CLT remembers gay teen suicide victims
Posted on 7 Oct 2010 by Matt Comer
Local organizations are partnering to present a special candlelight vigil in remembrance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people who have taken their lives as the result of bullying, harassment and depression.
The “It Gets Better” Charlotte vigil will be held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1900 The Plaza, at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2010. The date is significant: it is National Coming Out Day, an international day of both celebration and remembrance for LGBT people.
Throughout September, news-media across the country reported on a rash of gay teen suicides, among the Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi. Tyler leaped to his death off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate filmed him in an intimate encounter with another male student and broadcast it over the internet.
According to CampusProgress.org, other reported suicides included 15-year-old Justin Aaberg, a student in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin schools, Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old Indiana high school student who was found dead Sept. 7, and 13-year-old Houston student Asher Brown, who shot himself on Sept. 21. On Sept. 26, 13-year-old Seth Walsh hanged himself from a tree in the backyard of his California home. Last week, the nation also learned of 19-year-old Johnson & Wales University student Raymond Chase, who hanged himself in his Providence, R.I., dorm room on Sept. 29.
“The tragedies highlighted by national news media last month are real life examples of the long-documented trends we’ve seen in anti-gay bullying, harassment and youth risk,” Steve Bentley, executive director of the LGBT youth service and support group Time Out Youth, said in a release this week. “We work with local youth every day, and rest assured: these issues are just as important here in Charlotte as they are anywhere in the nation. Our local youth face many of the same issues and same risks.”
Mecklenburg County Commissioners Chair Jennifer Roberts is scheduled to speak at the vigil, along with Greenville, S.C.-resident Elke Kennedy, whose son, Sean, was killed in an anti-gay hate crime in 2007. Young people will also speak.
Groups partnering to present the vigil include: Campus Pride, Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte, Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, One Voice Chorus, PRIDE JWU Charlotte, Queer Rising QC, Sean’s Last Wish, Time Out Youth and UNC-Charlotte PRIDE. Other organizations are also expected to join in on the effort.