“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.—Matthew 7:13-14
When I was coming to terms with my sexuality, I thought about the above verses a lot. For LGBTQ+ individuals, accepting our sexuality is the narrow gate; going through the wide gate often leads to our destruction. The discrimination and bullying LGBTQ+ individuals often face in life often can lead to suicidal behavior. Policies and interventions that effectively reduce stigma and discrimination while strengthening support networks and community connectedness could help reduce the risk of suicide for LGBTQ+ adults and youth.
Although sharply divided, public attitudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater acceptance, with younger generations leading the way. Acceptance of homosexuality in general also reflects the generational difference in opinion. In 2010, 26 percent of the people surveyed who were under 30 said they felt same-sex behavior is “always wrong,” while 63 percent of the people aged 70 and older held that opinion.
Those in the LGBTQ+ community know that the attitude towards our community is changing. The change toward acceptance of homosexuality began in the late 1980s after years of remaining relatively constant. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-sex relations are “always wrong,” and in 1987, 75 percent held that view. By 2000, however, that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to 43.5 percent. People of my generation and older, and even today, people in more conservative areas of the country, know that lack of acceptance made many people deny their sexuality, which is harmful. Lack of acceptance and fear of the way we’d be treated if we came out, led many of us to stay in the closet for too many years.
Research shows that anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and victimization contribute to an increase in the risk of suicide, and LGBTQ+ people are at disproportionate risk of suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts. A 2016 review of research found 17 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults had attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared with 2.4 percent of the general U.S. population. LGBQ people were 92 percent more likely to think about suicide, 75 percent more likely to plan suicide, and 88 percent more likely to actually attempt suicide that resulted in no or minor injury. The statistics for transgender individuals is even worse. For transgender individuals, 82 percent have seriously thought about suicide in their lifetimes, while 48 percent had done so in the past year. Even more devastating is that 40 percent of transgender individuals have attempted suicide at some point in their lifetimes, and 7 percent had attempted it in the past year.
Acceptance can go a long way in changing these statistics. That doesn’t mean just acceptance from non-LGBTQ+ people, but also accepting ourselves and our sexuality. LGBTQ+ people are a minority. At best, we make up about 10 percent of the population, though in surveys that number is usually lower. Our small section of the population that accept our sexuality put us automatically on the “narrow path.” But acceptance and journeying down that narrow path leads to much difficulty , but it also “leads to life.” Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
In life, we are constantly faced with the narrow path and the wide path, it is up to us to chose which one we take. However, just remember that “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life,” Today, I want to leave you with one of y favorite poems which gives advice we should all heed.
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,