Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken; Addresses Gay Teen Suicide

Cross-posted from Daily Kos

Words like "metrosexual" have entered the vernacular, and 'gay' can earn big bucks at the box office, but when popular culture is juxtaposed with our actual culture, a crowbar separation remains. There are a multitude of reasons why there is a high incidence of depression and suicide among gay teens, and, in her latest "Ask Hillary" Web video, Hillary Clinton had the courage to speak up and address what remains largely unspoken.

Watch it for yourself:

The transcript of the exchange is below:

Emily Hawkins, Director of Youth Outreach: Ryan says, "considering the
extraordinarily high incidence of depression and suicide among gay
teenagers, what action will you, as president, take to encourage a
more accepting and healthy educational experience for LGBT teens?"

Hillary Clinton: It's such a serious problem and I've done a lot of
work on this in New York because I'm well aware of the depression and
anxiety and frankly the high rate of suicide comparatively among gay
teens. First number one, we've got to do everything we can to send a
clear message that we value you. We value you as a person, you as a
total person. And we want you to feel accepted and respected in your
community. And you'll certainly have a president who feels that way.
There need to be more services. Sometimes it's difficult in school and
there's not a lot of understanding or sensitivity. We've got to do
more to help prepare school officials and frankly your peers in
school. Just because somebody doesn't understand doesn't mean that
they should be a bully. They need to really be taught and guided to be
more accepting and that is something that I feel very strongly about.
There's even a school in New York that I have supported that is just
for gay teens because it is very difficult in many areas for people to
find any acceptance whatsoever. We need more health services. We need
more mentoring and assistance so that you don't feel so alone.

This installment of "Ask Hillary" comes just one day after Hillary was the guest of honor at the Hiro Ballroom in Manhattan, where hundreds of GLBT supporters showed up to show their support for her; she has always shown her support for us, even during election season.

She is tackling a very serious issue. When I was younger, my behavior was not stereotypically gay: I played sports and was in a fraternity at my first college. Other friends were not so lucky and were bullied mercilessly in school, or by their own families. I was one of the fortunate ones, but it will was not easy coming out.

Offhand, I recall two friends of mine that experienced the former: One was that "gay kid" that you all know from grade school, and the other was shunned by his fundamentalist baptist family. Neither of them has committed suicide, but the impact on both of their lives was marked.

The first friend turned to drugs to escape his life in his small Pocono town. He persevered and made his way to college and graduated, but the seeds of destruction had not withered. This past year, he has battled alcoholism and depression, losing his job and subsequently his health care. He is in recovery now, but his road has not been easy.

I met my other friend at my second college in downtown Philadelphia. He was the type of guy that would do anything for you; honest, and dependable. Sadly, the abuse he suffered from his parents persisted, and his escape was the club scene. His drug of choice was crystal meth, and it nearly cost him his health and freedom as he had turned to selling it to support his habit.

There was nothing I could do but be his friend, but it was necessary to cut him out of my live until he sought help; all I could do was suggest alternatives and be there if he wanted to change.

Both had either considered or attempted suicide at some point during their lives.

A recent survey that I filled out to assist a friend doing graduate research on LGBT topics included several questions about self-harming behavior such as suicide. It was not my experience, but I have seen the impact of bullying manifest itself first hand, even years after the fact.

I am glad that Hillary is willing to discuss this topic in depth when other may perceive "gay" topics as a liability in the run up to a Presidential election.

Tags: Hillary Clinton, LGBT, Teen Suicide (all tags)

Comments

29 Comments

Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken

Thanks for posting this. When you think of the incredible pain that so many gay youth have to go through, it makes the idea of gay-baiting in politics even more repugnant.

My belief is that one day we'll think of the tactics used by the Republicans in the 2004 election in the same way we think of the segregationist elections of the civil rights era.

by OrangeFur 2008-01-25 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken

Thanks!

by owl06 2008-01-25 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken

Obama makes oblique attacks on the LGBT community, using a surrogate, apparently  a magnanimous and caring effort to reassure gay bigots, everywhere.

In our culture, violence towards gays is still tacitly acceptable. The straight community's discomfort with it's own sexuality is reflected in it's relative silence, we are not defending gay men and women from the Obama campaign code language, we are not vociferously condemning violence, we are not doing enough to make LGBT bigotry unacceptable.

Many of us who would be the first line of defense in a racial attack, seem to shrink back when the LGBT community is subjected to the same hatred.

This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

And again, this is what makes Obama  revolting to me as a candidate, especially given black men and women had/have to endure so much mindless, vicious hate from the majority, becoming scapegoats, simply on account of their physical appearance, their skin color.

Obama is NOT a good man.

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 05:37AM | 0 recs
That's my concern as well...

When Obama was confronted over McClurkin last year, he said that we LGBT people "don't get people of faith". And now, he still hasn't responded over the endorsement of the rabidly homphobic Bush adviser Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell. Oh yes, and he hasn't ever explained his record in Illinois taking a pass when his help was needed on LGBT hate crimes legislation. Obama hasn't yet proven himself to be a good friend to our community.

But on the other hand, Hillary has ALWAYS stood by our side. She was the first sitting First Lady to march in a LGBT Pride parade. As Senator, she fought hard against budget cuts that would hurt HIV positive people. She LED the fight against the FMA in 2004 and 2006, and FOR ENDA and hate crimes protections.

Unlike some of the others running, Hillary is a good friend we can count on.

by atdleft 2008-01-26 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: That's my concern as well...

It disgusts me,  Obama  using this tactic, especially given the historical precedent of violence.

I am hoping, should Hillary, or even Edwards, become President, an intelligent national discussion can ensue, upon which we can explore bigotry toward the LGBT community, confronting it, with a goal toward tolerance, understanding and legal equality.

Gay marriage should also be recognized.

To me, prohibiting gay marriage is simply a new form of the old miscegenation laws, in retrospect, I find it truly astounding the government thought it had the right to dictate marriage, to consenting, informed adults.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid= 2488432138543788374&q=rock+n+roll+mu sic+%2B+beatles&total=195&start= 0&num=10&so=0&type=search&am p;plindex=0

democracy, it's rock n roll, so I thought this belonged here...

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken; Addresses Gay

I have not read this yet.  I wanted to let you know that if you go in to edit and save the diary again that video should show up.

by MollieBradford 2008-01-25 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken;

I saw that the other day. I was really touched by her answering that. It was when I watched this video nearly a year ago that I realized personally that she was the candidate of all of the Democrats running who trusted and respected the gay community, and in whom we could have a friend.

It's one thing to go on a televised forum and talk about how you generally like gay people enough, or to give an interview with a magazine or release a statement honoring Pride month. But it's another thing to actually attend pride repeatedly over the years, and to address groups like HRC to their faces- and not just to raise money.

by bowiegeek 2008-01-25 08:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken;

I just went and watched that entire video. Hillary is best known for her wonkishness, but her closing remarks were downright inspiring.

If she becomes president, I do hope that she'll work to repeal DOMA and make the moral argument for full gay marriage. Even though it's somewhat a state issue, having a president's moral authority behind it would do a lot, I think.

by OrangeFur 2008-01-25 10:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken; Addresses Gay

This is the kind of leadership we need, and this is why Hillary has my support. She just gets it, and she's not afraid to say so.

by Denny Crane 2008-01-26 04:23AM | 0 recs
Is her compassion for gay teens

Why she did nothing at all to advance the cause of marriage equality in New York?  Why she didn't state her opposition to Don't Ask, Don't Tell until she decided to run for Senate?  Why she didn't state her opposition to DOMA until she decided to run for president, and long after any of her opponents?

IMHO, her "compassion" is no different from her position on the issues - too little, too late.

I'll applaud her courage when she fucking shows some.

by Drew 2008-01-26 05:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Is her compassion for gay teens

She already is showing courage, LGBT rights aren't a safe topic, one that can, and most likely will, be used against her, should she capture the nomination.

Obama, by tangential reference, will also use it against her, odds are.

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 10:59AM | 0 recs
She's a coward.

Witness the fact that she couldn't oppose DOMA until she might lose votes to Obama or Edwards if she didn't.  You think she's brave because she says she doesn't want gay teens to die?  

You might as well call her brave because she says she thinks that puppies are cute.

I very much doubt that Obama - who had the guts to oppose DOMA way before she ever did - would use it against her.

by Drew 2008-01-26 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: She's a coward.

Obama's too busy playing Kumbuya with anti-gay pastors.

by owl06 2008-01-26 01:26PM | 0 recs
Clinton's too busy

Being married man who signed Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Anti-gay pastors?  Don't really compare to the man who spent campaign money boasting about how much he hated the idea of federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

by Drew 2008-01-26 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: She's a coward.

Was Obama a senator at this time (1996)? Did his vote count, or was this another call from his living room couch, like Iraq?

Obama uses divisor tactics, it's a simplistic  game plan, 42/6=7.

Secondly, Obama has already used this issue against Clinton, and ANY who support the LGBT community, witness the tangential gay bashing courtesy of Donnie Mc, a surrogate for the Obama campaign.

In other words, the straight or closeted, or intimidated voter thinks :"Is something wrong with me because I feel the gay community should be treated respectfully, equally under the law? Should I stay silent in the face of what I strongly feel is a serruptious attack? Do I want to be indentified with the LGBT community?"

A lot of voters will choose to stay silent, due to discomfort or insecurity with their own sexuality, ie what will the neighbors think, or perhaps I'LL be harmed, right, the usual hate speech tango, just ask Bush.

So the hatred goes on, nurtured by YOUR democratic candidate.

Obama's silence in the face of Donnie M.'s gay bashing is a means of courting the bigoted, intolerant anti-gay vote, Rush Limbaugh for Dems, because Obama's camp couldnt come up with a better idea.

So, your argument again is what?

Obama would never ever use this repulsive, divisive technique, correct?

People DIE because of anti-gay hatred, this is OK with you, or you just don't really think about it?

A little more substantial than puppies, but you know, to each his own.

Dead gay teen = dead puppie. Do ALL of Obama's supporters think this simplistically, like a child, comparing the worth of a human life to a puppy?

Do you do polls?

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 02:17PM | 0 recs
Obama came out against DOMA

Years before Clinton.  You can pretend it doesn't matter, but you can't pretend it isn't true.

And Obama's spouse?  Never spent campaign money touting her opposition to federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

That's gay-bashing, Marsha, conducted by YOUR CANDIDATE and HER SPOUSE.  Gay-bashing she didn't recant until she had to face two candidates who already opposed it.

Does that matter to you?  Well, clearly it doesn't.  It's okay if it's you're a Clinton, obviously.

Otherwise, speaking as a man who was a gay teen during the Clinton years, you can shove the rest of your self-righteous bullshit back up your ass.

I'd like to see today's gay kids get more out of the next president than I got out of the last Clinton - nothing.

Well, except DADT and DOMA.  I'd rather not see them get that, either.

by Drew 2008-01-26 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama came out against DOMA

Oh, thanks I will shove it up my ass, what a novel idea,  and really I respect your position as a gay martyr, and me, as a Catholic, after your death, I will nominate you for sainthood, we could use a gay saint, really, you just ooze specialness. Just like Matthew Sheppard, you are.

And Obama's supporters as hate mongers?

Point proven, dont take the bait, babe...

We ALL know children who have suffered horrifically, you're a little cloistered, there, thinking you have the monopoly.

Obama is a coward, Obama makes his fairy tale proununciations when it's safe. So shove your weak attempts at psychological spin right up YOUR ass, and sell it to someone else, the man spews hate in a suit.

Clinton also did what was politically expedient, BUT, she at least had the courage to stand by her votes, not equivocate, like Obama. Obama has coward pattern, it's like martyr pattern, like a wannabe who just isnt appreciated, if only people could see his real talent.

Your arguments are disingenuous Drew, and our conversation is over.

Spin has evolved, thought about more schooling?

Your candidate is a hate monger, and so are you.

So sorry you cant discuss this rationally.

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 03:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama came out against DOMA

And if you have to ban me, I understand.

Thank you for allowing me to post.

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 03:07PM | 0 recs
Um, yeah.

It is difficult to argue with someone as rational as you, dear.

by Drew 2008-01-26 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, yeah.

Ah, the psychological downward spiral, Drew, feeling a little more chaotic?

Thanks for allowing me into your head.

See ya...

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, yeah.

At this point, we've become disruptive to the site.

Time to stop, Drew, it's not about us, now, is it?

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: She's a coward.

I came of age in the late 70's and early 80's, it used to be that intolerance was frowned upon, a violation of  social mores, it was only the  Chicago "white trash" that held prejudice against other, the racists, bigots and misogynists.

Intolerance was indicative of a base personality, an uneducated, unsophisticated yahoo.

And I am from a blue collar family.

The hate radio spew of Limbaugh and Fox was a deliberate strategy to help the republicans gain power, making intolerance acceptable as part of 4/2=2, divide and conquer strategy. Most of the recent progressive crowd, including the kids, were aghast at the use of hate as a tactic, and in the long run, it didn't help republicans maintain power, and it isn't working to well for them, now, either, ie immigration (Hunter, Tom T).

So why is Obama, as a democrat, imitating Rush and Fox and Hunter, and why are ostensible progressives supporting him?

I really want to know.

It's not even a winning tactic, it was a short term burst,subject to law of diminishing returns, and people who would USE this tactic are not capable of maintaining long term power, ie cheney, rove and bush.

What in the world would make Obama's team use hate?

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 02:43PM | 0 recs
Talking to yourself

Well, I'm sure you're more convincing that way.

I don't see Obama using hate.  I do see you completely ignoring the Clinton's history on this issue.

But then, you do seem to believe that the 70s and 80s were so very, very tolerant.  So you may have a memory problem, here.

by Drew 2008-01-26 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Talking to yourself

No, actually, youre speaking of yourself, and how you view Obama, arent you?

by Marsha1 2008-01-26 03:10PM | 0 recs
hillary gets it. it's the bullying.

bullies pick on people who are different, and who won't fight back. the biggest stressor in teen suicide is bullying, particularly for gay teens. gay teens are less than 10% of the population, but are at least 50% of the victims of bullying. bullying makes life unbearable for victims, and schools which allow bullying are condoning an environment which literally kills the young people of america.

we snuck a little gay-friendly stuff into florida's suicide prevention plan by including anti-bullying initiatives, carefully avoiding any mention of teh gay. jeb bush had no idea how gay-friendly his anti-suicide plan really was ;-)

by campskunk 2008-01-26 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken; Addresses Gay

I really appreciated this diary.  You know you've done a good job when it even gets a (mostly) good reception at Daily Kos.  I wasn't a fan of the other way this same topic was diaried over there.

by Steve M 2008-01-26 09:59AM | 0 recs
one of the most beautiful thing I ever saw

This video is one of the most beautiful things I ever saw. I first saw this with my lover this morning and cried and cried. Teenage years for Gays. My god I think she knows how painful it was. How I, or any other Gay person survives is terrible. I never thought I would hear a presidential candidate talk about something so really meaningful to me. She is a beautiful person. I love her for this.

by maxstar 2008-01-26 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken; Addresses Gay

This video is one of the most beautiful things I ever saw. I first saw this with my lover this morning and cried and cried. Teenage years for Gays. My god I think she knows how painful it was. How I, or any other Gay person survives is terrible. I never thought I would hear a presidential candidate talk about something so really meaningful to me. She is a beautiful person. I love her for this.

by maxstar 2008-01-26 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Speaks for the Unspoken; Addresses Gay

This video is one of the most beautiful things I ever saw. I first saw this with my lover this morning and cried and cried. Teenage years for Gays. My god I think she knows how painful it was. How I, or any other Gay person survives is terrible. I never thought I would hear a presidential candidate talk about something so really meaningful to me. She is a beautiful person. I love her for this.

by maxstar 2008-01-26 02:59PM | 0 recs

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