Black History Month

February is Black History Month and The Trevor Project is highlighting a few historical, queer people of color.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but should pique your interest in the incredibly diverse community that who helped to pave the way for a more inclusive society.  In the face of this difficult political climate, learn your history to find strength in the trailblazing heroes who came before us, who stood up to oppression, and changed the world.

“My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds” – Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was a writer, feminist, and civil rights activist. As a poet, she expressed anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life with technical mastery, passion, and beauty.

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin
James Arthur Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His work explores fundamental internal and external pressures facing people of color, gay and bisexual men, and the internalized obstacles facing those with intersecting identities.

“It’s a long old road, but I know I’m gonna find the end.” – Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s, and is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on other jazz singers, earning her the nickname the Empress of the Blues.  Her story was told in the HBO TV film Bessie, directed by Dee Rees and starring Queen Latifah.

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something – to say something – and not be quiet.” –Rep. John Lewis. Mr. Lewis spoke in support of LGBT equality from the podium in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the 40th Anniversary March on Washington event. John Robert Lewis is an American politician and civil rights leader. He is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987, and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. Lewis was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington.

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis
Angela Yvonne Davis is an American political activist, academic scholar, and author. Davis’ imprisonment for over a year in 1970 inspired the international “Free Angela” movement and among other subjects, she has taught about black liberation, inclusive feminism, LGBT equality.

“Pay it no mind” –Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson was a transgender and gay liberation activist, a veteran of the Stonewall riots, cofounder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with Sylvia Rivera, and an AIDS activist with ACT UP.


NY State Bans Conversion Therapy

As one of the national leaders in advocacy and policy change for LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project applauds the Governor Cuomo Administration for making bold efforts to end conversion therapy–a practice grounded in homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination.

Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project expressed support and gratitude for Governor Cuomo’s efforts to end conversion therapy in New York.

The Trevor Project has been on the forefront of fighting against the harmful results of conversion therapy for years. We need and encourage all people who have the power to ban this practice, which can cause a lifetime of damage to the youth we serve, to stand up and take action.

The Trevor Project has continued to work with political leadership and decision makers to help structure the ban that has taken place in California, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. We are pleased that Governor Cuomo has taken action to add New York to this list.

As an organization, The Trevor Project offers support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth (LGBTQ) who face so much intolerance, prejudice, and even hate mongering. The reality that someone can be placed in conversion therapy as a way to “change” their authentic selves can increase a young person’s risk for self-harm or possible cases of suicide.

The causes of suicide are complicated, but we know that over 41% of trans people have reportedly attempted suicide, and LGB youth are four times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. This is happening in our country, right now. We have to take steps to protect these youth, and help save lives nationwide.

There is virtually no credible evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and, in fact, conversion efforts pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, risky behavior, and suicidality. Nearly all the nation’s leading mental health associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy have examined conversion efforts and issued cautionary position statements on the utilization of these practices.

The Trevor Project continues to work closely with other policy makers and organizations around the nation to talk to and provide information about the detrimental results of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. We see a future where conversion therapy is banned throughout the nation and our youth are allowed to grow and live as their authentic selves.


Black History Month

As a son of former slaves, historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History established the second week of February as “Negro History Week” in 1926, coinciding with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 and abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ birthday on February 14. The goal of the week was to ensure that the role of African Americans in U.S. history was not misrepresented or erased and that race would be talked about in public schools within the context of the broader society.  Woodson had said, “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition. It becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

During the Civil Rights Movement, as folks fought for black rights and black history clubs thrived, the week was extended into Black History Month in 1970, with urging from the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University. Now, the Month is recognized in the UK and Canada.

At Trevor, we understand that race, sexuality, and gender are interrelated and must be talked about in the context of socioeconomic privilege so that we can move towards creating a brighter future for all youth. To raise awareness about intersectionality, we often share on social media about how privilege can both undermine and uplift folks of varying identities, and that it is our responsibility to listen and affirm queer youth of color whose individual lives have been shaped differently by their experiences. For Black History Month, we will be highlighting the achievements of black LGBTQ folks, recognizing activists and artists who inspire our future young LGBTQ leaders with the hashtags #BlackHistoryMonth and #BlackFutureMonth. Follow along on our InstagramTwitter, and Facebook as we share information and inspiring quotes. And, please remember that we’re here to celebrate every LGBTQ identity every day.


Help Pass The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act

When Oregon Senator Gordon H. Smith’s son died by suicide, his mission was to raise awareness about suicide prevention in colleges. Through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA), signed by President George W. Bush in 2004, $82 million was authorized to provide suicide prevention and crisis intervention programs across the nation. For over a decade, funds have been used to support the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy Grants to States and Tribes, campus-based grants for college students, and mental health and substance use disorder services. At The Trevor Project, we recognize that this act has been crucial to the health of youth in the LGBTQ community.

Now, Congress is back in session and it’s time to make sure that the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is passed so that vital funding for suicide prevention and intervention services remains available.  Besides being its own standalone bill, all provisions of GLSMA are included in several bills currently in Congress, including the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act. The time is ripe for mental health reform in Washington, and Trevor supports the passage of any of these bills as long as the GLSMA provisions are contained and fully funded so that youth who may be thinking of suicide have the support and resources needed to maintain their mental health.

More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. Four out of five young people with a diagnosable mental health condition do not receive treatment. LGB youth are four times more likely and questioning youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, while nearly half of transgender youth have seriously considered attempting suicide. We can do better for young people who should be receiving treatment, but are not being diagnosed, do not have access to mental health professionals, or who face stigma and shame that keep their mental health challenges from being addressed.

Help save young lives by taking action to reform the mental health system and ensure Congress takes into account the needs of LGBTQ youth. Email your representatives today and ask them to include the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act provisions in mental health reform efforts. Together, let’s prevent suicide through education and awareness.

Photo courtesy of The White House


Moments to Remember: TrevorLIVE Los Angeles

On December 6, 2015 at The Hollywood Palladium, celebrities and supporters gathered to raise over 1.1 million dollars towards The Trevor Project’s suicide prevention and crisis intervention services for LGBTQ youth. The night began with an engaging red carpet livestream, hosted by Shira Lazar, Todrick Hall, and RJ Aguilar, with questions gathered from youth on Twitter and Instagram. The irreverently comedic, yet heartfelt show, directed by Adam Shankman, began with a moving speech from Executive Director and CEO Abbe Land, who spoke about our Southern Initiative, which aims to bring more resources to youth in rural areas who may not know about our services.

Joel McHale hosted the night of entertainment, which began with an electric performance of “Peeno Noir” by Tituss Burgess.  Lisa Kudrow made a special appearance as Valerie Cherish in a tribute video to HBO’s President of Programming, Michael Lombardo. Julia Louis-Dreyfus presented the award to Lombardo, honored as the Trevor Hero for his fight to bring LGBTQ equality into the workplace and his pivotal role in inspiring Vice President Joe Biden to announce his support for marriage equality in 2012.

“The Trevor Project, by providing crisis counseling and a sense of community, is a lifeline to scores of youth struggling to feel unbroken, to feel of value,” said Lombardo. “There is nothing more basic, more critical, than the work Trevor does and what it represents – that one is never alone, that being gay or lesbian or trans is a difference to be embraced and valued.”

The Youth Innovator Award, presented by Candis Cayne, Kevin Zegers, and Jeffrey Paul Wolff and sponsored by Wells Fargo, was awarded to Jazz Jennings for her work with the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation to raise awareness about LGBTQ issues and advocate for transgender youth. In her speech, Jennings said, “Being transgender has not just been a physical transition for me. It’s been about discovering who I am, how to love myself, and spreading that love towards other people and accepting one another no matter their differences. Knowing that I can help folks discover themselves, and that organizations like The Trevor Project exist to help kids understand their feelings and identities is lifesaving.”

Presenting the Trevor 20/20 Visionary Award to The Walt Disney Company was Amy Adams, following Jeremy Jordan’s uplifting Disney medley and a touching video that highlighted Disney’s support of the LGBTQ community through its various television, film, and theme park projects over the years. Chairman of Walt Disney International, Andy Bird, accepted the award, saying: “The Trevor Project saves lives. It is a candle in the darkness, illuminating the way to safety for so many young people struggling to find acceptance. And, even though the world has changed dramatically since this organization was founded, there is still so much to be done. The Walt Disney Company is proud to be part of the effort…and to stand with The Trevor Project tonight and always.”

The evening was full of laughs, heartfelt speeches, and jaw-dropping performances by Aja Naomi King, Alex Borstein, Alfred Enoch, Brad Goreski, Brenna Whitaker, Cheyenne Jackson, Conrad Ricamora, Eli Lieb, Guillermo Diaz, Jack Falahee, Jeremy Jordan, Martin Starr, Matt McGorry, Niecy Nash, Pauley Perette, Rachel Bloom, Sarah Silverman, Suzanne Cryer, and Tony Hale. Pictures and videos of celebrities offering support to LGBTQ youth can be seen on Flickr and Instagram.

To commemorate the lifesaving work of The Trevor Project, the night ended with a powerful performance of “The Circle of Life” by Burgess.

We thank TrevorLIVE presenting sponsors Wells Fargo, HBO, and The Walt Disney Company, corporate and individual donors, volunteers, and staff for making this a night to remember. To find out more about TrevorLIVE New York in June 2016, check in at trevorlive.org.


MLK Day: A Time to Be of Service

As one of the greatest leaders in the advancement of civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr. combatted racial inequality with radical nonviolence, a protest tactic inspired by independence leader Mahatma Ghandi and gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. By organizing protests against segregation, poverty, and the Vietnam War, King was consistently of service to others as a minister, activist, and humanitarian. It is for this reason that MLK Day is now recognized as a National Day of Service.

No matter who you are, where you come from, or what your race, gender, or sexuality is, you can be of service any time of the year. But on MLK Day, we want to pause and reflect on all those who contribute to The Trevor Project daily to make a positive difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth. Every day at The Trevor Project, volunteers are answering calls, chats, texts, and saving young lives. Those who are of service inspire young people to see the good in themselves so that they can be of service to others. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can be of service.”

While online civil rights movements like #BlackLivesMatter and transgender movements like #SayHerName become the next wave of our civil rights movement, consider how you can contribute to intersectional movements. Whether you make MLK Day or any other day your time to start being of service, there are many ways you can become involved in changing the lives of others through service. For local activities you can take part in on MLK Day, find some in your area. Share your acts of service on MLK Day with the hashtags #ServiceSelfie, #DayofService, and #MLKDay on Twitter and Instagram. Show us how you’re giving back to your community and connecting with others.  After all, being of service is a great way to make a positive difference not only on the lives of others, but also yourself.

To pledge a commitment to volunteer this year, consider becoming involved with The Trevor Project. Be a part of our mission to end suicide for all LGBTQ youth and support the LGBTQ community as a whole. And, in February, follow us on Twitter and Facebook as we share inspiring information during Black History Month.


Corporate Spotlight: Astellas

When The Trevor Project set out to expand suicide prevention and crisis intervention services in the Midwest last year, global pharmaceutical company Astellas was simultaneously looking to support diverse initiatives such as ours through their Employee Resource Group (ERG) Together As One (TAO).

As we work with Astellas to expand our volunteer base in Chicago and build up our ambassador program of young professionals making a difference, we are strengthening our TrevorChat program in the city.

“Together, we share a mutual goal – to end suicide among LGBTQ youth while supporting their well-being – and we can’t accomplish that mission without building new partnerships that further strengthen our ability to provide lifesaving help,” says Executive Director and CEO Abbe Land.

By supporting events such as our most recent mixer at Roscoe’s, in collaboration with longtime supporters Bank of America and Deloitte, Astellas is also helping us establish more fundraising and corporate partnerships in Chicago.

Linda Friedman, Executive Sponsor of TAO ERG, says, “Being a young person is hard; being a teenager while dealing with sexual identity or gender acceptance issues can be especially traumatic. That’s why we have partnered with The Trevor Project to provide financial and volunteer support to further the mission of ending suicide among the LGBTQ community.”

With a top score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, Astellas continues to increase their involvement with more LGBTQ projects such as Trevor’s. We are excited to see where our new collaboration takes us and look forward to working with them for our upcoming May event and more in Chicago.


How to Build Resiliency in 2016

As the new year begins, you may be thinking of making new year’s resolutions, which can be a daunting process. Here are ways you can build resiliency and community during 2016 so that you take care of yourself while making commitments or changes throughout 2016:

1. Take note of the good things happening in your life, daily. Instead of making new year’s resolutions, try making a “rememberlutions” jar or box. Whenever anything happens that makes you proud (or happy) in 2016, write it down and put it in the jar or box. It doesn’t matter how big or small the memory is; it just matters that you had it!

2. Write down what you hope to accomplish in your day, each morning. Whether it’s doing one assignment or volunteering with your favorite nonprofit, making a plan for your day-to-day can ease any anxiety about what’s to come throughout your week. If you’re having a hard day, it’s always nice to look at those goals at the end of your day and reflect on what you’ve accomplished. Even if you don’t accomplish much, having tasks to stay productive can be gratifying.

3. Start taking action in ways that better not only your health, but also the health of others. Create a self-care regimen and involve your friends. Have regular meet-ups to make art, write, hike, run, or exercise at a park. Doing fun activities in groups can help you feel less isolated.

4. Become an ally. Whether you identify as LGBTQIA, straight, cisgender, or some combination of any of the above, it’s important to show regular support for the LGBTQIA community at large. Being an ally for other races within the LGBTQIA community, as well as other identities, is a great way to build inclusivity and stay informed. It may also inspire you to become a leader and start your own LGBTQIA group, which can help you connect not only with others, but also to yourself!

5. Educate yourself regularly.  There is always new information to learn about within the LGBTQIA community. Follow resources on social media so that you can be aware of what issues impact you, and how you can be a part of the community. Here are some resources you can follow:

Whatever way you build resiliency in 2016, know that we are always here for you and we are a source of support 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386. You can also find helpful resources at TrevorSpace.org, and thetrevorproject.org. Trevor is sending you strength this new year.


Self-Care During The Holiday Season

While it is always very important to recognize and appreciate happiness during the holidays, we must also take some time to be mindful of the difficulties that come for many LGBTQ folks during this time of the year. Some folks coming home acknowledging their gender identity or sexuality for the first time to their families or friends may struggle with the coming out process and may face adversity.  Consider these tips when needing support this holiday season:

1) Check  in on loved ones and friends who are affirming of your identity. Folks who do not have affirming networks, or may be in recovery, or coping with mental health issues, need compassion and support. Surround yourself with folks you are comfortable being around, whether it’s through a phone call, text messages, and/or hangouts, online or in person. Checking in on your friends is a great way to make sure that you stay connected to yourself and your community.

2) Make a self-care plan. Make a list of what your  triggers are and set personal boundaries before you visit your family or friends, as well as a list of ideas that calm you down. This list of ideas can include making a comfort box containing things that help you calm down, eating comfort food, getting sleep, putting off homework, crying, rescheduling plans, reading a good book, watching TV, or doing nothing at all. Feeling your feelings is healthy. Keep some positive affirmations on hand that you can turn to when you need a reminder that you’re doing the best you can if you’re struggling. This self-care list can also contain phone numbers and names of people that support you (make sure that our Lifeline, 1-866-488-7386, is on your list). We are here 24/7, even on the holidays, so you are never alone and will always be supported no matter where you are.

3) Practice talking about your identity to a friend before you visit your family. In the case you  may want to start having a conversation with your family about your pronouns or sexuality, practice talking about how you want to be treated. Expressing that you have an affection for the same sex, other genders, or none at all, or that you want to be called by a certain pronoun can be very empowering, but it may not always be respected, so if you need to walk away from any toxic conversations regarding your identity, that’s okay. You can always call us if you need support during that time.

4) Remember that you deserve love and support. Whether you decide to step away from a holiday party because you are feeling overwhelmed, deciding to go to a friend’s house to be in a more supportive space, or if you are feeling suicidal, know that you are loved, you are worthy of compassion, and we are so thankful for you. You matter.

5) Keep a few resources at hand that you can turn to for support.

We love and accept all identities and during the holiday season, we’re here for you 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386. Find a supportive online community at TrevorSpace.org and helpful resources at thetrevorproject.org.


Help Save Young Lives This New Year

 

While we prepare for 2016, all of us at The Trevor Project are taking a moment to say thank you for making our lifesaving work possible. As 16-year-old Kim told us a few months ago, “I honestly am so thankful for The Trevor Project. You saved my life. Thanks to whomever answered the phone and helped me. I will always be grateful.”

For the young person who feels “different” and is reaching out for help, The Trevor Project is transformative. Because of your support, young people like Kim who were helped or motivated by our work can now help spread the word about our programs, which will forward our mission to end suicide for all LGBTQ youth.

Will you help us continue to be there by making a tax-deductible donation to The Trevor Project before December 31? Your support shows LGBTQ young people that they matter, they’re not alone, and they’ll always have a place to get help when in crisis.

Let’s ensure young LGBTQ people like Kim always have The Trevor Project to reach out to. Together, let’s create a future in which the possibilities are the same for all youth, regardless of gender identity or sexuality. We wish you a happy new year, and look forward to making more progress and change in 2016. Thank you again for helping us create a brighter future for all.

Please consider joining one of our monthly giving programs at thetrevorproject.org/donate today to further your impact on improving the lives of LGBTQ youth.