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11th hour anti-gay attacks against Cicilline?

R.I. GOP opponent stresses family, support for ‘Don’t Ask’

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A gay politician seeking to represent Rhode Island in Congress is enduring what could be thinly veiled attacks on his sexual orientation as Election Day approaches.

David Cicilline, the gay mayor of Providence, R.I., is vying to represent the state’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House. The seat is being vacated by retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.).

Cicilline, a Democrat, is running against Republican John Loughlin, a member of the Rhode Island State House and an Army veteran.

With Rhode Island’s unemployment rate currently at 11.5 percent — fifth highest in the nation — both candidates have been emphasizing job creation during the campaign.

But in the final weeks of the campaign, Loughlin has made several statements that could be considered digs at Cicilline based on his sexual orientation.

In a “Voice of the Candidate” clip that aired on a local NBC affiliate in Rhode Island, Loughlin repeatedly mentions that he is a father and a husband — possibly a reference to the fact that Cicilline is gay and single.

“I’ve been married for 23 years to my wife, Susan, and we have two daughters,” Loughlin says. “I know about the struggles of working families in Rhode Island because I’m part of one. I’ve had to worry about how to pay for dance lessons, summer camp and all the extras that come from raising children.’

Similar language about Loughlin’s family is included in one of the campaign’s recent radio ads promoting the candidate.

“John Loughlin is a husband, a father, a small businessman,” says a voiceover in the ad as somber trumpets play in the background.

Additionally, in a debate last week with Cicilline, Loughlin notably emphasized his support for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The Republican candidate said the law “has served the military well” and he would “like to see it continue.”

Loughlin continued that the U.S. armed forces shouldn’t be a place to “celebrate” anyone’s sexual orientation and that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” simply means “you cannot celebrate your sexuality while you are on active duty.”

“Mayor, I was there, I know, I served and I have seen it — you have not,” Loughlin said. “We are not interested in celebrating anyone’s sexuality; we are about doing the job.”

Eric Hyers, campaign manager for the Cicilline campaign, declined to comment on whether Loughlin’s statements amounted to anti-gay attacks and emphasized the Cicilline campaign is focused on bread-and-butter issues.

“David and his campaign are 100 percent focused on how to get Rhode Islanders back to work, how to make sure that we don’t privatize Social Security,” Hyers said. “We’re making sure that we fight to end tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas.”

Loughlin’s campaign didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on whether the Republican candidate’s statements were intended as anti-gay attacks against Cicilline.

One political observer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “grasping at something” like a candidate’s sexual orientation is not uncommon in races where an opponent is behind.

“They think that if they grasp at David’s sexual orientation, that they might catch fire,” the observer said. “Could you try to interpret what Loughlin is doing as baiting? Probably. But I don’t think anybody’s really sensing that given how out David is.”

Last week, Politico included the race to represent Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House as among its “99 Seats in Play” for the election. Cook Political Report last month changed the status of the race from “likely Democrat” to “leans Democrat.”

David Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report, said Cicilline is waging “as good a race as he can” against Loughlin, but said socially conservative Democrats outside of Providence could side with the GOP candidates in the wake of the campaign attacks launched against the Providence mayor.

“Loughlin is gaining traction by pointing to Cicilline’s mayoral record,” Wasserman said. “Big city mayors often have a hard time turning an election into a referendum on their opponents when they have such a lengthy record to defend themselves.”

Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, identified the Providence mayor as the “favorite” in the Rhode Island race and said the outcome of the contest would be “likely” Democratic. Even so, Sabato acknowledged that, “Republicans claim that the race has closed fast.”

But Hyers dismissed talk that Cicilline is in danger of losing the election, even as he acknowledged that the 2010 elections are “a tough environment for Democrats.”

“Fortunately for us, we’ve been running this campaign like we’re tied ever since it began,” Hyers said. “We’re taking nothing for granted we’ve seen what happens when Democrats take their foot off the gas. We’re not going to let that happen; we’re going that voters know everything there is to know about these two candidates.”

Cicilline is running in a Democratic stronghold and is credited for being a powerhouse fundraiser. He has raised nearly $1.7 million so far in his campaign while, in comparison, Loughlin has raised $618,000.

A poll made public earlier this month by NBC 10-Quest Research in Rhode Island also indicates that Cicilline is heading to victory. The poll found that Cicilline is leading Loughlin by 47 percent to 36 percent among likely voters.

Hyers said he thinks Cicilline’s prospects for winning are solid and said credible polls have the Providence mayor with a “solid lead — often times in double digits.”

“We have a phenomenal grassroots operation, a great ground game that’s started to turn out the voters … and the response at the doors is overwhelming,” Hyers said.

Compared to other non-incumbent openly gay congressional candidates, Cicilline is widely seen as having the best chance of winning on Election Day.

Steve Pougnet, the mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., is running in California’s 45th congressional district to unseat Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.).

At the other end of the country, Ed Potosnak, a former staffer for Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and a public school teacher, is running in New Jersey’s 7th congressional against Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.).

Both gay candidates are running under the Democratic banner in traditionally “red” districts against GOP incumbents at a time when major Republican gains are expected in Congress.

Sabato said Bono Mack is the “clear favorite” in the race against Pougnet, although he acknowledged California’s 45th congressional district is “in one of the weaker districts for a Republican this year.”

“Steve Pougnet would need a strong top-of-the-ticket coattail from [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Jerry Brown and [U.S. Sen.] Barbara Boxer to win, and that is unlikely in this district,” Sabato added.

Despite these challenges, the political observer speaking on condition of anonymity said Pougnet has run an “equally good race” as Cicilline and has likewise been a fundraising powerhouse.

According to Federal Election Reports, Pougnet has been keeping up with Bono Mack, which is unusual because she’s an incumbent. Pougnet has raised nearly $1.7 million in the campaign while Bono Mack has raised $2.2 million.

“If you look at the last financial filings, you’ll be shocked at how similar they are in how much money they’ve raised,” the observer said.

Still, Pougnet has a tougher race than Cicilline because the Palm Springs mayor is challenging an incumbent.

“As time has shown, over and over again, running against an incumbent is that much more challenging, especially someone who’s been there as long as she has,” the observer said.

Potosnak’s race is seen as the toughest for an out gay candidate this year. Sabato said he has “no indication” he could put the Republican incumbent in “any electoral trouble.”

“We list that one as safe [Republican],” Sabato said. “This is not the year to upset secure Republican incumbents.”

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Dan

    October 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Mr. Johnson, this is the biggest piece of unethical writing I have seen in a long time, which is saying quite a bit. To insinuate that Mr. Loughlin is trying to use Mayor Cicilline’s sexual preference is utter garbage. If Mr. Loughlin using his role as a husband is what you consider to be an attack on homosexuality, then you might consider every male candidate running, including races where heterosexuals are the only candidates, to be an attack on homosexuality. Plus, I do not know where you are from, but Rhode Island is not Virginia. The largest city in the state has already voted him in as mayor for multiple terms. Providence. We do not care about sexual preference. It is like having different colored hair. Actually, in case you did not know, Mayor Cicilline has a bigger advantage in his last name here in the most Italian state in the country where ethnicity is still unfortunately a factor (i.e. Buddy Cianci). Of course, you neglected to mention that from your desk in Virginia. DADT? Have you ever served in the military, let alone in a combat arms branch, Sir? According to you, we have politicians in the most liberal state in the country trying to raise sexual preference as an issue. If that is the case, then I guess homosexuality must not be accepted everywhere. Why would we then lift DADT then when most of the military is STRONGLY conservative, especially in the middle of two wars?

    • equal

      October 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      Polls show over 70% of the country realize prejudice is the only reason we have DADT, and it only works to support the prejudice it indulges, while weakening our military, and wasting millions if not billions of tax dollars. The only excuse for it relies on unjustifiable prejudice.

  2. Christy

    October 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    “I’ve been married for 23 years to my wife, Susan, and we have two daughters,” Loughlin says. “I know about the struggles of working families in Rhode Island because I’m part of one. I’ve had to worry about how to pay for dance lessons, summer camp and all the extras that come from raising children.’

    The HORROR. Clearly a homophobe. So by Mr. Johnson’s accounting, the world is divided into 2 kinds of men: gay men, and men who attack gay men.

    • equal

      October 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      His support of DADT demonstrates his homophobia. The only excuse for DADT is prejudice. It serves no puropose other than to support and perpetuate prejudice.

      • Christy

        October 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm

        I don’t agree with Loughlin’s position on DADT. I was responding to your outrageous assertion that Loughlin’s mention of a wife and children was some sort of directed attack on Cicilline’s sexuality. I also think if you looked at Cicilline’s shocking record of corruption, mismanagement, lack of ethics and the fact that the city he has run for 8 years is on the brink of receivership, you would be ashamed of your knee-jerk blind support. There is a lot more to him than his sexuality.

  3. Brian

    October 27, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Unlike other western nations, the American soldier is obviously not comforable with his own masculinity enough to serve alongside gay servicemembers. No wonder our war record over the last several decades is abysmal.

  4. Dan

    October 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Yes, I really want our military to be like Canada or Mexico. I invite you to share your opinions with a military member sometime Brian. Go to Walter Reed sometime. The “war record” interests me though because homosexuals have never been allowed to serve in the military. World War II, Korea, etc. Your logic baffles me, and hurts those trying to overturn DADT. I do not care what the sexual preference is of someone. However, people I have respect for do. These are people that go outside the wire day after day to risk their lives for others. They are outstanding people. I just disagree with them on this issue. Rather than use the self-righteous approach like you, I try to change their mind with compassion and logic. But let me know when you go to Walter Reed so I can be there with my camera. Better yet, let’s try Fort Bragg!

    • equal

      October 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm

      Leonard Matlovich (1943–1988) was featured on the cover of Time magazine (9-8-75) for challenging the military ban on gay people. He was a three tour Vietnam War veteran, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. His tombstone, meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans, does not bear his name. It reads, “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

  5. equal

    October 29, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Nations that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in their armed forces, as compiled by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara:
    Australia
    Austria
    Belgium
    Britain
    Canada
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Estonia
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Ireland
    Israel
    Italy
    Lithuania
    Luxembourg
    Netherlands
    New Zealand
    Norway
    Slovenia
    South Africa
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Uruguay

    If these nations can do it, so can we.

  6. equal

    October 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    gay people have been serving since there were armies. The only excuse for DADT is to perpetuate the scientifically unjustifiable prejudice it was designed to indulge. We should have ended the ban in 93, as Barry Goldwater said.

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Minnesota

Minnesota middle school principal ousted for displaying Pride flag

Critics ramped up attacks on the career educator- some compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students

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Screenshot via Marshall Public Schools, YouTube Channel

MARSHALL, Mn. — A former middle school principal in Minnesota who lost her job after displaying a Pride flag alleges in a federal lawsuit that the school system retaliated against her for supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Mary Kay Thomas filed the complaint against Marshall Public Schools in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota Tuesday after anti-LGBTQ+ middle school staff, parents, students and local clergy began efforts to remove the Pride flag that she put up in her middle school’s cafeteria in 2020 as a part of an inclusiveness effort.

According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been a teacher and principal for more than three decades with a long track record of success. She held the principal position at Marshall Middle School for 15 years, receiving contract renewals, pay raises and praise for her performance.

“But when Thomas decided to display an LGBTQ Pride Flag in the school cafeteria in early 2020, everything changed,” reads the complaint. 

Thomas refused to take down the Pride flag as critics ramped up attacks on the career educator. The lawsuit alleges that some even compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students. 

“Sadly, the Marshall School District has sided with these critics,” her lawyers wrote. 

What followed was an “escalating series of adverse actions” taken by the Marshall School District, said the lawsuit. She claims that the school targeted her by threatening her employment, conducting a “bad-faith” investigation, putting her on indefinite involuntary leave, suspending her without pay and putting a notice of deficiency in her personnel file. 

The complaint says that the deficiencies were “false, distorted, and/or related to Thomas’s association with members of the LGBTQ community.”

Thomas also claims that the District attempted to get her to quit by removing her as principal and assigning her to a “demeaning ‘special projects’ position.”

At one point, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is named as a defendant in the case, told Thomas he could “make this all go away” if she stepped down, according to the complaint. 

The school removed the Pride flag in August 2021 after settling a lawsuit brought by residents who opposed it. 

The Blade reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response. However, according to the Marshall Independent, Williams did release a statement on the matter. 

“Marshall Public Schools is committed to the education of every child and has strong policies and practices in place against discrimination, against both students and staff members. The school district is committed to creating a respectful, inclusive, and safe learning and working environment for students, staff and our families,” Williams said. “While the school cannot comment about the specific allegations made in the complaint, the school district strongly denies any allegation of discriminatory conduct. The school will vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

In addition, Thomas alleges that she resisted unwanted sexual advancements from school board member Bill Swope. She claims she told Williams about the sexual harassment.

As of Thursday, the school has not filed a response, and no hearing has been scheduled yet. 

Thomas is seeking a jury trial, damages and reinstatement as principal of Marshall Middle School.

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National

Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday

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Matthew Shepard, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Shepard Thanksgiving and Celebration at the National Cathedral in 2018. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.  

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.

The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.

An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”

The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.

A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018. 
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.

One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.

Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.

Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.

In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.

(VIDEO COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL VIA YOUTUBE)
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National

‘Very familiar’: Mark Glaze’s story brings into focus mental health for gay men

Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age

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Mark Glaze's death by suicide is bringing into focus mental health issues faced by gay men.

The death by suicide at age 51 of Mark Glaze, a gun reform advocate who was close to many in D.C.’s LGBTQ community, is striking a chord with observers who see his struggles with mental health and alcoholism as reflective of issues facing many gay men as they enter middle age.

Glaze’s story resonates even though much of the attention on mental health issues in the LGBTQ community is devoted to LGBTQ youth going through the coming out process and transgender people who face disproportionate violence and discrimination within the LGBTQ community in addition to a growing focus on LGBTQ seniors entering later stages of life.

Randy Pumphrey, senior director of behavioral health for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said Glaze’s story was “very familiar” as a tale of mental health issues facing gay men in the middle stage of life.

“You’re talking about a gay-identified man who is in his 50s, somebody who has struggled with alcohol misuse — or maybe abuse or dependence— and also depression,” Pumphrey said. “I think that there has always been a higher incidence of suicide for men in general in their middle age 50 and above, but this increases when you’re talking about gay men, and also if you’re talking about gay men who suffer with mental health issues, or substance use disorder issues.”

Several sources close to Glaze said his death did not come as a surprise. His family has been open about his death by suicide last month while he was in jail after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident in Pennsylvania and a long history of depression and alcoholism.

Pumphrey said Glaze’s situation coping with mental health issues as well as the consequences for his role in the accident, were reflective of someone who might “begin to perceive that this is an issue that they can’t get away from, or the consequences they can’t get away from exposure and that can lead somebody to a fatal outcome.”

“My experience is that there have been gay men that I have worked with over the years — particularly in their 50s and early 60s — it’s taken them a long time to recognize the severity of the problem, whether it’s their depression or their substance abuse, and then they find themselves in a very precarious situation because of shame, and so they may not necessarily seek help even though they need help.”

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health found the prevalence of depression among gay men is three times higher than the general adult population, which means they are a subgroup at high risk for suicide.

The study found “scant research exists about gay men’s health beyond sexual health issues,” most often with HIV, which means issues related to depression and suicidality “are poorly understood.”

“Gay men’s health has often been defined by sexual practices, and poorly understood are the intersections of gay men’s physical and mental health with social determinants of health including ethnicity, locale, education level and socioeconomic status,” the study says.

The study acknowledged being male itself is one factor incorporated in addressing mental health issues in this subgroup because “regardless of sexual orientation, men can be reluctant to seek help for mental health problems.” Another study quoted in the report found 23 percent, less than one quarter of gay men, who attempted suicide sought mental health or medical treatment.

In addition to mental health issues facing gay men in Glaze’s age group, others saw his situation as a common story in the culture of Washington, which is notorious for celebrating and prioritizing success with little tolerance for personal setbacks.

In the case of Glaze, who had sparred on Fox News with Tucker Carlson as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the threat of exposure and threat to his career may have seemed overwhelmingly daunting.

Steven Fisher, who knew Glaze since the 1990s and worked with him at the D.C.-based Raben Group, said one factor that contributed to Glaze’s condition was “he could only see upward in terms of his career trajectory.”

“We saw that in him and it had me very concerned because I felt like he might end up in a place that wasn’t good once he left Everytown, and that’s tragically and sadly what happened,” Fisher said. “I think he just had trouble adjusting to what is usually a roller coaster ride, I think, in people’s careers, especially in the D.C. world.”

Along with Glaze, Fisher has worked on gun issues for Everytown, which has been a client of his since 2015 after he worked for them in 2012 after the Newtown shooting.

Compounding the challenges that Glaze faced is a culture among many gay men focused on sexuality, which prioritizes youth and appearance and presents problems as those qualities start fading when men enter middle age.

Fisher said another factor in Glaze’s condition was social media, pointing out public perception about his identity was important to him.

“If you look at his social media — I think this is instructive to the rest of us — a lot of the comments are about how Mark was so good looking and he was charming, and he was so smart and so funny,” Fisher said. “That’s all true, and that’s why he was very appealing to many people, but those qualities don’t really tell you everything about a person. In fact, one could argue they’re superficial in a way, and people have to remember people are more complicated than what you see on social media.”

One issue for gay men facing mental health issues as they enter middle age is they don’t have the same resources as those available to LGBTQ youth, who have been more of a focus in terms of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.

Among the leading organizations for LGBTQ youth is the Trevor Project, which has resources and a hotline for LGBTQ youth facing mental health crises.

Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, said his organization would be receptive to an older LGBTQ person who calls the hotline, but ultimately would refer that person elsewhere.

“If an LGBTQ person above the age of 25 reaches out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services for support and expresses suicidal thoughts, our counselors will listen, actively and with empathy, and work with them to de-escalate and form a safety plan, like any other contact,” Wong said. “However, our organization has remained youth-centric since its founding and our volunteer crisis counselors are specifically trained with younger LGBTQ people in mind.”

Much attention is focused on the coming out process for LGBTQ people, a time that can upend close relationships — as well as reaffirm them — and a process more commonly associated with youth.

Ilan Meyer, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said data is scant about suicide rates among LGBTQ people, but information on suicide attempts shows they tend to be at a heightened rate for LGBTQ people as they go through the coming out process.

“What we do know is that there is a connection with the coming out period at whatever age coming out happens,” Meyer said. “And so, we see a proximity to coming out whatever age that happened, we see the suicide attempts proceeding and after that.”

Suicide attempts, Meyer said, are much higher for LGBTQ people than the population at large. The self-reported rate of suicide attempts in the U.S. population as a whole, Meyer said, is 2.4 percent, but that figure changes to 20 to 30 percent among LGBTQ youth, which about to 10 to 15 times greater.

Black and Latino people, Meyer said, have been less likely to make suicide attempts in their lifetimes, although he added that may be changing in recent years.

With the primary focus on mental health issues elsewhere in the LGBTQ community, Glaze’s death raises questions about whether sufficient resources are available to people in his demographic, or whether individuals are willing to seek out care options that are available.

Meyer said whether the resources for suicidal ideologies among LGBTQ people are sufficient and what more could be done “is the the million-dollar question.”

“It’s definitely not determined by just mental health,” Meyer said. “So many people have depression, but they don’t attempt suicide. And so, then the difficult thing is to find the right moment to intervene and what that intervention should be.”

Meyer said much of the focus on mental health is on a person’s last moments before making a suicide attempt, such as making suicide hotlines readily available, but some of the stressors he sees “are more chronic, ongoing things related to homophobia and the kind of experience that LGBT people have as they come to terms to realize their sexual identity.”

Pumphrey said another factor in mental health issues not to be underestimated for almost two years now is “dealing with the COVID and loneliness epidemic,” which appears to have no immediate end in sight with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.

“There was always this piece of sometimes the experience of being in your 50s and early 60s…we talk about the invisibility factor,” Pumphrey said. “But when there’s just this sense of being disconnected from community, especially in the early days of the pandemic, and kind of being locked down, I think that just raised the risk.”

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