Monday, October 04, 2010

Suicides: Words Can Kill

A rash of suicides last week and I am at a loss as to what to say. No words can console the people who lost their loved ones. It seems no words will wake up the world to the pain of bullying.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

One of the most false rhymes of all time. Words can actually kill. Words can dig deep into your heart and shred the walls. Negative images pile up and become loud voices in your head. Queer. Faggot. Dyke. Lezzy.

I thought if I sat with this for a few days I would have something powerful to say. I don't. I'm angry and frustrated. Not to mentioned panicked- please no more. Please. It can't be an option. You are all too young for it to be the only way.

After Asher Brown's suicide, I asked my son what he thought. He's almost fifteen and openly gay at school.

What do you expect in Texas? he said.

Carl Walker Hoover, I said back to him. Hoover was a student in Springfield, Massachusetts. I had gone to the funeral and talked to the kids extensively about it.

He shrugged.

No mainstream media carried the news of Brown's suicide. Another, Seth Walsh, died of his wounds from a suicide attempt. Still nothing. Not until the flashy angle of cyber-bullying involved in Tyler Clementi's death did the news get carried across the country.

Do we simply expect LGBT kids to kill themselves?

It's more than bullying. Kids who feel insecure will always pick on other kids. It is the dual message being sent out. "Christian" adults feel absolutely comfortable standing on a street corner with a sign saying "God Hates Fags." No one bats an eye.

If they had a sign saying "God Hates Niggers" or "God hates Spics" or some racial slur, would they be left alone to continue their vigils or would a sea of folks come out to rally against such hateful language?

There was a plea sent out to youth, by many different prominent voices, saying it'll be okay, you'll make it through. What feels unbearable today will change. All true. It will change. You will find safe spaces, learn to love yourself for who you are, and see the hatefulness as a sign of the other person's weakness- not yours.

It's not enough. When my son first came out to me, I said, if anyone gives you shit? Tell me. I will take care of it.

He knew I would. In all honesty, I think half his friends are scared to death of me as it is. They wouldn't dare.

My son has gay parents, a large, loving extended family, and is in a private school where the classrooms are small enough nothing gets by the teachers. He is incredibly fortunate.

Most LGBT kids are left on their own to struggle with their identity and the overwhelming negativity in the mainstream culture. Some can hide- some can't. Some kids who aren't even gay get harassed and bullied horribly because they don't fit into a stereotypical gender presentation.

Do we not have enough data to show being gay is a completely normal part of the continuum of human sexuality? Can we stop arguing about "turning kids gay" and start working towards acceptance and creating safe spaces? Lives, young lives, are at stake.

I don't know what to do. I feel helpless. It's been 32 years since I came out. Some things have changed dramatically. Some things, clearly have not.

Like the reality that words can kill.

9 Comments:

Blogger Sara said...

another kid.

http://rodonline.typepad.com/rodonline/2010/10/gay-johnson-wales-student-raymond-chase-commits-suicide.html

I can't stand this.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I, too, have been struggling as to what to write about this. Unlike you, I haven't been able to come up with anything that would do anyone any good. What you wrote was personal, powerful and true.
I love that you wrote it. I love the way you are a mother to your sons.
You are changing the world, whether you realize it or not.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

it's not enough. I feel like I'm losing the youth of my community. the future leaders. our hope, the reason we work so hard to make change.

it's not fast enough. we are standing at a polluted stream pulling dying fish out instead of being upstream fixing where the pollution is coming in.

I am so frustrated.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I just tried to find your phone number. I did not succeed.I wanted to ask if you were aware that Larry King was doing a show on this subject right now with Wanda Sykes and Kathy Griffin and Tim Gunn.
Anyway- people are waking up. I swear they are. I just wish that there did not have to be sacrificial babies to make it happen.
They are ALL our babies.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Denita said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Denita said...

This whole thing has been a wake up call. I've talked with several of my gay co-workers. We all had become complacent, believing that today's of youth were more open minded and that things had changed. We all have to do something. And it can't just come from the gay community. We need the help from all of our straight friends as well. I'm just not sure where to start. There is so much to do.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I was in bed by then, ms. moon. Just didn't have it in me to even watch football.

I asked ben if it would be ok for me to offer to speak to his school- he looked at me like I was insane.

NO, he said.

can I get someone else to?

he said... ok, as long as I don't know them.

ok, I said.

they are just babies.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Emphatik said...

Its all too frequent and all too sad. Check out Dan Savage's response on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject He has encouraged gay and lesbian adults to post videos telling younger gays and lesbians that life gets better after leaving school and small towns.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

not just small towns but small minds.

I have offered to speak at my kids schools. we'll see what happens.

7:31 PM  

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