On Wednesday, October 20, Graduate Student Senate, OU Little Monsters, Student Senate, LGBT Center, United Campus Ministry, ALLY, Open Doors and others held a candlelight vigil to remember LGBTQ teens and young adults who have committed suicide because of bullying and harassment. More than 300 people attended, and for those who could not, UCM Campus Minister Evan Young opened his heart and shared a prayer.

“I’m here tonight because my heart is breaking. It’s breaking for Tyler Clementi . . . and Seth Walsh . . . and Asher Brown . . . and Billy Lucas . . . and Raymond Chase. It’s breaking for my son and his friends who were harassed, ridiculed, and spat on at their high school because they used their silence to express their belief in and support of the full and equal humanity of their friends and neighbors who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer. It’s breaking for the 9 out of 10 LGBTQ teens who report experiencing harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And it’s breaking for all of us who have built, live in, and maintain a community that professes love and respect yet permits, even encourages, acts of hate, oppression, and alienation.”

“I know your hearts are breaking too. I love that about you. But it’s not enough. We can mourn and grieve, we can wail and beat our breasts, and it won’t stem the tide of hate. We need to change—our selves, and our world. We need to heal this division between what we say we believe, our commitment to equality and compassion, and what we do, our complicity in oppression. For me that change must begin by being put into words; and the words must come from a deep place some call the bottom of one’s heart, others call the soul. I call these words a prayer, and I want to share my prayer with you.”

“The prayer of my breaking heart is that the next time we gather, it be in celebration of the transformation we have wrought, the transformation of our community into a place where our shared belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person is embodied in the systems and structures we build. A place where the way we teach our children and each other reflects our unshakeable commitment to the full equality of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, class, and all the other fake lines we draw to make a ‘them’ when we know there is only ‘us.’ A place where no one of us can stand by and do nothing when we witness harassment, bullying, and oppression, because the lesson of our common worth has been fed to us from birth, and reinforced by everything we see our parents, families, friends and neighbors do. A place where, when fate brings suffering to one of us, all the others of us simply cannot stay at rest, but must move to comfort and affirm and heal. My dear departed friend Art Gish told me that prayer is dangerous—because when you pray you risk changing yourself. So I pray from the bottom of my breaking heart that my prayer be the most dangerous kind, that my self be changed, that you who hear me be changed, and that our change bring forth change in the ones around us, the world around us, on and on out into the night, so that no hearts need break and no lives need be lost again. May it be so; may we make it so.”

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