Statistics for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender) teens that commit or attempt suicide are anywhere between 2- 6 times higher than heterosexual teens depending on what publication you are reading. Adolescences are fraught with uncertainty stemming from not knowing who they are and how they fit into this world. If the world around them gives them messages that who they are is “wrong”, “damaged” or “sinful” well we have seen that scenario play out in the news over and over in tragedy. Thankfully we are seeing many grassroots organizations building support networks for teens that are in need of love and support as well as services and community. I am sure by this time you are really confused as to how Jell-O fits into this mold? Well you can ask the women who expertly ran and executed the 3rd Annual Throw Down For a Cause, Women’s Jell-O Wrestling at Bourbon Street Bar and Grill. It was a charity event benefiting youth services at The Center and Project Love Out Loud in San Diego and it was flawless.
I am not a fan of crowds, large events, loud music and general mayhem. I would rather stick needles in my eyes than go to a party, even if I know the people. I am socially phobic and a nut. I have been found after more than one club outing behind a potted palm muttering like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. Really no good can come of it. I am sensitive and people’s ju-ju can get all over me no matter how well I ground myself or how many vodka tonics I inhale. So I am careful as to what I sign up for and always have an excellent escape plan not unlike the guys who made it off Alcatraz or begged off The Bachelorette at the last minute. It has no bearing on how good or wonderful an event, party or Disney themed Christian Rebirth Reunion might be. I start to get a tic when a group of more than 6 people starts to gather. So you have got to know my crazy was up in arms at the prospect of going to a charity event with tons of people on a school night. Ack.
What helped talk my fragile psyche off the ledge was that Tracey was one of the people orchestrating the event and climbing into the ring. Here is a woman I admire, support and has me thinking of adding the word Rad to my vocabulary. She is smart, compassionate and walks her talk, which is a rare and wonderful quality. I wanted to be there to support her and her friends. The causes the event benefitted are youth based support organizations—as a life coach, school counselor and my sense of fun is mentally frozen 13-year old this was a slam-dunk. There was a free bar for the first two hours sponsored by a generous vodka producer that would help me self-medicate, check. I love to experience anything new; I had never seen anyone Jell-O wrestle so that was a big yes. I steeled myself for talking to drunk revelers wearing feather boa’s, platform shoes, gold lame and biker jackets with trucker hats, then after having talked to my friends and family about where I was headed that night they wandered off to go bowling or something like that. I took off for Bourbon Street and Throw Down For a Cause to hang out with some great folks, even though there were a lot of them.
I was 25 years older than 90% of the patrons and a foot taller. I know I was checked to see if I had an adams apple more than 4 times. Look I am a lovely, geeky, ginger-haired straight chick who could hunt geese with a rake. I get a lot of looks sometimes, ok lots of times. I arrived a good deal early to say hello to Tracey and meet some of her brave and awesome friends who were stepping into the ring. I also needed to get a few cocktails under my belt to relax and go with the flow. Three blueberry vodka (something they were showcasing) and soda’s did the trick. It was surprisingly refreshing for the 30 seconds the barkeep handed it to me and it evaporated, go figure. I bought a bunch of raffle tickets and gave them away to someone who would be there for the last round of the night—hours away. The money was going for a good cause and I was happy to help in any way I could.
Supporting the evening’s causes also brought another first for me, Jell-O shots. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that at 50 years of age I had never done one. When I minored in alcohol abuse in college I drank my booze, never ate it. I am somewhat of an old fashioned girl you could say. The patient young woman who was selling them froze when I told her I had never done one. She deftly reached into her bra drew out a dollar and stuffed it into the cash cup and said, “You can’t do your first shot alone!” She then instructed me on the tongue, slurp art of ungluing the quivering goodness and sucking it down. I had to use the remedial skill of an index finger when not all my shot made it in one attempt but I am sure with a little time I can master the technique. One and done and a check off my bucket list, or at least the tin cup list.
I was getting ready for the main event, having given away most of the cash in my wallet, drank all that I needed to do, and attempted to bribe the staff photographer from taking my picture for the umpteenth time. His response was first “how much?” and secondly “what do you expect you’re a ginger.” I want to believe he was talking in Gilligan’s Island speak but I know it had more to do with my talented hairdresser Kristen. So there I was under the palms at dusk in a pretty little courtyard at Bourbon Street a little drunk listening to 80’s music and the announcer introducing the wrestlers. I stood watching a community of wonderful people having fun; spreading support, love and laughter to hold up those of us that are most fragile. It has been said we are only as strong as our weakest link. It was incredible to be able to be part of an event that reached back, reached down to offer up support and in doing so said; I see you, I hear you, you matter.
Amen and pass the Jell-O shots!