the departed

SUICIDE: Lesbian Howard University Student Aiyisha Hassan, 19, Kills Herself

Aiyisha Hassan, a 19-year-old lesbian one-time Howard University student, died on Tuesday in California of an apparent suicide. Reports coming in says she struggled with her sexuality, though it’s unclear whether we’re dealing with another bullycide or other factors. “She was having a lot of trouble with a lot of different things,” says a Howard senior who lived in the same building as Hassan, “but mainly her sexual identity and just trying to express that.” A vigil was held Thursday at Howard, organized through Twitter. Details are few, but we’ll share them as more information arrives. [photo via Facebook]

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  • Kevin

    I can’t stand this anymore…I am forming a group that is going to go around to area high schools (maybe even colleges) that lets people know that there is support out there. I read this story and literally broke down crying. There has been 5 suicides reported from possible bullying related to their sexuality. That is 5 too many.

    Does anyone have any suggestions to starting this group? Any and all help would be greatful! My e-mail is [email protected]

  • Liz

    i hate to say this…but this is actually number 7 in the last month. i want to cry.

  • Hilarious

    I don’t even know what to say anymore. This is depressing and sad.

  • Fitz

    I am very sad too.. and I feel like we need to move our sadness into anger. I don’t mean vigilantism, I mean social activism. I just don’t know where to start.

  • Chris H

    -Find a local chapter of PFLAG, or if there isn’t one, start one.
    -Contact area middle schools and high schools and ask if there are any Gay Straight Alliances. Contact them to lend support and ask if you can come to speak to the kids. Also ask them if they know of anyone at the schools that don’t currently have GSAs who would be willing to start one.
    -Volunteer at a gay youth homeless shelter (Such as Sylvia’s Place in NYC). This can help you build contacts in the GLBT activism community.
    -Organize a GLBT prom or dance to act as a safe space for those who are currently out.
    -Work with a local GLBT advocacy group or with your HR department to come up with a “demystifying GLBT” presentation to present to co-workers and administrators. Have honest discussions about sexuality and gender.
    -See if you can use this presentation in local schools with 4 focused groups. 1 to the administrators, 1 to the parents, 1 to the student body as a whole, 1 to the Gay Straight Alliance. Target your message to each one.

    These are just a few things that popped to mind.

  • meego

    Gay and lesbian teen suicides are not a new thing. How come no huge fuss was made before, as it should have been? Why now and not before? How many have we heard about in the last month? 7? And that does not include all the ones we haven’t heard about. Why is the media suddenly so interested in this? Why weren’t they so interested before? It’s scary and I get the creepy feeling that there’s more to this than we think.

    My heart breaks everytime I read stories like these. And it pisses me off that nothing has really changed and so little is being done. When I was a teenager in the 70’s, God help you if anyone even suspected you were gay. And today I read these stories and I see that things have changed little or not at all. Sad.

  • Lucas

    I know this may sound insensitive and overly analytical, but we really need to show these kinds of stories to the world during the prop 8-like marriage bliztes.

    I’ve never seen straight people touched by gay rights the way they are now because of these suicides. The support that I’ve been hearing from people I was sure were homophobes is amazing.

    Again, don’t mean to sound crude at all, but this subject definitely resonate with people. The right uses the kids all day against us, it’s time to fight back with true stories of tragedy and injustice.




  • S


    Meego, I don’t know if all of these acts occurring within such a compressed time frame is relevant, or if it has always been this way (unrelated suicides have been as frequent and simply were not reported), but apparently IT TOOK THIS for the media, and the general public, TO NOTICE the issue.

    And what I just began to wonder is whether these students are motivated in part by knowing this.

    There are no words to describe the anger and frustration I feel about that.

    I wish peace and comfort to those who have fallen and their loved ones, and hope that IT IS FINALLY ENOUGH for society to care enough to take appropriate action.

    I am tired of the bougs “if you educate our children to accept homosexuality you’re infringing upon our right to practice our religion” argument.

    Even if one DID believe that, it is a long standing principle that first amendment rights, like any constitutional rights, are not absolute and are subject to limitation when there is a compelling state interest.

    The discrimination and harassment of LGBT persons has been condoned for too long. These consequences are unacceptable.

    It would be horrible if it took this crisis of suicides for society to take action.

    But it would be even more horrible if, notwithstanding these events, nothing is changed.

  • malcanoid

    I am a gay man in my sixties living in the UK and offer this for what it is worth. I thought I had accepted my sexuality in my twenties, lived in a long term relationship and always tried to set a good example.

    I never felt more worthless and reviled than in the last ten years when the arguments concerning the repeal of section 28 and civil partnerships were being debated. Perhaps I was naive but I had never thought there was so much ignorance and shear hatred about as that which came pouring out at the time of these debates, especially that coming from people of supposed intellect and social standing. I have to say that the scale of it shook me to the core.

    These same debates in the US are bringing to the surface all those hateful, bigoted views on perhaps a more frequent basis and over a wider spread of forums than hitherto. Is it any wonder that some socially isolated, ostracised and bullied young people are feeling so emotionally shredded that they are tempted to give up hope and are calling it a day? As the debate continues, I think the situation is likely to get worse for these young people before it gets any better. Readily accessible support systems for them, and perhaps for the not so young, are imperative. It is they who are likely to be paying the highest emotional price of the fight.

    It is good see such a widespread public outpouring of grief for the victims and I hope that the depressed and disheartened will take some comfort from it. The self righteous arrogance of some of your politicians and religious leaders never ceases to amaze and sicken me.

  • Cam

    A college senior, her whole life in front of her. This is so sad.

  • afrolez

    OK thhis really hurt me really deep even though i did not know her it just made me wanna cry in class . Our lgbt community needs to come together and help our young people to show llife is a wonderful thing and that they are not alone . i honestly wanna cry . Never knew this was gonna hit my sistahs . smh

  • L'Herbs

    @Chris H: Those are all really great ideas, and I certainly hope that many people are inspired to go out and implement them. The inherent problem, though, is that (with the exception of PFLAG chapters) NONE of those would be allowed in many parts of the country. I grew up in a relatively large town in South Carolina. Two things were legally NEVER allowed to be discussed in classrooms in my district: abortion and homosexuality. Under any circumstances. Ever. You may have heard a just a year or two ago about an attempt to form a GSA at Irmo High School, just down the road from where I grew up. The group was disbanded immediately and the vitriol that came in from community members was absolutely sickening. I feel like the places where homophobia is most often the norm are the types of places where these sort of basic equality efforts can’t even get off the ground. It saddens me every day…

  • ewe

    We have to start telling kids the truth and the truth is that even though this culture pushes the concept of life after death ad nauseum, there probably isn’t anything after death so you are not going anywhere better if you end your life. So stay here. STAY ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • everfresh

    @ Malcanoid: I enjoyed reading your comment and couldn’t agree with you more. I live in South Africa where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people have the same legal rights as anyone else. Despite this legislation and having one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, there is still a lot of discrimination. I also lived and worked in the United Kingdom for 6 years, did a lot of travelling in Europe too. What dawned on me, is that people are basically the same no matter where one goes in the world. We think that culture, language and religion cause us all to think differently from one another, however this is not true. The majority of people have an innate ability to see right from wrong, although many will also disagree with me by telling me that one has to be taught right from wrong. History has shown us that what appears to be progress at times, is actually just an illusion. Berlin, used to be the “Gay Capital” of the world during the 1920’s and early 1930’s, and we all know exactly what horror soon took place there a few years later! One can even take a trip further back in time, to ancient Greece and how acceptable homosexuality was then too. The main reason why we have equal rights for LGBT people in South Africa is largely due to the influence that Peter Tatchell had on the African National Congress and how he was instrumental in this being put into our new constituation. Without people like Peter Tatchell, South Africa’s approach to LGBT people would be no different to that of Mugabe’s.

  • malcanoid

    @everfresh: I had not realised that Peter Tatchell had such influence in South Africa. Good for him. We have much to thank him for. He has shown enormous courage over the years.

    Although an atheist, I was regreting the retirement of Desmond Tutu. I have always tended to classify Xians as belonging to one of two groups: (i) the inclusive, compassionate and constructive or (ii) the self righteous, holier than thou power seekers. I put him in the first group of course but wish he was young enough to take on the Anglicans in Nigeria and Uganda etc. Are there any up and coming Mandella’s and Tutu’s? Some good news seems to be coming Kenya at least.

    I hope South Africa manages to keep on top of the bigots. You have a very nasty neighbour in Mugabe. Roman Catholic isn’t he? I can only wish him a rapid ascendance to wherever he thinks he going. No doubt he will leave behind a cabal that continues to believe the country is its personal property.

    Anyway this is way off topic. Thanks for the comments. Queerty, what more information is there about this poor woman?

  • EM

    So sad. But I am stunned, who the hell would ‘LOL’ this story NINE times?

  • mikey

    @malcanoid: you forget Uganda and Kenya, where I come from, one of our lady politicians came out to support the LGBT and the community, led by the religious leaders, came out with so much for and hatred!!! Your lucky you guys who live in the western world, you get so much support, so treasure your lives…

  • Annonymous

    I knew this girl personally and this suicide had nothing to do with her being a lesbian. It was a vicious attack on her ex girlfriend. She was selfish and abusive and she ended her life instead of dealing with the fact that she had problems.

  • ewe

    @Annonymous: I do not choose to believe YOU.

  • SFPol

    I blame Obama.

    He has helped perpetrate this toxic anti-gay environment with his vicious and politically-motivated attacks on gay soldiers, gay marriages, and his unwillingness to take on economic discrimination–the central fact of LGBT life–with supporting employment or housing non-discrimination.

    Not a dime of my money or a second of my time.

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