“I was in the school musical, so right before we open the show, we do a school preview for the entire school,” Oakley, who appears on the current season of CBS’s “The Amazing Race,” says in the clip above. “It was an exciting day, and I remember one of my friends came into the room and told me she had told a few people that I was gay. She was the only person I had ever told, she was the one person I trusted. My heart dropped.”
The experience, he continued, left him feeling “helpless and alone.”
“I remember ... feeling like I don’t have control over my own narrative anymore,” he said. “I don’t have control over how I get to tell everyone my deepest, darkest secret ― my truth.”
The interview is part of “Anytime, Anywhere,” Oakley’s new campaign with The Trevor Project, which is focused on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention. The release of the video Tuesday coincides with the expansion of The Trevor Project’s text and chat counseling services, TrevorText and TrevorChat, now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first time in the organization’s 21-year history.
Surveys have shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared with heterosexual youth. As for the transgender community, 40% of trans adults reported having made a suicide attempt ― 92% of which said they did so before the age of 25.
“Moments of crisis are different for everyone, and I hope that by sharing mine, LGBTQ youth know there’s no reason too big or small to reach out to The Trevor Project,” Oakley said in a statement on The Trevor Project’s website. “Asking for support isn’t always easy — it’s important to meet LGBTQ young people where they are, with counselors who are trained to meet their unique needs, and on platforms they’re comfortable using.”
Trevor Project CEO and Executive Director Amit Paley said the organization collaborated with Oakley and AT&T to expand their services in hopes of making them as accessible to young people (many of whom are more comfortable with text and chat services than with speaking on the phone) as possible.
“The Trevor Project wants every young LGBTQ person to know that they are never alone and can always reach out to us for help,” he said in a statement.