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Supreme Court sets gay wedding cake arguments for Dec. 5

Justices will return to LGBT rights after 2015 landmark marriage ruling

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right to wed, gay news, Washington Blade
right to wed, gay news, Washington Blade

The Supreme Court has scheduled gay wedding cake arguments for Dec. 5. (Photo by Bigstock)

The U.S. Supreme Court has set Dec. 5 as the day for oral arguments on whether a Colorado baker has a First Amendment right to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples over religious objections.

The high court announced Friday the case, known as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, will be the first of two arguments on that day.

Consideration of the case will mark the return of the U.S. Supreme Court to the issue of LGBT rights in the first major way since its milestone 2015 decision in favor of marriage equality nationwide.

The case has been percolating in state and federal court for years. It came about after Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a Colorado same-sex couple, in 2012 foe their wedding in Massachusetts. Phillips refused the wedding cake based on his religious beliefs, but said he would be happy to make and sell the couple other baked goods.

In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit on behalf of the couple, alleging the bakery discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation under Colorado state law.

An administrative judge ruled in favor of the same-sex couple — a decision the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld in 2015. Although the Colorado Supreme Court had declined to review these decisions and let them stand, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari, or agreed to take up the case, in June.

The U.S. Justice Department has already weighed in on the case, siding with the Colorado baker in a friend-of-the-court brief on the basis that baking a wedding cake is inherently an act of expression and therefore refusing to same-sex couples is a protected right under the First Amendment.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Larry W. Jones

    October 7, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    When I first moved to Lawton, OK, there were signs all over downtown reading “No ni–rs, soldiers, or dogs allowed.” The Commanding General of the nearby Army post made no public statement; he merely paid every soldier and civilian employee in two-dollar bills instead of checks next pay day. Once the city was absolutely awash in two-dollar bills, the signs all disappeared. When the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage in 2015, the next wedding in the post chapel was that of two same-gender soldiers in uniform. I am proud to have worked for the U.S. Army at Fort Sill and absolutely happy to still live in this city.

  2. usorthem3

    October 8, 2017 at 10:07 am

    I ask every new business I enter if the owners are christian & if answer yes, I leave letting them know I could not do commerce with THOSE kind of people. If christians want to only serve christians, they should post it at the door and let Free Market decide but they won’t because it will cost them their “god”, money.

    • Kemwit Tall Tree

      October 9, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Not all Christians feel the same way about gay people. You don’t want to be pre-judged for who you are or your beliefs, but find it ok to do the same too others?

      People’s hearts and minds can be won over with persuasive dialogue. We don’t need to become monsters when fighting monsters.

      • lnm3921

        October 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        BS! Try selling that to Tony Perkins or Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council or Pat Robertson and see where you get! Tell it to “pastor” Richard Anderson who said Pulse was a good thing! Die-hard right-wing conservative christians NEVER compromise on their “faith”! They judge GLBT without impunity!

        Obviously not all christians feel like them like the United Church of Christ or Gay-Faith based organizations but they aren’t what we need to worry about. It’s the organizations like FRC and individuals like Anderson that have dedicated themselves to destroy our community. It’s the breed of extreme right-wing Republican politicians like Roy Moore with an agenda against us. They are organized politically and thanks to your Fake POTUS and AG Sessions, have even more support behind their crusade! Thanks to them trying to undermine the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, they will now use an unfair tax advantage to organize and promote their anti-GLBT agenda politically like through Roy Moore of Alabama if they get him into Congress!

        You just blind yourself to the realities of the onslaught against the GLBT community thanks to your Fake POTUS’ administration. You’re such a naive arrogant little Jenny come lately! You have no idea what you are talking about and no clue what we are up against!

        • Kemwit Tall Tree

          October 9, 2017 at 9:58 pm

          Speaking of monsters – INM just showed up!

          The difference between you and me is that I look at people as individuals and all you see are groups of people. Identity Politics run amok and turned into negativity.

          It’s sad that you are such a bitter pill about life, spreading all of your leftist toxicity for the world to see.

          Your comments remind me of a book by Roger Scruton called “Fools, Frauds and Firebrands”. I think a good insight about your psyche.

          • lnm3921

            October 9, 2017 at 10:53 pm

            the Fake potus is the monster but you’re too blind to see it!

            The difference between us, and there are many, is that you are a putz who thinks he knows it all when you really know squat! Walk into the FRC in downtown d.c. and tell them you are a gay Christian with a male spouse and see how far you get! These people don’t have hearts let alone sane minds to change! Their ideas on homosexuality and abortion are not open to negotiation! Try it at the next values summit!

            Reality bites and experience will teach you the bitter pill you Yelp! Go get deloused!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            October 10, 2017 at 6:03 am

            LOL..Why would I go to a place like the FRC? They don’t represent the entirety of Christians…and even Evangelicals You take extreme examples and try to present them as the norm….

            I don’t hear you saying the same thing about Muslim hatred of gays (which is mainstream)….or Orthodox Jewish hatred of gays…What a putz you are Imn!

            Your real agenda isn’t gay rights….it’s Leftist propaganda!

          • lnm3921

            October 10, 2017 at 7:31 pm

            Why would you go to FRC? Because if you really can change hearts and minds, put your money where you mouth is and do something that counts! FRC is the enemy, promoting a well financed campaign against the LGBT community! They support your Fake POTUS, Trump and Perkins are friends, and Perkins influences his agenda against us including the anti-GLBT initiatives that Session is promoting!

            Name me a Muslim or Jewish organization with the same political clout in America and influence as FRC that is promoting an anti-GLBT agenda you moron!

            You’re simply a clueless idiot that thinks he knows something but really knows squat! A clown like Miss Milo who goes around undermining GLBT rights and is used as a token to promote an anti-GBLT agenda! You’re a right-wing puppet, a hack, pushing right-wing propaganda! Who do you think you are kidding?!

            The right-wing NEVER promotes GLBT rights! They oppose them and always have historically! All the anti-GLBT legislation we see is always backed by a Republican!

          • lnm3921

            October 10, 2017 at 12:10 am

            FRC and organizations like it are dedicated to opposing glbt rights! The same as the right wing Christian organization the center for law and Justice Which not only opposes glbt rights in court but also represents the fake potus!

            Tell me who your friends are and i’ll Tell you who you are! These people don’t play nice and you won’t be changing their tin man hearts or scarecrow brains!

            Get hip Dorothy! You’re not in oz anymore! It’s getting tiresome to always have to change your diapers!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            October 10, 2017 at 5:59 am

            You paint all Christians with one broad negative brush. That is an example of bigotry itself.

            Imn – you are simply an anti Christian bigot. What a toxic and unpleasant person you are for the world to see.

            I can only hope that one day you move out of the hate!

          • lnm3921

            October 10, 2017 at 7:24 pm

            Did I say all Christians stupid? I made it quite clear in a post here that “NOT ALL CHRISTIANS” such as the United Church of Christ is accepting along with gay christian based churches!

            But like everything else including Trump’s support of those christian conservative organizations that oppose GLBT rights like the FRC, he’s friends with Tony Perkins, and people like Pat Robertson, you completely don’t see! You don’t see that the American Center for Law and Justice that are on Trump’s legal team also happen to be on the forefront of opposing GLBT rights!

            I’m a toxic person for the world to see when you showed absolutely no empathy for the gay men who died of AIDS during the Reagan administration saying they “should have kept it in their pants”! That’s what you said! You’re evil to say that of your fellow gay men and simply callous and arrogant to look down on people you’ve never known! You’re a a blatant example of a self-righteous sanctimoneous blowhard! You have absolutely no credibility after that statement! You’re filth and a leech! You calling yourself gay cheapens it for the rest of us!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            October 10, 2017 at 7:31 pm

            Haters gonna hate and that’s what you like to do!

            You blame Ronald Reagan for gay men getting AIDS back in the 1980’s? – That’s a joke! Risky and unprotected sexual behavior is how they contracted HIV and then developed AIDS. Reagan had nothing to do with it!

            Get your head out of the clouds Shirley!

          • lnm3921

            October 10, 2017 at 7:42 pm

            You’re a joke! He didn’t cause gay men to get AIDS, he ignored the AIDS crises preaching abstinence which is ridiculous! Under Gary Bauer, his public policy chief, he would do nothing to lead the call to have Congress fund research into identifying the cause of it or finding a cure!

            A POTUS leads, he failed! If Reagan had acted immediately, rather than do nothing in 8 years in office, AIDS would have been curtailed and not be a global pandemic! Bottom line A-hole is you show no compassion for gay men who died of AIDS!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            October 10, 2017 at 8:12 pm

            What about Tip O’Neill or Teddy Kennedy, Mayor Koch? You seem to think there were only Republicans in power back in those days. What did Democrat mayor Ed Koch do in NYC for gay men with AIDS? Nothing and he was GAY!!!!!!!!!

          • lnm3921

            October 10, 2017 at 8:41 pm

            You continue to try and deflect the fact that you don’t care about the many gay men who died of AIDS! You are a hateful sanctimonious hypocrite who speaks about compassion when you have none for your fellow gay men! You like the typical christian conservative simply chuck it up to being something they deserved because of their sexual behavior! I have no respect for you and NEVER will!

            Gay men had to take matters into their own hands through groups like ACT UP otherwise they would still be dying because of callous religious conservatives! I hate you more than most of your ilk! Many fine people died needlessly because the government would do nothing to fund research to save them! It stinks people like you are here instead of them!

  3. lnm3921

    October 8, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    This is what you can expect from the administration of the Fake POTUS, through his right-wing etremist AG, to oppose GLBT freedom and equality under the law! If they can deny a gay couple a wedding cake, why not housing, a job opportunity, or a room at a hotel? Where does it end? Nowhere. You would be navigating a mind field! It’s a slippery slope!

    Trump consistent fails and assaults the GLBT community! Enough of your blind support for this a-hole! Wake up! It’s only going to get worse!

  4. Ironhorse

    November 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, did not refuse to make a
    wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a Colorado same-sex
    couple, he refused to decorate a cake in a same-sex theme. May Divine Intervention be bestowed on behalf of Jack Phillips along with anyone’s protected right under the First Amendment.

  5. Carl

    November 23, 2017 at 7:58 am

    This is the year of 500th anniversary of the reformation in Europe. Folks came to the USA to get away from government religion. That is why our framers of our constitution stated very plainly, (separation of church and state). The judges on the high court all know what that means, and they all promised to follow our constitution, now how will they vote. Will freedom of religion prevail or will the supreme court cave on this important issue. (America at the crossroad.)

  6. worldemoc

    December 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Will the Government Control ALL Business ? The Basis of Trade is the ‘Consensual’ Agreement of ‘BOTH’ Parties; On Every Incident !!
    To say Religious Beliefs do Not Matter in the United States is the First Step to a Dictatorship based on Someone’s Religion. Everyone in America has the Right to do Business without breaking their own Religious Principles . Would you Require Jewish or Muslim eateries to sell Shredded Pork ???
    Do you think that’s Important ? The Free Market WILL have Homosexual Businesses open for Homosexual Users as the Market ALLOWS !! Or, maybe their Moms will Bake them a Cake or Take their Photos, etc. in the meantime !

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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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