When Caitlyn Jenner made her transition and came out to the world, I did several radio shows and print articles praising her for what I felt would save LGBTQ lives. I even wrote a blog emphasizing that 43% of transgender teens have attempted suicide and that it is our responsibility to stop the culture that accepts and even perpetuates despair and hopelessness among our youth just because their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is different from our own.
So when my college friend (Howard University!) who is now a photographer and director told me about his vision for VISIBLE: Portraits & Narratives of LGBTQ People of the Caribbean & Diaspora, I was immediately a supporter. As a Psychiatrist in the United States, I have seen countless adolescents and adults who have suffered from bullying, beatings and worse, just because they are LGBTQ. They come to me with depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, suicide attempts, PTSD and a variety of physical illnesses.
Our culture is overwhelmingly homophobic and uninviting which leads to our youth floating on islands unattached and unsupportive — in need of love. What I realize is that as bad as things can be in the U.S., around the world cultures can be even more dangerous — actually encouraging violence and killing of LGBTQ people. By necessity, they hide their true selves in order to protect their own lives. It is a sad state — one that we can change.
The young man above tells the story of seeing his friend bound, gagged and being pulled out of a coroner’s van in a body bag. It is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, he is not the exception — so many of our LGBTQ community members have experienced and/or witnessed the same. I believe that VISIBLE will begin a change that is much needed so that LGBTQ people of the Caribbean and Diaspora can live their true selves without fear of being killed. I urge you to go to the website www.visiblelgbtqcaribbean.com and get to know some of the people who have selflessly shared their stories. Help them become VISIBLE.
Finally, if you see the importance of this project, put your money where your heart is! You can support VISIBLE at Kickstarter.com where the Director, Max-Arthur Mantle, is raising funds for pre and post-production costs. When the film becomes available, I hope to see you at a screening — for it is not only our words, but also our actions, that broadcast our beliefs to our children.
One of the biggest reasons I am supporting VISIBLE is so that should one of my sons be LGBTQ, he will know that he will always be loved and protected by us. After all, it is isolation, family loss, hopelessness and despair that is leading so many of our LGBTQ adolescents to kill themselves, and it is our responsibility to do everything we possibly can to prevent them from being thrust onto isolation island.
This entire post can be found on my website at http://www.nzingaharrisonmd.com