Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
In these days where it seems we are surrounded by hatred and threats of violence… when we are victims of bullying online or in our faces… when it seems like there is little hope or little chance of things ever really getting better… having friends and having a support system is all the more important.
I don’t know about you, but I am personally sick and tired and disgusted by all the horrible tragic stories of LGBT children who having been so consistently tormented and bullied by classmates in school or strangers on Facebook or the internet, felt compelled to end their own lives as their only perceivable escape. Suicide rates for LGBT kids and teens are extremely high– but these cases, all of them, are preventable!
It is not a matter of telling LGBT kids to “suck it up Buttercup, grow a pair, or get tougher skin”. No! It is a matter of teachers, parents, caregivers, and everyone recognizing when bullying is taking place, when hate speech is circulating, when an LGBT person comes to you for help, you listen and take seriously what is being said. It is about holding people accountable for their violent speech and hateful threats. It is about modeling respect, inclusiveness, kindness, compassion, sensitivity towards others regardless of differences. It is about letting the most vulnerable among us know that we have got their backs as well as a willingness to stand for them, beside them, and even if needs be, to stand in front of them to protect them and stand toe-to-toe to bullying and letting bullies know their nonsense will not be tolerated or accepted.
It is vital that friends and allies of the LGBT community be as visible and as available as possible– especially for LGBT children and teens! They need to know they have friends and support systems and a network of people looking out for them, willing to protect them and advocate for them! This is what it means to be a friend and a brother or sister. The willingness to love at all times and stand up to adversity, even if that adversity is posed against a friend.