imageContributing blogger Darian Aaron is an Alabama native who now calls Atlanta home. He’s the creator of Living Out Loud with Darian, a blog that offers his take on social, political and religious issues that impact the LGBT community.

I’ve received my share of criticism for calling for those who are closeted within the black gay community to come out and be more visible.

But the experience I recently had with a 17-year-old gay teenager who reached out to me via Facebook only reinforced the immediate need for their to be same gender loving role models and a safe space for those struggling to deal with their sexuality.

Most 17 year olds should be getting ready for prom, graduation, and endless college applications, not medicating their pain through anonymous online hookups and suicide attempts.

With his permission I’ve copied what I was able to salvage of our long conversation below.

Art: darian can i talk to you about something

Darian: sure

Art: i lost my mom a while ago and i’ve been really depressed. i live with my father and my brothers and i just didn’t have anyone else to talk to. it’s so hard being gay and dealing with it all alone. i’m suicidal.

Darian: you don’t have any friends that you can confide in?

Art: no not really. i’ve been on bgclive looking for sex but i’m really scared of catching hiv. i’m so scared the condom is gonna break or something.

Darian: sex is not what you need right now. it sounds like you need a friend, someone you can talk to. BGC will not offer you the kind of support you need. It is a site designed for people who are looking to hook up, nothing more, nothing less.

Art :yeah thats not really who i am but i think i’m tryin to fill a spot that needs to heal in time slowly

Darian: your guard is down and you’re extremely vulnerable right now. this is a recipe for disaster. please don’t go looking for love in all of the wrong places. learn to love yourself a little bit more starting today.

Darian:are there any openly gay students at your school you can befriend? gay/str8 alliance?

Art:we have a group but i only attended once because the advisor didn’t have it as often but i was always there to attend

Darian: there’s a book i want you to pick up it changed my life. it’s called One More River To Cross by Keith Boykin promise me you’ll look for it and read it

Art:i promise but i dont have any money right now but i’m tryin my best to look for a job

Darian:that’s fine. go to the bookstore and sit and read it. sending u a link. hold on a sec. this is a letter that I wrote to my mon after she tried to convince me that I could change my sexual orientation. it was a defining moment in my life when I affirmed myself

Art: i think i need to take your words in to consideration and read your site a lil more often

Darian:you promise me you’re not going to hurt yourself

Art:i promise. if i really get depressed do you promise we will just like talk so i can feel better

Darian: i’m here anytime u need to talk

Art: i just wanna let you know with any struggle i go through i remember the postive people i dont often acknowledge in my life and I will remember you no matter what. but i just wanna thank you again..lets hope i dont cry lol

Darian: bless you. it’s gonna get better Art. I promise you. stay strong

In a world where gay visibility is increasing and gays and lesbians are embraced more readily than in the past, there are still stories of young gay people who are struggling to accept their difference and a handful of young people who will take their own lives. The deaths of Carl Walker Hoover and Jaheem Herrera ricocheted in my mind as I chatted with this young man. No one should feel that their only way out of a sea of depression and rejection is by ending their life.

We can all make a difference in the lives of LGBT youth. It’s up to us to stand up.

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