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Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Posts Tagged ‘wipeout homophobia of facebook

Celebrating Acceptance: Dad gets “Born This Way” Tattoo!!

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What a marvelous story of acceptance!!  At a time when we’re grasping and struggling for acceptance, at a time when we’re losing teen after teen after LGBT teen to suicide because of a lack thereof, we get this heartwarming story from Jessica Romani about her brother, Dylan.

Dylan, who is bisexual, went through all of the usual trials and tribulations that nearly all LGBT teens experience.  He knew at a very young age that he was “different”.  He struggled with acceptance of himself!  And, of course, he was bullied.  Or, according to Jessica, he dealt with “extreme bullying”.

In Dylan’s own words, “…I was so scared of what he would do or think or say because he’s a tough guy and i am his only son so I didn’t want to be a disappointment or anything.”  That sounds familiar.  What he found, instead, was the surprise of his life.  Fred Romani, the dad, in an amazing show of unconditional love and acceptance, got the Lady Gaga-inspired catch-phrase, “Born This Way” tattooed in Italian on his wrist.  Dylan already had it on his.  You have to watch the video to see the reaction to it.

When I read Jessica’s and Dylan’s description of their dad, the image comes to mind of the stereotypical testosterone-driven Italian male.  Sylvester Stallone.  Santino Corleone.  Fred Romani showed, however, that macho men also have a heart.  Especially when it comes to family.  Even moreso, I would say, when it comes to his only son!  It’s that show of unconditional love and acceptance, even if he doesn’t yet fully understand what his son is going through, that makes the most significant difference.  It’s that acceptance that, say, EricJames Borges was looking for but got the opposite, instead.  And, we know where that led.  The mental and emotional health of young Dylan Romani grew exponentially by Fred’s gesture of support.  That’s what makes this story so important.  And, quite touching.

I first viewed this video, and story, yesterday on Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, the social network super page that is helping so many people, LGBT and straight alike, and saving lives.  It’s stories like this that makes us realize that love really is winning the war over hate.  For Fred, an old school Italian dad, to reach out to his young, struggling son with such a loving gesture, and then to see Dylan’s caught-off-guard, stunned reaction speaks volumes to the power of love and acceptance.

The hope, of course, is that this video will catch on and go viral so that people all over the world can see with their own eyes the sheer power of unconditional love and acceptance.  Dylan’s tears of joy say it all.  If more families showed their LGBT teens this type of support….  Well, you know.  Let’s hope that this video is a harbinger of things to come.

Historic Moment

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While we’re enjoying a moment of relative calm, and I’m knocking on wood as I say that, I figured this is a good time to do a little reflecting.  And, sharing.

We’re in a time period right here and now that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a much younger man.  I’ve always said that the only way things were ever going to change would be for every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trangender person to come out of the closet and make themselves known.  That day is here.  We’re coming out at the workplace; we’re coming out in middle and high school.  And, our voices are resonating around the globe.  It’s a beautiful day.

Of course, it isn’t coming without resistance from “the other side”.  That just means that we’re doing something right!  We’re standing up and telling the world that we are no less equal than anyone else.  And, it’s scaring the hell out of “them”.  That’s fine.  Change scares people.

And, of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done.  The issue of bullying and LGBT teen suicide is a black eye on the face of this, the new Civil Rights movement.  Slowly but surely, as more and more people are standing up to be counted, changes are being made even on that sore spot.  In some cases, sadly, the change isn’t coming fast enough.

We’re at an exciting time in our history.  Not just LGBT history!  History, period!!  Within the next 10-15 years, marriage equality will be the norm.  The LGBT teen suicide will be next-to-nil because the changing environment will no longer tell them that they’re freaks, sick, or damaged.  It will embrace them.  At the very least, it will accept them.  What a major boost to their collective self-esteem that will be.  We’re on the forefront of that movement right here, right now.  And, years down the road, people will look back upon this time as the turning point, the point in time where we stood up and told the world ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and made them listen.  And, there will be names that will stand out.

Kevin “Kel” O’Neil has created a monster of a facebook community, and website, that is truly changing and saving lives!

Lyndsay Winegarden created a safe haven for at-risk teens in her effort to STOP Teenage Suicide.  That’s no small feat.

Charity Smith created a forum for people to come out anonymously.  How huge is that!?  That’s a major step for many people.

When Jamie Hubley committed suicide in October 2011, several tribute pages popped up on facebook in his honor.  One in particular, though, has morphed into the most loving and caring support community online.  People there know each other by name.  When people have struggles, there’s always, always, always people there ready to rush to their assistance.  Amazing.

Young people are coming forward bravely and very effectively and reaching out to their peers in an effort to make a difference.  Brett Simpson created a video encouraging other teens to contact him personally if they needed someone to talk to or if they were struggling.  Not satisfied with that, he turned his personal social network page into a support community AND started a second one.  The response to both has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Jonah Mowry is part of a group of teens who have decided to take the matter of bullying, as well as their future as LGBT teens, into their own hands.  They are organizing what they’re calling the Monster March Against Bullying, with the goal of having tens of thousands of teens from all over the country (world?) march with them to San Francisco’s City Hall in October.  That’s incredible stuff!

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that it was Jamie Hubley’s suicide that made me decide to roll up my sleeves and get involved in trying to make a difference.  This blog was created, and will always be written, in his honor.  He gave me my true voice.  And, since its inception on November 7th, I’ve been humbled by the response it has received.  It’s being read by hundreds, and sometimes thousands, per day.  More importantly, it’s making a difference in people’s lives.  That wouldn’t be happening, however, without every single one of you who are reading these words right now!  You read it; you respond to it by way of your comments and emails; and, you get involved when it’s called upon you to do so.  So, it’s actually YOU who are making the difference!!

Together, we are changing history!!  I’ve dreamed of this historic moment forever.

The L Project

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Everything isn’t always doom and gloom.  Don’t get me wrong:  there is so much of it going on all around us that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with it all.  It’s good, though, every once in a while to point out some of the good and positive things that are going on within the LGBT community.  And, within the community, there truly are a lot of good people doing some great things.  I can’t say enough about “Kel”, the founder of Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook and the work he’s done and continues to do, just to name one.

In the U.K., there’s currently a project going on that will help save some young, LGBT lives.  It’s called The L Project.  What they’re doing is bringing together the best of the best lesbian musicians to record a record to be released February 11th.  Now, stop reading for a minute so you can go write that date on your calendar……  Done?  Ok, the single, “It Does Get Better”, sends the positive message to LGBT teens that, for as dark and bleak as things may seem now, things truly do and will get better.  That’s a message that sorely needs to be heard by our LGBT youth at this point in time.

The goal for Georgey Payne and The L Project is to raise awareness while also raising money for charities that work to prevent bullying against LGBT teens.  The best part of this is everyone is donating their time, their energy, and most of all, their talents.  All the monies earned by this single will go to those charities that will benefit LGBT teens!  That’s terrific!

Now, we all have to do our part.  That means that everyone needs to check out The L Project and, on February 11th, buy their single, “It Does Get Better”.  Let’s all band together and show our LGBT youth that they have an army of support behind them, that things really will get better for them if they just hold on.  But, they need something to hold on to.  That something is hope.

Online Support Groups: “You’ve Gotta Give ‘Em Hope”

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All over the World Wide Web and, in particular, within the 800,000,000+ community of facebook, there are people banding together like never before in an effort to exact change in our society.  More specifically, these people, groups, and communities, are working feverishly to build a better world for the LGBT community.  From working towards equality for all people, gay or straight, black or white, to dealing with the issue of bullying, to helping people young and not-so-young come out of the closet, we’re witnessing a lot of great things unfold right before our eyes.

There are some groups, led by some dynamic and driven people, that are leading the way for all of us.  At the head of that class would have to be Kevin O’Neil’s creation, Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook.  I became part of that community in October of last year, right as it was in the middle of “going viral”.  From the membership of slightly under 100,000 when I joined, it has burgeoned to close to 300,000.  In less than 3 months!  That says that something really good is going on there.  Says Kevin, or “Kel” as we know him, many of the people who post comments in the community wall thanks him, and Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, for “giving me strength to go on”.  People, young and old, growing from the support of knowing that such a positive and powerful group of people, gay and straight alike, from all over the world is there for them, giving them strength.  And, the community is constantly growing by large numbers!
The Equality Mantra is a group that was started with the mission of glorifying “…the marvelous diversity of humanity while believing, fundamentally, that we’re all the same.”  There, they share stories, pictures, valuable information.  Most of all, they share love.
ABC:  Anti-Bullying Coalition is one of my personal favorites.  That’s because bullying is a subject that’s very critical to me.  In their own words:

We are passionate about implementing pro-active anti-bullying solutions into our school system and as far around the world as we can grow! We have found such need in our community to advocate for families as well as help change the belief that “kids will be kids” and “it makes them stronger” with the knowledge that even one bullying episode can have life long negative effects. And although our program is currently focused on school time bullying, we hope to spread the word; bullying is a personality and it spans all ages and crosses all boundaries; race, religion, size, gender, socioeconomic status, educational level, sexual orientation and does not stop in High School but continues on to the workplace, retirement homes, private clubs, organizations, it’s everywhere. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support! Share the word!

They’ve got the right message.  Their work is helping many people.

I recently did an entry on Charity Smith and her brilliant creation, Project:  OUT.  This is a project that is helping so many LGBT people, young and not-so-young, with their coming out process.  For those who don’t already know, the coming out process can be quite traumatic.  We’ve lost too many teens to traumatic coming out processes, with the latest being 19-year-old- EricJames Borges.  Here, they can do so anonymously which can be extremely therapeutic.

And, then there’s Lyndsay Winegarden’s gem of a group, STOP Teenage Suicide.  I love this one so much.  I did an entry on Lyndsay and her page, as well.  She’s a remarkable, very courageous lady who is doing great work in the area of trying to bring an end to teen suicide.  That’s my mission, as well.

That’s just a handful of online resources that are paving the way to a much brighter, healthier, and safer world, not only for the LGBT community exclusively, but for all people.  As the great people at The Equality Mantra put it:

“We all bleed red when pricked. We all cry salty tears. We are all the same. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“If you “like” marriage equality…if you’re encouraged by the six states that have passed marriage equality, and hope the other 44 will SOON follow suit…if you long for equality across the colors to be a reality…if you dream of the day when what we look like, how we worship, where we come from, and who we love are issues that no longer have a seat at the table…if you model love and compassion, and hope to make the world a little bit better by caring and sharing, rather than by denigrating and tearing down…please join [us], and suggest that your friends join. Share your stories, your pictures. Share yourselves. Share the love.”

That’s the general theme of all of us as we band together to make a difference.  The great news is there’s always room for more dedicated people.

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