Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It Gets Better...It Gets So Much Better

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 fforgnayr@yahoo.com 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.

17 comments:

lgh164 said...

thanks for posting. my heart breaks for the kids struggling and angers me tremendously that there are still sooooo many people/kids still resorting to violence and intimidation.

I have to go have a good cry now....

Cindy

Staci said...

Your post touched me Ryan..tears falling down my face right now. A good friend of mine is gay. I knew it way back in 9th grade, but being gay, Catholic, and in a hick town just wasn't good combination. He had to hide who he was until he went to college. I loved seeing him blossom and embrace who he was...and I applaud him for continuing to live his life for himself even if that meant his strict Catholic mother disowned him. Bravo, bravo, bravo!! I work in a school and take bullying of all types very serious. I've helped students who have struggled with who they are and have helped them get "that" book in their hands to know that they are not alone and they are worthy of love. Acceptance...we all need to learn how to do it.

samantha.1020 said...

Love, love, love this post! I'm a mother of three and one of my main goals in life is to teach my kids tolerance and acceptance. It isn't easy being a teenager ever and being "different" in any way, shape, or form makes it all the harder. I lost a friend to suicide in high school and the pain has stayed with me still. Young people have so much to live for! Great post and thank you for sharing something so personal!

Yvette said...

Thanks for posting this, Ryan. It makes me wish you lived next door and we were friends in 'real' life.
My heart breaks for those kids who feel they have nowhere to turn, who, somehow, aren't strong enough to stand the cruelty they might be subjected to. If only they knew that it won't last forever. If only kids had the patience to see beyond today. I can only hope that the awful recent news will touch every heart in this country. That the youtube videos you've mentioned can help save a life. Thank you again.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Beautiful post. I completely agree, and I wish that things could be better now...but kids should know to persevere. Things change, you find happiness. Everyone has their "something" to worry about, hate themselves about, etc. So don't feel alone, because you're not.

I wanted to pass along a new site:
www.letsgetbeyondtolerance.blogspot.com

Plus, if you follow through my Shooting Stars blog, we have some auctions this week to help GLSEN. :)

-lauren

heidenkind said...

Very powerful post, Ryan, and I hope it reaches someone those who need to hear it. I remember being a teenager, and it was so hard to visualize anything as changing. Kids need to hear that high school is a temporary condition... even if they can't believe it.

Zia said...

Very touching post Ryan. You have brought tears to my eyes with it. My heart aches every time I read about this happening.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I am so saddened that this is happening so much. What is everyone so afraid of>? It makes me so mad that this happens. Thank you so much for posting both of these videos, and your thoughts.

I'm speechless.

It gets better. it gets better. it gets better. it gets better. it gets better.

ibeeeg said...

Wonderful post Ryan. Teenage years are not all roses, that is for sure. Your mention of not feeling all that welcome in different groups, and having a couple of friends, and not being all that popular struck me. I too, was a kid like that. Albeit, I am not gay, but my point is...high school can be rough for kids as it is so if the crowd has one reason to go further with alienation, teasing, bullying then that could be horrible. As a teenager, high school is the community, and they cannot move away from it. My heart goes out for all those who endure bullying of any type, or even simply feel lonely and feel like it will always be that way. It won't, but teenagers don't hear that. I really hope Ryan that this post will reach someone who needs support, who needs to feel accepted. I hope Ryan that families tend to their young better...become more aware of their needs, and are sensitive to those needs. Anyway, your post is wonderful, and important.

pussreboots said...

I lost a very dear friend to suicide in 9th grade not because of bullying at school but because his family couldn't accept him.

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

You are awesome Ryan! I hope that you were able to reach some young people out there with this heartfelt post. I am very saddened by what goes on with our gay youth and really our youth in general. Bullying is a problem across the board and one that seriously needs to be addressed and dealt with.

I enjoyed the episode of Glee last night. My favorite character is Kurt, who is gay, and he explained how he feels so alone. I think it was a timely episode with what has been going on in our country lately.

Helen's Book Blog said...

What a powerful post! This is such an important project and message to get out. I agree with Michelle that the things like this project and the last Glee episode are important. They put the issue out there, which is what needs to happen in this country.

StephanieD said...

Ryan - Again, you've touched me so much with how you've put yourself out there and put into words something that concerns us all.

Lorin said...

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your story.

bermudaonion said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Ryan. I've been heartbroken by what those kids have had to go through. High school is difficult enough when you're the same as everyone else - it's unbearable when you're different. Adults (in school and out) aren't doing enough to stop this intolerance and it's time for everyone to speak up.

Ryan G said...

Thank you everyone. What I'm hoing is that somehow, even if it's through someone else reading this post and letting a young person now about The It Gets Better Project. I just hope and pray that we can get to a point in this country where we protect these kids and let them know that they are loved and worth having around for years to come.

Leonicka said...

This post is incredible and (unfortunately) still relevant. Thanks for sharing.