The RCMP has recently released a video featuring gay and lesbian members. It is a great video of compelling coming out stories and serves to smash some of the myths that surround job opportunities for gay men and lesbians. While I really liked the project when it first started in 2010, I am now not so sure how effective the project is in inspiring youth and preventing suicide. It does seem that the RCMP is a little late to the party.
Characterizing the teenage years as something that has to be endured is not overly helpful. Youth need help now rather than hope for the future. Imagine flashing back to your teenage years and the cesspool that is high school. If you are in anyway different or deviate from the norm, your peers will sniff it out and exploit it. Bullying is rife in our schools and it is still claiming lives with alarming frequency. While not all bullied children who commit suicide are gay or lesbian, there is a higher overall suicide level amongst queer youth. As a teenager, being able to imagine a different life, outside of the microcosm of high school is near impossible. Years seem like decades and the time someone is being tormented does not pass quickly.
Instead, I think it is incumbent up LGTBQ adults to be role models. We need to be out and visible. Growing up lesbian, I did not see or meet any other lesbians until I was an adult. Not having any role models was extremely confusing for me as I knew I was different but didn’t really have a reference point; I didn’t know what was different.
Members of the LGTBQ community must resist the urge to blend into the community. It is really easy to move to the suburbs and just blend in. Instead we all must realize we have a responsibility to provide support and modeling for queer youth. If we are serious about ending bullying and youth suicide we must be visible and be prepared to educate people. We must challenge transphobic and homophobic remarks. In particular, as equal marriage marches on, we must not abandon our trans brothers and sisters who are still fighting for basic rights.
What do you do to be a positive role model?