A lot of unprecedented things happened last week. Two of them – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received 2.5 times their normal calls in the hours after the election, and the Crisis Text Line got eight times the number of texts they normally do in the 24 hours after the election. EIGHT TIMES. And many of these calls were coming from LGBTQ youth.
Getting serious here, I won the jackpot when it came to being a gay kid. I grew up in a loving family, with fairly liberal-minded parents, in a community that I experienced as taking a pretty “live and let live” type of attitude to gay rights. Was it San Francisco? No, but I have been very lucky when it came to discovering who I am and now living as an out lesbian.
I know I am lucky – and I know many (most) of my community are not so lucky. Even in these last eight years, living in a historically liberal and progressive time for gay rights, our community is still fighting. And many – especially young people – in our community are dealing with discrimination or harassment or violence or worse.
And while we don’t know 100% what the next administration will have in store for us, we do know that there are some bad signs. Like this guy. Or this other guy. There are real reasons why our community thinks that there are bad times ahead. I have friends (not people I feel like I know on buzzfeed – ACTUAL FRIENDS) who have had homophobic slurs thrown at them for the first time in decades in the last few days since the election. And so as sad and horrible as these unprecedented numbers are up at the top of the post are, are they surprising? No.
Luckily, there are people who work hard to provide resources, love, and a space for LGBTQ youth to be themselves and to discover who they are. If you have local programs, consider donating to them – I just set up a monthly donation to Side by Side, an amazing resource that Richmond has for LGBTQ youth. Many communities have similarly awesome programs – and programs like the Trevor Project seek to reach those that don’t. And if giving money, consider donating time or in-kind goods. Many of these programs also serve as shelters for people that don’t have other places to go, and non-cash donations can go a long way.