I went to a candlelight vigil last week for the queer and perceived-queer teens who have taken their own lives. Vigils often feel a little awkward to me but I felt it was important to show up, to be visible and present. After the fifteen minutes of silence, people got up and spoke. One said, Remember that even though this is getting a lot of attention in the media now, we can't let it fade out with the news cycle. It will keep happening long after the news forgets it. Another person shared what her mother had always told her: It is not your task to complete the work, nor are you free to desist from it.
Corin Tucker's new song and video "Riley" aren't about this specifically, but they still connect for me. The song is a shout-out of support to a young person going through a terrible time, from an adult who may not be a regular part of the kid's life but still cares deeply. Riley, we're still around.
I like that we. I think of all the struggling kids I've known over the years, from the queer SMYRC youth to the girl rock campers to the high school students I would meet with every week after school to sit down and write. Some of them did reach out to me when things got desperate at home. Many didn't. I tried to give them tools to empower themselves--writing prompts and journals, cooking dinner together, permission to be loud, scream circles, a model for forging the life you want, not the compulsory one you're taught. I'm trying to resist the rescue narrative because that's not what happens, it's not saving people one at a time so much as it is being present for them. It's showing up. Every day or week or month or summer. I hope these kids and now-adults know I still think of them. I hope they know there are a lot of us out here rooting for them, people who may not be in their inner orbit but who stand in this outer circle, ready to catch them if they fall. If they call.
(Props to Corin for her moving new album and Aubree for the beautifully-shot video.)