ronkempmusic

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

Posts Tagged ‘Coming out

Celebrating Acceptance: Dad gets “Born This Way” Tattoo!!

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What a marvelous story of acceptance!!  At a time when we’re grasping and struggling for acceptance, at a time when we’re losing teen after teen after LGBT teen to suicide because of a lack thereof, we get this heartwarming story from Jessica Romani about her brother, Dylan.

Dylan, who is bisexual, went through all of the usual trials and tribulations that nearly all LGBT teens experience.  He knew at a very young age that he was “different”.  He struggled with acceptance of himself!  And, of course, he was bullied.  Or, according to Jessica, he dealt with “extreme bullying”.

In Dylan’s own words, “…I was so scared of what he would do or think or say because he’s a tough guy and i am his only son so I didn’t want to be a disappointment or anything.”  That sounds familiar.  What he found, instead, was the surprise of his life.  Fred Romani, the dad, in an amazing show of unconditional love and acceptance, got the Lady Gaga-inspired catch-phrase, “Born This Way” tattooed in Italian on his wrist.  Dylan already had it on his.  You have to watch the video to see the reaction to it.

When I read Jessica’s and Dylan’s description of their dad, the image comes to mind of the stereotypical testosterone-driven Italian male.  Sylvester Stallone.  Santino Corleone.  Fred Romani showed, however, that macho men also have a heart.  Especially when it comes to family.  Even moreso, I would say, when it comes to his only son!  It’s that show of unconditional love and acceptance, even if he doesn’t yet fully understand what his son is going through, that makes the most significant difference.  It’s that acceptance that, say, EricJames Borges was looking for but got the opposite, instead.  And, we know where that led.  The mental and emotional health of young Dylan Romani grew exponentially by Fred’s gesture of support.  That’s what makes this story so important.  And, quite touching.

I first viewed this video, and story, yesterday on Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, the social network super page that is helping so many people, LGBT and straight alike, and saving lives.  It’s stories like this that makes us realize that love really is winning the war over hate.  For Fred, an old school Italian dad, to reach out to his young, struggling son with such a loving gesture, and then to see Dylan’s caught-off-guard, stunned reaction speaks volumes to the power of love and acceptance.

The hope, of course, is that this video will catch on and go viral so that people all over the world can see with their own eyes the sheer power of unconditional love and acceptance.  Dylan’s tears of joy say it all.  If more families showed their LGBT teens this type of support….  Well, you know.  Let’s hope that this video is a harbinger of things to come.

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.

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are!!!

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I’ve always said that the world would be a better place if every single gay, bi, lesbian, and transgender person in the world would just come out.  En masse, if necessary.  That way, there would be no remaining doubt that we truly are everywhere.  We’re your sons and daughters; we’re your teachers and preachers; we’re the beat cop and the sentencing judge; we’re your doctor, your lawyer, your boss.  Imagine the difference it would make for the LGBT teen struggling with his or her identity, trying to figure out if they’ll be ok or all alone in this cruel ol’ world.  Of course, that day may never come and for a myriad reasons.

One of the biggest obstacles, as we all know, is fear.  That’s a hard one to overcome.  The “what if” pill is a very hard one to swallow?  “What if” I come out and lose all of my patients?  “What if” I come out and they void my Major League contract? (ask Glenn Burke about that one)  “What if” I come out and get ridiculed at school.  “What if” my family rejects me if I come out?  Well, what if you could come out anonymously?  What if you could write a letter to dear ol’ Dad, or the guy who plays baseball on your team, or to your students and tell them your innermost feelings WITHOUT identifying who you are?  Imagine the healing and growth that would come from that.  The simple act of getting it out of your system and committing it to paper is therapeutic in itself.  Add the shield of anonymity, and it’s a wonderful tool.

Meet Charity Smith.  Charity is, in her words, a 30-year-old, half-queer lady living in Frederick, MD.  Charity’s vision was to create a page where any and everyone could go and come out anonymously.  And, it’s catching on.  Sometimes, coming out is a very hard traumatic thing to do.  It’s not always easy to sit across the dinner table and tell the family that you’re as queer as a three dollar bill.  Telling the wide-receiver that you’ve been throwing to for the past three years that you think he’s really hot and that you’d love to go out with him would be right next to impossible to do.  Unless you were able to do it anonymously.

Project:  OUT, Charity’s creation, is exactly that anonymous coming out project.  It encourages members of the LGBT community to share their stories safely by mailing anonymous letters to  whomever it is one would feel the need to come out to.  By keeping it anonymous, the writer is able to be completely open, completely honest about their feelings with the safety net of knowing that no one will ever know who wrote it.  Brilliant idea.

From my perspective, it is my hope that every single struggling LGBT teen will find this page and begin to utilize the unique therapy that Charity has provided.  Imagine the weight off of their shoulders as they begin to open up and pour their thoughts and feelings onto paper!  It is my hope that this will be a catalyst to ending the current plague of LGBT teen suicides.  Time will tell.  Project:  OUT certainly has the potential for making that difference.

Charity’s mission is to provide a clear-cut platform for those who are truly closeted to come out, even if anonymously.  At the time of this writing, nearly 7,000 people apparently like the idea enough to have “liked” the page, thus becoming members of the Project:  OUT community.  Now, it’s time to see those number grow.  I know that there are a lot of people who can, and will, benefit from Charity’s vision.  In a community that’s burgeoning with people committed to making a difference, to making the world a better place for everyone, Charity Smith is a rising star!

Keep the letters coming!

Written by Ron Kemp

January 15, 2012 at 3:32 am

The Good….

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In the grand scheme of things, this is a battle that’s been fought for as long as I can remember.  In the ’50s and ’60s, it was the Civil Rights movement.  That torch was passed on to the Women’s Rights movement.  And, here we are today.  Same fight; new warriors. (well, on one side of the battle, at least.  If you look deep enough, I’m thinking you’d see the same core institution on the OTHER side of the battle in all of these cases.  Makes you wonder…)

This battle for acceptance, gay rights, gay marriage, tolerance, ending gay teen suicide all fits under one big rainbow-colored umbrella.  Our army has some strong leaders.  Fighters.  When you have a 14-year-old openly gay student taking on the school board, that’s a fighter!!
In seeing and listening to young people like Graeme Taylor gives you the sense that, through the darkness, there really is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.  The message here for young people is it can and will get better if you just hang in there.  Pass it on.

Written by Ron Kemp

November 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Happy Birthday, Jamie Hubley

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You know, 40 short days ago, I had no idea in the world who Jamie Hubley was.  In the days since then, however, his name, his voice, and even his spectacularly handsome image is known to people all around the globe.  On October 14th, Jamie ended his young life.  Being 15 years old and openly gay had its price as Jamie was yet another victim of homophobic bullying.  Being 15 years old, openly gay, enduring bullying, and having clinical depression on top of that proved to be too much weight to carry.  In his short time here, Jamie was already making a major impact on people’s lives.  According to his father, in a recorded interview, Jamie just loved people and wanted to make a difference.  According to Jamie, in his now-defunct tumblr blog, “I just want to feel special to someone”.  Today, the things he wished for and wanted are coming to fruition:  he is making a difference in people’s lives around the globe; he is very special in the hearts of thousands and, perhaps, over a million people from that same geographic location.  To be sure, as of this day, I can still say I never “knew” him.  I can say, however that he has had a profound impact on my life.  See, Jamie Hubley is why you’re reading this.  Jamie Hubley gave me my voice.  As a singer/songwriter by profession, and as a gay man, I’d ALWAYS taken the issue of gay teen suicide very seriously.  I’d been trying to bring awareness to the issue for a couple decades.  I’d written about it in a few of my songs.  It wasn’t enough.  I needed to get more deeply involved in helping to bring about change.  This very blog is in Jamie’s honor.

Today, November 23rd, 2011 is Jamie’s sweet 16th birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, JAMIE!!!  You are loved by many.