Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo-essay: Rally to Stop the BS, Washington Square Park, NY

On October 28, LGBT community organizers, leaders, activists and members gathered in Washington Square park for a rally to STOP THE BS, with BS in this case meaning BULLYING and SUICIDE. Recently, there's been a spate of LGBT suicides, and the community mobilized to raise awareness, comfort one another, and to demand a STOP TO THE BS.

The most recent suicide happened just last week when twenty-six year old NYC activist Joseph Jefferson hung himself. Joseph's last Facebook message read: "I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called 'social mainstream.' Belonging is one of the basic human needs, when people feel isolated and excluded from a sense of communion with others, they suffer..." To the members of New York's LGBT community, the loss of Joseph Jefferson struck too close to home, and very quickly, a series of community discussion's, celebration of life, and the STOP THE BS rally was organized by organizations including GMAD, GMHC, Ali Forney Center, Anti-Violence Project, FIERCE, and the Audre Lourde Project.
The moving, hour long rally to STOP THE BS was held on an unseasonably mild October day in Washington Square Park, as dusk approached. About one hundred people were in attendance for the rally that included, speeches, poetry readings, remembrances of the deceased and singing.

Kenyon Farrow, Queers for Economic Justice

Carl Siciliano, Founder Ali Forney Center

Steve Williams, Community Activist

Activists, (unidentified), Nathan James, and DJ Baker.

New York State Senator Tom Duane

Representatives of FIERCE

Vaughn E. Taylor-Akutagawa, Deputy Director GMAD

Close friends of Joseph Jefferson.

Tokes Osubu, Executive Director GMAD`

The rally culminated with a candlelight vigil.

According to Mental Health America, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth deal with additional violence targeting them everyday. They hear anti-gay slurs such as "faggot", "queer" and "homo" every 14 minutes. A study found that thirty one percent of LGBT youth had been threatened or injured at schools in the last year alone in the U.S.

According to, nearly nine out of ten LGBT youth experience harassment at school. There are two-to-three times more likely to be bullied than heterosexuals and are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Often times, LGBT youth contemplating suicide will display signs of distress. Here are signs to look out for:

--Withdrawal from family or friends
--Abusing drugs or alcohol
--Expression of a lack of future orientation
--Loss of interest in usual activities

For more information on the "STOP the BS" campaign, please contact GMAD at (718) 222-6300 ext.136

Message from President Obama: IT GETS BETTER

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