It Gets Better. Also … Grief. Please #stayalive.

That’s five. Five people, five boys, who could have grown up to be part of our world, part of our community, part of gay activism, or who could have, at the very least, grown up. Five boys since school started less than a month ago.

This isn’t new, of course. That’s On July 9th, Justin Aaberg, 15, in Minnesota killed himself over to anti-gay bullying. His mom is attempting some activism in dealing with her grief, but clearly we need more.

Whatever we’ve been doing isn’t working well enough yet, because this keeps happening.

I don’t really know what to say about it, I’m just moved by these stories rolling in, and Kristen, a former middle school teacher, has been upset about it all day, and we’ve been thinking.

Here’s some resources I found, places working on specifically this issue.. If you’ve got money to throw their way, and if you’re moved and shocked and outraged and sad like I am, I’m sure they would not mind your support.

What else? What can we do? What are you doing?

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

12 thoughts on “It Gets Better. Also … Grief. Please #stayalive.”

  1. a. says:

    oh, sin. you want people to comment more but then you confront us with cruel hard unspeakable reality like that.

    1. Sinclair says:

      My bad for juxtaposing those two things together—I hadn't planned on this post about the teen suicides, but it needed to happen after yet another announcement. I know it's hard cruel reality … I just don't know what to do about it, either, so I use what small soapbox I've got to try to explore solutions. Or at least, not go crazy with grief.

  2. em says:

    We need more transparency in the public schools. Everyone lives in a public school district. Call your local district and ask what the anti bully strategy is. The schools have the responsibility of keeping our kids safe because kids are compelled to be there. Talk to neighbors IRL about this. If a kid is being bullied the parents need to get a lawyer involved if the school isn't responding to the bullying. I have spoken to several parents now who have used the threat of legal remedy towards the school with good success. There are schools that are successfully dealing with this issue. I talked to the parent of an Aspergers kid who forced the distict to move his son to a different school and the kid reported there was zero bullying going on. That is a big deal because it means it can be changed. I have heard this story from a few parents.

    I love what Dan and Terry are doing, except that I don't believe kids have to live through it. The schools can be forced to protect the kids. Worst case scenario I think we should be providing info for kids to leave the school early if they can't get help. There are establiblished homeschool options in every state. When kids are killing themselves over this it is time to understand we need to use every tool at our disposal. We can use social media to highlight the schools that are endangering kids.

  3. Jax says:

    Thanks, Sinclair, for posting and raising awareness. This is so upsetting. . . We need to take care of our youth! I appreciate the great work Kate is doing with the #stayalive hashtag on Twitter, and Dan Savage's video project! Keep an eye out on work being done in your community with youth, folks, and ways to get involved.

    Something encouraging from my neck of the woods: Toronto is working on creating its first queer shelter – still years away, but a positive note after such sadness.

    Take care of yourselves, too, everyone.


  4. Julia says:

    Thanks for raising awareness! I think we can approach it from several sides.

    There's a channel on youtube called "the beaverbunch". They are a group of young queers who make short videos, answer questions etc.

    I'm part of a volunteer group of LGBT-people here in my town in Germany. We are supported by the state and the city (thanks to anti-discirimination law!) and visit mostly schools (grad 7-10 in general), but sometimes even students in university. We go into classes for a couple of hours, send the teachers out (very important!) and talk about LGBT-issues. We do all kinds of things for them to get a feeling of how it is to be the "minority", we tell them about ourselves, they may ask all kinds of questions, which they gladly do (a lot of them are about sex, of course). Then we leave them information and tell them where they can find us (on- and offline), if they wish to.

    Of course, that's only a small help, but I sincerely believe we need to be rolemodels for teenagers. Because we're not their teachers they confide in us a lot, I think. Every bigger city in Germany basically has such a group. It doesn't take up that much time, but it feels great to know you might have inspired an ignorant kid to think about his/her actions and rethink their stereotypes.

    What about in the States? Do you have groups like these, too?

  5. The next time I'm in my podunk hometown, I will be pushing to get a speaking gig at my old high school. You still have to know where to look to find this stuff online – brave your old haunts to save the new kids.

  6. Asha says:

    I'm feeling sad about all the LGBT youth suicide this week. I'm also grateful for my children Orlando Montford StFitzgerald Bonet & Marguerite Ann Van Mansfeld we are stronger together as the House of Schlong! If you want to save lives, start a co-mentoring relationship with an actual LGBT youth!

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