Archive for May 2012
The Memorial Day holiday is meant to reflect upon and honor those brave young men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our country. That’s not to be taken lightly. Whereas we here in America still have fight amongst ourselves for freedoms that are supposedly guaranteed to us, if we didn’t have these brave warriors fighting for us on the international stage, we wouldn’t even have the freedoms that we do enjoy.
“I’m here for the same reason you’re here: I tried to kill myself.”
Even as I lied in a hospital bed recovering from my own failed suicide attempt, I was heartbroken that this young man had found life as a young LGBT teen so unbearable that he thought suicide was the only way out. I prodded for more of an explanation. I revealed to him that I knew when he was 13 that he was gay. He revealed that he realized it when he was even younger. He obliged my prodding.
“My whole family disowned me when I finally came out of the closet. My dad said he wished I was dead. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I’m only 19!!, and I have no family!”
I cried with him. And, it was there that the seeds were sown for doing something to make a difference. Nobody should have to go through what he was going through. No young person should have to feel that death was better than dealing with the negativity that is cast upon being gay or lesbian.
I remember, even at an earlier age, having a friend who was slightly younger than myself. He was very flamboyantly gay, which was a white elephant back in that day. I remember a phone conversation where he revealed to me his inner feelings:
If I could take a ‘straight pill’ tomorrow, I would. Being gay is just too hard. I’m tired of being shit on everyday. My dad acts like I don’t even exist!
Sadly, neither of them are with us today.
Today, while we remember those brave young men and women who put on military uniforms and go to combat and paid the ultimate price for our nation’s freedom, let’s also remember the brave young men and women who put on their own “uniforms” and go to battle daily against a society that routinely engages them in a different kind of battle. Different, but no less volatile.
Today, we remember the hoards of young people who have lost their lives simply because a society can’t find it in their hearts to accept rather than hate. Whether their demise came from their own hands, or at the hands of someone, the result is the same: they are all casualties of a war that should not even be being fought.
To the young men and women who gave their lives protecting our country, thank you. We honor you today and everyday.
To the young people who’s lives were cut short because of a society that made your lives unbearable, thank you for touching our lives. We love, honor, and miss you today and every single day.
Secretly, I always tried to keep up with gay-related news stories when I was young. With no electronic media in those days, following national gay-related events was challenging, to say the least. I remember hearing about someone in San Francisco becoming the first openly gay elected official. Of course San Francisco. Here on the East Coast of the U.S., people are trained to believe that that beautiful City by the Bay is nothing more than a haven for gays. Like everyone there runs around in pink tutus, spreading fairy dust everywhere they go. People are strange.
Harvey Milk was his name. I locked that name into my memory bank, even as a young man. Even as a 20-year-old, I believed that more gays should become visible for who they were and the contributions they had to offer. Harvey Milk was a validation. In fact, we shared that same philosophy.