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Q Center and SMYRC to Host Youth-Focused Forum: “We Are Here”

This past month, the LGBTQ Community has been shaken to its core with news that 5 young people have committed suicide, suicides that were direct results of sustained, unwarranted bullying and harassment because of their sexual orientation. The public outcry has been great–and admirable–and Q Center and SMYRC (Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center) will sustain this momentum, seizing the opportunity to take tangible action in the wake of these horrific, needless tragedies. As has been said, one suicide is a tragedy. Several is a crisis. The LGBTQ Community must work together–and quickly–to stem the tide.

Last spring, Q Center hosted a community forum that came on the heels of a spate of gay bashings in the Portland area. The community spoke, city officials and community activists listened, and Q Patrol emerged, an organization dedicated to not only patrolling our streets, making them safer, but to pooling the resources available to our community.

While Q Center proudly embraces the “It Gets Better” video series led by Dan Savage and we advocate for inspirational and supportive messages to young people by LGBTQ adults (and we applaud those in our community, like Mayor Sam Adams, among many others, who have already recorded their own videos), we fervently believe that as Oregon’s LGBTQ Community Center, we need to take this inspiration a step further. We want to come together as a community and listen to the stories and experiences of LGBTQ youth in our communities.

In addition to offering the vital encouragement (which is also key to stemming the tide) LGBTQ youth need, showing them many have “made it to the other side,” we feel it’s imperative for LGBTQ adults to pay close attention to our youth, listening and responding to their current, pressing, actual needs right now–while they’re in the thick of adolescence and, quite possibly, bullying, harassment, and utter hopelessness.

We want our young people to know we can provide them with the support services and opportunities they need to successfully navigate and transition from challenging adolescence to fulfilling adulthood. And they can do it with our help.

Q Center, in proud partnership with SYMRC, will host a community forum on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, from 7:30-9:00pm called “We Are Here.” This forum will be an opportunity for our young people to talk about: what it’s like for them to be out in school and in our communities; what their experiences are, both positive and challenging; what ways they need to be heard and supported by their families or their adult LGBTQ counterparts; and, finally, what action steps our community can take to turn the tide of these horrible tragedies. LGBTQ youth need to know and understand suicide isn’t the answer.

Our goal will be to listen, to document, to pool our resources. Our goal is to put together a tangible action plan that makes a difference here and now. All members of the LGBTQ community and our straight allies are encouraged to attend, listen, and, most of all, help. Please join us and help us help our LGBTQ youth before we lose even one more life to bigotry and hatred.

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