Gay teen suicide has become a bit of a buzz word these days. I've been moved by videos popping up on Facebook and Twitter by celebs- gay and straight- reaching out to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, questioning) youth with the message "It will get better, I promise." It's an attempt at a ray of light, even a pinpoint of light, to youth who might be in a very dark place as they struggle with feelings, bullying, acceptance from others and even acceptance of themselves.
One group, The Trevor Project, is a resource for LGBTQ youth to reach out to if they are in a situation where they feel there is no way out. I spent a good amount of time on that website, reading about the project and the film that inspired it. The Trevor Project also encourages people who aren't L or G or B or T or Q- but who are allies- to be involved and supportive.
I support The Trevor Project. I'm an ally.
Months ago, Cyndi Lauper launched the Give A Damn Campaign. To "Give A Damn" means to be a straight person who supports equality for the LGBTQ community. It's a campaign to bridge the gap between straight and gay - an alliance, a co-existence, a statement of being on the same side.
I give a damn.
Yesterday, I saw a few other groups and events pop up on Facebook that appeared to be supporting these ideas. Offering hope and also an opportunity to stand up together. But one thing kept stinging me. I would visit a group page on Facebook or read a blog or read a Tweet that was a good and positive attempt at reaching out to the at risk community. And I was all for it. But then... there would be some sort of line like "we know you can't reach out to the grown ups around you or the Christians around you."
I understand the sentiment. Too many LGBTQ youth have turned to a trusted adult to come out or express concerns and been strongly rejected and bashed. Kids being kicked out of their homes, being told they will go to hell, being disowned. I get it. I've had gay friends be very deeply hurt by the church where they thought they were loved. I've had gay friends get bashed with Christianity as the driving force behind the hatred. I was raised being taught that homosexuality was a sin, it was wrong, it was disgusting. That never made sense to me when I stopped and started to really think about God. I believe in a loving God. I believe that God has a plan for each of us. I believe that God created each of us in love. I believe that God doesn't make mistakes. I believe that God is the only judge. I believe that God's purpose for my life is to focus on love. I believe that God loves all people- no matter who they are, what they've done, what they look like or what they believe. I believe that God is bigger and mightier than anything I can comprehend and that I don't need to have all the answers but that the few answers I have are enough.
The answer that I have... is love. All encompassing, available to everyone love. The kind of love that isn't dangerously close to hate, the kind of love that doesn't result in jumping to anger, the kind of love that isn't available to only a certain definition or population. I do not believe in "love the sinner, hate the sin." I believe we are all sinners so let's just love everyone and leave the sin determining to God. I believe that applying that statement to homosexuality is wrong because I do not believe homosexuality is a sin. Period. God loves gay people. God created gay people. God doesn't make mistakes. Being gay isn't some great temptation of the devil. Being gay is BEING. It's creation, not choice.
My passion for equality and fairness isn't just about laws and civil justice. My passion is based in my faith. My beliefs are founded in my Christianity. I have a friend- who is gay and came out as an adult and had a bad experience with his church when he came out- who has given me one of the best compliments of my life. He's told me that he wishes every gay youth could have me as a mom or have me as someone in their lives that they could turn to for love and acceptance.
But if the message being sent by these spin off efforts is to not trust Christians or adults... those of us who are Christian and adult and totally accepting and supporting of the LGBTQ community aren't being given the chance to reach out and support and love. I know that there are a lot of Christian communities where it would absolutely not be safe to turn and open up. I know there are a lot of people who say they love God who would not be a resource that would be supportive and loving. I also know that I am deeply troubled to think that a teen in my church might think they can't come to me because the online presence is telling them they can't turn to adults and Christians.
So here's what I think... let's stick with a more positive approach and message. If you are a teen or adult and you are facing some questions that scare you or trouble you about your sexuality- take the risk and talk to someone that you know loves you. If you are thinking about hurting yourself or feel like you simply don't want to exist anymore, reach out to someone. If you stop and think for a moment, I hope that there is someone within your circle that you have heard say things that indicate that they are open-minded and all-loving. If there isn't, turn to resources like The Trevor Project.
And if you are one of those Christian adults who believes that God loves everyone and that being gay isn't a sin and that want to have people know they can turn to you with what they feel is a deep, dark secret- be open and loud about. Shine your Christian light to show that you are different. Don't try and stop yourself from saying something positive about gay people. Don't be afraid to stop people when they use hateful terms in regards to gay people. Stand up for God's children and let your voice be one that reaches through that darkness to someone who needs that pinpoint of light.
You might just save a life.