Why We Exist
Imagine – You’re a teenage girl who just celebrated your 16th birthday with your family, friends and soccer team. This birthday was special because a girl that you like came and gave you a mix CD. The whole school year, you have been secretly crushing on Danielle, a fellow 11th grader. You feel worried because you don’t think your parents will approve.
Your family is conservative, and you have always felt worried that they would not approve of who you truly are. You often feel scared and isolated when you see your friends bullying other kids, and calling them gay. You feel like you are living two lives, and all the secrets are catching up with you. Then, all of your fears melt away when Danielle grabs your hand under the picnic table. The person you like likes you back. You are on top of the world.
Your worst fears are confirmed when after the party, your mother and father confront you. They saw you holding hands with Danielle and they let you know in no uncertain terms that being gay is not apart of your family’s values and if you continue You will no longer be welcome in the family or their home. You stop talking to Danielle and join your friends in bullying other schoolmates, worried that someone will find out the truth.
The months that follow become increasingly more bleak. The loneliness of living in the shadows eats away at you. You are having trouble getting out of bed, can’t help but feel like things would be easier if you weren’t around. One night, while you are watching TV with your parents, your Dad scoffs at some gay characters on television, saying: “you don’t want to end up like those freaks”. He’s right. You don’t, but as hard as you have tried, you feel like you will always be like this. You begin to plan how you will take your life.
Then you see a phone number for “LGBTQ* Peer Support Hotline. You call in and for the first time tell someone you’re gay. It’s such a relief to say it out loud. The woman on the other side of the phone is understanding and supportive. You feel heard and accepted for who you are for the first time. It gives you hope.
You start attending a LGBTQ* youth group and after a few months, your self-respect and self-esteem grows. It was great to be with others that understood. You were not alone after all.
You finally see that you can have a good life as a gay person. Your grades improve and you start to be interested in life again.
You even mustered the courage to face your parents. Giving them information and resources. Eventually they start going to a support group for parents of gay children, and come to accept you for who you are.
Rates of suicide in Lesbian, Bisexual & Gay Youth are 14 times that of their heterosexual peers. Stories of LGBTQ* youth suicide are far too common. Calgary Outlink provides support services to youth to help them build support networks, reducing their risk for mental health concerns and suicide.
With your help, we can create new futures for LGBTQ* youth in Calgary.