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From Despair to Activist: The Challenges Facing LGBT Youth

A year and a half ago, Liberty Hill's Chief Development Officer Darrell Tucci, shared his story about surmounting the challenges of being an LGBT teen. We re-post this now as we release a new infographic that dramatically illustrates the difficulties LGBT youth face and the supports that can make all the difference.

At 18, I was suicidal.  I had decided I would take my life due to such deep self-hatred about being gay after years of being bullied and harassed about being the fat kid and the geek and often called faggot even though I wasn’t out or even sure I was gay.  I wrote a poem that would serve as my suicide note, I planned the date, got the prescription.  Two days before the planned date, I was walking as a sophmore through my university and just happened to look to my left and saw a Safe Space sticker on a faculty door.  It was closed.  I didn’t want to be seen looking at it but I knew it was some how gay related.

I stuck a note under the door saying “I need help, please call” and included my number.

A young professor called.  He told me about this organization called GLSEN.  I never told him I was planning to kill myself.  But the idea there was an org helping high school kids struggling with what I was feeling made me feel less alone and I thought that I wanted to be sure no one else ever had to feel this way.

I was bullied and harassed because people thought I was gay.  What kept me going was not that I was happy or less depressed but that I learned I might help someone else.  He introduced me to a therapist, the gay student group on campus and the GLSEN NNJ chapter.  I gave them my very first gift to a nonprofit. By meeting them, and others on campus they introduced me to, I finally told one of them how desperate I was and they helped get me into rehab to deal with my suicidality and my eating disorder in 1996.

I came back from rehab.  I came out at 20 with amazing support and immediately became an activist.  I lead the group with that same professor to add sexual orientation and gender identity to MSU's anti-discrimination policies immediately after Matthew Shepard's passing.  I changed majors and moved towards my nonprofit career.

I tell this story publicly now for the first time because I want youth to know there is hope but we as adults need to be sure they know where to find it. I hope you will check out the infographic about the challenges LGBT youth still face and the supports that can make all the difference.