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Posts Tagged ‘“jonah mowry”

Historic Moment

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While we’re enjoying a moment of relative calm, and I’m knocking on wood as I say that, I figured this is a good time to do a little reflecting.  And, sharing.

We’re in a time period right here and now that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a much younger man.  I’ve always said that the only way things were ever going to change would be for every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trangender person to come out of the closet and make themselves known.  That day is here.  We’re coming out at the workplace; we’re coming out in middle and high school.  And, our voices are resonating around the globe.  It’s a beautiful day.

Of course, it isn’t coming without resistance from “the other side”.  That just means that we’re doing something right!  We’re standing up and telling the world that we are no less equal than anyone else.  And, it’s scaring the hell out of “them”.  That’s fine.  Change scares people.

And, of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done.  The issue of bullying and LGBT teen suicide is a black eye on the face of this, the new Civil Rights movement.  Slowly but surely, as more and more people are standing up to be counted, changes are being made even on that sore spot.  In some cases, sadly, the change isn’t coming fast enough.

We’re at an exciting time in our history.  Not just LGBT history!  History, period!!  Within the next 10-15 years, marriage equality will be the norm.  The LGBT teen suicide will be next-to-nil because the changing environment will no longer tell them that they’re freaks, sick, or damaged.  It will embrace them.  At the very least, it will accept them.  What a major boost to their collective self-esteem that will be.  We’re on the forefront of that movement right here, right now.  And, years down the road, people will look back upon this time as the turning point, the point in time where we stood up and told the world ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and made them listen.  And, there will be names that will stand out.

Kevin “Kel” O’Neil has created a monster of a facebook community, and website, that is truly changing and saving lives!

Lyndsay Winegarden created a safe haven for at-risk teens in her effort to STOP Teenage Suicide.  That’s no small feat.

Charity Smith created a forum for people to come out anonymously.  How huge is that!?  That’s a major step for many people.

When Jamie Hubley committed suicide in October 2011, several tribute pages popped up on facebook in his honor.  One in particular, though, has morphed into the most loving and caring support community online.  People there know each other by name.  When people have struggles, there’s always, always, always people there ready to rush to their assistance.  Amazing.

Young people are coming forward bravely and very effectively and reaching out to their peers in an effort to make a difference.  Brett Simpson created a video encouraging other teens to contact him personally if they needed someone to talk to or if they were struggling.  Not satisfied with that, he turned his personal social network page into a support community AND started a second one.  The response to both has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Jonah Mowry is part of a group of teens who have decided to take the matter of bullying, as well as their future as LGBT teens, into their own hands.  They are organizing what they’re calling the Monster March Against Bullying, with the goal of having tens of thousands of teens from all over the country (world?) march with them to San Francisco’s City Hall in October.  That’s incredible stuff!

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that it was Jamie Hubley’s suicide that made me decide to roll up my sleeves and get involved in trying to make a difference.  This blog was created, and will always be written, in his honor.  He gave me my true voice.  And, since its inception on November 7th, I’ve been humbled by the response it has received.  It’s being read by hundreds, and sometimes thousands, per day.  More importantly, it’s making a difference in people’s lives.  That wouldn’t be happening, however, without every single one of you who are reading these words right now!  You read it; you respond to it by way of your comments and emails; and, you get involved when it’s called upon you to do so.  So, it’s actually YOU who are making the difference!!

Together, we are changing history!!  I’ve dreamed of this historic moment forever.

Monster March Against Bullying

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I think my favorite line from their “info” section is:

While parents, school officials and politicians keep imposing well intended rules and policies, we teenagers know real change… starts with us.

My smile was ear-to-ear!  Christi O’Connor, of San Francisco, sent me an email last week telling me about their Monster March Against Bullying to be held in the City By The Bay in October (no specific date given yet) in hope that I would help her spread the word.  And, of course, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  So far, in my opinion, this is the single greatest thing I’ve seen emerge in our collective struggle to bring an end to the bullying and help end the teen suicides, gay and straight alike.

The Monster March is a teen-created and teen-led protest marking a critical responsibility shift in solving our nation’s deadly bullying problem. This October, more than 10,000 of us teens from across the nation and around the world will march through the streets of San Francisco in what we plan to make “The Largest Teen Protest In History.” We will draw unprecedented awareness as we step into our power and claim our role in creating and putting into action our anti bullying solutions only teenagers can ensure work.

So, who is Christi O’Connor?  I can’t answer that in any other way than to say that she’s a driven teen who’s on a mission to make a huge difference in the lives of the teens who are bullied, to the families and friends of those who have committed suicide because of bullying.   Read her email to me for yourself:

Ron,
I’ve read a lot of what you write on bullying. Thank you. I’m the founder of the national youth led Monster March Against Bullying with The Rodemeyers, The Mowrys and many other bullying families behind our teens. Last Monday, we flew five headline making bullying families and many teens from around the country to help launch The Monster March.

We would love your help spreading the news of our teens’ invite to Lady Gaga and to President Obama to be at our 10,000 teen march against bullying in San Francisco this October. If you can ask all your followers to Tweet both letting them know your fans want both to join us, it will boost our profile and more teens will join us. The October march is just the celebratory finale of our teens’ year long campaign of projects they’re leading online, in classrooms and everywhere they can influence peers.

They want to recruit every teen they can.

Check out our FB page and our “Top 10 Teen Solutions” list. We change it every two weeks pushing to the top, the best in that time frame.

Also everything we have in our “Photos.”

Our teens include best friends and siblings of bullied teens from all over the country who’ve killed themselves. These teens are committed (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVzNKZpqDDo)

Go to http://www.facebook.com/youthvoicetv

Warmly,

Christi O’Connor
Founder “The Monster March Against Bullying”

Amazing stuff.  And, she has a point:  for all the work we adults do, or try to do, to end this madness, ultimately it will be up to them, the teens, to take matters in their own hands and say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”!!!  That message coming from us, the concerned citizens, adults, and parents, carries some weight.  Things ARE happening albeit slowly.  However, that same message coming from THOUSANDS of teens is going to be impossible to ignore.  Add to their cause such influential, anti-bullying people as Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama, and the entire WORLD will have no choice but to stand up and take notice. (disclaimer:  as of this writing, invitations have been sent to Lady Gaga and the POTUS.  It’s not confirmed, yet, that either will be in attendance.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.)  The family of Jamey Rodemeyer will be there in support of the Monster March Against Bullying, as will Jonah Mowry and his family.  I’m hoping that, by the time October rolls into San Francisco, many more family and friends of victims of bullying will be there in attendance.

The video attached to the email was the clencher.  Sixteen-year-old Liane, makes a very strong case for everyone to get involved by driving home the question “What are you waiting for?”  She had just lost a friend to suicide at the time she recorded the video.  The pain, the anguish!, is very visible on her face.  And, that pain isn’t isolated.  That pain and anguish is, sadly, shared all over the world every single day as yet another teenager ends their own life.

So, my question is the same:  What ARE you waiting for?  Every 18 minutes, another teenager ends his or her life.  And, for every successful suicide attempt, there’s 25 others who THANKFULLY didn’t success.  We’ve got an epidemic.  But, you don’t need me to tell you that.  I think that much is crystal clear.  What I do need to remind people, I feel, is that there’s still lots and lots of work that needs to be done before we’re able to claim victory.  Worse, rest assured that for everyone of “us” who are working hard and long to make a difference, there’s just as many if not more of “them” working just as hard and long to negate all of our efforts.

We will win this hard-fought battle.  I have complete confidence in that and can say it with 100% conviction.  However, the victory will not come without a long of hands-on effort.  And, what will, in the end, make the biggest difference will be teens, like Brett Simpson, like Christi O’Connor standing firm as they say to “The Establishment” ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!  Let’s do our part in making this Monster March Against Bullying an overwhelming success!  “Like” their facebook page.  Watch the video.  Share both as often as you can.  The world is changing, and Christi O’Connor is right at the forefront of that change.

Meet Brett: He Wants to Make a Difference

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I saw this video posted on my wall (actually, it was the Jamie Hubley wall, but that IS “my” home wall), and it didn’t really grab my attention.  Since the Jonah Mowry phenomena, there’s been a plethora of people, young and not-so-young alike, posting their videos, flash cards at the ready, in response to Jonah’s original video posted in the first week of December.  I’d grown weary of them, to be honest.  So, I overlooked this one.

However, Brett won out.  I gave in and watched.  And, I was moved.  Done in “Jonah Mowry” style, with flash cards, it really isn’t in response to Jonah, after all.  Rather, Brett decided to reach out to other LGBT teens who may be struggling with…whatever.  What a novel idea!!  I watched the video from beginning to end…twice!  The message is positive and very powerful.

Brett is gay, himself, but not yet openly so.  He’s been through what most gay teens have to endure:  the insecurities of the “what ifs”; the rejection; and, possibly even some bullying.  Luckily, though, he was accepted and loved just for who he is by his family and close friends.  That makes such a huge difference in a young LGBT life.  So, as a way of paying it forward, he’s reaching out to other LGBT teens to show them the same love and support he’s receiving.  You can’t beat that!

What I would love to see happen would be for his positive-message video to go viral in the same what that Jonah’s initial cry-for-help video did in early December.  That video has been viewed over 9 million times since I saw it for the first time.  Brett’s message is no less powerful.  And, just as the world responded to Jonah, so should they respond to Brett’s invitation to other struggling teens.  His message and open-armed invitation could help save some lives.

MORE Jonah Madness!!!

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At some point, you have to say “enough”.  ENOUGH!!!  I’ve said this several times previously, and the events of last night simply proved my point.  Ok, let’s set the record straight once and for all:  This isn’t just about Jonah Mowry!

Jonah Mowry is a wonderful, courageous 14-year-old boy.  Four months ago, he bravely recorded a video exposing his pure fear and pain from being a gay teen, from having been bullied, and from having to face a new school year with only one of his closest friends.  It was a heart wrenching video.  And, the world — THE WORLD!! — responded!  In overabundance.  Far, far too many people made this issue all about Jonah rather than the real issue at hand.  See, the true message of that first video was “yeah, I’m scared.  Yeah, this hurts.  But, I’m gonna make it.  I’m gonna be alright.”  And, according to most of the responses I read, most people missed the fine print.  Okay, so fine.  Put Jonah’s face on the cover if you must. Make Jonah the poster boy.  But, never lose sight of the fact that there are literally millions of Jonahs out there RIGHT NOW who need that same support.  This isn’t just about Jonah Mowry.

From the frenzy created by the release of that first video earlier this month, no less that 130 “support” pages for Jonah popped up on facebook.  One of them, “Jonah Mowry, we support you”, was prominently featured on a national news broadcast!!  Right there on the green screen, anyone who watched that broadcast or the subsequent repostings of it could clearly see where all the action was.  Free publicity!  The page reached a “membership” of over 36,000!!!! Better yet, more that 40,000 people were “talking about it”, which carries a lot of weight on facebook.  Young people were going there to express their kinship with Jonah.  Perfect.  That’s what it was supposed to be about.  Former bullies were going there to express their remorse for having put people like Jonah through that and vowing to never do it again.  PERFECT!!  That’s what it was supposed to be about.

Last night, the creator of the page blew it up!  Gutted it.  Vanished.  The reason?  Well, I’ll keep that under my own hat.  No sense in fanning that flame.  Not only was the page blown up, in its final moments he lashed out verbally at Jonah, posting things that I didn’t get the chance to see.  However, from what I understand, and according to some of the reactions that I did get the chance to read, it was really harsh.  I’m not going to speculate.  Again, no sense in fanning that flame.

The real tragedy of it is that the focus was lost.  It’s what I’ve been trying to get across.  See, I know from first-hand experience that this issue of bullying, violence against gay teens, and gay teen suicide is nothing new at all and certainly was NEVER just about Jonah.  Far too many people wanted to make this Jonah’s struggle.  It never was.  Now, the hundreds, maybe thousands!, of young people – from both ends of the bully spectrum – have been alienated.  In the end, the page became a mockery of Jonah, himself.  In a culture that was already fragile at best, this is reprehensible.  Daily, there were teens like Jonah who were posting how they could relate to him because, as one boy put it, “we are the same”.  Conversely, as one former bully put it “watching your video made me momentarily hate myself”.  Watching Jonah’s video made him feel remorse for his actions.  And, there were others expressing the same sentiment.  They all found comfort there.  And, with comfort comes healing.  And, from the healing comes growth.  That process was stunted last night.

“Jonah Mowry, we support you” is no more.  That’s sad.  However, out of the ruins has emerged the support group Global Bully Awareness.  And, this one isn’t about Jonah or any one person in particular.  Rather, it focuses on the issue at hand:  bullying and it’s effects.  It has quickly grown to 392 “members”.  That’s a little more that 1% of what was in the original community.  Hopefully, it won’t take too long to get those numbers back up.  It’s about reaching out.  It’s about providing a safe place for at-risk youth to come and comfortably voice their concerns and issues.  It’s about trying to save lives.  Click the link.  “Like” the page.  Then, share it.  There are lives in the balance.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 14, 2011 at 8:33 am

Jonah Speaks on Good Morning America

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In case you missed it, and I did by mere minutes, Jonah and his wonderful family were on Good Morning America this morning speaking out publicly for the first time since the frenzy began last weekend.  Okay, let me first say to those who lashed out at my posts yesterday about Jonahmania that you’re missing, completely, what I was saying.  Let me tell you that watching that raw video from August STILL makes me cry!  The 12-year-old boy inside of me who was savagely beaten in a gay bashing felt every single bit of Jonah’s pain.  As he cried, I cried.  And, in the end, as he vowed to fight on, I, too, chose to fight on through it.  I’m so glad that I did.  He will be, too.

This doesn’t mean, mind you, that I’m wavering one iota from my stance that, as we saw again this morning on GMA, Jonah is okay.  Better yet, he’s going to BE okay.  My “rant”, as it was called, remains intact:  share some of this now-overabundant love and support with some of the other, hidden, teens who are in the exact same boat that Jonah was in in August and let THEM know that there’s hope for them.  Let THEM know that there’s literally millions upon millions of people worldwide, thanks largely to Jonah’s video, who are willing to be there for them, as well.  See, Jacob Rogers didn’t feel that love and support.  Now, he’s gone.  I’m not ready to move past that one yet.  He struggled in his final days while the world gushed over Jonah.  Not a knock on Jonah; a knock on us as a people.  You call it a rant; I call it the blinding truth.  Tomato, tomato.

In Jonah’s interview, we get to see a healthy, happy Jonah along with his loving, supportive family.  Heartwarming.  Johan said that he’s very happy that “the topic is getting the attention it needs to”, finally.  That’s his gift to us.  He encouraged other at-risk teens who are being bullied to “tell your parents…because keeping it in just makes it a lot harder.” And, again, his unspoken message was, “I’m ok.  Things were really dark then, but I’m ok.”

I embrace Jonah Mowry.  Undoubtedly, millions of other teens in the same boat do, as well.  It took unprecedented courage for him to make that early morning video last August.  We’re a better people because he did.

Rest in Peace Cameron DeVeronica (14 Year Old Victim of Bullycide)

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Eight days into the month, and I’m telling you about a 4th teen suicide that came at the hands of bullying.  Fourteen year old Cameron Lee DeVeronica committed suicide 11/29/2011.  Her friends say she was bullied.  The police are investigating “the extent to which bullying may have played a role in Cameron’s death.”  Really?

Meanwhile, hundreds of her schoolmates took to the streets with their own effort to end the madness and bring about change.  Said one student, “…there’s so much that can be done, and there’s so much that could’ve been done previously to prevent this…and, so much more that should be done.”  We need more people like him, young and old, to start stepping up.

How many more young lives do we have to lose before everybody from the Highest Office on down see this for exactly what it is:  an epidemic.  The roll call for this year’s young lives lost to suicide is staggering.  And, the year isn’t over.

Kudos to the students of Spencerport High School who joined the battle cry of “enough is enough” and took to the streets.  Rest when and if you need to, but never give this fight.  We need more warriors like you, more voices like Jonah Mowry’s, and a more concerted effort by our leaders in order to bring about the changes that will matter.

Bullying should not be punished by detention.  Detention means they eventually get to go back to school.  Jamie Hubley, Ben Lewis, Jacob Rogers, and now Cameron DeVeronica, amongst too many others, will never get that opportunity again.  Bullying needs to be treated as the hate crime that it is.

There’s been a facebook page set up in her honor.  A place for remembering, and for healing.  Follow the link, check it out, and “like” it.  Show your continued support for this effort.  Do everything you can think of doing, then do a little more.  Enough really is enough.

Rest in Peace, Cameron Lee DeVeronica.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 9, 2011 at 9:26 am

Clearing the Air

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I was heartbroken to read of Jacob Rogers’ suicide.  Another young life…gone.  I was also a little more than “a little upset” to read that, in the end, Jacob felt ignored, that no one would help him, that no one “would listen and stand up for him”.  I was a little more than upset because that’s the message I’ve been trying to convey as the Jonahmania train sped away from the station.  I’ve been trying to get the point(s) across that 1.) Jonah told us 4 months again that he’s ok, and he is; and, 2.) there are millions and millions more just like him all around the world, and some most likely right in our own backyards who could use just a fraction of the outpouring of love that Jonah has received.  Jacob Rogers was very obviously one such teen.

I voiced my opinion strongly in the blog entry about Jacob.  Not everyone agreed.  I accept that.  I actually applaud that.  But, I thought it would be a good idea to backtrack a step or two and clear the air.

  • First and foremost, I don’t take anything away from Jonah Mowry.  I think he’s a remarkable young man.  And, for the record, he really is doing just fine.  He’s being a normal 14-year-old goofball.  I know because I read his tweets every day.  The original video really was 4 months ago.
  • I truly am overjoyed that Jonah has put a living face on an issue that most of us had only heard about once it was too late.  And, to be sure, that was the magnet that drew millions to him.  Bravo to you, Jonah.  The issue of bullying and its effects now have a floodlight shining on it because of you.
  • I am, in fact, worn out from the continued gushing to Jonah.  And, that has nothing to do with Jonah and EVERYTHING to do with we as a people.  Perhaps people are still gushing because on some level it helps them shed the guilt of having turned a blind eye to this not-so-new epidemic we have until his video.  Perhaps there are folks who are feeling that, by doing this tremendous act of compassion (and, it truly is just that!), they are doing their part to change that culture.  They’re not.  They’re force-feeding someone who appetite has already been sated while ignoring millions right around him who are starving to death.
  • One hundred and thirty PLUS facebook Jonah support groups (at last count, which was 24 hours ago); 7,000,000+ views to the first video, and 900,000 MORE views of a copycat release of the same video, plus too many video responses for me to bother counting at this moment; 300,000+ comments to the original videos, MILLIONS of comments to the two subsequent ones, and another 19,000 on the copycat release, and a never-ending stream of brand new “supporters” for a 14-year-old gay teen who told the world through haunting tears 4 months ago that he was hurting, he was scared, but that he was going to be alright amounts to overkill.
  • Don’t shoot the messenger:  whereas this is wholeheartedly MY opinion, his own mother has gone on national news to say the same thing…THREE days ago!
To be clear, when I watched the video for the first time, I cried.  I cried painful tears.  I was Jonah.  I was beyond Jonah.  He’s been called hurtful names.  As a 12-year-old gay kid, I was beaten to a bloody pulp.  That video touched the heart of that broken 12-year-old.  I understand the emotion of the video wholeheartedly.  And, I understand the support it received.  However, I also understand that this issue goes far, far beyond Jonah Mowry.  It’s been here long before he was born and, unless and until we start demanding change, it will be here long after he’s gone.  Jacob Rogers needed just a fraction of the support everyone rushed to give Jonah.  It would’ve kept him alive.
It would’ve kept him alive.
Apparently, Jacob came from an impoverished family who has already said that they can’t afford to have a proper funeral for him.  You can make a difference. The link at the top of this article will lead you to the original news article about Jacob’s suicide.  At the bottom of that article is information on how you can donate to help cover the cost of the funeral.  Now, THAT’S supporting the cause.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm

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