Having learned that according to Young Minds, 44% of young (16-24 year old) LGBT people have considered suicide; I thought to myself ‘why doesn’t this shock me?’

The reason iss because there is still a lot of hate towards the LGBT community. England has passed many laws giving us our rights. But the education about homosexuality, I believe, could be improved both in schools and other areas. Ignorance is what creates this hate in the first place, and being children growing up in this environment I can see why many feel there is no other option but to “end it”. It seems like the easy escape. Also with there being so much anti-gay media across the world, do the LGBT youth really feel safe at all?

Why did I choose to focus on LGBT Youth suicide and not general suicide?

Suicide has always been my issue throughout life. After my father, I used to be so against suicide. I used to find it selfish. I wouldn’t even go to funerals of friends who committed, I was that strongly against it. I felt abandoned by my father and because of this, I had my own personal issue with the subject that I had to face and conquer. It wasn’t until this year that finally, I began to sympathise and wanted to work with charities to help prevent suicide. I wasted so many years hating, that now I told myself; Joni turn your passion against it to preventing it! I have chosen LGBT Youth; because first, I am a proud member of my LGBT community! And second, there are already so many charities focusing on suicide in general. So I see having my title as ambassador to England as my duty to target LGBT Youth.

A little history about when I lost my father.

I was 7 years old. It may sound young but I can still remember my father. When I close my eyes I can still see him. I needed him when I was at that age. One second he was there and the next he was gone! His memory… July the 30th every year I am a different person. You can’t be around me. My heart aches. I had so much to learn from him, and he took those lessons away from me.

What I will be trying to achieve through my work with ‘If U Care Share’? What do I want to achieve?

I want to work with ‘If U Care Share’ as a platform, they are already big and so recognised across the country. So with their contacts, charity knowledge and my position in the LGBT community I want to tell the youth everywhere that it’s OK to be gay. There are people like myself wanting to devote their lives to helping them, to show them that it does get better. And that there is more than one option other than taking “the way out”.

Joni Valadares
Mr Gay England 2016