Dearest Ask Trevor,
Not only do i find the work you are doing admirable, but also inspiring. I’m sure “In Need of Help” isn’t exactly the meaning of the category I picked, given I am currently not suffering any issues that I would like to state in this letter. But I have come to you for help on a project I am working on. This past year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was a huge success for me. The only problem I face is actually completing a final draft of my novel. This problem is due to the lack of inspiration or ideas that I need to get me going. My novel is about homosexual youth and their experiences regarding religion, self-harm, bullying, etc. I want it not only to stand as inspiration and encouragement for homosexuals, but I also want it to reach out to those who suffer from the every day aspects of growing up, and finding one’s self. I intend to write in such a way that does not justify, but rather brings a deeper understanding into why people do or feel these things. For example, recently, a classmate of mine was arguing that people who self-harmed did it for “attention” only, and I hope that my novel can bring to thought the idea that this is not the case. My questions are:
Is there are any specific responses that people give to stimuli like bullying or rejection of family or peers? Is there any other place I could visit for more in-depth information on the matter? Do you think this idea can help others, or even if it can help me and those around me to see the world differently through the eyes of people who actually do struggle with these issues every day?
Your response will be highly regarded.
Thanks for writing to Ask Trevor.
I think your desire to help others to understand those who suffer bullying and who may self harm is admirable. We can all find our own way to make a difference and your idea to write about these issues is a brilliant way to go.
Here at The Trevor Project, we are the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
So, to answer your specific questions:
Is there are any specific responses that people give to stimuli like bullying or rejection of family or peers?
Different people respond in different ways, but common responses might be that you would have very low selfesteem. You might believe that there is something bad or wrong about you, or that you are somehow less than everyone else. By contrast, growing up in a healthy nurturing environment creates confidence and sense of being comfortable with yourself. But if you are constantly bullied, the opposite can happen. With LGBT young people, they are already dealing with a lot of negative attitudes and stereotypes from society as a whole, so the bullying would only make things worse. It’s not hard to imagine how you would feel if you were constantly given the message that you were somehow worth less than everyone else.In some people, this can lead them to self harm, to try to make all the bad feelings they have about themselves go away. Others may even become so desperate that they consider suicide.
Is there any other place I could visit for more in-depth information on the matter?
There are a ton of great online resources. Here are a few:
There are a number of organizations that work specifically in schools to address homophobia and transphobia against LGBT students. One such organization is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which works to ensure safe schools for ALL students. On their website at www.glsen.org click on “what we do”.
Another good resource is The Trevor Project’s Lifeguard workshop program which contains the film “Trevor” to be used with the workshop guide to open up discussions with ALL students about how language and behavior can affect the way an individual feels about themselves. You can find these resources by going to The Trevor Project home page and clicking on “read more” under “parents and educators” or by calling The Trevor Project offices at 310-271-8845. If there is a school counselor or administrator at your school, you could talk with them about using these programs to help people become more understanding and accepting of LGBT people.
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm is a site that will give you information about the specific issues around cutting and self harm.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization, made up mostly of parents, which supports LGBTQ people and works to help parents and others to become more supportive and accepting of their loved one’s sexual orientation/gender identity. On their website at www.pflag.org click on “Get Support” then click on “For Family & Friends” where you’ll find the pamphlets “Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People” and “Frequently Asked Questions about GLBT People. They also have a great resource about Religion and Homosexuality at:
Hopefully you can use these resources to start you on your journey to understanding the many issues around homophobia and bullying. It’s a very important subject and the more people like you, educate themselves and inform and inspire others to stand up for everyone in our society, the better our world will be.
Good luck to you Jacob!