8:23 am

    Marcos wrote: The truth is the depression that goes with homosexuality isn’t a function of societal acceptance of homosexuality.

    Really? Then to what do you attribute it?

    And no, Marcos, neither Laura nor any of the other pro-equality voices are saying anything about “temple marriage.” We are all talking about civil marriage, which your church worked very hard to take away from my friends in CA.

  12. 12Marcos Puertaon 07 Oct 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Really. Some European countries do not tolerate negative speech about homosexuality and gay marriage is legal and widely accepted. In fact, saying otherwise is hate speech. In those same countries, depression and suicide rates among gays are the same as anywhere else. So the question is for you, “Then to what do you attribute it?” Its obviously not society if acceptance doesn’t help.

    You say Laura doesn’t want changes in how the LDS church views temple marriage. Myself and others on this blog have been asking her for some time what she would suggest church policy be, with no response forthcoming. After all, if homosexuality is an unchangeable character trait that must be expressed to avoid suicidal hopelessness, then the only viable answer is to bless such unions in temple marriages. My question is if that is what Laura and those around her are really asking for, not just dialogue or church withdrawal from the civil gay marriage debate.

  13. 13Lauraon 07 Oct 2010 at 6:19 pm

    If young people were killing themselves because they couldn’t get sealed in LDS temples, THEN the answer might be to open the temples to same-sex sealings. But they are not killing themselves because they cannot marry.

    They are killing themselves for many, many reasons.

    It would be nice if our primary objective in helping young people were: First, Do No Harm. We still have a long way to go.

  14. 14fiona64on 08 Oct 2010 at 6:57 am

    Marcos wrote: After all, if homosexuality is an unchangeable character trait that must be expressed to avoid suicidal hopelessness, then the only viable answer is to bless such unions in temple marriages.

    You would think I’d be accustomed to the hubris of Mormon zealots by now, but every now and again it surprises me.

    I am straight and married. Are you saying that I must have a “temple marriage” in order for that marriage to be valid?

    What part of *civil marriage* is beyond your comprehension?

  15. 15fiona64on 08 Oct 2010 at 8:34 am

    Marcos wrote: You say Laura doesn’t want changes in how the LDS church views temple marriage. Myself and others on this blog have been asking her for some time what she would suggest church policy be, with no response forthcoming.

    She answered, quite eloquently, on the other thread. Perhaps you missed it.

  16. 16Dave Hoenon 19 Oct 2010 at 8:01 pm

    My background color for this website is a light purple right now. Is this in honor of Spirit Day on Wednesday? (Wear purple to honor LGBT young people who have committed suicide.)

    Thank you!
    Dave Hoen