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Random Wisdom

“With the first link, a chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” — Jean-Luc Picard

It’s Time

About two dozen fifteen and sixteen year old boys and girls entertain themselves while they wait for their teacher to arrive. One boy stands close to the door, bouncing from one foot to the other -  waiting while his cousin films him with his phone. This is an ambush. When a tall skinny kid enters he attacks. He knocks the other boy on the ground and throws punch after punch after merciless punch. I silently scream while watching, wanting one of the other students to step in and stop the beating, but like me they only watch. Unlike me they were there. The attack was recorded and released on the web so I am viewing the violence a few days after it occurred. It is an encounter I can identify with. At 15, I was attacked in a Belton High School classroom, although my attack was not as brutal. We have at least two things in common, we were both bullied because we were gay and being the target of bullying was not new to us.

Then there is news that 15 year old Jadin Bell has died after hanging himself. He is not the only gay teen to take their own life in 2013. Suicides of gay youth do not seem to be subsiding.  It is not new news that suicide among homosexual teens is greater than among heterosexuals, this has been the case for as long as this type of information has been tracked. What seems unreal to me is that these events are as common today as they were thirty-six years ago when I was a teen.

I understand what it is like to be bullied, to have not just one person but many of your peers call you names, push you around, harass you, and physically attack you because they think you are a “queer”.  I understand the desire to end it all. I too was a child who wanted to die. I even attempted suicide once when I was 15. I failed because the attempt was misconceived and perhaps I hadn’t really given up. At the time I believed the attempt would work and I did want to die. A number of years later I started laying out a serious plan to end my life and instead I found a reason not only to live but to make suicide something I would never consider again. Yet, for seven years death hung over my head constantly. I wrote a suicide note on an almost monthly basis starting when I was thirteen. There was even a time when I wrote suicide poems and notes weekly.

No one ever knew how bad off I was or that I was suicidal. I was bullied almost daily until I moved to Temple High School half way through my Junior year. As bad as the bullying was, and it was constant and cruel, it was not what pushed me toward my first thoughts of death. For me there was one event that started me down that dangerous and dark path.

I have been writing stories that paint a picture of what it was like for me growing up. I have over a dozen more I am working on, yet the one story I have never written or even planned to write was the one that brought my first thoughts of suicide because even after all these years it is painful to revisit that day. When I read about children who take thoughts and turn them into actions that can never be undone, I feel helpless and start closing down and withdrawing to avoid the pain that still resides deep inside of me.

Tonight, after reading about another senseless death, I asked myself why I write what I write. I write because I love writing. I write because my mind is a constant storm of stories fighting to get out. I write because it is part of who I am. Yet the passion that fuels my writing comes from the depth of emotion my life experiences have created and there are no stronger emotions that drive my passion then those gained when I was a child, when I was bullied, when I was fighting demons that did not need to exist, and when I thought my death would be the best thing for my friends, my family and the world.

It is time to write about what lead me to my first suicidal thought. It is a story of discovery, of sexually awakening and attempts to show the deeply complicated mental and emotional battle I went through.I am sharing something so painful that I have never truly shared it with anyone before. I hope it helps others understand why a gay youth would want to die.  Maybe it will inspire someone in the chain of events that would lead to another death to do something different to save that life.

What created my personal journey of depression and suicidal desires is certainly different then others, yet the culture that has allowed them to flourish is certainly still a prominent factor in the life of children today, both in those who fall victim to those destructive feelings and in those who help create an atmosphere of intolerance. Blame is not the issue, taking responsibility for our lives and how it affects others is paramount if we want to see an end to these senseless losses of life.

I can no longer write stories of my life and leave out this one because it seems too personal or painful. My responsibility as a writer is to be honest about what I write. I choose to start sharing these stories of my life and I need to stop editing out the difficult parts. My responsibility as an individual is to stay true to my purpose; that purpose is to use the talent God gave me to help others and that is also my responsibilities to others, to use my talent, to make a difference. I cannot save the world, yet if we all care enough to use what we do best to help, then the world will be a better place. I have had people tell me reading something I have written has helped them, so if telling others about something this personal can help, I’ll tell it. If others do the same maybe one day we will no longer have to read another story of a child taking her own life because she felt it was her only option. Maybe those who don’t understand will gain more insight and more compassion. Maybe those in charge of schools will realize it is their responsibility to make sure students don’t leave school in a body bag. Despite all I have been through and all I have seen, I still believe God made us better than this.

My faith in people is still greater than my disappointment in humanity. My love for others, both the attackers and the victims, wants something better for us all – and I truly do believe that the pain that drives a boy to hurt another, and the pain that drives a boy to death is a pain that can be healed. Yet, none of us will ever find peace if we remain silent, ignorant, and uninvolved.

Coming shortly - “Demons, Saviors, and the Damned.”

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