DS: There was this kid Billy Lucas from Greensburg, Indiana who killed himself, he was 15 years old. He was bullied because he was perceived to be gay and went home and hanged himself and I was just gutted by that particular suicide that was in August or September of 2010. The feeling was, in reading about him, and reading about Justin Aaberg and these other kids that summer who all killed themselves, you just felt that this is an adult paper, but I could only have spoken to that kid for five minutes, I really think it could have made a difference, because I was in that place too once, being picked on, bullied, and in despair, suicidal, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Now, with the perspective I have as an adult, if I could share that with that kid, that would make a difference. I was thinking, at that time, that you can’t share that with that kid as a gay adult, you can’t talk to that kid. There are kids who are queer who are growing up in parts of the country where there are LGBT youth support groups, there are gay-straight alliances in their schools or there are kids whose parents are also bullying them, as was the case with Leelah Alcorn’s parents, whose parents would never allow their kids to speak to an LGBT adult, who would never allow their kid to go to an LGBT support group. Look what Leelah Alcorn’s parents did to her, cut her off from all support, pulled her out of her school, and sent to her to right-wing Christian bigots pretending to be counselors. And that’s the kid that we need to talk to. And I was just thinking about, that’s the kid, the kid who lives in a place like Greensburg, who has bigoted parents, so we would never get an invitation to speak at a school, where kids are bullied, we would never get the permission from parents to speak to their kid if the
parents were bullies, then it just occurred to me that with YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, particularly YouTube, that we could speak to these kids without their parents’ permission, that we could reach into their phones, and their computers, and their schools, and their homes, and we could share our perspective with them. You know, that kid is bullied because of his race or her class or his faith, they go home to parents of the same race, same class, same faith that they can turn to for support, that they know that if they tell them, you know, an African-American kid goes home and tells his African-American parents that he’s being bullied because of his race knows that he’s gonna have two advocates on his side who will march into that school and raise holy hell. A queer kid who goes home may not feel comfortable telling his parents he’s gay because he doesn’t know how they’re gonna react. And he’s right to fear that. Forty percent of homeless youth are queer kids who were thrown out after they came out to their parents. So he doesn’t have that support, he doesn’t have advocates. And one of the things you get from your parents, it isn’t just advocacy, but perspective. They will tell you how they got through it, they will share their stories of the bullying or the racism or sexism or anti-Semitism that they encounter and how they survived it, what they did, what their strategy was. But a gay kids goes home, or a lesbian kid or a bi kid or a trans kid and doesn’t get that, they can’t expect that from their almost invariably heterosexual family members. And the idea behind the project was, we could get that to those queer kids. We could bring that adult into their lives, bring those adults into their lives who could offer them that perspective and advice, those strategies that they couldn’t get from their own parents or aren’t getting from
their own parents.