This fascinating thing happened — suddenly, I had people telling me their biggest STI/STD fears. Folks of all sexualities and ages suddenly felt like they had a platform, had a friend, had a support that they could call up and ask questions or tell their stories to.

I had thought about this "story-telling saves lives" concept before then — but the experience of actually witnessing and being a part of it sealed the deal on this part of my artistic and political self. Visibility isn't just about seeing a representation of oneself in the mainstream media. It's about creating and experiencing firsthand a safe space to truly be yourself.

There is no way to bring these young men back. Even as I write this, there are tears in my eyes, because I feel a great hole in the heart of my community. When someone is murdered, there is a general and clear face and "enemy" to have strong feelings against. We are able to verbalize our upset much clearer — we are able to call it hate and call for tolerance. However, when someone takes their own life, we are forced to contend with a much much bigger problem. We must acknowledge that we must stand up and be strong against a societal standard. We must unite against a cultural norm. We must undo a history of gender policing, gay bashing, and women hating.

It is a radical movement to decide to take on cultural norms. It means we must not only examine how these norms affect the people around us and our children, but how we perpetuate these norms as well. We must be equal parts retrospective and introspective. It means we must, essentially, not only tell our stories — but listen to the stories of those we may not entirely agree with or feel comfortable hearing.

Katie Diamond

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