And I’m still searching for ways that the creative arts can be used to respond to these tragedies. Any suggestions? So far, music has been a big one – there are a lot of touching videos out there, many of them part of the “It Gets Better” campaign, of people singing classic and original songs to encourage struggling teens to keep living. Film has played a role, as of course we wouldn’t have all of these videos without the people behind the camera.
Of course, I’m partial to the use of writing as a tool to respond to and prevent both suicide and the bullying attitudes and behaviors that get people to that point. In my personal story, as a young person growing up identifying myself, at times, as queer, bisexual and/or some kind of perverted freak, writing was a hugely important outlet for me. I wasn’t “out” when I was younger, so I was never exactly bullied for my sexuality, but I dealt with knowing what the response would be, and keeping it to myself for that reason. If I wasn’t able to express myself through writing, I don’t know how I would’ve dealt with it.
One hope that I have for young LGBTQ folks today is that they have access to stories like theirs, of people who are queer and marginalized and who survive. If writing was my outlet to express myself, then reading was my way to escape, to go into another world when I couldn’t stand being in my own. I can’t say exactly that I read stories about people like me, though. Nope, certainly nothing about perverted freaks until I got to college. I think it would’ve helped. A lot. I think many young queer people feel completely alone in the world, and to open a book and find that there are others like themselves, who feel the same way they do, would make a big difference.
Yesterday, the Lambda Literary site posted this list of 10 LGBT Teen Novels that Tackle Teen Suicide and Bullying. If you get a chance, pass on the list, or one of the books, to a young person. It could make all the difference in their lives.
And if you know of anything, I'd love to hear about more arts projects dealing with these issues.