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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 22, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 43
Vigil held for LGBT youth suicides
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Vigil held for LGBT youth suicides

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Students Organizing for LGBT Equality (SOLE), a University of Washington (UW) student group, organized a vigil on the evening of Wednesday, October 20, to commemorate the lives of 12 LGBT youths that committed suicide in recent months across the United States and Canada.

'Your presence was important to show that there is a community of loving, caring people - things get better, they do get better. But they don't get better alone, without action, without wisdom, without direction,' said Mario Lemafa, a SOLE spokesman and student of the University of Washington.

The vigil ran about 35 minutes long and drew out a little over 300 people, primarily UW students.

The vigil honored 12 teens, including Jeanine Blanchette, 21; Chantal Dube, 17; Zach Harrington, 19; Tyler Clementi, 18; Asher Brown, 13; Seth Walsh, 13; and Billy Lucas, 15.

Teary-eyed SOLE speakers pointed out that LGBT youth are four times as likely to attempt suicide than straight young people, and that it's been happening for decades - it is only now that we're hearing about it.

One SOLE member said that if there was anything positive that could be taken from the deaths, it was that we could 'use these tragedies to galvanize the community and vote for equal rights.'

As the vigil drew to a close, SOLE offered a petition to the attendees that demands that UW administration create gender-neutral dorms, which the UW currently does not have. Everyone blew out their candles in unison and the vigil came to a close.

'We encourage you to offer your time to think about what change you can [make] to make things better for young people, especially young Queer youth in our community,' said Lemafa. 'The dialogue on this issue will continue and we hope you will participate in it.'

SOLE is a group of students and supporters who see a great need and desire for activism on UW campus and advocates for solving LGBT issues. They hope to continue the vision of equality for all and to carry on the work that was done during the National Equality March on October 11, 2009.

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