Every year, before summer gives way to autumn, Art from Ashes, together with the entire community, holds its annual event, Running of the Gays (ROTG). ROTG is a three-block “marathon” in high heels to raise money for creative programs that support LGBTQ+ youth. This year, we will don our heels burdened with thoughts of tragedies like that at Pulse Nightclub, and our countries continued efforts to bury the rights of the queer community—a sobering reminder of the reason we’re running.
LGBTQ+ youth face bigotry, discrimination and even hatred in their everyday lives. How we as choose to answer defines us; it sends a message to those who struggle because of their sexual identity, and it sends a message back to our community and world.
Here are some messages the world has sent us:
- gay and lesbian youth are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than other youth
- 30% of all youth suicides are related to issues of sexual identity.
- 45% of gays and 20% of lesbians have experienced verbal harassment and/or physical violence during school as a result of sexual orientation
- 26% of gay and lesbian youth are forced to leave home because of conflicts with their families over sexual identity.
These statistics echo in the backs of our heads every year as we put on this event. At Art from Ashes, we believe that every person IS a creative genius, which means that the depths to a person’s inner-self is vaster and wider than judgments made by society. Running of the Gays is meant to be a campy celebration of individual expression, yet the implications still remain quite serious. The money raised during this event goes directly to support the programs that have been nourishing our community’s youth for 13 years.
Art from Ashes grows and flourishes when it is part of a larger discussion. So talk to us. Join the conversation. AfA believes that telling all youth, and particularly those struggling with abuse, bullying, despair and homelessness that they matter and that they are loved is one of the most important messages we can send. But we need the feedback and support of the community for that message to be heard. Express how you feel, connect yourself with the community as we strive to do, and let’s transform together.
Register for this year’s Running of the Gays here
Donate to this year’s Running of the Gays here