Location: Atlantic City to Los Angeles
Dateline: 09.28.11 & Everyday
“I don’t like queers, period.”
That’s how my neighbor, 60ish, greeted me one day.
It was one of the nicest things he ever said to me. The things he has said in passing won’t be written in this column.
He’s not worth the negative energy.
We can’t choose all the people we encounter in our lives. We do choose how we react to them.
I chose not to react to this hateful person for years. He doesn’t just hate me. He hates everyone: Blacks, Jews, Asians and Latinos (regardless of country of origin), Native Americans, Muslims … it just doesn’t matter, period.
I assume hating others makes this person feel superior. Now, all that’s well and good for me to understand. I am almost 55 years old. I’ve had a lot of time to figure things out. In his instance, I’d say he hates himself far more than he hates others. I know I do (grin).
But, these same kinds of statements are found in all age ranges. For instance, three years ago, a 22-year-old recovering heroin addict said to me: “You are the first homosexual I ever tolerated.”
All I could think was how many people wouldn’t "tolerate" him. And, I wondered, “How many young people has he condemned before finding this new level of tolerance?”
Moving forward on another frontline, Sept. 20, 2011, marked a landmark day for equality.
“Don’t Ask: Don’t Tell” was repealed as official U.S. Military policy.
“From this day forward, gay and lesbian soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh, and Army officials wrote (see a PDF of the letter here).
“For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history — and we are ready for this change,” the statement went on to say.
Funny thing is, our American society of equality and tolerance was actually the 43rd nation to allow gay men and women to serve. It’s time for America to lead again by example on every front. We all know a lot of things in America need fixing.
Equality for all is one of them.
Last week, 14-year-old Jeremey Rodemeyer killed himself because he couldn’t stand the torment from others any longer. He inspired this column in remembrance.
Daily statements to GLBT youth lead to America’s startling suicide statistics taken from thetrevorproject.org.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Some Facts About Suicide:
(Author's Note: Refrain from using the phrase "commit(ed) suicide." Instead, use "died by suicide" or "completed suicide" when describing a fatal suicide attempt.)
In the United States, more than 34,000 people die by suicide each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2007).
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds, accounting for over 12 percent of deaths in this age group; only accidents and homicides occur more frequently (National Adolescent Health Information, 2006).
Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses (CDC, 2008).
For every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, 2003).
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts Youth Risk Survey, 2007).
More than a third of LGB youth report having made a suicide attempt (D’Augelli AR - Clinical Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 2002).
Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt (Grossman AH, D’Augelli AR - Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 2007).
Questioning youth who are less certain of their sexual orientation report even higher levels of substance abuse and depressed thoughts than their heterosexual or openly LGBT-identified peers (Poteat VP, Aragon SR, et al – Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2009)
LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection (Ryan C, Huebner D, et al - Peds 2009;123(1):346-352).
Additional Facts about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth:
Nine out of 10 LGBT students (86.2 percent) experienced harassment at school; three-fifths (60.8 percent) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; and about one-third (32.7 percent) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe (GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2009).
LGBT students are three times as likely as non-LGBT students to say that they do not feel safe at school (22 percent vs. 7 percent) and 90 percent of LGBT students (vs. 62 percent of non-LGBT teens) have been harassed or assaulted during the past year. (GLSEN: From Teasing to Torment, 2006).
Sexual minority youth, or teens that identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, are bullied two to three times more than heterosexuals. (Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH, 2010)
Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89 percent) and gender expression (89 percent) (GLSEN: Harsh Realities, The Experiences of Transgender Youth In Our Nation’s Schools, 2009).
LGBT youth in rural communities and those with lower adult educational attainment face particularly hostile school climates (JG, Greytak EA, Diaz EM – Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 2009)
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents are 190 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol than are heterosexual teens (Marshal MP, Friedman MS, et al – Addiction, 2008).
It is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (2006 National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: An Epidemic of Homelessness). Further, 62 percent of homeless LGB youth will attempt suicide at least once — more than two times as many as their heterosexual peers (Van Leeuwen JMm et al – Child Welfare, 2005)
The following list of nations allow gays in the military.
Geoff Rosenberger is a Broker Associate at Marketplace Realty. Read more of the acweekly.com columnist, Margate City resident and self-proclaimed visionary's "Geoff's Page," including local snap shots, thoughts, Atlantic City news, random musings, GLBT-related news, "The Real Report," and happenings every week — only at acweekly.com.
E-mail Geoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 609-385-7585.
This is a message that the American artist, Seth Camm, has taken to heart, but for him he’s found his start at the easel. This wasn’t an easy journey for Camm; it took him a nervous breakdown to achieve the compassion he now has for the plight of the homeless.
It took me years to realize that my father was judging himself as harshly as he was me. His thought process was different. He was judging himself, his wife, their union and their way of raising children, fully questioning in his mind, “What did we do wrong?”
Funny thing is, it’s the casinos and land speculators who first closed and knocked down gay businesses that thrived for 100 years in Atlantic City. Now, money’s tight, and they’re sorry they did.
The show was created in the early 1990s by former Atlantic City Councilman John Schultz and his partner, Gary Hill, and held at their old Studio Six nightclub, once considered the epicenter for gay life in Atlantic City.
'Everything we do as a society is based on love. I want to welcome everyone. Our arms are open to all aspects of our culture.'
With summer almost here promoters Bill Cradle and Keith Werner hosted an underwear and swimwear fashion show for the GLBT community this past Tuesday at Redding's on Pacific Avenue.
Now, due in large measure to the establishment of the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance in 2009, and the foresight and ambitious marketing strategies of Resorts CEO Dennis Gomes (who recently created the first in-casino gay nightclub, Prohibition) and others, the GLBT community is officially back in “flow” mode.
Sometimes, recessions can present unexpected opportunities. For members of the Atlantic City region's gay and lesbian community, what might be called a civil rights struggle, an attempt to form a real community or even just an effort to create some kind of gay social life in the area, also has one other good thing going for it.