In September, five teenage boys killed themselves after being physically or verbally (or both) assaulted for being gay. The suicides of Tyler Clementi, 18, Billy Lucas, 15, Asher Brown, 13, Justin Aaberg, 15, and Seth Walsh, 13, have brought national attention to the epidemic of bullying in American schools.
Now, a number of stars, many of whom have personal experience with anti-gay bullying, are speaking out in hopes of raising awareness and providing support to teens and young adults who are being victimized or who are having trouble dealing with their sexuality. The topic is also addressed in a cover story for this week’s PEOPLE magazine and in a week-long series on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
Most recently, ‘Project Runway’ mentor Tim Gunn spoke candidly about his own suicide attempt and his support for The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth. “I understand the desperation. I understand the despair,” an emotional Gunn said with tears in his eyes. “And I understand how isolated you can feel … It will get better. I promise.”