I have wanted to post on the recent suicides of five teenagers. Who were gay. And teased. Tormented. Bullied. Billy Lucas (15 years old), Tyler Clementi (18 years old), Asher Brown (13 years old), Seth Walsh (13 years old), and Raymond Chase (19 years old). But I have been struggling with how.
I was bullied for a summer at camp. Not for being gay. I, honestly, have no idea why I was targeted. Two years later I befriended those girls. But I never forgot how it felt to be singled out, lied to, left out, humiliated. Or how terrifying it was to hold a bed frame in the hopes that the girl in the lower bunk would not succeed in shoving you off your mattress by endless kicking it while others egged her on.
I can’t imagine going through that for months and years.
One of the best teachers in my high school committed suicide rather than live openly as a gay man.
My husband and I continue to discuss how we can be helpful to our local LGBT community. We are very supportive within our family. I have often joked that we would be a great family for God to give a gay son (or lesbian daughter or transgendered child). But some of the children who died had supportive families. So we cannot do this alone.
We will start with small things. We will buy more rainbow flag and stickers. So the random gay teenager walking past our home may know he is not alone. So the young questioning girl in the passenger side of her car, listening to a sermon on the degradation of American society due to THOSE HOMOSEXUALS, can see that someone loves her whether she loves other girls or not.
We will continue to support the Human Rights Campaign and renew our support that we let lapse for Equality Virginia. I write my senators again to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and support gay marriage.
We will teach our children to be loving and tolerant. We will learn more about grappling with bullies. And we will listen if a parent calls us up to say our child is bullying their child. Because as Adrienne wrote, her bullies came from GOOD HOMES with GOOD PARENTS. So I don’t assume my only job is to protect my child from bullies. Even good children do stupid and careless things.
But I don’t know what else to do. How can I let people know that I am here? That I am so sorry our society has let them down?
I think that it’s important to note that whether you believe homosexuality is a sin or not, I trust that you want everyone to feel safe. But I would also encourage you to ask yourself: If we all sin, why do you focus so much attention on this one? And if YOU don’t, does your place of worship? How often does your pastor (or whomever) preach about loving the person beside you even though she’s way thinner than you (envy)? Or how much you are giving to the poor (greed)? Or thinking you are the BETTER parent (pride)? Only ten percent of the population is LGBT. Does homosexuality only come up in ten percent of the sermons?
And if you are struggling with questions around Christianity and homosexuality, I wrote a post on how Christians can (and DO!) supports gay rights. And how I do not believe homosexuality is a sin at all.
But wherever you stand, I ask: What can we do?
Because to stand by when gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual teenagers are up to four times more likely to commit suicide is not an answer. For any of us.
I didn’t pick the answer. For obvious reasons. But read the comments. These are smart, caring people.