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Dead Gay Kids And The Politics Of Hate

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Dead Gay Kids And The Politics Of Hate

Friday night, my wife wrote a letter to “vehemently” oppose HB1153, a bill that would support children who bully anyone not protected by current human rights law, as long as they bully their victims for religious or political reasons. She sent the letter to all members of the Tennessee House and Senate. The next morning, she received a response from Tennessee State Representative John Ragan that sounded as if it had been taken straight from Hitler’s playbook. I am not exaggerating, even a little, and invite you to go here and read for yourself.

I cried as she read me the message. I thought I would throw up. His final point literally took my breath away:

“Examining another statistic, it has been well known for a decade that suicide is attempted much more frequently in the homosexual community than in the heterosexual community (Mathy, Cochran, Olsen, & Mays, 2009). This same source pointed out that, on average, suicide is approximately three times more likely among homosexuals than heterosexuals.

“As a fitting critical thought question, it could be asked if other identifiable groups that engage in behavior of which ‘others may disapprove’ commit suicide at similar rates? In other words, do prostitutes, pedophiles, polygamists, murders, etc., commit suicide at the same, or similar, rates to homosexual behavior practitioners? If similar rates were hypothetically so (not proven to be the case), do these behavior practitioners commit suicide at a higher rate because someone may have disapproved of their behavior or for other reasons? Should society avoid disapproving of pedophilia, prostitution, murder, etc., because practitioners of those behaviors may commit suicide at higher rates?”

There were a thousand things that needed to be said, dozens of wrongs that needed to be made right, and rather heavily weighed the reality that changing his “beliefs” is beyond our control. Stunned. Speechless. For a moment, my wife just sat there, rereading parts and shaking her head, while I wept a bit more. Right there in our hands was a single email that represents the entire disaster which is homophobia today. That moment was bigger than this man and the two of us. That is “the problem.”

Eventually, I said, “I guess it’s time to start that equality blog we’ve been talking about for two years.” Just a few hours later, before we could even get the thing up and running, we learned that another gay kid was dead.

Phillip Parker, age 14, of Gordonsville, Tennessee, killed himself last Thursday, just one day before my wife wrote her letter to the political leaders of our state with her concerns about homophobic bullying in our schools. Just a month ago, another young man named Jacob Rogers (age 18, of Ashland City, Tennessee) took his own life. Both Phillip and Jacob were openly gay and both of them were bullied in Tennessee public schools because of it.

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Christy Diane Farr

Christy Diane Farr is a catalyst. If that sounds like something you want more of in your life, visit 'The Greenhouse' at and join the Wildflower Evolution on Facebook.


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12:05PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

I write about this often. Until we have a level of acceptance and tolerance, society will continue to pay the ultimate price for misguided religious theology and the practice of hate. As if teen suicide is not enough, the cost of this hate is staggering. ALL Gay people grow up feeling hated and condemned by many, is it little wonder they suffer a substantially higher rates of addiction and alcohol abuse and mental issues due to self esteem issue. Before the most loving family learns their once happy, loving child is gay, that child is dead, deeply addicted or otherwise unnecessarily impaired and suffered along for many years. Gays must continue to work with the straight community to find support where it exists, to provide safe places for glbt youth and legislative support.

7:17PM PST on Feb 17, 2012

I read about this in The Rolling Stone, and I cried. The fact that this happens makes me sick.

7:39AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Bullying makes me so mad!!! I just want to make the bully stand over the kid who commited suicide casket and force them to realize what they did to him or her. Gay or straight. It doesn't matter. A life is a life and now, another one is gone forever.

5:27AM PST on Feb 13, 2012

that's horrible!

8:28AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

I feel sick. I couldn't even read that whole letter. :/ As someone, who was bullied nearly to the point of suicide for other reasons, I feel sickened by the idea that people think any form of bullying is justifiable. Even back when I was trying to be the perfect little Catholic girl, growing up in my Catholic school, I couldn't even stand when people used the word "gay" for the word "bad". But the things that I know happen now... and so frequently, I don't even know what to think. It's not hard to imagine why these kids feel everything is hopeless. I just wish we could change it.

5:16PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

"We teach our children about how everyone is equal, even those who think we are not. We believe that human difference is real, that it’s important, and that diversity, inclusivity, and integrity are what make us strong–as individuals, families, communities, states, counties, and as a planet." AMEN. Thanks for your very thoughtful writing, Christy. EXTREMELY important. Needs to be said.

2:25PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Christy, thank you for taking the time to share this story. It is shocking to hear that this type of bigotry still exists, especially in the 'land of the free'. Your story is very powerful and I hope that it reaches many, many ears and eyes!! You do not have to worry about 'playing nice', because that is just about playing and you have work to do!!!! You are a warrior whether you know it or not and all you have to do is write the truth!

11:09AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

This so horrible. It's hard to comprehend and make a comment that makes sense.

7:52AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

I read this post a couple days ago when it was put up and have been trying to process it and find something coherent to say, but I can't. It's just too horrible to realize that there are people who hold these kinds of hateful views in public office. I know in some parts of the US these views are not uncommon, but to think that a publicly elected representative of any portion of the population, someone who has a hand in making's just too upsetting...In what universe does homosexuality belong on the same list as pedophilia and murder? For that matter why is prostitution sandwiched in between those two? What does HIV have to do with school children getting bullied? There is just so much wrong with John Ragan's response that I don't know where to begin. It makes my stomach do angry, distressed little flip-flops. Part of me wants to tell you guys to get out of there, go to California or New York, somewhere friendly where things are better. But on the other hand you can't run away from bullies or nothing will change. I think it's great that you're talking to your daughter's teacher and the principle. It's actions like that that _will_ make things better, even if it takes awhile.

I'm going to link to this post on my Facebook as a reminder to people to pay attention to what their government representatives are doing.

12:41AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

To induce somebody to commit suicide is much worse than to murder him.

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