ronkempmusic

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

Posts Tagged ‘Facebook

Six Million People Can’t be Wrong

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I speak often of Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook.  There’s a reason for that.  In my humble opinion, they are singlehandedly changing the world.  That’s a very strong statement.  It puts a lot of responsibility on the great people who make their platform work.  And, it puts a ton of weight on the shoulders of Kel, the creator of this phenomena.

Apparently, there are many people who agree with me.  Besides the fact that their facebook page now has over 315,000 members, and growing by leaps and bounds on a weekly basis, today their webpage added it’s 6 millionth visitor!!!  Six million, three hundred thousand people worldwide agree with me that Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, it the community of change.  The beauty of that is they are not wilting in the least from the pressure of such gaudy numbers.  In fact, they crave more and celebrate each milestone.  Why?  Obvious answer:  the higher the numbers, the more people who are being reached, the better the chances of helping people who really need help the most.

They are the trailblazers.  Why?  What’s their lure?  What is it that’s constantly attracting tens of thousands of people to their page and website on a weekly basis?  Simple answer:  They reach out to everyone.  Gays and straights alike, from around the world!, interact with their twin pages daily, contributing their own stories, sharing photos, or just offering support.  It’s become the premiere “go to” spot on facebook.  That carries a lot of weight considering facebook boasts over 800,000,000 users.

Kevin “Kel” O’Neil, WHOF’s creator started this on a lark, actually.  In his own words:

” WHOF, all started on the 9th May 2010. During a search for a gay group I found two hate pages. They only had a few members , but all I could think was what if one of my family found this page and read the hate speech.

I decided to”report” both pages. Hate speech is illegal in most of the free world and is also against Facebook’s own terms of use.

I sent links to the pages to some friends so they too could report them, they replied with links to others I thought that rather than 30 of us sending each other messages, I would collate the links on one Facebook page. An hour later there were hundreds of members and by the end of the day a thousand had joined, today there are over 310,000 members” Says Kevin,from Durham in the North east of England, who later created the website to accompany the facebook page in September of 2010.

That’s called filling a void.  It was the right idea at the right time, and people from every outpost on the globe have responded.

Of course, not everyone in the world agrees with such a positive movement.  Change frightens people.  And, Kel gets the hate mail to prove it!  Always one step ahead, he handles each piece of hate mail with the kind of wit and humor, yet very much to the point, that only he can do.

Another invaluable piece of the WHOF puzzle is the staff he has surrounded himself with.  The Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook administration consists of such leaders as Lyndsay Winegarden (creator of STOP Teen Suicide) and Matt Desmond (creator and owner of AddictingInfo.com)  What that means is that there’s always someone knowledgeable and skilled manning the page in the event there’s an emergency.  That’s a crucial component.

I think, for me, what impresses me the most is some of the letters of thanks they receive from people who were in a real bad place in their lives, or maybe a friend or family member was and, thanks to WHOF, they were able to make it through.

Ashlee Tai 07:53 AM on January 24, 2012
Dear Kel,
I wanted to share a story with you and other admin members to let you know how much of a positive impact you’ve made in my life and in the lives of many people that I know.  I am a proud bi-sexual and have always been open and honest about it with family, friends and strangers. It has more often than not made me a target for homophobic taunts and physical attacks. But I believe that there is nothing in the world that will ever dictate how I should live and who I should love.
One of my dearest friends Lucas just recently accepted himself for who he is. A gay man. I couldn’t have been more proud when he told me.  However he was extremely scared because like myself he was raised in a devout Catholic family and was always taught that homosexuality was unnatural, perverted and going against the laws of God (However neither one of us actually believe in God). Because of his apprehension towards wanting to tell his family I told him I would be there to provide some much needed support.

It did not go well at all. His mother told him being gay was a disease and he was a threat to the institution of marriage. Then his dad packed his things and told him to get out of his house because as far as he was concerned Lucas was dead to him. Their abuse towards him continued right up until we pulled out of the driveway.
It made me angry that they could exhibit such hatred towards such a beautiful man, their only child.
I organised for him to live with my best friends family who happen to be straight Catholics that have nothing but love and support for the gay community. They have taken in many LGBT friends/acquantances of mine and have given them a home. Food to eat. Clothes on their backs. And compassion in the purest of forms.
And the one thing that I along with my friends family have encouraged them to turn to if we aren’t there and they are feeling down, is your page.
You provide an incredible about of hope for the future. And in all honesty if it weren’t for WHOF I don’t think I’d have many of my LGBT friends still with me. I would like to thank you for saving lives because in my eyes that is what you’ve done and that is what you are doing.
Thank you so much for everything.
Ashlee Tai.

Those stories get me every time.  Each letter of survival validates the strong presence and tremendous work WHOF has on the Internet.

Congratulations, guys, on your 6,000,000th visitor and, more importantly, on a job very well done!

Saving a Life Via Social Networking

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Since I embarked on this journey three months ago, I’ve seen some pretty heroic acts of compassion and humanity.  Total strangers reaching out, from all around the globe!, in order to attempt to save a total stranger’s life.  There’s been success storied that I’ve seen personally.  There’s been some where the situation is now-stable but still touch-and-go.  No one said this was going to be easy work.

Today, we see the first publicized case of two teenagers reaching out to save a life.  Seventeen-year-old Danny Manes and 19-year-old Gary Ramirez worked feverishly for over 5 hours to talk a fellow teen, who had been posting suicidal messages that caught Danny Manes’ eye, down from suicide.  Their hard and determined work paid great dividends when they received a message from the distraught teen thanking them for their help.  Heroes are born everyday.

Manes and Ramirez are just two of hundreds, maybe thousands!, of people, young and old, male and female, gay and straight, black, blue, and, green, working ardently to make a difference by reaching out to people in need, in particular teens with suicidal ideations.  Manes and Ramirez have a facebook page, Hopeline4Teens, that is set up specifically for helping troubled teens.

And, there’s BrettJ93 (don’t know his last name) who has the youtube video where he’s reaching out to the same demographic.  And, according to him, they’re reaching back now that they know who to reach for.  The video is marvelous work and has gotten several thousand views since I first wrote about it earlier in the week.  It needs 100 times that many!  So, keep sharing it.

The army continues to grow.  There are many, many people putting forth an amazing amount of effort in their quest to make a difference.  And, it’s paying huge dividends.

Danny Manes and Gary Ramirez, stand up and take a bow.  We commend you.  Great job!  Thank you for your dedicated efforts.

Other sources of social media help and outreach:
Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook
STOP Teenage Suicide
ABC: Anti-Bullying Coalition
Suicide Support
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention Resources

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Since October, I’ve made suicide prevention my “second career”. I’m as passionate about this as I am about my music. That says a lot! Whenever possible, and as often as possible, I like to provide valuable information in case anyone is face-to-face with a life-or-death situation. As we’re seeing over and over, it’s can happen to anyone. And, in some cases, as in Alex Frye, we don’t even see it coming.

The deeper involved I become in this, the more I understand what an outstanding and equally passionate network of people trying to make a difference. It’s truly amazing, and it makes me very proud (even humbled) to be a part of such an enormous effort. It really should’ve come as no surprise when I spent some time perusing the Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook webpage and came across what is probably the most comprehensive compilation of resources I’ve come across so far. I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t pass along that link.

Great minds think alike. I’ve been saying forever that one of the biggest issues with the troubling teen issues, from the bullying to the suicides to other violent acts carried out by troubled teens, is that we as adults fail them when it comes to listening. We hear them. Too often, we aren’t listening. Then, suddenly, it’s too late to listen. We’re left with having to react to whatever their actions may be, however devastating they are. That’s nowhere near good enough. On the WHOF page, the first piece of advise is to “be quiet and listen!” What a concept. I’m convinced that if the family and friends of then-15 year old Andy Williams had only listened to what he was screaming to them, the two boys he killed would still be alive and he wouldn’t be spending the rest of his life in a California prison. Google it. (yeah, that story got under my skin because he was a Marylander who was transplanted to California to get him away from the bullying. It didn’t work.)

We can never have enough resources available to us. As I shared earlier in the week, some of the “resources” that are supposed to be there for you sometimes aren’t. One thing we know for sure: Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook is always there to provide support and resources. Kudos, again, to you Kel and Whof!!!

Written by Ron Kemp

January 12, 2012 at 5:38 am

It Has Happened AGAIN!: Amanda Diane Cummings, We Love You!! R.I.P.

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On Staten Island, New York Monday evening, 15 year old Amanda Diane Cummings jumped in front of a bus while carrying a suicide note.  She later died from her injuries.  And, once again, it was a bullycide.

The report says she was bullied to the extent where her bullies would steal her possessions, including her phone, shoes, and jacket.  Worse, these bullies still posted vile comments and remarks on Amanda’s facebook page even as she lie dying in a hospital.

Of course, if these bullies lived in Tennessee, and if this hate bill passes, it would be completely ok that their actions killed Amanda, as long as they bullied her because of religious beliefs.  Luckily, and thankfully, a relative has vowed that the family will seek legal action against the bullies and “…go full force”.  Bravo.  Zero tolerance.  This will end no other way.

No judge’s ruling will bring Amanda Diane Cummings back to her family.  May you rest in peace, Amanda.  They don’t bully in Heaven.

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.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

Say Happy New Year to Josh

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I love my new smart phone.  It pretty much does everything except brush my teeth. (and, rumor has it that they’re working on an app for that!)  My new smart phone is so efficient, I can do all of my early morning online affairs without even leaving my bed.  How can THAT be wrong!?

I stumbled upon a message yesterday.  It was tucked away in my facebook “other” mailbox.  You know, the one we rarely even recognize as being there? I’m glad I did.  In that “other” folder lied a cry for help.

His name is Josh.  In his email message, he described how reading my blog entry, “Story of the Year!!!”, had really helped him.  He goes on to describe that his is one of the home environments that are not quite conducive to growing up lgbt.

I was happy to find out from first-person experience that this blog really is reaching and helping people!!  That’s what this is all about.  I was compelled to respond to him if for no other reason than to make sure he knew that there really were people out in the world who will accept him just for being himself.

Enter the beauty of the smart phone.  This morning, I woke up and, before a foot ever touched the floor, perused through all of my online junk.  Right there in my facebook message folder was a response from Josh, further explaining his plight.  He closed the message with “I want to thank you.  Lately, I’ve felt alone a lot.  It’s nice to know somebody cares, after all.”  That got me out of bed.

Let’s start the year off with a bang!!!!  This is an urgent CALL TO ACTION!  Josh needs to know that there’s literally an army of people out here ready to surround and support him.  Here’s his facebook account.  Send him a friend request.  Then, be a friend to him.  If you can’t do that, you can still send him messages.  Either way, let’s let him know that he really does matter and that things will get better for him with time.  Let’s NOT have to eventually read about Josh giving up too soon.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!

By a Thin Thread

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I was talking to a friend last night.  In fact, she is a very dear friend whom I met since embarking on this life’s journey of trying to save lives.  She’s right there on the frontline with me…and, many others.  Last night’s conversation was sparked by a young man who was posting suicidal comments to his facebook page.  He’s fine.  At least for now.  As she was about to sign off, she told me about another person who was now posting suicidal comments.  This one seemed urgent.

Joshua hasn’t been a teenager since 1999.  Then again, we’re not JUST about trying to save teen’s lives.  Any suicide we can help prevent is a job well done.  I don’t know the circumstances that has led Joshua to feel so hopeless right now. And, frankly, it just doesn’t even matter.  What matters right now is building a wall of support around him to keep him from falling to that place where he won’t be able to get up.  The wall was erected very quickly.

According to his facebook comments, Joshua was hanging on by the thinnest of threads.  Whatever is going on with him has really hit him hard.  The good news is he’s still here.  He went to work today.  He’s now home from work and communicating on his facebook page.

See, I don’t believe for a second that Joshua wants to die.  I don’t think that any suicide victims REALLY want to die.  They want the pain to stop.  They want to feel whole again.  I believe that’s the case with Joshua, as well.  The great think here is that he is freely accepting friend requests on his facebook page right now!  That says to me that he WANTS someone to hold him up until he regains his strength.  And, that’s where we all come in.  That’s what our mission is, right?  Saving lives…one at a time?  You can go, right now!, to Joshua’s facebook page, send him a friend request, he’ll accept it.  I guarantee it.  Right now, he’s hanging on by a thin thread.  What’s most important, however, is that he’s hanging on.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 28, 2011 at 11:38 pm