“Your voice reminds me of Nomi from Sense8–have you seen that? Do you know who I’m talking about?”
Todd and I met on a whim of chance. It’s Gay Days weekend, an event that partially extends to the Walt Disney World resort, and it’s the first since what happened at Pulse. Todd came to the concierge counter to assist us, even though a woman was already at that station, also available to help us. Within the first few words we exchanged, I knew that Todd was gay, and he knew that I’m trans (even if he, like many others, are not quite certain of ‘where’ my transition journey is headed).
As is wont to be with virtually all things, the internet populace is two-party opinionated on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why: either it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened with regards to showcasing death by suicide in the media, or it’s the most moving call to arms for suicide casualty awareness and youth mental health support.
Scene: February 2017, yours truly + 20 other virtual strangers in an office pod on the second floor of an office building (occupied by Somos Orlando, a latinx outreach program for LGBT folk, families and allies). We are in an 8 hour workshop for mental health first aid targeted specifically to the youth. For 8 grueling hours, we observe interviews with suicide survivors (who go graphically in depth with their stories), we practice mock interventions in hypothetical scenarios that gradually increase their severity with deeper and deeper involvement, we even go so far as to facilitate mental health crisis scenarios by simulating auditory hallucinations—a colleague and I sit this one out, because this scenario hits just too close to our own special sense of unreality.