This past fall a student at Rutgers University here in New Jersey walked up on a bridge and proceeded to jump off. He had been outed as a homosexual by a cruel prank that put his sharing affection with another male student up on the web. He was humiliated. Things were so bad that he could not see a time when things would be better. He was wrong, they would have been, but his field of vision had become so narrow that all he wanted was to stop the pain in that moment. So he jumped off the bridge.
That story takes places through our nation, and the world, on a daily basis. The specific facts change, but the struggle of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender adolescents who fear the rejection and humiliation of their friends and family is all too common. And while their lives will get better as these kids get older and come into their own, they don’t know that and instead choose the short term “solution” with the longterm “result”: they take their own life.
It is tragic.
It is why I have given sermons on the subject. It is why I have taught our community’s teens about the issue — and made clear that I hope if they have questions or are struggling, or if they believe that it can never get better, that they will talk to someone and that our doors are always open. It is why I am writing this post.
Apple is widely perceived as one of the most “gay-friendly” tech companies. Despite small stumbles such as the one that briefly saw an app for “curing” gays and lesbians approved, I believe it to be the case. As far back as 1994, Apple was among the leaders in this regard. As a post from 1994 explains, Apple offered domestic partnership benefits and saw it as
…an issue of parity.
“Our position was to make our benefits equitable,” says Bill Keegan, spokesperson for Apple Computer Inc., which made same-sex domestic partner benefits available to its 12,500 employees worldwide last year. “We don’t want to define what a family is.”
Apple has a large number of employees; some are straight, some are gay, some are lesbian, some are bi-sexual, and some are transgender … and none of them have to hide who they are. And that is why Apple joins the company of others who have made videos as part of the Trevor Project. Its mission is to
end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including our nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.
This video was done by Apple employees, not by Apple. It isn’t an Apple sponsored thing (in fact you may notice Apple doesn’t appear anywhere in the video and is only mentioned in the description of the video) but being a video BY Apple employees is a bold statement in and of itself.
You see, I have a cousin who works for Apple and has for many years. He has never had to hide his sexual orientation, or the fact that he has been in a long-term relationship and has raised a child with his partner. In fact, speaking with him about his relationship has made one thing clear: they, as a gay couple, are just as boring as Elana and I are as a heterosexual couple. No doubt he had difficult times when he was younger, but things got better; he found someone he loves and wants to share his life with, and he works for a great company helping to develop amazing devices.
Here’s the thing. My cousin won’t tell me ANYTHING about what goes on at Apple. No matter how hard I try, he says nothing. Why? Because Apple is serious about its employees keeping their mouths shut. Which brings us back to the video. The fact that some key employees of tight-lipped Apple made this powerful video means that Apple supports the video and its efforts. They may not talk about Apple in it, but they would never have done this unless they knew they had their company’s approval.
Even if this post helps one teen realize that “it gets better” it was worth writing. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, my cousin is in the video.