Bullying, or what I’ve come to call Social Homicide, is one of the most unsettling behaviors I’ve seen in the gay community. From making fun of others for body image issues to being hypercritical of another’s career, even being judgemental of where someone lives. This sadistic effort to tear others down for personal fulfillment has become commonplace in the LGBT community and can be extremely harmful. Studies by Yale University show victims of bullying are between 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims. Worse yet, LGBT youth specifically are more than twice as likely to become depressed and attempt suicide. The math isn’t in our favor, folks. I’ve seen the disastrous impact firsthand.
Four months ago I watched one of my best friends struggle with depression. He was one of the most beautiful, kind-spirited people I have ever known. Charming and positive, resilient against an impossible upbringing, one of the very best. If you knew him I know you would agree.
None of us knew what was going on, he wouldn’t have wanted them to, he would never have wanted to burden another with his personal needs. His pride was too strong and his support system too weak. Since he was a child he taught he was wrong, trained to internalize his emotions. His family, his community never accepted him for who he was inside. Then to be independently thrown into the middle of our hypercritical gay community resulted in an overwhelming roller coaster of vibrant acceptance and painful rejection. To think that others could have hurt him, or could have been the reason he committed suicide, makes me sick. He didn’t choose to take his own life; the pressures of society, the lack of acceptance and the cruelty of others, forced him to take his own life. He didn’t have the stamina. Social homicide. It’s real.
I tell you this because I’m not sure I can stand to hear of another loss. I tell you this because my heart needed to. It’s each of our responsibility to highlight the way our actions can affect those around us. You are your brother’s keeper. You need to be because they may have no one else. Not even themselves.
Our community must do more to build an awareness around bullying and it’s connection to mental health issues. NBC News, TIME Magazine, the CDC and numerous other noteworthy institutions have reported on the link between bullying and depression, and it’s undeniable connection to suicide.
We need to do more to stand together and stand up for one another. Our LGBT siblings of all ages are at too great of risk. I know we can do it. I believe in the strength of our community. Join SiOV and me in putting a stop to bullying and build dialogue around its impact on mental health. As someone who struggles with my own mental hygiene, I cannot be silent any longer. Together we could save a life.