A host of mental and physical threats face the GLBTQ* population; but how do we separate the myths and prejudice from reality?
With World AIDS Day coming up on Dec. 1 and the holidays just around the corner, it’s not surprising that our minds are turning to our health. We all know that calls to suicide prevention lines and reports of stress and depression increase during the festive months. The problem is even bigger for closeted members of the GLBTQ* community, and especially for our youth, among whom suicide is substantially higher than in the general population. So in attempt to prevent an already bad situation from turning worse, OutWords has decided to use November as a chance to examine our most pressing health questions – depression, AIDS, syphilis, and many more.
In September, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust released the Report on Outcomes and Recommendations from the first national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two Spirit, Queer and Questioning Youth Suicide Prevention Summit, and the results were enough to alarm us. According to the study, GLBTQ* youth are at significantly greater risk of suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Thirty-three per cent of surveyed GLBTQ* youth have attempted suicide, in comparison to seven per cent of youth in general. A staggering 47 per cent of trans youth have thought about suicide in the past year alone.
A big part of the problem is the prevalence of bullying and gay-bashing, which remains a sad reality for many of our youth. And despite the abundance of suicide and teen help services, many GLBTQ* and questioning youth turn to the Internet, with its vastness and promise of anonymity, in search of help. On page 8, Gina Dascal presents the first look into why youth go online in search for help. In our books and movies and music sections, we look at the various methods artists are coping through the mental burden of coming out, be it in comic form, literature, or through film and music.
But mental health isn’t the only risk we have to keep in mind. While GLBTQ* people have traditionally been more severely affected by HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, modern scientific advances mean there are methods to prevent, identify, and live with the diagnoses that used to cripple us. In this issue, read about the current state of HIV/AIDS across the world and syphilis in Winnipeg, and what some organizations are doing to combat them. A fascinating look at the health risks of the porn industry is on page 18.
As always, we look forward to hearing what you feel about these issue. Email, Facebook or tweet us at @OutWords with your thoughts on GLBTQ* health.