This anonymous piece is winding its way around the net, and it’s worth reading.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Last night I thought about suicide. I thought about what it means, how it totally destroys families, how it wastes precious lives, how endemic it is in the Gay Community, and how much of America unwittingly promotes it.
When I was about five or six years old, there was a young fellow who came to my father’s church. He worked in the local grocery stocking vegetables. He had a lisp and people made fun of him. “He probably squats to pee.” “He’s such a sissy he wouldn’t know what to do with a girl.” “Such an embarrassment to his family.” I heard all of these comments and wondered why people would say them. Raymond was always nice to me and my parents. He smiled. He helped find things that we wanted like a really ripe watermelon or some tomatoes that would ripen perfectly by the day we needed them. He smiled a lot and had two or three girls at the church who always sat with him and thought he was funny.
I remember seeing Raymond and his girl friends at a carnival having fun on a ride called The Scrambler. They were whooping and hollering. Some tough looking high school boys went past and pointed at them saying, “Look at the queer scream!”
One day I came home from school and my aunt told me Raymond had shot himself in the head. “Poor tormented soul,” she called him. I asked why he would do that. She said, “Probably because he didn’t like girls.” I thought that was odd, because he DID like girls. He had more fun with them at the carnival than those stupid high school boys ever had.
I guess Dad performed the funeral. Maybe there wasn’t one. I don’t really know. No one ever spoke of Raymond again, except once two or three years later when I asked about him. I think it was my Dad who said, “You don’t want to be like Raymond. He couldn’t bear his sin. He did things he was sorry for and could never take back and he just could not bear to live with that. You don’t ever want to do anything wrong like Raymond did because it will eat at you and destroy your life.”
One day in Junior High I realized what it meant to be someone that didn’t like girls. I realized that I was being called a sissy. I realized that I must be like Raymond and if I didn’t do something about it, I would be a sinner and have to kill myself. I realized that I would be reviled, talked about in whispers, mocked by mean guys, and once I committed suicide, I would be forgotten; too wretched to be even a shameful memory. So I got down on my knees and prayed like I had never prayed in my life. It wasn’t a little child’s prayer like “Now I lay me down to sleep…” It was a real prayer from my heart. I begged and pleaded with God to not let me be like Raymond, to keep me from being so sinful that I had to kill myself. I prayed and I prayed. I prayed like that for years. I never changed.
This year I will turn 60. In the intervening years, I came to terms with my sexuality (it was a long and painful struggle) and resolved to try to live peaceably with my Fundamentalist family and their community. That community came out in the millions this past week to tell me yet again that I am not worthy to live. They proudly, in the name of Christ, told me that they viewed Dan Cathy’s spouting of bigotry to the press to be an act of righteous courage and that my expression of distaste was the same as being a member of the Nazi Party (yes, that was said in a conversation I had on the issue). They gave millions of dollars to Dan Cathy and he, in turn, will spend a good portion of the money supporting organizations that claim to be Christian, but are advocating the criminalization of me not liking girls, that advocate the internment of all gay people in concentration camps and prisons, that advocate the execution in Uganda of the entire gay population. The message that I get from all of this is that millions of Americans want to see me dead.
I know that many of them would protest this last statement. But what is it that they DO want, if not for gay people to be eradicated from the nation? Perhaps they just don’t understand what their words and actions mean.
When they say, “Gay people picked this fight”, they say that it is alright for Dan Cathy to espousing bigotry and pay to have gay people’s rights abridged but that my right to free speech is somehow different and it infringes on freedom of their religion. When they say, “I’m not going to let a good Christian man be harmed by the gay community” they are saying that they happily embrace the hatred that Dan Cathy promotes and hold me accountable for his financial well being (in other words, they expect me to pay for my own death). And when they say, “I’m not getting into this fight, I don’t care that you are gay, but I’m still going to eat Chik fil A” they are saying that my life is worth less than a chicken sandwich.
When a 60 year old man hears talk like that, he knows what to do with it. Yes, it hurts and it hurts deeply, but I’ve weathered those kinds of attitudes for years and things are better for me now then they were when I was in Junior High. However, for people like Raymond, for that lonely gay teen sitting in a Fundamentalist church with a bunch of girls, for the quiet kid in the back of the school room too afraid to say he likes boys, for the high school girl who cannot tell her parents that she is in love with another girl, for all of those kids like Tyler Clementi, the message is clear: “Kill yourself or we will do it for you or make your life hell. You are not welcome in our churches, unless you change and change radically or unless you lie about yourself. You cannot marry. You cannot tell anyone about your sexual orientation. If we get a sense that you are gay, we will fire your ass from your job. If we really know about you, we will see that you do not live in our buildings. If we are bored and have nothing to do but go around and beat up queers and carve scars onto their bodies or perhaps stomp them into a pulp or even kill you. And we have millions, MILLIONS, of people who will stand up for us and you have only a pitiful few who will stand up for you. And by the way, you are going to hell.”
So I expect in the coming months we will be seeing more suicides in our younger population. I thought about what that means last night. I thought about the despair and the hopelessness young gay people will feel after the big display by “Christians” eating Chik fil A. I thought about the money that will be used to promote these suicides. I thought about Raymond. And I cried.