It's more than just you. Discussing real issues and ways you can do your part right here in Boston.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Civil Rights Movement

History has a way of repeating itself. Women and African-Americans, to just name two groups of people who experienced a huge struggle for their rights, fought for years and years for their basic rights-- like the right to vote or the right to sit where they wanted on the bus. America denied these groups of people their freedom, and yet again we see "the land of the free" denying the LGBT community their basic rights.

Recent news of the numerous gay teens committing suicide across the US should be a huge realization that America needs to get a grip and realize what message they are sending by not treating the LGBT community as equals. Comedian Sarah Silverman, in her all of 28 second video reaction to the gay suicides,  could not have summed up better exactly how I've felt about this issue.

As Silverman states, Why are we so shocked? As a general population, we send the message that being gay is not okay. We deny the LGBT community the right to marry the person they love and the right to serve in the military as an openly homosexual person. Phrases in conversations such as "that's so gay" and "no homo" are common and rampant. Young kids feed off these messages they hear on the news, through the media, from their parents, through adults and other kids and begin to view kids who identify with the LGBT community as different, fueling bullying. It was the bullying, the name calling, and the being looked at as an outsider that led most of the recent teens to take their lives.

So, what can we do to change this cycle? One easy way to show your support of the LGBT community is to wear purple on Wed, October 20, 2010. Purple represents spirit on the LGBT flag, and that's exactly the message we want to send: spirit and support.

Another way, is to volunteer, donate or just learn more about the following local organizations that provide support for young members of the LGBT community:

BAGLY, or Boston Alliance of Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth, a youth-led, adult-supported social support organization committed to social justice, and creating, sustaining and advocating for programs, policies, and services for GLBT youth 22 and under. 

The Home for Little Wanderers' Waltham House group home program designed to provide a safe and supportive living environment for up to 12 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youth ages 14-18. The program also serves youth who may be questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Many young people have previously experienced difficulty (at home or in placement) due to their gender expression or sexuality identities. Waltham House offers residents a safe environment to live while they prepare for family reunification, independent living and future self-sufficiency.

Great Boston PFLAG, or Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays works to create environments of understanding so that all people can live with dignity and respect through support: to cope with an adverse society, education: to enlighten the public, and advocacy: to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.

I end today's blog posting with faces and links to stories of some of the tragic young gay suicides that have happened in recent months. I know in our lifetime, the LGBT community, will have equal rights-- even if it is a long struggle.

Felix Sacco, 17, MA
Caleb Nolt, 14, IN
Asher Brown, 13, TX
Seth Walsh, 13, CA

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Light the Night Walk

One of my best friends, Carolina, whom I met my freshman year of college, has been through a lot. In her junior year of high school, Carolina lost her father to a long battle of leukemia. While I was worrying about the college application process, prom and other mundane things in high school, Carolina was moving schools to be able to be closer to her hospitalized father, helping take care of her little brother during a tough transition and dealing with a loss of a very special person in her life. Carolina and her family's world was turned up-slide down by leukemia. Even though I never met her father, from the stories and pictures, I know he was a great man who loved and cared for his family more than anything in the world.

In memory of Robert Ciccia (Carolina's father), Carolina, Carolina's brother, a few friends and myself participated in the Light the Night Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at Boston Common last year. For the 2009 walk, we were able to raise close to $800 dollars in support of the foundation, which is dedicated to funding blood cancer research and improving the lives of patients and their families who are affected by blood cancer. The event was a lot of fun. We had a banner with our team name, we received t-shirts, a balloon with a glow stick insert and free food. It was cold, but we were warmed knowing we were helping families whose lives had been touched by leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. We knew walking Light The Night walk wouldn't bring Robert back, but we knew by raising funds and walking in support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, we were helping support families, cancer research and towards the development of a cure.

Next week, Carolina, Carolina's brother and I, along with a few friends, will be participating in the Light the Night Walk again. This year we have already raised over $2,000. Most of our fundraising stemmed from Robert and Carolina hosting a social event and her little brother, Nano, selling teddy bears to his classmates at school. Our goal is to reach $2,500 dollars and we couldn't be more close. I can't wait to be back at Boston Common, walking side by side friends, all coming together for a great cause.

October 14 is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk around Boston Common. I encourage you to register, join an existing team, create your own team, or make a donation in support of all families whose lives have been affected by cancer.

To donate to Team Ciccia, visit Team Ciccia's donation page.
To create your own team or register for Light the Night walk, visit here.

Your support would mean more than you know.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Mission Video...

About the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society:
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. LLS's mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since the first funding in 1954, LLS has awarded more than $680 million in research funding.