Pride event likely saved lives

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Lakeside Park was overflowing with rainbows, pride and inclusion on Saturday during the second annual Pride event. Hundreds of people attended the event, listening to speakers, meeting new friends and celebrating. The colorful, welcoming crowd was refreshing, and for some people, the event was life changing.

“I’ve never felt so accepted just as I am,” one attendee commented after the event.

“Love and acceptance isn’t something I have experienced a lot,” another attendee said. “The love I felt today was overwhelming.”

Some wonder why Pride is such an important event. These comments are why. There are still people, especially young people, in our community who don’t feel included. They feel unloved or unwanted. They feel like they are on the outside. And for some, they feel like they would be better off dead than living their truth and being themselves. Events, like the Pride event in McPherson, save lives.

While the drag show is fun and the costumes and colors are exciting, the real purpose of the event is to offer a place of safety and inclusion for everyone. Regardless of your race, sexual orientation, size or shape, everyone is welcome at Pride. For far too many people, Pride is the only place and time they feel truly accepted.

The Trevor Project offers the following facts about suicide:

•Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.1
•LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.
•LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
•Of all the suicide attempts made by youth, LGB youth suicide attempts were almost five times as likely to require medical treatment than those of heterosexual youth.
•Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are four to six times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.
•In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. Ninety-two percent of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.
•LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
•One out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9 through 12) seriously considered suicide in the past year.
•Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.

The organizers of Pride in McPherson, Tricia Warring and Josh Rice,  deserve recognition for their efforts. Not only did they pull off an amazing event in just its second year, but they likely saved lives. The efforts made on Saturday can continue throughout the year. We can all choose to practice acceptance each day and treat others with kindness and respect.

Pride is much more than a celebration; it is a life-saving experience for many. Thank you to all the organizers for providing this experience for our community.

The McPherson News-Ledger Editorial Board