The Vigil for the Lives Lost due to Homophobic Bullying is set for tonight at 8pm at the corner of Church and Wellesley streets in Toronto. As I write this, more than 900 people have indicated on the event’s Facebook page that they’re planning to attend. Similar vigils are planned for Kingston, Montreal and Ajax.
One of the administrators on the Toronto Facebook page is Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line executive director, and former PTP community relations manager, Brandon Sawh.
“We’ve all seen in recent weeks the reports from the States and across Canada that youth in our community are taking their lives because of homophobic and transphobic bullying,” says Sawh.
Sawh says the suicide rate among gay people is three times higher than it is among straight people. Although precipitated by tragic events, he adds, the recent media attention on the deaths of gay youth is helping to raise awareness of the issue. That will help effect positive change.
Sawh says as well as coming out to tonight’s vigils, you can do even more by donating your time and/or money to the Youth Line (visit youthline.ca to find out how), or to other community organizations that support gay youth in your city, like Supporting Our Youth Toronto (SOY).
Naturally, I might add, individual random acts of genuine kindness and demonstrations of supportive community are the solid investments in human decency that truly make all the difference. Do something nice for someone, like make a cool video. You may save a life without ever knowing it.
If you can't make it out tonight, follow Xtra on Twitter and check back here later tonight for photos and video.
I chose the above pic as a reminder of another big vigil that happened at Church and Wellesley about this time last year. That one was for Chris Skinner, who was murdered on Oct 18, 2009, on his way home from a birthday party in the entertainment district. It was one of the most incredible demonstrations of community solidarity and humanity of which I've ever had the privilege to be a part. It was queer people at their very, very best. Tonight promises to be more of the same.