Thinking about Suicide in America

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.

Dan Cathy

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.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Gay Christians, Homophobia, Homosexuality, Religion, Suicide. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Thinking about Suicide in America

  1. Tim Kelly says:

    Words cannot describe how much this means to me. Pity that a lot of people just…won’t…get…it.


  2. aboyandhiscat says:

    Reblogged this on Φml.


  3. Susan M says:

    I think about suicide a fair amount too. I think about it because I doubt that I’ll be able to afford decent healthcare when I get old. I’ve already beaten the odds with a difficult childbirth and breast cancer. I figure there will come a time when I’ll be ready for my next adventure, but my body won’t cooperate. I don’t want to be burden to my family, nor do I want to suffer through more cancer, or altzheimers, or Parkinsons, or some other debilitating degenerative disease with no cure. Better to die earlier than later, and leave the resources to the next generation. Too many times doctors will treat dying patients just for the money, with no real hope of improvment. I don’t believe suicide is a sin. Nor do I beleive it is always a bad thing. I appreciate your thoughts though on suicide in the young.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      I know what you mean, Susan. Some years ago, before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I could be suicidally depressed for months at a time. What helped me was knowing the effect it would have on my wife and kids.

      But that’s not what you’re talking about. My hope is that you will really have something to live for, something you love doing, and hopefully it will be something that helps others. I’m often quite pessimistic about life, and feel that we’re all in this together–that the best we can do is to help other people with their loads.


  4. I will never be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ … but here’s one reason I am often deeply ashamed to be thought of as a Christian. My ministry as a priest is never so challenged as when I am engaged with that group of people who claim to follow Jesus but behave nothing like him and get him a bad name with decent, honest people by condemning everything he lived, loved and died for and blasphemously doing so in his name.


  5. Jean says:

    I’m thinking that I am so sad that my brother said goodbye to this world when he was 40 because of the life he had been driven to because of being gay.

    As a young boy he was raped and this led to a disturbed adolescence and him becoming an alcoholic . Many times he was attacked and eventually became disabled. He cut himself off from all our family and I just heard from him occasionally usually when he was drunk.

    When the police phoned to tell me of his death I was not surprised and knew that at last he was at peace.

    One day perhaps everybody whatever their race or creed will accept people for who they truly are ………God’s children………..


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Your brother’s story is indeed sad. I used to speak quite often with LGBT student clubs (GSA’s) and once asked a room of about 25 high school students how many had ever considered suicide. Virtually every hand in the room went up.

      I remember suicidal depression, and it’s one of the things that motivates me to write. As bleak as life can be, I believe hope is better than despair.


  6. JiMMie Lee says:

    How you treat your neighbor, I believe, is viewed by God as how you are treating God in the flesh. I think it matters immensely how you treat your neighbor. Whether they are gay, straight, black, white, Jew, Christian, etc. I would think twice Unless your equitableness surpasses that of the Pharisees,…….


  7. Andrea says:

    My prayer: Jesus, please save us from your self-righteous followers.


  8. Kathleen says:

    There are gays and lesbians in my Church. Through the years we were taught to stay away from them, I guess parents think it rubs off. I can only love them. Isn’t that what Jesus taught? I was married and had children and still looking to marry again. Man and woman.


  9. This story is so sad. People who proclaim to be such high and mighty Christians, to sit and judge others, Just don’t get what Jesus love to us as all brothers and sisters means. The Lord is are only Judge, and we will all have to answer to him one day, in the mean time I know he must have tears in his eyes when he sees how some people treat others. Our journey here is to Love Jesus and all people, and that is the only way to eternal life and love. God Bless you all!


  10. Ron says:

    [Edited for length]

    False teachers will lead many astray, and have you believe Christians hate gays!    

    (1 Corinthians 7:2, 3) (Galatians 5:19-21) (Jude 1:7) (Titus 3:9-11) (John 3:16, 17)

    Political correctness will not get anyone into heaven.  

    We all need to strive to be biblically correct.

    God Bless!!


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Sorry Ron, but any reply that begins with name-calling is problematical for me. I did include the scripture references for people’s benefit.

      I am not motivated by “political correctness.” That’s what people say about Christians who accept gay and lesbian believers, and don’t believe in discriminating against LGBT people, but that is simply lying propaganda. It is designed to make Christians think that fear of being labeled “politically incorrect” is the single thing that motivates people like me. That is a propaganda lie. The Bible talks so much about love and justice, yet you are supposed to think that these other Christians are purely motivated by this P.C. nonsense.

      Ron, IMHO, if you “strive to be biblically correct,” then you are trying to be “justified by the Law.” It appears that you justify your beliefs and your existence by pointing to how “biblical” you are. You are justified by faith. Justifying yourself by trying to be “biblically correct” is a big mistake.

      If I strived to be “biblically correct,” then I would get together with my neighbors and put my gay son to death. I would not suffer a witch to live. I would kill anyone I considered a “false prophet.” I would cut off my hand and pluck out my eye if they offended me. I would take the children of my enemies and dash them against the rocks. I would teach that all people from Crete are lazy gluttons and liars.

      You can say that I am misinterpreting or misapplying these verses, but that’s the problem! We can’t simply be “biblically correct.” We must always interpret what the Bible says. And there will always be differences in how we interpret the Bible based on personality, culture, intelligence, etc.

      This is why Jesus told us that everything is summed up in his two great commands. Please, don’t narrow “love your neighbor” to sharing the gospel with them. That’s so common. What a way to get out of truly loving people.

      Ron, blessings to you, too.


  11. Allison says:

    I was openly bisexual as early as middle school in a small southern town, and never backed down from my views. I was bullied and threatened, but I just stood my ground smiling and even dared boys to follow up on their threats to beat me up, because “I’m 4’11. Wouldn’t that make you a man.” Some said I enjoyed negative attention and maybe I did to some degree, but whenever someone was brave enough to come out after that I stood fiercely by them. This was in the early 90’s.

    I felt sad and guilty going into the workforce as an adult, because I felt the need to tone done so much of my individuality out of fear of not getting hired or losing my job. I think that’s when I really got interested in politics, because that’s where my voice could still be heard. Fortunately I’m getting less shy even at work about being who I am, and I’m starting to realize that that there are many more around me than there used to be who aren’t afraid to openly share my views on a lot of things, even though I’m still in the same small southern town. I hope that number keeps growing.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Kudos for your courage, Allison. I always admire courage.

      Yeah, being an adult is different from being in junior high or high school. And it certainly is a relief when we discover that we’re not alone, that there are people who feel and believe like we do.

      You go, girl!


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