The New York City Fire Department has a strong message for LGBT youth: Love who you are and know that it gets better.
In a video released on Sunday for National Coming Out Day, 12 FDNY firefighters, paramedics and EMTs who identify as LGBT talk about their experiences coming out to their families, friends and co-workers.
The video is part of the It Gets Better Project, a movement started in 2010 with the goal of preventing suicide among LGBT youth. The project encourages those in the LGBT community by offering the message that they will rise above struggles that may feel overwhelming now.
The members of the FDNY shared personal experiences on how they learned to accept themselves — even overcoming the darkest of moments.
Lt. Victor Berrios said he came close to committing suicide on his 16th birthday, and he knows many LGBT youth have thought about hurting themselves.
“There are going to be moments where you’re going to want to cry, you’re going to want to throw things, you’re gonna want to break things, you might even want to hurt yourself,” Berrios said. “Don’t do it.”
The subjects also talked about their successes at the FDNY and explained that sexual orientation should not prevent someone from working where they want to work.
“I’m not your queer paramedic, I’m not your tall paramedic, I’m not your female paramedic. I’m your paramedic,” the FDNY’s Samantha Wilding said.
In an FDNY press release, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the video is another way the FDNY members help can inspire people.
“Through this video, they deliver an important message to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth around the world,” Nigro said. “It absolutely does get better.”