Cason Crane is just 20 years old and he has already scaled five of the world's seven highest peaks and could well be the first openly gay person to complete the Seven Summits not just for himself but to raise both awareness and funds for the Trevor Project. The non-profit group provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the US. Since the start of his Rainbow Summits Project, Cason has raised US$100,000 for the Trevor Project.
The avid runner, swimmer, and triathlete who came out as gay in his teens said he was devastated when one of his friends and classmates in high school committed suicide and was shocked when he learnt that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. He was also impacted by the death of Tyler Clementi, a gay teenager from New Jersey who had been bullied
"His death opened my eyes to the growing problem of youth suicide, specifically in the LGBTQ community. I learned that LGB youth are four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide. Underlying these tragedies were my own personal experiences -- being teased and called names, getting shunned in the locker room -- but I was fortunate to have the loving support of my family and friends, unlike so many others." Cason wrote in a column published in theHuffington Post.
He will be making a stop in Singapore enroute to Nepal to climb his second-last mountain, Everest in April, and is slated to meet young LGBTQ people at a Young Out Here event on Friday, March 29 at 3pm. The event is open to all LGBTQ youths age 25 and below. Sign up here.
Since climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (Africa) with his mother in 2008 at age 15, Cason has climbed Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina (South America), Mount Elbrus in Russia (Europe), Vinson Massif (Antarctica); and Carstensz Pyramid in New Guinea (Australasia). He expects to climb his last mountain on the list, Alaska’s Mount McKinley, later this year. And when he does that, he will be the fifth youngest and one of about 350 people to conquer all seven peaks.
He writes on his website rainbowsummits.org about climbing Everest, the tallest mountain in the world: "I'm busy getting ready for what I think will be the biggest challenge of all. As part of this climb, I will be carrying prayer flags to the summit of Mt. Everest, with dedications on them to people who have committed suicide or been the victim of harassment, bullying, homophobia or intolerance. I welcome anyone who would like to dedicate a prayer flag to go torainbowsummits.org/get-involved and let me know how you would like the dedication to read. I will transcribe it onto a traditional Tibetan prayer flag and take it to the top of the world with me.
"I hope my adventure will serve as an inspiration to young people like me to be true to who they are and to know that they are not alone. It’s also my hope that calling attention to this rampant problem will help kids’ parents, families and friends be there for the young people in their lives as they discover and embrace who they are."
The following interview was provided by Young Out Here, a LGBTQ community youth group in Singapore:
Thanks to Fridae Asia, sidebar