Sometimes I get caught in my own world and forget that I am also part of various larger communities. I am a woman, I am an artist, and I am gay. I read as much as I can, keeping up with whatever news I find important or interesting, but still I missed something outright terrible happening during the last few weeks. I only know now because of a random tweet I saw and had to look into. “All these gay suicides this week. So much waste in the name of small-minded hatred. Please, reach out. I promise we are listening” said the tweet.
What I found was so disturbing I almost screamed ….
Two weeks ago Bill Lucas, 15, after another day of bullying during which he was told he should kill himself, went home and hanged himself in his grandmother’s barn. A Facebook page set up to remember him includes classmates’ comments making fun of the way he died and calling him anti-gay slurs.
A week ago Seth Walsh, 13, hanged himself from a tree in his backyard after years of anti-gay bullying. And last Wednesday Asher Brown, also 13, came out to his father in the morning, went to school where he had long been bullied for being gay, than returned home and shot himself. It both cases school administrators knew of the bullying but didn’t do a thing to stop it.
The final one I had seen on the news but didn’t know the circumstances. Also last Wednesday Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped off the George Washington Bridge. The Rutgers freshman had been caught on hidden cams having sex with another male student. Two other students posted these videos online. Both have been arrested and could spend up to five years in jail.
Of the estimated 5,000 teen suicides a year one third are gay which means a gay teen is 300 percent more likely to kill them self than a straight teen. The fear of losing friends, be kicked out of their home, and a society that makes them feel as if something is wrong with them all must take a toll. I have no clue and don’t pretend to know what the answer is, or for that matter what the question should be. I just know it’s such a waste, such a god damned waste.
I’m just thankful I had such supportive parents and I can never say how much that meant to me. It’s one of the few things I can’t put into words.
Please read ….
“There are several things that can help reduce the suicide risk factors for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. All of us can make a commitment to making the environment a safer place for them. Heterosexuals who read this can do a lot. Stop laughing at or ignoring the bigoted jokes and insults that are frequently made about sexual and gender minorities. Go a step further and confront those who make these remarks, telling them that you do not find them appropriate. Additionally, you can continue your own education about all sorts of people who are different than you, including sexual and gender minorities. Open your mind and your heart further. Communicate your caring to those around you. Support the struggles of this population to obtain the same basic civil rights you have, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Paul Cody, PhD, UNH Counseling Center
And watch ….