Monday, April 13, 2009

Faith Community and LGBT Community Come Together

I went to a funeral today. Of a little boy. 11 years old. He lay in the coffin, in a grown up suit, dead.

So little.

He killed himself last week because he was taunted, over and over, for being gay. Who knows if he was, or wasn't- not really the point. He was a sweet kid, they said, who loved to sing and dance. Very bright.

The school did not respond to his mother's repeated attempts to have the bullying addressed, to have it stopped. Instead, they sentenced the kid to have lunch with his abuser, for five straight days.

He told his mother he was suspended. It seems he was desperate to get out of those lunches. When they proceeded, anyway, he hung himself. It was too much.

I went today with a friend. The woman sitting next to her told her it wasn't the first time. There had been two other students at the same school, who suffered the same taunting. One girl, one boy. The girl tried to kill herself, her mother found her OD'ed on pills and got her to the hospital in time. The boy left the school, to pursue music.

This is baked in, deeply rooted homophobia. And just like baked in, deeply rooted racism affects us all, so does the homophobia. Sitting in that church today, I knew one thing for certain- This community of African-American Pentecostal church members and the gay community have a great deal in common.

A dead little boy.

If there is ever a time to make that bridge, it's now. No where in the national media is this story. No where. Is it because he was poor and black? Maybe. Is it because he was called gay and we're just not going to deal with that? Maybe.

I don't really care. I want to make that bridge. Because together, I think we can change things.

One of my sons is eleven. He came home from school and saw the picture on the service program.

I think I know him, he said. He looks... so familiar.

He doesn't, and didn't but ... we all do.

Please make this story get out in the media. We should be outraged it has not made the evening news, the NY Times, the talk show circuit. An eleven year old boy killed himself because he was bullied. Maybe the queer community is the only one who really understands.

Let's stand behind this family and make a roar so loud no one can ignore it.


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Blogger John Bisceglia said...

This story should get to people in the ARTS community. My God - the joy and talent that Music Itself lost last week. His story should be told before EVERY Broadway show, or music recital. We lost music.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. You experienced what most of us cannot bear to acknowledge - the repercussions of long-term institutional hate.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Sue J said...

Will do, Sara.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We must also teach our children that suicide is not the answer.

10:36 AM  
Blogger John Bisceglia said...

I'm afraid as human beings many of us will ALWAYS see suicide as THE answer when there is no hope NOR a safe place to go for help.

ALL children, but esp. Queer kids need to be aware of SAFE places to go where they can share their thoughts, fears, and feelings WITHOUT judgement.

As adults we need to make sure these places exist for our younger Queer family.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Cootamundra W. said...

Sara, thank you for going to the funeral.
Bullying is wrong and failure to address bullying would make one complicit in further bullying. Bullying for any reason, gender, gender preference, height, weight, you name it - WRONG!
Again, thank you for being at the funeral.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Hi Sara,

Thank-you for sharing this. I have so many thoughts regarding this tragedy, but I keep coming back to how beneficial it would be if gay teachers felt comfortable being out. In addition to their likely being gifted as teachers, their identity might help address homophobia in schools.Two of the best teachers I have known (were and) are gay.

Another thought I have is that to say that "teasing" is a normal part of childhood and kids need to learn to live with it, is dismissive and cruel, (and I have to wonder if the adults that say this were bullies when they were children.)

My children are now 17, 19, 24 and 26 and most, if not all of their friends and peers are very pro-gay rights. But it wasn't always this way- in fact- the worst bullying that they received or witnessed was in a Catholic grade school.

I keep hearing that times are changing, and I realize, not fast enough. Not fast enough for this boy. The religious community must do an about face on the issue of homosexuality.

How sad that a child has to bear the burden of society's ignorance.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous donald said...

thanks for taking the time to be there for all of us who are just horrified by this tragedy.

8:08 PM  
Blogger John Bisceglia said...

I was trying to imagine Carl's final decisions, and I came to this possible horror:

(perhaps) - It was less scary to hang himself than it was to go to his school where hate speech went unchecked.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Rev. Bob said...

Thank you, Sara. You're a light in the darkness.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Seda said...

Thanks, Sara. Another great post. Here's a link to another one who's carrying the story forward.

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Suicide is not the answer, but so many youth see no other way for the bullying to stop.
My heart weeps for this mother left with only broken promises of her child's life.
When is someone going to really care about the children and stop the hating?

11:27 PM  
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