NEW YORK— A 26-year-old openly gay youth advocate active in the New York City LGBT community tragically took his own life over the weekend.
Joseph Jefferson, a graduate of the Harvey Milk High School and a tireless HIV prevention educator for gay men of color, on Saturday posted a heartwrenching farewell on his Facebook page that read, “I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called ‘social mainstream.’” He later hung himself.
Jefferson’s death is the latest in a staggering string of suicides committed by LGBT youths in crisis over the lack of societal acceptance they perceived based on their sexual orientation. According to the blog Rod 2.0, which originally broke the story, Jefferson is now the third African American youth to commit suicide in three weeks.
Rod 2.0 spoke with loved ones and colleagues of Jefferson about the young man’s extraordinary life and senseless death. “Joseph was truly a sweetheart,” remembered a friend who asked to remain anonymous. “Extremely bright and impassioned about social justice causes… It’s such a loss.”