Friday, June 07, 2013

Suicide, San Francisco Homosexuals & Stephen Fry

The organizers from the Gay Men's Community Initiative who put on the May 29 forum on suicide in the San Francisco gay community videotaped the event and they've now posted it, so folks who want to watch and listen to what transpired can do so. My report and pix on the forum are here.

I've requested that the organizers also prepare a short report on the forum, key points made, lessons learned and any steps to be taken in the future to address the factors that lead gays to kill themselves. Such a report would be an excellent supplement to the terrific video.

Over at the Bay Area Reporter site, there's a short story by Seth Hemmelgarn that skims a few highlights of the forum. An excerpt:

At one point, [Veronika] Fimbres, 60, asked how many in the room had ever thought about suicide. Almost everyone raised their hand.

Lewis Nightingale, 63, talked about the challenges of aging with HIV, including financial concerns, with a lack of support. "This is not my beautiful life," he said.

Tell us about it Lewis! An impetus for the forum was the suicide of longtime Castro district resident Jonathan Klein, who owned the Now Voyager travel agency and has lived with AIDS for many years. He was facing eviction from his apartment and the sale of the building where his business was located, in addition to grappling with being over 50 and dealing with HIV.

The current paper edition of the Castro Courier contains a remembrance by George Woyames about Jonathan and his travel agency associate Peter Greene offered these honest thoughts in the aftermath of his friend's suicide and the larger Castro community issues:

"We are not just spaces, contracts, leases and commodities to be traded away in exchange for money. We have a history with the neighborhood. We're living and contributing human beings. Some people don't know the faces they're displacing [through gentrification] because their own faces are buried in their cell phones. Jonathan's death is a cautionary tale for gay people who are dependent on their good looks for social reasons. One must look below the skin and embrace people as they are, and not put so much emphasis on youth and beauty. There needs to be more expression for people at any age, for what they are at their core and Jonathan's heart was as beautiful as it gets."

Let's cross the pond and get up to speed with our honorary gay San Francisco resident actor and political advocate Stephen Fry, and his disclosure this week about a suicide attempt he made in 2012. Thankfully, he didn't succeed.

Here's the description of the clip from the Guardian:

Stephen Fry tells how he attempted to kill himself last year, and was found unconscious in a hotel room by his producer. Fry has bipolar disorder, and tells comedian Richard Herring during an interview on his Leicester Square Theatre podcast how without medication he can veer between exuberance and depression. Fry, president of mental health charity Mind, says people should talk about suicide and mood disorders.

Tell us about it, Stephen! I'm in total agreement with his promotion of bringing light to suicide and expect that we gays will continue to talk about and address suicide in our community.

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