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Posts Tagged ‘teen suicides

At The Root of the Tennesse Madness

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A couple things really bother me here.  First of all, how is it possible that one person as completely ignorant and out of step with the real world could be elected into a political position!?  Every single thing Stacey Campfield breathes about the LGBT community would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s damaging so many lives.

Rep. Campfield is the author of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the bill that doesn’t even allow for the recognition of the word gay.  His logic and reasoning behind that predates Anita Bryant.  It might even predate the neanderthals.  Certainly, it’s not in step with 2012 and the real world.  He’s clinging feverishly to an old, outmoded myth about homosexuality.  Now, it’s fine if he has those views and strongly believe in them.  That’s his choice and, under our Constitution, he has that right.  The line, though, needs to be drawn decisively at the front door of his home.  As a politician, as a human being, and as an adult, he should not be allowed to let his bias, his archaic views of reality influence and harm other people.  In this case, particularly, the lives of young LGBT people are in the balance.  Tennessee has had two gay-teen suicides within the last 2 months.  How many more lives must be lost before Stacey Campfield is put in check?  Don’t lose track of the fact that it was also Stacey Campfield who authored the bill that allows for the bullying of LGBT youth as long as it’s done for “…religious, political, or philosophical reasons.”  Your son gets bashed in the face at school.  The attacker yells “Praise the Lord”, goes to the office and collects his get-out-of-jail-free card.

Mr. Campfield is a bonafide threat to the well-being of every LGBT person in the state of Tennessee.  From his “Don’t Say Gay” policy to his policy of allowing realtors and businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, Stacey Campfield is truly a danger to the community.

His latest diatribe, though, was at least humorous.  He enlightened the world with his revelation that AIDS is an exclusively gay disease.  According to Stacey Campfield, it is “virtually impossible” to contract AIDS through “normal”, heterosexual sex.  Again, the question:  “how on EARTH was this man elected!?”  I’m not even going to comment on just how insane that series of statements are.  You can read it for yourself.  It’s great humor.  Well, not really.  It’s actually rather scary.  Never forget that this man is in a position of power.  He’s a shot-caller.  And, he’s amazing ignorant.  Bad combination.

Returning to my “power in numbers” mantra, if you haven’t signed any of the three petitions calling for changes in the Tennessee laws, here there are again:

Our army is growing by leaps and bounds daily.  Now, we need to put those numbers to work.  Talking about change is one thing; being proactive in helping to bring about that change is a whole different animal.

MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: AIDS is Caused by Poppers!!!

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Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association and one of the leaders or the anti-gay movement said something astonishing.  According to him, AIDS is NOT caused by HIV.  Rather, it’s caused by “rampant promiscuity” and the use of poppers.  According to this sage, “the average homosexual has hundreds, sometimes over 1,000 sexual partners in his/her lifetime.”  I’m reminded of an old saying:  “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  You know, this is so preposterous, I wasn’t even going to respond to it; however, it’s so dangerous yet humorous, I now feel I must.

Humor first:  If anyone knows this idiot’s address, please mail him a calendar.  The “poppers” theory is so 1984.  As I recall, that goes back to the day where they didn’t have a clue as to what was killing off our community and called it “the gay cancer”.  And, the only commonality they could possibly find was the little brown bottles we used to buy at the clubs.  Nineteen eighty four.  And, if the average homosexual has between 500 and 1,000 sexual partners in their lifetime, I feel severely cheated!

Why is this dangerous?  Do I really have to answer that?  This is the rhetoric that’s contributing heavily to the volatile environment we see today.  The environment that’s leading the children of idiots like this and their followers to think that it’s alright to degrade, torment, and bully LGBT teens.  It’s dangerous because certainly amongst the followers of maniacs like Mr. Fischer, and trust that there are many, there are some LGBT teens listening daily as mommy and daddy preach these words of hatred and intolerance in their presence not knowing that they are raising an LGBT teen.  As an extension, OTHER LGBT teens are hearing this type of purely ignorant but powerfully-delivered rhetoric.  And, that is one of the driving forces that leaves our LGBT teens with low self-esteem.  And, worse, it plays heavily into the escalation of the teen suicides we’re seeing right now.

There are a lot of people doing a lot of very good people doing a myriad of great things towards working for a solution to the problem of hatred and intolerance towards our LGBT teens, towards stemming this tide of bullying and bullycide.  Bryan Fischer proves beyond doubt that there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done.  I’ve said it many times before:  in order to begin to see a change in our social climate, we need a complete re-education of our society as a whole.  And, the place to start the re-education process is with the ADULTS!  The teens responsible for the bullying are merely a reflection of what they’re learning from the adults.  From the politicians who use their power and influence to denounce the validity of our love for another human to the preacher who leads his “congregation” to the funerals of gays with signs of hatred to the parents who disregard, derogate or, worse, simply disown their LBGT children, the re-education will have to start with the adults.  Somebody email Bryan Fischer and tell him that class is in session.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 21, 2012 at 5:32 am

The Gay Rights Movement

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Despite the constant bombardment of doom and gloom, bullying, bullycides, and teen suicides, we are truly living in exciting times as members of the LGBT community.  As it was with the Civil Rights battle of the 60s, it’s a hard-fought battle.  However, we’re gaining momentum.  We’re winning legal battles from shore-to-shore, small and large alike.  And, slowly and perhaps reluctantly, we’re gaining acceptance.  That news is greatest for the younger members of the LGBT community.  Collectively, we’re paving the way for a much brighter future for today’s LBGT youth.  That’s huge!!

This video showed up on my facebook wall today.  In my humble opinion, it’s a must-see video for every person, gay or straight.  It shows where we’ve come from.  It moved me to tears.

See, as an older black man, and having spent my childhood years in the South, I clearly remember the days of fierce segregation.  I remember the “whites only” and “coloreds only” bathrooms and doctor’s offices.  I CLEARLY, and I mean vividly, remember the middle-aged white man who tried his damnedest to put a 12″ blade through my 7-year-old back simply because I was a little nigger boy.  I can describe his car in detail.  I remember the struggles, the fight for equality.  I remember clearly the day Dr. King was assassinated.  And, I remember the destructive aftermath.  But, the generations ahead of my own continued to fight and fight hard for a world that would accept me in spite of my skin tone.  Eventually, and gradually, things changed.  They’re still changing.  Today, the playing field is a lot more even.  Don’t mistake my words.  Racism still lives and breathes today.  To be sure, it will never completely go away.  At least not in my lifetime.  But, it’s gotten better, much better!, for people of color.

As an older gay man, I can remember the day when holding your lover’s hand in public could get you arrested.  In some places, it could get you killed.  I remember my 5th grade teacher “outing” me and my boyfriend and the negative reaction it received.  I remember Anita Bryant.  I remember being a young boy when Stonewall was in the news but knowing instinctively that this was something significant.  Oddly to me at the time, I felt a sense of pride in what was going on, and I secretly followed it as much as I could.  I remember the reports of how homos were deviants or worse!  Fast forward to today.  Same fight.  Same struggles for acceptance and equality.  And, they’re being fought against the same establishment. And, as with the Civil Rights struggle of the 60s, we’re slowly but steadily making gains.  We’re winning battles of equality, large and small, all over the world.  And, somewhere in the world, there’s that young boy who, like me and Stonewall, is watching this unfold and instinctively knowing that this fight is for him.  And, he’s stronger for it.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 19, 2012 at 4:46 am

Bullycide Struck New Year’s Morning: Rest In Peace Jeffrey Patrick Fehr

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It’s painful having to document so many teen suicides.  However, unless we’re constantly confronted with the shear enormity of the situation, the fear is that people will again become complacent.  We can not afford to let that happen.  Not now.  Not ever.jeffrey patrick fehrIn the wee hours of New Year’s morning, when folks were winding down from their New Year’s Eve celebration of whatever form it was, 18-year-old Jeffrey Patrick Fehr ended his life of turmoil.  According to his family, Jeffrey had been bullied since the sixth grade because of his sexuality.  It only got worse in high school as Jeffrey excelled on the school’s cheerleading squad.r-JEFFREY-FEHR-large570Off to college, and out-of-the-closet, Jeffrey met a young affair of the heart who lived some distance away.  He apparently went to spend the holiday with his new heartthrob, but that ended in a breakup.  Alone, he drove back to Granite Bay.  While others were preparing their celebrations, Jeffrey was plotting his last moments.

Left unanswered forever, of course, is what was Jeffrey’s breaking point?  Was it the breakup?  Was it the years of taunting and bullying?  Those questions will haunt his family and friends for many years to come.

Here’s what IS known:  the LGBT community has lost yet another rising star.  Jeffrey’s friends have lost one of their own, as well.  And, his family is now carrying the heavy burden of picking up the pieces of his suicide while trying to make sense of it all.  No family should have to do that.  It’s been said here, as well as many other places, too many times already; however, it bears repeating again and again and again until we begin to see a noticeable change.  A change in this mean-spirited culture which breeds a climate that makes it ok, even acceptable, for people to taunt, berate, and attack other who they perceive as different.  A change in the verbiage of our leaders, from the schools to local government to the state level, and all the way up to the national players.  Their hatred and intolerance breeds the ignorance that fosters a climate that allows this type of behavior to flourish.  And, from that ignorance, we’re losing young life after young life to the mournful fate of suicide.  Bullycide.  And, here’s my point:  it will begin to end when enough of us make enough noise to enough people and make it crystal clear that this is absolutely no longer acceptable.  There truly is power in numbers.  With effort, every single one of us can make the difference that is needed to end this black mark on our society.

Rest in peace, Jeffrey Patrick Fehr.  So sorry to see you go.

Depression Kills

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With all the emphasis that’s been put on bullying and bullycide, it’s easy to lose track of the reality that those aren’t the only reasons for teen suicides.  In many cases, whereas bullying may have played a role, depression was the driving force.  Depression claimed Jamie’s life even though there had been some bullying.

While educating both students and school faculty about bullying, its effects, and how to prevent it is essential, it is equally crucial for both groups to understand the effects and symptoms of depression.  Education in both areas will definitely save lives.

My friend, Barb Hildebrand, creator of the facebook page Suicide Shatters, shared this on her site.  I think it would be a very effective tool for educating about depression.  In agreement with Barb, I believe this program should be implemented in every school across the country, and around the world.  There’s no way to have enough tools available to fight this plague of teen suicides.  That said, I strongly encourage every one to push to get this program implemented in your local schools.  If you’re parents, if you have younger siblings, if you have friends who could be at risk, wouldn’t you feel better knowing that everyone in their school is being educated about depression and how to deal with it?  I know it would certainly give me a little peace of mind.

Experts believe that approximately 1 in 8 teens suffer from depression.  That’s an alarming number!  Educating yourselves is not important:  it’s imperative.  Then, having the school’s faculty and, certainly, the teens themselves educated as well will go a very long way towards our goal of eliminating teen suicides.

A Story of Remarkable Strength, Courage, and Caring

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If you look around our social landscape, you see a bleak picture painted by the brush of today’s youth who see no other way out but suicide.

If you look around the world’s leading social network, you see many pages by many people who are trying to make a difference by attempting to stem the tide of teen suicides.  Right there leading the charge is STOP Teenage Suicide.

The page’s founder, Lyndsay Winegarden, has a remarkable story.  It’s a story of strength, courage, perseverance, and caring.  Read it for yourself.  It’s…well…what I just said.  And then some.

What she has created, STOP Teenage Suicide, has been a very effective tool.  She tells of how many young lives she saved just over the recently-passed holidays, alone.  The membership of the group is growing by the day as people from all around the world are finding out that it’s a place for helping as well as being helped.  And, as she said in her own words, “if I can save even one life, it will all be worth it”.  Indeed.  She’s not just saving “…one life…”, she’s saving and helping many.

This is amazing considering where she’s come from and everything she’s had to deal with.  Her story, alone, should be enough to inspire any teen when they’re in their darkest hour.  Enduring what Lyndsay’s had to endure, even as she worked through a deep depression, and coming out stronger for it sends a very strong, crystal clear message of “yes, it really does get better”.  People are now paying attention to what she has to say.  And, the timing for that couldn’t be better as the battle to end teen suicide has never been more impassioned than today.

This business of trying to save lives is no easy task, by any stretch of the imagination.  By getting involved, we understand that we will be required, at some point, to make many sacrifices.  Sometimes, it’s time consuming.  Sometimes, especially when the at-risk teen is on the other side of the world, it’s hard to find the resources you need to keep that teen alive.  All of the time, it’s emotionally draining.  There are many, many people giving their best effort to make a difference, trying to end teen suicides.  There are tireless people on countless pages and website.  There are bloggers.  You quickly come to understand that what you’re doing is changing lives.  Right now, no one is doing that better than Lyndsay Winegarden and her creation, STOP Teenage Suicide.

Alex Frye, 13, Railroad Enthusiast…Bullycide Victim

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He loved railroads.  He had a mindset that set him apart from kids his age.  Early morning January 1st, Alexander Frye committed suicide.

According a family member, there were no indications that anything was troubling him.   He was “…smart, caring, and perhaps the most mature 13 year old [anyone] had ever known.”  According to another family member is “one hundred percent…” certain that his suicide “…was sparked by bullying”.

Most astonishing to me was a quote from a suicide prevention team leader for the Wyoming Department of Health.  “It is rare for someone so young to take his own life.”


We’re 5 days into the new year, and I’ve already reported 2 teen suicides.  Chances are there are a couple more that didn’t get publicized.  As I told a mourner of the young Staten Island girl who committed suicide, things won’t change until people stop talking about “how bad” or “how sad” it is and start actually getting involved.

Alex was a brilliant young man.  He had a passion for trains.  He befriended adults much easier than kids his age.  Smart.  Intelligent.  Caring.  And now, another victim of bullycide.  This HAS to end.

Rest in Peace, Alex Frye.

Another Bullycide: Rest in Peace Mason Carter – Age 13

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It’s coming to the point where everyday when you look at your computer screen, there’s yet another story about a young teen ending his/her life because of bullying.  Today is no different.
Mason Carter was 13 years old.  Just 13.  Life hadn’t even begun to unfold for him.  Now, it’s over.  According the Mason’s step-father, he’s positive that bullying played a huge factor in his stepson’s suicide.  Mason was an Honor Roll student and “a brilliant kid”, according to his stepfather.  Tuesday, he was found with a .45 caliber Glock nearby, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
It’s not enough to continue the dialogue about ending the epidemic of bullying and the teen suicides it often leads to.  What’s needed at this very moment in our history is iron-clad action.  We need a plan.  We need action.  Talking about changing things is not working.  Legislating it will do little, although tougher laws and definitive penalties are needed.  It is my strong opinion that we need a total re-education, starting with the adults.  What are we teaching our kids, directly or indirectly, when far too many of them feel that it’s totally ok for them to treat other fellow human beings with such malice and disregard that the victim feel their only recourse, their only escape is to end their lives?
For those who haven’t realized it yet, we’re in crisis mode.  The carnage is piling up by the day.  The time to take action is now.  Sadly, taking action now won’t return Mason Carter to his family and friends.
May you rest in peace, Mason.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 15, 2011 at 6:24 am