Joseph Jefferson's chilling last words, shared on Facebook with his friends, were: "I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called 'social mainstream.' Belonging is one of the basic human needs, when people feel isolated and excluded from a sense of communion with others, they suffer....I have been an advocate for my peers and most importantly youth because most have never had a deep emotional attachment to anyone. They don't know how to love and be loved in return. The need to be loved can sometimes translate to the need to belong to someone or something. Driven by that need..... Most will do anything to belong."
The 26-year-old New Yorker from Brooklyn who graduated from Harvey Milk High in 2002, worked at Gay Men of African Descent on HIV prevention, and was described as an "advocate for LGBT youth" -- hanged himself on Saturday. By most accounts, Jefferson was a true LGBT youth pioneer. More recently, Joseph Jefferson was said to be an assistant to Laurence Pinckney and James Saunders, New York City's popular Black LGBT event promoters. Jefferson was also active in New York City's colorful ballroom community.
It's still unclear as to the exact circumstances behind Joseph's suicide, but, what is clear is that he felt alot of internal pain. The thought of even thinking that "another one" could happen any day now, freaks me out. After learning of Joseph's death, I had to take a walk. I didn't know Joesph personally but it really affected me emotionally. I couldn't wrap my head around someone hanging themselves - it's such a gruesome way to die. I kept telling myself, 'another one...why another one?' And, I still don't understand why people are giving up when the world is changing, slowly, but changing. I'm beginning to feel helpless and think the word isn't getting out to gay youth that "IT WILL GET BETTER!" I'm really hoping with Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign, will help teens and adults see the light and change their thoughts about committing suicide.
Aiyisha Hassan and Raymond Chase, both 19 years old, also killed themselves in recent weeks. Raymond Chase was openly gay at Johnson & Wales University in Providence when hehanged himself in his dorm room on September 29.
I'm desperately praying that the world gets better and we begin recognizing the signs before it's too late.
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