In Wake of LGBT Suicides, GMHC Launches Anti-Homophobia Campaign, "I Love My Boo"
On a rainy October afternoon on Christopher Street in New York City -- not far from the location of the landmark Stonewall riots of 1969 -- Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) relaunched its popular anti-homophobia campaign, "I Love My Boo." The campaign includes posters depicting young black and Latino couples kissing, hugging and holding hands with the tag line: "We're about trust, respect and commitment. We're proud of who we are and how we love." The posters are currently visible on 1,000 New York City subways and in 150 subway stations.
By highlighting the trust and intimacy between gay couples of color, GMHC hopes to promote acceptance and understanding of gay couples. "There are a lot [of] things gay men are doing right ... we are supporting each other, we are loving each other," Francisco Roque, GMHC's director of community health, told DNAinfo. Sammi, one of the poster models, added: "The message of the pictures is that above stigma will always rise love." GMHC also explained to NY1 that "challenging stereotypes empowers gay [men] and lesbians to have more confidence and take control over their health."
In a time when so many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth in the U.S. still feel like outsiders, campaigns such as GMHC's "I Love My Boo" reinforce the idea that it's OK to be gay and show that LGBT people can engage in open and loving relationships.
These gay-affirming images couldn't have come at a better time. Not only are HIV rates among young men who have sex with men on the rise in the U.S., but the country has seen five LGBT teen suicides in the past three weeks that can be traced back to anti-gay bullying. The most high-profile of these is the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers university freshman who jumped from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate spied on him using a webcam in their dorm room and subsequently "outed" him to the world. Add to Clementi's death that of 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Ind., who hanged himself; 13-year-old Asher Brown of Houston, Texas, who shot himself in the head; Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old from Tehachapi, Calif., who died after attempting to hang himself from a tree in his backyard; and finally, 19-year-old Raymond Chase, a sophomore at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, who hanged himself.
Some advocates see this grim, tragic trend as a reason to step up the fight against homophobia. "A time of difficulty is not the time to run and hide in the closet," said GMHC Chief Executive Officer Marjorie Hill.
You can learn more about the "I Love My Boo" campaign in this press release from GMHC.