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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hoot Scoops: Coming Out

Published: October 8, 2010
Section: News

PHOTO BY Alan Tran/The Hoot

Students and faculty gathered around the peace circle by Usdan, standing together and protecting the flames of their candles against the wind Monday night as part of a peace vigil to commemorate September’s six suicides by gay youth across the nation.

Organized by Triskelion, Brandeis’ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning alliance (LGBTQ), the vigil began with a moment of silence for those who had taken their lives.

Mary Dunn ’12 led the commemoration service by discussing the importance of shining light on troubled queer youth, and by talking about how warm and accepting she feels Brandeis is as a community.

“Our hope is that by seeing how large the support system is, numbers of teen suicides will decrease as awareness rises,” Dunn said.

Dunn suggested that vigils, like the one held on campus, will raise awareness that will then spread off-campus, to different homes and communities, eventually helping to decrease teen suicide ratings elsewhere.

Triskelion is an umbrella organization for six other clubs on campus, including Sex and Sexualities Symposium, the Queer People of Color Coalition, TransBrandeis and groups dealing with a political outreach, pride and academic discussion.

Founded in May 1981, Triskelion is in its 30th year at Brandeis and hopes more organizations will be created under its umbrella as they are needed, Dunn said.

Following a message from the Trevor Project, an American non-profit organization that operates nationwide as an around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth, Dunn stressed the importance of teenagers believing that they can make it through their troubles.

“It gets better,” she said.

Other speakers like Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams emphasized the drastic increase in teen suicides in the past week. This problem, Adams said, is due to bullying and to people feeling unsafe. Adams continued by talking about the importance of saying hello to people you may not know, because “everyone’s life is priceless.”

While there has not been a suicide candlelight vigil held by the LGBTQ club on campus before, Hanah Cross ’11 sait there have been “vigils held for transgender awareness day to commemorate suicides.”

The candlelight vigil was held as part of Triskelion’s kick off to Coming Out Week, which parallels the internationally observed National ComingOut Day. The admission of homosexuality day was founded in 1988, and is observed in other countries that include Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Croatia, Poland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

At the conclusion of the vigil, Dunn mentioned how important the “huge show of support that stands by the Trevor Project’s message of “you are loved,” is for people who are considering suicide.”