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Pressure mounts on Obama to back marriage

1996 statement favoring nuptials continues to dog president



President Obama (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pressure intensified on President Obama to endorse marriage equality this week as he prepared to travel to New York for an LGBT campaign fundraiser just as the state legislature was debating a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Since October, Obama has said he could “evolve” on the issue of same-sex marriage and noted that he has many friends in committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. But he has yet to endorse the right of gay couples to marry. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said he believes marriage is between one man and one woman, but backed the idea of civil unions for same-sex couples.

Although Obama’s LGBT supporters overlooked his opposition to same-sex marriage in 2008, the situation in 2012 has changed to the point that merely “wrestling” with the issue will no longer suffice for many.

Over the course of this year, at least six national polls have found majority support for same-sex marriage. For example, a Gallup poll published on May 20 found that 53 percent of Americans support marriage equality. The poll found an increase of 9 percentage points in support of same-sex marriage since last year, which was the largest year-to-year shift measured since 2004 when Gallup started polling on the issue.

When Obama first started running for president, gay couples could only marry in Massachusetts. Now four additional states and D.C. have legalized same-sex marriage. A Republican-controlled State Senate in New York could legalize same-sex marriage — or at least come close to legalizing it — by the end of the week, which would make same-sex marriage legal in the nation’s third most populous state.

Obama’s positions on other issues related to same-sex marriage don’t seem to square with his opposition to allowing gay couples to marry. Even during his presidential campaign, Obama called for full legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. In February, the president said he determined the anti-gay statute was unconstitutional and that he would no longer defend the law against litigation in court.

Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, said Obama should “stop trying to have it both ways” by remaining in opposition to same-sex marriage while at the same time saying his position could evolve as he demonstrates support for married same-sex couples in other ways.

“When he says his position is ‘evolving,’ he’s not for same-sex marriage or against it,” Socarides said. “If the president wants to be on the right side of history, he needs to start leading on this issue now, or he’s going to be left in the dust by other progressive leaders who are already on board.”

Socarides said Obama may have gotten off to a slow start with LGBT rights at the beginning of his administration, but has since been “making very good, important, steady, important progress” with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the discontinuation of the legal defense of DOMA. An endorsement for same-sex marriage, Socarides said, would build on the progress made in the past six months.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said Obama is ‘”lagging behind the American people” by not yet endorsing same-sex marriage when a majority of Americans now support the concept.

“One of the important duties of a president is to lead and particularly stand up for the full inclusion, protection and equality of all Americans,” Wolfson said. “We look to our president to stand firm for the Constitution’s guarantees for liberty and equality. When the government itself is the major discriminator, as it is in the denial of marriage, it’s especially important for the president to help guide the country in the right direction.”

Observers are saying Obama needs to come out for same-sex marriage to conform to the rest of his positions — or risk coming off as inauthentic to voters.

Socarides said the president’s position is “so contrary to everything else he stands for in terms of the expansion of rights and responsibilities for all Americans” and coming out for marriage equality would make his views consistent.

“If I were advising the president, I would say his position now does not seem terribly authentic, and authenticity is highly valued in presidents,” Socarides said.

Wolfson said the position Obama has eked so far on same-sex marriage is becoming “increasingly incoherent and very inauthentic.”

“That’s not what a president, whose support comes from people who believe in him wants to see,” Wolfson said. “President Obama’s hesitation in outright supporting the freedom to marry is the one jarring false note in his dialogue with the American people. Although this question of the freedom to marry is not the thing most people will cast their vote on, no politician wants to have inauthenticity and the doubts that it spreads begin to take root.”

But what is perhaps most dogging Obama regarding marriage is his early support for the right of gay couples to marry. In 1996, when he was running to become an Illinois state senator, Obama stated in a questionnaire response to what is now the Windy City Times newspaper that he supports same-sex marriage. The future president wrote, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

Last week, during a question-and-answer session at the Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis, the 1996 questionnaire received renewed attention when White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer suggested the questionnaire response was fake when he said the survey “was actually filled out by someone else, not the president.”

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, later issued a statement clarifying that Pfeiffer “was not familiar with the history of the questionnaire.”

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney asserted Pfeiffer had been mistaken last week when talking about the 1996 statement under questioning from the Washington Blade.

“I think you know because you’ve read it multiple times since then that we’ve corrected it beginning Friday that he — that that is not the case, that he was mistaking that with another questionnaire,” Carney said. “The president’s position on gay marriage has been clear since ’08 — is clear, again, since he’s been president.”

The White House hasn’t provided an explanation on the record for why the president expressed support in 1996 for same-sex marriage, then later changed his position to oppose it. According to a report on Sunday in the New York Times, White House officials have said that Obama “was really referring to civil unions,” although no on-the-record source is identified in the article for the remarks.

Carney said on Monday that he doesn’t know if the president supported same-sex marriage in 1996, but reiterated that Obama has opposed gay nuptials since he made his bid for the White House, and that his views are evolving. Still, Carney said he believed the president, in fact, signed the questionnaire response from that time.

“What I know is what his position was during the campaign and what it is now,” Carney said. “He’s been very clear about it. He was very clear in the campaign. He was very clear about the fact that his position on the views — that it’s evolving. And I really don’t have anything to add to it.”

Obama’s shifting views on same-sex marriage could plague him as campaign season starts for the 2012 election and he seeks support and donations from the LGBT community. On Thursday, Obama was set to headline a $1,250 a plate fundraiser, titled “Gala with the Gay Community,” with LGBT donors in New York City. Next week, the president is set to commemorate June as Pride month with a reception at the White House.

It remains to be seen whether Obama’s LGBT supporters from the 2008 election will continue to back the president with the same gusto in 2012 — of if they’ll stay home on Election Day because they feel Obama doesn’t support them on a fundamental right.

Asked by the Blade on Monday whether Obama was selling these audiences short by seeking their support for his campaign and not supporting their right to marry, Carney replied, “I think you know that this president is very supportive of and strong on LGBT rights. And his record is significant with regard to that. He’s been very clear about his position on gay marriage, he’s been very clear about how that position is evolving. I don’t have any new announcements to make, but I think you know his record, and he’s proud of it.”

Advocates say an endorsement of same-sex marriage would help seal the deal for LGBT supporters for the president’s re-election campaign.

Wolfson said coming out for same-sex marriage would “energize and excite those who believe in equality and inclusion,” particularly younger voters, in addition to independents who, according to polls, now support same-sex marriage.

“This is a happy instance where doing the right thing is also doing the right thing politically,” Wolfson said. “President Obama has much to gain and little to lose by completing his journey and outright supporting the freedom to marry.”

Beyond showing solidarity with the LGBT community, Socarides said the courts and state legislatures are looking to the president in deciding whether or not to overturn statues prohibiting gay nuptials or to grant same-sex couples the right to marry.

“As president, he’s capable of shaping the debate and controlling the agenda,” Socarides said. “I think that for those reasons alone it’s important. I also think that as leader of the country, he often reflects where the national consensus is, or where it’s headed, and I think that courts will look to that as well as state legislatures. He’s the most important leader in the country, and his views are important even though, obviously, him saying he supports it won’t make it the law everywhere.”

Still, Socarides expressed skepticism that Obama would, in fact, make this change because he said LGBT people seeking additional rights have limited options in the presidential election.

“I don’t believe that there will be substantial political consequences for him to stay in this non-committal position,” Socarides said. “I think the alternatives are so limited, and he’s also done a number of important things, so I don’t there will be any political consequences. And that is probably why he is going to hang out where he is through the 2012 election.”

Nonetheless, hope pervades in some circles that Obama will complete his evolution to come out in favor of same-sex marriage in time for the 2012 election.

The Times article from Monday reported that one Democratic strategist close to the White House, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, said senior advisers “are looking at the tactics of how this might be done if the president chose to do it.”

“This is clearly a president who is interested in making big historical changes,” the Democratic strategist was quoted as saying. “I think this issue has moved into that context for him.”

According to the Times, gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he was asked this year by a top adviser to the president what the impact would be if Obama came out for same-sex marriage. Frank reportedly wouldn’t identify the adviser.

But Socarides said he doesn’t believe this reporting indicates any serious consideration in the administration about Obama coming out for marriage equality — although he left the door open for a potential surprise from the president.

“I don’t put much credence in those reports,” Socarides said. “I think they plan for all kinds of contingencies, but I would be surprised. But you know, he surprised me before, so maybe I’ll be surprised.”

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  1. Daniel

    June 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I do not think it is inconsistent of President Obama to state that he, personally, feels that marriage is for one man and one woman while recognizing that others do feel differently and that they ought not to be discriminated against. Obama has kept his promises to the LGBT community – admittedly in his own time, but consistently and fairly. The State Department has made great strides, as has the Justice Department. I think we can be pleased to see that these issues are considered real and worth working toward. It is a difficult subject, fraught with controversy. I think that all told the Obama administration is doing more than any ever has. The best we had before was Bill Clinton – who gave us “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”


    June 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    There is no scientific evidence to prove any of the cross related bogus elements of christianity. Our early human ancestors; on this earth … go back more than 6 million years … 5,996,000 years before the Greeks, Romans and the Jews. Christianity is basically a 2011 year old fictional cult.
    In the year 300 AD when Emperor Constantine, who to some was the first pope; went on to fabricate & market Christianity – a fantasy – which turned out to be one of the most hateful & evil concoctions ever perpetrated on the world.

    The evil writings in Leviticus 18:22 … against gays – depict: “P” … “priestly rules” & expanded by the pope; homophobes and religious frauds … to attack the gay community and never meant to apply to the public — but to priests. Leviticus was written long after Moses — 600BC.

    The pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to priests only … refuse to remove this stigma … maliciously persecuting gays. Kids bullied into suicide …! Being black or left-handed or being gay is just as natural. If the black community or women had it written that they should be put to death; how would they like that?

    Churches are committing hate crimes and more succinctly a violent criminal offence against a federally protected minority namely the gay community. It is actually a bigger moment in history … gays standing up for equality … soldiers being discharged are indeed exposing something far greater … the realization that there is something far more evil at work — hateful religion which should be discharged from society — period.

  3. Peter the saint

    June 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    I just watched President Obama once again insinuate that Civil Unions = equality (same rights and benefits as marriage). I am BEYOND angry. He constantly offends my intellect and my dignity. To hell with him and his “beautiful words” :(

  4. laurelboy2

    June 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Obama has determined he needs the black fundamentalist church-going crowd to support him next year. Hence, is continuing support of civil unions. That’s about the only issue he and I agree on (but not because I’m a member of the black fundamentalist church-going crowd!!).

  5. El Dorado

    June 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Obama likely is waiting to be re-elected for a 2nd term before coming out in favor of full marriage equality. He has enough against him with out adding yet another issue. Politicians like to be ambiguous to hedge their beats when they need to be re-elected. Despite polls that may indicate majorities now favoring marriage equality, the tide really hasn’t turned until we can win consistently during ballot box initiatives trying to ban it! This has yet to happen.

    While Marriage equality is indeed an important issue in our times, let’s not abandon or mitigate the importance of having Obama aggressively support and push for ENDA! Most of us need to work and far more people support our right to be free of discrimination in employment than marriage equality. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a partner to marry but most of us need to work for a living! This is especially important at a time when the job market is so bleak and layoffs rampant!

  6. Judy

    June 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    No, we do not all have partners and marriage equality not be an important issue, but we should all be able to make the choice to marry if we do find our mate. Yes, we all do need jobs and the benefits of having a job, and these benefits that extend to caring for our families. I have a partner of 34 years that has lost a job and I am a federal employee that cannot share my benefits with my family. Is this discrimination in employment? This is all very important to me.

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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



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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Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday



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.

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

Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age



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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