ronkempmusic

Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Posts Tagged ‘ericjames borges

Love and Determination

leave a comment »


It’s great to know that there’s a safe place where people can reach out and know that someone will reach back for them.  A member on the facebook blog page sent me a private message that was beautiful yet disturbing at the same time.  It illustrates, perfectly, how and how not to create a healthier environment for LGBT teens.

I don’t know where to begin. I just know that I need to share this. My 14 yr old son came out to me two weeks ago. He is bisexual. I knew something had been bothering him, he seemed so angry, so sullen, and sad. I didn’t know what was going on, and though I tried he never seemed to talk to me. Then 2 months ago all the sudden he started opening up. We talked about everything. I finally had my happy, bright, smiling child back. When he told me he was bisexual I could tell he was nervous. I could tell he was scared. He blurted it out and I think my response surprised him. I laughed. He asked me if I thought he was joking, and I said, NO that’s not why I had laughed. I laughed because I am bisexual too. I laughed because I love him. I laughed because I was happy that he could share that with me, something SO brave at his age to do. When I told him that, he laughed too.

Oh how I wish that’s where it ended happily, but it’s not. My dear sweet son has been living with his dad for the last couple of years. He wanted so much to get to know his dad better, but things aren’t going well. When my son came out to his father, he flipped out. He said some horrible things. And then he called me, to yell at me. Because I knew before he did. Because I didn’t come running to him with that information. He made it all about himself, and how I had lied to him, that my son CHOOSES to be “this way” and that by not telling him I am a bad parent because I put his “life in danger”. My son’s father apparently thinks that coming out and telling people you are gay or bisexual unleashes some sort of free for all orgy and my son will now magically get an STD based on a vocal admission of his sexuality.

My son will be coming to live with me now. I have always been a supporter of the LGBT community for myself of course, but somehow it’s a deeper support, now that it’s my child. I’ve never felt more protective of him than I do now because if his own father could behave like a hateful bigot….I don’t want to finish that thought.

I needed to share this because it NEEDS to be heard. Parents NEED to realize that their children are part of who they are, no matter what their sexuality is. They are still that baby you held in your arms. They are still that child that reached to you when they were hurt. They are still that smart little person you help teach to ride their bike or tie their shoes. And they can still be the successful and happy adult you’ve always dreamt they could be. Sexuality shouldn’t be a deal breaker to parenthood, to LOVE.

I want people to think back, remember that sweet face that came bouncing into a room. That sweet little voice that said “I love you mommy, daddy” and remember she/he is the SAME child as before. Nothing changes that, nothing!

Whereas the father in this case makes my blood boil, we’ve sadly learned that this is far from unusual.  We know from recent history that there are parents, and in some cases both parents!, who reject their own offspring simply because of who they are.  We need look no farther than January, and the suicide death of EricJames Borges, to be reminded of the devastating effects parental rejection can have on LGBT teens.  Any teens, for that matter!  The bright side is that he has a fantastic mother who is there to support, protect, and nurture her LGBT son.

What was most impressive about this, though, was the bravery of the teen, himself.  It would be much easier, and healthier!, for him to simply pick up and flee to his accepting mother.  Instead, he chose to stay with his intolerant father through the remainder of the school year, hoping “…to make some progress…” with him.  That speaks volumes for his inner strength and courage.  Let’s hope it works out in his favor.

As for the dad, reality seems to be only a concept.  His viewpoint on the LGBT community and his own son are antiquated, at best.  Maybe the son can get through to him.  Let’s hope so, anyway.  Look, loving is much easier, much healthier, and much less stressful than hating.  Especially when it comes to your very own offspring.

The silver lining to this is that due to this 14-year-old’s tenacity, and because of the unconditional love and support of his mother, he gives other LGBT teens hope.  It can and does get better.

Written by Ron Kemp

April 26, 2012 at 5:30 am

EricJames Borges’ Final Words

leave a comment »


He was a very gifted young man.  His talent for filmmaking was made evident in the short film he made not long before his death.  People who knew him well said that EricJames had just barely scratched the surface of what would’ve been a terrific career and very rewarding life.  Scorned, demonized, abused both physically and emotionally by his parents, EricJames was left with scars from his coming out process that he couldn’t recover from.  In a perfect world, EricJames’ parents would be charged with homicide for his death.  This isn’t a perfect world, and that will never happen.  No more so than the school administrators and State officials will be held culpable in the suicides of Phillip Parker or Jacob Rogers.

Memorial services were held for EricJames this past weekend.  Hundreds attended.  They went to remember.  They went to mourn.  And, they went to celebrate a gifted young life that’s tragically, and needlessly, gone too soon.  It’s noteworthy that his parents, the two people who gave him life only to take it away, didn’t show up to the memorial services.  They were invited.

EricJames’ last words, in a copyrighted suicide note that I’m not privy to, spoke lovingly to the ones who would become his de facto family in the end:  the ones who really cared and loved him.  He spoke of Lady Gaga, leaving money to her Born This Way Foundation which benefits LGBT youth.  He also left money to several other LGBT organizations that would help LGBT teens.  As was shown in his “It Gets Better” video, recorded a month before his suicide, and in death, EricJames was passionate about helping other LGBT teens so they wouldn’t have to experience the sheer hell he was put through.

It is critical that we understand that the work that needs to be done before we can end teen-on-teen bullying pales in comparison to the work that needs to be done dealing with the adults in our society.  The kids are a mere reflection of what they’re learning from the adults.  That a parent could inflict the type of pain EricJames’ parents inflicted upon him is reprehensible, if not criminal.  No child should ever have to endure that, especially from the ones who gave him life.  Yet, it happens.  EricJames is not an isolated case.  That lawmakers can even dream of passing the type of damaging laws that a Michele Bachmann, a Stacey Campfield, or a John Ragan not only dream of but sign into law is reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous.  I’ve said it many times before, but it bears saying many more times:  the war against bullying has to start with the adults.  There’s no way around it.

“My pain is not caused because I’m gay.  My pain was caused by the way I was treated because I am gay.”  Pause to absorb that for a moment.  It can’t get more to the point than that.  Those were the words EricJames wrote to end his suicide note.

I hope you’re at peace now, EricJames.  Your family misses you.  Your real family.

Online Support Groups: “You’ve Gotta Give ‘Em Hope”

leave a comment »


All over the World Wide Web and, in particular, within the 800,000,000+ community of facebook, there are people banding together like never before in an effort to exact change in our society.  More specifically, these people, groups, and communities, are working feverishly to build a better world for the LGBT community.  From working towards equality for all people, gay or straight, black or white, to dealing with the issue of bullying, to helping people young and not-so-young come out of the closet, we’re witnessing a lot of great things unfold right before our eyes.

There are some groups, led by some dynamic and driven people, that are leading the way for all of us.  At the head of that class would have to be Kevin O’Neil’s creation, Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook.  I became part of that community in October of last year, right as it was in the middle of “going viral”.  From the membership of slightly under 100,000 when I joined, it has burgeoned to close to 300,000.  In less than 3 months!  That says that something really good is going on there.  Says Kevin, or “Kel” as we know him, many of the people who post comments in the community wall thanks him, and Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, for “giving me strength to go on”.  People, young and old, growing from the support of knowing that such a positive and powerful group of people, gay and straight alike, from all over the world is there for them, giving them strength.  And, the community is constantly growing by large numbers!
The Equality Mantra is a group that was started with the mission of glorifying “…the marvelous diversity of humanity while believing, fundamentally, that we’re all the same.”  There, they share stories, pictures, valuable information.  Most of all, they share love.
ABC:  Anti-Bullying Coalition is one of my personal favorites.  That’s because bullying is a subject that’s very critical to me.  In their own words:

We are passionate about implementing pro-active anti-bullying solutions into our school system and as far around the world as we can grow! We have found such need in our community to advocate for families as well as help change the belief that “kids will be kids” and “it makes them stronger” with the knowledge that even one bullying episode can have life long negative effects. And although our program is currently focused on school time bullying, we hope to spread the word; bullying is a personality and it spans all ages and crosses all boundaries; race, religion, size, gender, socioeconomic status, educational level, sexual orientation and does not stop in High School but continues on to the workplace, retirement homes, private clubs, organizations, it’s everywhere. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support! Share the word!

They’ve got the right message.  Their work is helping many people.

I recently did an entry on Charity Smith and her brilliant creation, Project:  OUT.  This is a project that is helping so many LGBT people, young and not-so-young, with their coming out process.  For those who don’t already know, the coming out process can be quite traumatic.  We’ve lost too many teens to traumatic coming out processes, with the latest being 19-year-old- EricJames Borges.  Here, they can do so anonymously which can be extremely therapeutic.

And, then there’s Lyndsay Winegarden’s gem of a group, STOP Teenage Suicide.  I love this one so much.  I did an entry on Lyndsay and her page, as well.  She’s a remarkable, very courageous lady who is doing great work in the area of trying to bring an end to teen suicide.  That’s my mission, as well.

That’s just a handful of online resources that are paving the way to a much brighter, healthier, and safer world, not only for the LGBT community exclusively, but for all people.  As the great people at The Equality Mantra put it:

“We all bleed red when pricked. We all cry salty tears. We are all the same. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“If you “like” marriage equality…if you’re encouraged by the six states that have passed marriage equality, and hope the other 44 will SOON follow suit…if you long for equality across the colors to be a reality…if you dream of the day when what we look like, how we worship, where we come from, and who we love are issues that no longer have a seat at the table…if you model love and compassion, and hope to make the world a little bit better by caring and sharing, rather than by denigrating and tearing down…please join [us], and suggest that your friends join. Share your stories, your pictures. Share yourselves. Share the love.”

That’s the general theme of all of us as we band together to make a difference.  The great news is there’s always room for more dedicated people.

More on EricJames Borges

leave a comment »


If I could, I’d give $1,000,000 to the first person who could explain to me how being an “extreme Christian” is any different that being a neo-Nazi.  Their hatred is destructive, not to mention very UN-Christ-like.  “Disgusting”?  “Damned to Hell”?  Those sound like two pretty good descriptions, to me, of some of these hate-mongers who hide behind the cloak of God and religion.  If “zero tolerance” on bullying is our goal, if we’re seeking to increase the penalties levied on those who bully, EricJames’ “parents” should be right there on the front cover of the Zero Tolerance manifesto.

When the story of young EricJames first hit yesterday, the details were still being formulated.  Now that there is more information, his suicide becomes all the more heartbreaking.  Demoralizing.  And, for me at least, maddening.  EricJames was a rising superstar with a beautiful soul.  He would’ve been a difference maker.  A game breaker.  His talents and his passion for helping others would have affected many, many people.

As an intern with The Trevor Project, he worked to prevent teen suicide in the LGBT community.  He created his own “It Gets Better” video a month to the day before his suicide.  The video is well made and very well scripted.  In viewing it, however, I’m not convinced that HE was convinced that the words he were saying held validity.  Who could blame him, given his circumstances?

And, the parents.  I am serious with my contention that they need to be brought up on charges like any other person who bullies a person to death.  As we see the wave of support, nationwide, continue to swell in favor of punishing people guilty of bullycide, these people should absolutely be held accountable for EricJames’ death.  His mother performed an exorcism on him!  Are you serious!?  Then, to further trample his self-esteem, they called him very UNGodly names and, for the knock out blow, kick him out of the house…effectively banishing him from the family.

So, here he is:  19-years-old, just coming out of the closet, starting college, and condemned and abandoned by his family.  Stop for a second and just imagine the inner pain and turmoil he was going through.  Now, multiply what you just imagined ten-fold.

The coming out process is supposed to be liberating, not a death sentence.  Your first year of college is supposed to be an adventure, a new beginning, a coming of age, not a horrific continuation of the bullying and harassment endured in middle and high school.  Family is supposed to be your foundation, the people you can always turn to when times are overwhelming, real or imagined.  I can speak from experience when I say that that’s a myth that truly needs to be abolished.  However, even with the shithole of a family that I was saddled with, I can say that they were never abusive.  They weren’t nasty, mean-spirited, or evil about it.  They just shut the door on me.  In EricJames case, they may as well have held a to his temple and pulled the trigger themselves.

Like so many of the young suicide victims, in particular LGBT teens, I steadfastly believe that EricJames was merely trying to convince himself that it really is possible for a young LGBT person to find real love in a world that exhibits such hatred and intolerance.  Surely, his parents showed him that he was not lovable.  The ones who bullied him throughout his life taught him that he was not acceptable.  For me, the saddest memory of EricJames’ life will be the short film he created and produced.  In the film, you can see him in the throes of love and passion.  It wasn’t enough to sustain him.  The unspoken subtext to the film is obvious, but I love his words.

Love is universal.  It has the strength to decimate the threshold of all prejudice, all inequity.  Human relationships, and those who come into our lives, have the ability to ultimately shape who we are.  There is importance in loving each other the way each of us truly deserves….

Makes me cry every time.  You’re at peace now, EricJames.

Eric James Borges, 19, May You Rest Peacefully

leave a comment »


Suicide has claimed yet another teen and another teen from the LGBT community.  Eric James Borges, known to his friends as EricJames, died Wednesday, January 11, 2012.  He was a 19-year-old intern with The Trevor Project.  Sadly, even being involved with that group couldn’t save him.

Like many victims of suicide before him, Eric wanted to help others even as he was struggling with his own situations.  Eric was dealt a troubling hand right from birth as he was unwanted by his birth parents.  Still, he navigated his way through 19 turbulent years, interning with The Trevor Project and becoming a Supplemental Instructor at the College of the Sequoias.  And, through it all, a look at his facebook page info reveals a positive young mind with a great spirit and passion to live…and give.

To the family and friends of EricJames, we offer our condolences and prayers.

To everyone else, I say never stop trying to reach these young people.  Listen carefully to what they have to say.  Lives are depending on it.  We’ll never know if a compassionate ear would’ve saved EricJames.  All we can do at this point is say Rest in Peace, EricJames.  You were a rising star.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 605 other followers