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

Wiping Out Homophobia on Facebook

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You know how the Internet works:  one link leads to another link to another link and, before you know it, you’re right there staring at the screen saying “WOW!!!”.  That was the case with me back in early fall of last year.  I ended up on a facebook page that was right in the middle of going viral.  If you’ve never witnessed that, it’s an amazing thing to watch.  When I “joined” the community, by simply clicking the “like” button, there were less that 100,000 members.  By the minute, those numbers were increasing by the dozens.  Dozens…as in plural.  I watched in excited awe as this page just literally blew up into one of the true giants on the social network behemoth.  To become a giant on a network that has over 8 HUNDRED MILLION people on it is an accomplishment of enormous proportions.  What could a single page create such a buzz and generate such a massive, and quite active, audience in such a short time?  They’re in the “business” of changing lives.

Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook had a main goal, when I joined it, of spotting pages on facebook that promoted hatred and intolerance towards the gay community and getting them eliminated from the social network.  Since then, it’s morphed into so much more.  Today, they have gay married couples posting wedding pictures.  Today, they have suicidal gay teens, or their parents, writing in to give their own testimonial of how Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook (WHOF) saved their life.   Oh, and today, they still root out homophobic hatred and intolerance on facebook.

Becoming part of this burgeoning community was an exhilarating experience.  Immediately, it became my de facto homepage on facebook.  I was there at least 10-1 more than I was on my own “home” page.  This was where I was supposed to be.  This was my community.  I’d post comments, read other’s stories of happiness and sadness, and share their links and stories to the friends on my own pages. (call it my second coming out!)

In October, WHOF changed my life forever.  I returned from work to read the headline “We Failed Another Gay Teen”.  See, that’s been my hot-button for most of my adult life:  Gay teen suicide.  So, naturally, when I saw that headline, it grabbed my full attention.    I dug deeper and found Jamie’s videos on youtube.  I sat in stunned disbelief as I watched all 12 of them from beginning to end.  I read his tumblr blog.  And, then I got mad.  I’d written songs about gay teen suicide, but no one really paid much attention to them.  That was supposed to be my way of doing my part to help bring awareness to the problem.  If no one is listening, the message isn’t going anywhere.  Right then and there, I made the decision to get deeper involved.  That’s when this blog was born.  If there were a “family tree” for this blog, WHOF would have to be the root.

Kevin O’Neill, or Kel, is the creator and founder of WHOF, which also has a website: whof.net.  In his own words, “we [also] have a lot of ‘straight’ supporters who learn a lot about us.”  It’s people from all around the world, gay and straight, black and white and red and green, young and old, male and female, coming together to form a loving community of sharing and caring.  And, sometimes, just being.  Kel, and WHOF, changed my life forever.  Now, multiply that by the 277,000+ “members” who are in the community, and you’ll get a better picture of the impact this page has had on people around the world.

There’s a massive army formed to combat homophobia, to educate people on how to stop bullying, and most importantly to prevent gay teen suicides.  WHOF, is right there in the trenches leading the way.  We are all much better off with Kel, and his creation, in the world.

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Written by Ron Kemp

January 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

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