I don’t want anyone to kill him or herself. Even Tyra Sanchez, who has some very strong opinions with which I disagree. I think that the very long Facebook post – from which the above graphic originated – was Tyra’s attempt to explain her array of Tweets (some now deleted) and one very striking Instagram post from the weekend. Tyra, however, remains defiantly unsympathetic towards those with suicidal feelings, despite admitting in the Facebook post to a failed suicide attempt herself. As she states in the Tweet below – she gives no fucks. Okay…
Kennedy Davenport broadcast a great Periscope today in which she said that that Tyra was looking for attention, perhaps because of problems Tyra might be going through or because of the hate she received after her season. Face it – it cannot have been fun for her to win her season and then hear from so many, even to this day, that she did not deserve the crown. That doesn’t excuse the words she chose but perhaps offers somewhat of an explanation.
Vicky Vox also expressed concerned for Tyra, saying she might actually be fighting depression herself.
If so, I hope she gets some help. If she is just seeking attention to seek attention then, to quote Kennedy, “Y’all let the lady be the lady and pray for her.”
One thing that is important to note – Tyra is WRONG in her opinion that it is “okay” to say “Go Kill Yourself.” Tyra justified this phrase by quoting a definition from the Urban Dictionary. She even used the definition to respond to Michelle Visage in a Tweet!
It is true that some words and phrases have a different meaning in mainstream society than they do in drag or gay culture. For example, if you were to approach the average person on the street and tell them that their mug looks beat, they might get upset or worried and would certainly go in search of the nearest mirror. But tell that to a drag queen and she will say “Thank you, hunty!”
Unfortunately, according to the Urban Dictionary definition used by Tyra, “Kill Yourself” in urban slang means just that – kill yourself. It is to be used when a person’s “behavior…is so ignorant…that the only possible solution to propose is to strongly suggest that they eliminate themselves…”
According to SuicideLifelinePrevention.org, when dealing with someone who is suicidal, “Don’t dare him or her to do it.” In other words, don’t tell them to kill themself!
Of course Tyra didn’t know if the person to whom she addressed her orignal Tweet was suicidal. Nor any of the many other fans – and Michelle VIsage! – to whom she also said “Kill Yourself.” Same for any of the many thousands of other fans and followers who saw her post.
And that’s the problem with being a public figure. In a postscript to her Facebook post Tyra says “I never signed up to be a role model. I’m not asking you to follow me.” Ah Tyra but they do. You did sign up for a reality show, and win it and take home a crown.
When you perform you perform as one of RuPaul’s girls, and one of Ru’s champions. You are part of a community and a sisterhood and you have 195,000 followers on Facebook alone. So you do have a voice and a presence.
And I’m sorry, along with that notoriety – and paycheck – goes a responsibility. If you want to be absolutely free with your words delete your Facebook Page and Twitter and Instagram accounts. Speak your mind as James to your neighbors, to the guy behind the counter at 7-11.
In a public forum, however, be gentle, just as I am trying to be with you. Try to look at things from many different angles and perspectives.
Unfortunately for you, you lost it, according to your Facebook post, just this one time. You asked if it would have been better had you told the girl to go fuck herself instead of go kill herself. Yes, Tyra, infinitely better. I hope one day you will realize that.
The reason I wrote this article is because I am one of the “lucky” ones who might receive an ounce of Tyra’s sympathy, having lost someone to suicide myself. Her comments hit me harder than they did many people who have not suffered such a loss.
I am choosing to take away the positive from this situation. Tyra’s comments – which I personally found insensitive and inappropriate – opened up avenues in the drag community to talk about suicide. I have never felt comfortable bringing up this part of my past in any of my previous writing (except for a slight mention in my interview with Manila Luzon about Saraha Davenport.) I won’t say I’m “happy” to finally be able to discuss it but I am relieved.
Immediately after my boyfriend’s death the only thing in the world that brought me any joy was watching On Demand replays of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5, which had just ended. I was living in Pittsburgh at the time and just five days after his funeral I had a chance meeting with an out of drag Alaska Thunderfuck, whom I didn’t even realize still lived in the city. I watched Drag Race and I met Alaska and those were the two things in the most miserable month of my life that kept me going. So for someone from the Drag Race family to be so insensitive towards suicide, well Miss Tyra, it stung.
And I will say this – if Alaska hadn’t been as wonderfully sweet and caring as she was – there would be no Dragcentric, no DragcentricDeb. I would still be alive – trust – but I was very new to drag and to Drag Race when I met her and could easily have been turned off by a negative encounter. So to every queen – Ru Girl or not – who puts on a smile and greets her fans with warmth and makes them feel welcome – it is appreciated and sometimes very much needed. Are you listening, Tyra Sanchez?
Here is a great article with tips on Suicide Prevention – How to Help Someone Who May Be Suicidal.
The Trevor Project also has excellent resources that can help you learn the Warning Signs a suicidal person might display and help prevent suicide.