On Sunday, February 26, piano-rock band, The Fray, performed in front of a packed audience at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver. Original band members and best friends, Isaac Slade and Joe King formed the band back in 2002 and by 2005 released their debut album How To Save A Life, featuring the chart topping, hit single by the same title.
Lead singer, Isaac Slade, who was inspired after his experience of mentoring a crack-addicted teenager, wrote the song, How To Save A Life.
“He was a recovering addict, coming out of a really tough teenage life,” Isaac described. “The song is more of a memoir about his slow motion decent and all the relationships he lost along the way. It is the easiest one for me to sing every night.”
Just like Isaac, I was once also a mentor, not for drug-addicted youth, but for youth who were struggling with adversity and coming out. I was a mentor for YouthGlo, a support program for youth in the North Okanagan who were struggling with LGBT issues.
During my time with YouthGlo I met many great teenagers from the area, all with different comfort levels and issues they were combating in their day-to-day lives. Issues like self-acceptance, family dynamics, bullying, coming out, and their own sexuality.
It wasn’t until years later I realized just what an influence I had made on the lives of some of the youth I had mentored. It was particularly apparent when one young man I had previously mentored connected with me through social media.
“I met Brian when I was 14,” said Ryan. “At the time I had no idea the impact he would have on my life. He let me ask him anything and was open to talk about whatever was on my mind. He answered all of my questions without hesitation; without judgment.”
As a mentor, I was able to help Ryan with the challenges he faced at home and in school.
“With Brian’s help, high school became easier,” Ryan explained. “When I came out, Brian was there to support me. He showed me that being gay is not wrong, as some people in school wanted me to believe.”
Five years later after Ryan and I had re-connected as adults, it once again became evident on how I had again become a role model for him.
“He helped me accept myself,” Ryan said. “He has always been there for me, as a mentor and a friend. He taught me that having humility and helping others is an important part of our LGBT community. Thanks to Brian, I am strong and am the man I am today. He taught me never to be afraid.”
Today, I am so proud of Ryan and the strides he has made. Although I might not have saved an individuals life, I find comfort knowing I have helped guide others on their journey to lead healthy, prosperous, and fulfilling lives.
Just as Isaac put it, we all can do our part. In case you need to hear it again… How To Save A Life
Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down it’s just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear and blame
You begin to wonder why you came
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life
Let him know that you know best
Cause after all you do know best
Try to slip past his defense
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you’ve told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
And pray to God he hears you…