Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Napkins come out to support youth

Napkins come out to support youth
                October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to come out of the closet and openly and shamelessly accept their identity.  However, this Coming Out Day, it was the community of Napa that came out—in support of our LGBT youth.
                A candle light vigil was held Monday night in Veteran’s Park to shed a respectful light on the youth throughout our nation that have recently taken their own lives after being bullied over their actual or perceived sexual orientation.  In attendance were members of community groups, youth, and passersby that were drawn in by the power of the event.  Event coordinators estimated upwards of one hundred people in attendance at the event’s peak.
                Notable speakers included Brad Wagenknect and Bill Dodd from the board of supervisors, Ian Stanley from VOICES, Reverend Tamara George, and Deb Stallings from Unity League.  While the speakers touched on the recent tragedy of LGBT suicides, the predominant message was one of hope and reassurance to our community’s youth—“You are not alone.  We are here.”  In a powerful moment, instigated by Stanley, members of the crowd broke an observation of silence by repeating the message as they felt called to.
                In addition to the speakers, attendees wrote personal messages on white paper bags which were filled with bird seed and votive candles to make luminaries.  The luminaries were placed along the sidewalk to share the purpose, message, and power of the event with pedestrians.  Numerous passersby shouted words of encouragement and support, and several even joined in the festivities.
                The festivities, while somber at times, were kept largely upbeat by the musical stylings of DJ Rotten Robbie.  Far from being disrespectful to the serious nature of the gathering, the positive energy from the music reminded those gathered that there is love and a celebration of life at the core of the community, and that no matter how bad it gets, “It gets better.”—a phrase made popular by columnist Dan Savage and embraced by the community.
Clearly, with such loving and caring citizens, it will continue to get better for LGBT youth, and Napa will be a community where all children feel welcome and accepted.  Attendees of the event made it very clear—No one is alone in their struggles.  Resources are available.
To learn more, visit:
Unity League : www.napavalleyunityleague.org
PFLAG North Bay: www.pflag-nb.org/
VOICES: www.voicesyouthcenter.org/

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