by Jessica Carreras
For over a year, Adam Taylor of Kalamazoo has worked tirelessly as executive director of Project Light, which addresses the issue of LGBT youth suicide in Michigan. While attending school for Public Policy and Non-Profit Administration, Taylor hopes to reach out to parents and youth everywhere.
“Prayers for Bobby” was released last week. What did the movie’s message mean to you?
“Prayers for Bobby,” for me, was an overwhelming emotional and effective message of the needs of GLBT youth acceptance, and suicide/crisis prevention that I have been pushing for over three years now since I was outed. I endorse this amazing message that was highly effective in relaying one story that connected to so many us GLBT of all ages, and allies who have heard and seen their GLBT friends and family struggle through. It has connected and empowered the community to become educated, volunteer and donate to support services. Because of its use of story and truth, myself and Project Light volunteers went to Royal Oak in June 2008 to be extras for the movie and help in all ways we could.
What’s going on with Project Light in 2009? Any events or news to share?
Project Light this year has 2009 events lined up. On March 5, join Project Light and Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center at the Welborn Theater in Kalamazoo for a night of comedy by Crawl Space and guest comedian Mike Neubecker. Join us and many others at the Capital building in Lansing on March 25 for the Matt’s Safe School Law. Then, join team Project Light in October for the community Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk. November 1, join us for our Education Forum on GLBT Mental Health. This mini-conference will be the two year anniversary of Project Light’s service and commitment to the community.
Why is LGBT youth suicide an important issue to you?
At the age of 16, I after several months of depression, I attempted suicide rather than continue to struggle with self-acceptance and understanding of my sexual orientation combined with very real fears of rejections from family and friends. After being outed at 17, I started a Gay Straight Alliance. Since then, I have been committed to GLBT youth services and social justice with a focus on mental health. Jumping forward over three years since then, including thousands of hours, travels all over the U.S., two field placements and founding Project Light, I am where I am today. I give so much and care so much because I know what its like to be a youth in crisis, and I have heard so many stories, and seen so many common stories not be heard or helped. I currently have committed my life and all energy I can to this cause.
What do you hope Project Light will accomplish?
First off, to carry out our mission in every action we take – to light the way by providing information, funds and referrals on issues related to suicide prevention among LBGT youth of southwest Michigan. For 2009, Project Light’s goal is to achieve funding to reach our sustainability needs, which are two-fold. First, to develop a part-time paid executive director position to allow for a skilled community leader to focus on carrying out the mission of Project Light. Second, to open an office location, so that we can have youth come in and allow volunteers and other services to be held in a central location. Currently we focus on education and referrals, but hope to by 2011 be giving direct crisis prevention service in addition to the wealth of education and referrals we conduct.
If you could send one message to parents of LGBT youth everywhere, what would you say?
So often when a son or daughter comes out to their parents, the parents go into the closet by being in denial and pushing to keep their child from feeling affection, or acceptance of who they are. This is such a pain to a person. As we learned in the movie “Prayers for Bobby,” both the mother and the son got hurt. Yes there are many unknown and scary things and ranging thoughts, beliefs and opinions when a son or daughter comes out. Get education, and listen to your son or daughter to learn about their life. Time is the healer and education is the medicine.
Learn more online at http://www.projectlight.info