I've been heart broken by the rash of young people killing themselves because they are having a hard time believing that living life is worth it. They have all taken their own lives because they have been ruthlessly bullied for being gay I think what I'm feeling and what many other's are feeling is magnified by what we had to deal with in school. Listening to the stories of young people as young as 12 who have given up and let the bullies win makes me feel like I've some how let them down. That our community has let them down somehow.
There is a wonderful group on youtube called the It Gets Better Project. It was started by columnist Dan Savage and his husband to let young people know that life gets better. People can download videos to post their stories so they can tell young gay men and women that life is worth living and to not give up. Since I don't have a video camera right now I felt I needed to do something on my blog. I'm not sure how many young people, who I'm going to addressing this post to, will be reading this, but if only one teenager reads it and is helped by it, it's worth it to me.
I also wanted to share with you the video that convinced me that I had to say something about this. After watching it I needed to put into words what I'm feeling right now or I was going to feel powerless to help. Joel Burns, who is a member of the city council of Fort Worth, TX, addressed the issue and I couldn't stop crying throughout the video.
The rest of what I write is going to be directed at any young person who is dealing with growing up gay in a world that still doesn't quite understand you. I want you to know that you aren't alone, that you have a large community of people that love you and accept you for who you are. We want to help you in any way we can and that we will be here for you when you need us. If you ever need to talk, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I'm always willing to listen. I want you to understand that you aren't alone.
I wish I had the opportunity to tell you in person that yeah it's hard right now. That you have to deal with a lot of shit and people being cruel to you. You may have to deal with adults that aren't willing or able to protect you. Teachers and parents who either don't care, understand, or know how to deal with it. I wish I could be there for you to hold your hand and protect you from all the pain you are going to deal with over the next few years. It hurts knowing that I can't keep you from being hurt, that I can't stop the bullies who are going to call you names and tell you that your life is worth nothing. I can't stop the bigots from calling you a faggot or dyke. I can't force your parents to protect you or your teachers to be there for you when you need them. What I can do is tell you that no matter what is going on now, that not allowing them to win, that living your life is so worth it.
High school was hard for me too, I wasn't picked on that much but I felt alone and isolated. I wasn't all that popular but I wasn't on the bottom of the ladder either. I was one of those kids that showed up for school, had a couple of friends, but never really fit in beyond that. I tried to join different groups so I wouldn't feel so strange but even then I never felt all that welcome.
I joined a church because I couldn't understand why God would make me gay to only have people tell me that it was evil and that I would go to Hell. I would pray every night for almost two years that if me being gay was wrong that if God really did hate me for it, that I would just die in my sleep. I didn't want God to hate me. I didn't want other people to hate me for that matter. I wanted to be just like everyone else, I wanted to be normal. Over that period of two years I started to feel better about myself. That maybe God doesn't hate me, that he in fact loves me for who I am. Then I realized that if God loves me for me, that maybe I should love myself. So I started to come out to a few people that I thought I could trust and for the most part I could trust them. I know it kept me from being friends with certain people but luckily I found people that accepted me for who I am. I'm not saying it was easy though. I still wrestled with thoughts of ending it but I realized that while the pain can seem oppressing at times that high school doesn't lat forever. That eventually I would be able to get out in the world and create my own family.
I have created that family for myself. I am surrounded by friends who love me and that I can count on to be there for me when I need them. I have a son that I adore and that I thank God for everyday of my life. He alone makes high school worth it. I'm single right now but I've been in love before I know the joy of having that in my life and I know that I will have it again at some point. I have a decent job, a good car, hobbies that I love to do, and interests that keeps me living a full life.
I want to let you know that if you don't let them win, if you fight through and allow yourself to experience life, you won't regret. There is a whole world out there for you to discover. You will fall in love and have your heart broken but you will learn from it every time. You will find a group of friends that will support you and love you and be there for you whenever you need them. You will create a life for yourself that while it won't always be rosy, will be your own. You have some many choices ahead of you that I'm wanting you to understand that please, no matter what, don't give up. Give yourself the opportunity to find out what life is all about for yourself. I'm begging you to believe us when we tell you that it does get better. That you will be happy and loved, that you are worth having around and that all of our lives will be a little emptier without you in it. Please, please just give yourself the chance to discover it for yourself.
Now to the adults out there that are reading this, I want you to look at yourself and at those around you. I want you to pay attention to what's going on and protect these kids. Let them know that they can count on you to save them from the worst of what they are dealing with. Let them know that they are loved and cherished and that their lives are worth living. Just be there for them, please.
There is another wonderful organization called The Trevor Project that provides a suicide hotline that gives LBGT young people someone to listen to them and to help them deal with what they are feeling. Their number is 1-866-488-7386.