Every minute of every day there are teenagers who sit in their rooms wondering if today is the day they are going to commit suicide. They are afraid of their parents, friends and family finding out that they are gay, and would rather commit suicide before knowing if they will be accepted or rejected. Most are rejected, which is why they are struggling.
I myself struggled with that for most of my childhood. I was confronted at age 13 with the fact that my step father hated gay people, and if he hated gay people, then he hated me. He said “I wish they would put all of those faggots on and island and shoot them.” Imagine being me at that very moment. Here I was afraid for my life every morning when I woke up until I went to bed at night because I wasn’t sure if I was going to get yelled at or beaten for blinking wrong, and now he has confirmed my worst fears with just one sentence.
Age 13 was when I first tried to commit suicide, and believe me, that was not the last time. The last time I tried to kill myself was when I was 23, less than a year after my mother had passed away. I had just met my partner, the same person I have loved for the last 21 years, but I wasn’t sure where my life was headed, and I was still very suicidal. Imagine his horror and disappointment when he found me lying in bed next to him unresponsive because I took an entire bottle of sleeping pills.
I was looking for statistics to add to this post about teen suicide, and I found this. It’s from 2006, but I’m pretty sure it still applies 9 years later.
“According to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. In addition, the San Francisco State University Chavez Center Institute has found that LGBTQ youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.”
We recently attended a monthly PFLAG meeting to say goodbye to a family who were moving to Arizona. They are the Montgomery Family who were in a documentary called Families Are Forever. Their son Jordan (image above) spoke about suicide in the documentary and it broke my heart when he mentioned taking a bottle of pills to end his life. He was afraid of what might happen to him if his family ever found out that he was gay. He wasn’t sure how his family would react, and that seems to be how it is every time a child comes out of the closet to their parents.
Every child has a 50/50 chance when coming out of the closet. They have a 50% chance of their family hugging them and saying “It doesn’t matter because you are our son and we love you no matter what.” They have a 50% chance of their family reacting negatively and yelling obscenities and telling them that they are going to hell and then either right away, or eventually kicking them out of the house.
Jordan’s family accepted him right away. His mother, who by the way is the mother you want to have if you are gay, hugged him and told him that she loves him no matter what. I mean, it’s her kid. And look at that adorable face! How could you say no to that adorable face. I just want to pinch his cheeks. Heck, I want to pinch her cheeks! Their entire family’s cheeks are pinchable!
My own mother screamed at the top of her lungs that it’s “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, as well as “you are going to hell” and blah blah blah. This is a woman who couldn’t be bothered to go to church and never really considered herself to be religious, then all of a sudden she starts spewing scriptures. She even told me to never adopt children because she would hate to know that my adopted children were being bullied in school for having a faggot for a father. Gee, thanks! So what am I, chopped liver? I was bullied in school for being gay. I was beat up almost daily. I literally ran home from school every day in Junior High because I was threatened that I would get beat up after school. Every. Day.
Just 2 weeks after I came out of the closet, I was given an ultimatum, it’s either my boyfriend or my mother. I was told that if I walked out that door that I could never come back. He was stranded with no way of getting home, and I couldn’t just leave him out there in L.A. (we lived in L.A. county) where he could get mugged or murdered, so I walked out the door. Ultimatums are unfair, and I’m the type of person that if you give me an ultimatum, I will never choose you, every time.
I don’t know if you would consider that running away from home or getting kicked out. I myself don’t consider that I ran away from home because I didn’t want to run away, I wanted to live at home and finish high school. My mother not allowing me to come home is what makes me feel like I was kicked out of the house. If I ran away from home, of course my mother would tell me she wanted me to come back, but even a few months later she still wouldn’t let me come home.
Why do parents do that to their own children? I don’t understand. This is why gay kids kill themselves, before and/or after they come out. They are afraid of this rejection, and wouldn’t you? This is why I attempted suicide dozens of times since I was 13, because I feared the rejection that I ended up facing. Why would you put your kids through so much needless torture?
A lot of times a parent will ask where they failed. My mother asked where she went wrong in raising me. Look, you didn’t fail as a parent because I was gay, I didn’t choose it, in fact she told me she knew that I was gay when I started walking. So why put that guilt on me about where she failed when she knew that I was gay from the get go. You didn’t fail as a parent because your child is gay, you failed as a parent because you kicked your child out of the house when you found out they were gay. Your child isn’t an object to be tossed aside when it no longer serves you, they are your flesh and blood and they have feelings, so don’t make them feel guilty for being different. Guilt trips are why children are killing themselves.
I recently watched the first episode of “I Am Cait” on the E! channel, and Caitlyn Jenner visited a mother who lost her transgender child to suicide. She told Caitlyn that it wasn’t the other kids who drove him to suicide, it was the adults. So think about that. The children don’t give a crap if you are gay or straight or if you are transgender, it’s their parents who are driving children to suicide. Do you want to be the reason someone killed themselves because of what you said that may have hurt their feelings? Just remember that words kill.
I don’t mean to be on my soapbox for this long, I just wanted to voice my opinion about something other than marriage equality and politics. I think that every person needs to think about how they speak to other people, because your words just might make a difference in a positive or negative way. Can you sleep at night knowing your words are the reason little 10 year old Johnny hung himself in his bedroom? We as adults need to hold ourselves accountable for every word that is spoken to a child. Empower children, don’t kill them with your venom.