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There is very unfortunate news today as yet another young gay man has taken his own life. Twenty-six-year-old Joseph Jefferson of Brooklyn, New York reportedly committed suicide on Saturday by hanging, friends and associates of the former gay youth activist and HIV peer educator tell Rod 2.0. Joseph Jefferson’s Facebook page is now locked but over the weekend his last status message 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’. “
By most accounts, Jefferson was a true LGBT youth pioneer. The 2002 graduate of New York City’s Harvey Milk High School later worked on HIV prevention and outreach for Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD) and the now-shuttered People of Color in Crisis (POCC), New York City’s leading HIV/AIDS groups for Black gay men. More recently, Joseph Jefferson was an assistant to Laurence Pinckney and James Saunders, New York City’s popular Black LGBT event promoters, reports Nathan James. Jefferson was also active in New York City’s colorful ballroom community.
“Joseph was truly a sweetheart,” one friend who knew him well tells R20. “Extremely bright and impassioned about social justice causes… It’s such a loss.” The friend, who requests anonymity, adds that Joseph Jefferson seemed in good spirits and “showed no indications of being unusually depressed.”
“As an advocate for LGBT youth, Mr. Jefferson surely made a positive impact on those he met and counseled. But this same nurturing and enrichment he offered to others, was absent in his own life to such a degree, that he felt the only way to deal with the pain of his existence was to end it,” wrote author and activist Nathan James on Facebook.
At only 26-years-old, Joseph Jefferson was only beginning his journey in life and seemingly had so much to offer the community and other Black gay youth. Will this ever end? Will there ever be hope for young people such as Joseph Jefferson, Aiyisha Hassan, Raymond Chase and Tyler Clementi?
UPDATE: There will be a tribute tonight to Joseph Jefferson at the “I Love My Boo” forum at GMHC on West 24th Street in Manhattan!