My name is Brittany Barton. I just recently moved to Chicago from New Orleans, La. in June. I am a graduate student at Loyola University Chicago working on a dual Master's in social work and social justice and community development. I work for Teen Living Programs, a transitional living facility for homeless youth in the Chicago area, and I am also an active parishioner at All Saints Episcopal Church. I gave the "Survivor's Speech" at the Oct. 8 night vigil surrounding the recent suicides. Following is my speech.
Excerpt from my journal: May 8, 2010. "I need more. I need a family. I need someone who will love me and accept me for who I am. I am happy. I am depressed. I want to communicate, but I struggle … my heart feels dead, my soul's weak, my mind gone, my body worthless. God never loved me."
May 9, 2010. "Mother's Day. I attempted suicide."
I am black. I am a woman. I am a lesbian, and I was raised Catholic. Sometimes I feel as if I was born to be silenced, silenced by the systems, the people, my religion, my sexuality.
But today, I stand here to have a voice.
That night, I lost hope because of the woman I loved. I truly believed that I'd lost friends, family did not accept me, the church didn't want me, and that I was better off dead. Suicide became the best option that I thought would make it all better … not just for me, but for everyone. Once again, I felt silenced.Read more story below....
I am not here to tell you that it doesn't hurt. IT HURTS! I am here to tell you that beyond that hurt, there is strength in each and every one of us. There is hope. There is a voice that's waiting to be heard.
What saved my life that night? Me! Me telling ONE friend what I'd done. ONE friend calling my mother ( not the best Mother's Day gift for her ) . I just knew she would be disappointed in me. I could already see her face, her eyes. She'd never acknowledged my sexuality; actually, she ignored it.
But that night, my mother told me, "Girl, don't you let that woman break your heart to the point that you don't want to live. You guard it!" My mother gave me hope. The main person in my life who I thought rejected me gave me hope. Later on, it was my therapist, then it became my friends, the same friends who I also thought rejected me, and today, it's youyou hearing my voice, listening to me say that I AM A SURVIVOR.
IT IS TIME! It is time for us to speak up as human beings against injustice, against the silencing of our hearts. We have to stand up to tell politicians, churches, schools, friends that it's okay to be gay and that we have a right to have a voice! We are people of all faiths, backgrounds, culturesgifts that deserve to have a voice.
So to each and every one of you out there who feels alone, you are NOT alone. You have a voice and you too are a survivor. Talk to someone, phone a friend, family, a counselor. There is help. So my challenge to you tonight is to find your voice.
Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once stated, as I rephrase, "The only way for injustice to prevail is for good people to remain silent."
If you're of the LGBTQ community; if you're feeling depressed, suicidal, or know someone who is; FIND YOUR VOICE and SPEAK IT. It's time that it's heard.
PLEASE SEE LAST WEEK'S SPECIAL "IT GETS BETTER" SECTION
ELSEWHERE IN THIS ISSUE
IT GETS BETTER: Protecting Our Youth BY Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=29158
IT GETS BETTER: by Dean Littner www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=29159
IT GETS BETTER: Surviving, by Brittany Barton www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=29160
IT GETS BETTER: Supporting My Son by Maureen Goldin www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=29161
IT GETS BETTER: For Those We Lost by Matthew Zaradich www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=29162
IT GETS BETTER: Resources www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=29163