Last night, at ROCCA Kitchen & Bar in the South End, a group of individuals from Boston’s restaurant, political, and education communities rallied together to put a stop to the bullying of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) youth.
Organized by ROCCA’s co-owners Michela Larson and Gary Sullivan, and the restaurant’s Executive Chef Tiffani Faison, the event’s goal was to spread the message of “It Gets Better” to the young members of the LGBTQ community and raise funds for The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth.
Katherine Patrick, Governor Deval Patrick’s daughter and Community Relations Director for his reelection committee, and Matthew F. Wilder, Director of Media Relations for Boston Public Schools, co-hosted the event. Attendees packed the restaurant and were treated to hors d’oeuvres and desserts prepared by Faison and her kitchen staff.
Statistics state that lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and they are commonly the targets of bullying. Further increasing risk for LGBTQ youth is that the chance a young person will attempt suicide more than doubles if they are bullied. Recently, much of the bullying has been done via the internet.
To combat online bullying there was a confessional video booth set up in the back of the restaurant by Good Life Productions, where attendees were encouraged to share their experience as LGBTQ youths and straight allies to give insight into how young people can overcome bullying and how their lives can improve over time. The videos will be posted on YouTube to serve as inspiration to the many youths struggling with bullying, lack of family support, and many other problems that affect them as a result of being a part of the LGBTQ community. “As much damage as the internet does, it can do good as well”, said Faison.
The overwhelming theme of the night was to spread the message of “It Gets Better”. “Our goal tonight was to raise money and raise awareness to stop this epidemic of teenage suicides”, said Michela Larson, Co-Owner of ROCCA. A video was shown to the attendees highlighting a gay couple who shared their struggles as young men and talked about how much better their lives got when they went away to college, found friends who were similar to them, and spoke about how they eventually got married and adopted children.
“It is important to know that every LGBTQ youth has a family”, said Katherine Patrick during the event, “I am happy to be here to support the Trevor Project”. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential lifeline, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources and advocacy. Attendees were encouraged to donate $25 at the door and asked to spread the word by telling friends to text message “TREVOR” to 85944 to donate $5.
The event was the brainchild of Faison who was inspired to do something significant after a number of young people across the country that identified as LGBTQ lost their lives to suicide as a result of bullying. She feels that communities need to support these youths who feel bullied and feel alone. “We,” Faison said with a fire in her eye “have the chance to make a cultural shift”.
Those interested in donating can go to thetrevorproject.org.