"Whatever situation you're in, your home situation, school situation, just hang in there, it gets better" said Steve Willich, interim director of GLBT Student Services at Auraria.
Willich organized a rally on campus Wednesday bringing together students from the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State College of Denver and the Community College of Denver.
He combined two national campaigns to form the theme of the rally.
"It gets better" was started by an advice columnist trying to keep bullied gay and lesbian students from feeling down. It is now popular on YouTube. "Give a Damn" was started by the True Colors Foundation founded by pop star Cyndi Lauper.
Willich says he was motivated by the recent string of suicides of teenage gay students across the country.
The most publicized case is that of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi. He was a Rutgers University student who had his sexual encounters broadcast on the Internet by his roommate, according to police. Clementi later jumped off a bridge to his death.
"These teens had been bullied or teased for being gay or for being perceived as gay," Willich said.
More than 100 students, faculty, and staff stood together clad in purple to represent the spirit of homosexuality. They listened to speakers talk about the need to end bullying while supporting those who feel persecuted.
"It's not OK to make a racist joke or make a homophobic comment and just blow it off like it's nothing because those words have meanings," Joanna Storey, president of the Auraria Gender Sexualities Alliance, said.
Storey knows the pain, because she's been there.
"I tried to commit suicide," Storey told the crowd. "I'm really glad that I didn't succeed at committing suicide and I know that I'm not the only one."
Speakers talked about mental health and other support services available for students who might be thinking about ending their own lives.
"Never think that suicide or any kind of thing like that is a last resort," Kathryn Cammack, student trustee for Metro State, said.
Willich doesn't want other students to feel alone.
"We as a campus want to let these teens know that it will get better," Willich said. "Don't do anything right now. We're here for you and we give a damn."
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