Cason Crane atop Mount Everest

A young, gay American man has reached the peak of Mount Everest as part of his quest to climb the world’s highest mountains – all to highlight the high suicide rates among gay teens.

Twenty-year-old Cason Crane committed to climbing the tallest peak on each of the seven continents after the suicide of a high school friend and the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers University.

Crane created the Rainbow Summits Project 18 months ago in support of the Trevor Project, the largest LGBT teen suicide support service in the US.

He has now climbed six of the seven peaks after he became the first openly gay climber to complete the Mount Everest ascent on May 20. 

After reaching the mountain top he held up one of the rainbow flags he took along.

“I sat down on the rounded peak, stared at the flags, and still in shock, I sobbed. I had done it. It was so worth it, good times and bad, and I knew I was there for every one of us who’d experienced discrimination,” wrote Crane on his blog on Huffington Post.

He went on to write: “On that windy morning on the summit of Mt. Everest, I saw the lives of these people – many of them LGBT youth – reflected in the beauty of this natural setting.

“I had summited Mt. Everest in honour of other LGBTQ youth who face discrimination and harassment, and also to send a message to others who might be a sexual minority or any other minority in their community: You can do it. Find your Everest. Find it and climb it and stand on top and exult in the sun rising over the vast horizon.”

The inspiring young man, who climbed Kilimanjaro with his mother when he was just 15, has so far raised $120,000 for the Trevor Project charity.

Crane plans to complete his mammoth journey next month when he will climb Mount Denali (also known as Mount McKinley) in Alaska, the tallest peak in North America. He has attempted to climb it before but was unsuccessful.

If he succeeds, he’ll become the first openly gay man to have climbed each of the continent’s highest mountains.

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