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Dead Gay Kids And The Politics Of Hate

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To clarify, when I say openly gay, I do not mean they were having sex with boys in the cafeterias of their respective schools. I mean that they were gay as they walked through the halls, sat in their classrooms, and checked books out of the libraries. They were simply being them, which meant being gay in the same way that any given heterosexual classmate is just straight, even without skipping class to have sex with someone of the opposite sex under the bleachers.

We can’t peel back the layers of Phillip’s and Jacob’s existences far enough to see how long their lives might have been in a world without homophobia. The toll that bullying takes on the human spirit is incalculable. We cannot undo the consequences of living for 14 or 18 years in a world where they could be hated, rejected, and even abused for simply being who they are, in order to evaluate if they would have been suicidal without all that being gay cost them.

Much like we cannot untangle the consequences of years of oppression because of the color of one’s skin, we can never truly understand this. Just like we can’t really comprehend the countless ways women’s lives have been altered, possibly forever, by those years that women were considered inferior to men, we can’t see who these children would have been without being bullied because they were gay.

As a society, we can begin to realign ourselves with the truth–that we are equal, regardless of the color of our skin and the nature of our sex organs–but the consequences of being so far out of our integrity are epic, the toll is extensive, and the recovery is possibly even more extensive. The same is happening today with bias based on sexual orientation, not just in our schools but in our society, not just to young people but to people of all ages who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered. And it’s not just the bully on the playground, there are bullies everywhere.

Consider the intersection of this latest bill, the letter from an elected state official, and all of these gay kids who have taken their own lives, and tell me this: How are they supposed to keep from giving up? What are we–their parents, teachers, neighbors, elected officials, etc.–doing to convince them that their life is precious and sacred when so many others are either targeting them or denying that this part of their identity even exists?

Where are they supposed to find the strength to stick it out until “it gets better” when there is so much to prove that it is not getting better?

Two years ago, a 14-year old boy died in the school gymnasium during the first practice of the boys’ soccer team. That boy’s death brought my community to its knees, but now that same community is allowing, and in some cases even perpetuating, treatment of gay kids that has already been shown to be life-threatening. If we could have done anything to prevent that boy’s heart from stopping, there is no doubt in my mind that literally thousands of people would have done whatever it took to make that happen. So, why wouldn’t every single one of those same people go to any length to save another child’s life? Why wouldn’t we do whatever we can in my community to create a loving, supportive, accepting environment for kids now that we’ve seen so many kids take their own lives after being bullied because of being gay?

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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 SeedsAndWeedsCoaching.com and join the Wildflower Evolution on Facebook.

136 comments

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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 laws...it'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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