More Personal Reflections on Gay Suicides
I have an overwhelming need to spread extremely important information to you right now. My hands shake as I type this. More and more stories of gay teenagers being bullied into suicide are coming into the mainstream eye. Last night, I dreamt that I was searching for the body of a gay boy who had run away to kill himself. I thought our culture was becoming more accepting. I thought being gay or queer (however one identifies) wasn't a death sentence in most places like it used to be. I have spent the morning sobbing and feeling helpless over this situation. This is beyond devastating to me.
As most of you know, and some of you are about to find out, I am queer. I am genuinely attracted to people regardless of gender. I have had all different kinds of lovers, boyfriends and girlfriends. It is not a "phase" and I am not sitting on any kind of fence. This is my heart. To my family, I'm sorry this is happening over the Internet. It would be better if we were face to face. But this can't wait. Nothing can wait anymore. I have a responsibility to my community to be visible. The more invisible we are, the more acceptable this harassing behavior becomes. When I was in high school, I was OUT. Other gay students came to me and talked to me about being comfortable with myself and, to many, I was the only person they told. One of these suicides happened a few months ago to a student who went to my high school - Mentor High. When I read that, all I could think was "That never would have happened if I was there." Being visible saves people. If I can be open and proud of who I am, that is an invitation for anyone and everyone to be proud of who they are. These kids don't have to believe that they are alone. They're not. None of us are.
Please feel free to share this email with anyone you know, and Please PLEASE spread these two videos far and wide. If they only reach one person, then that is one more person who might be awakened to stop their hateful behavior, or who might reconsider taking their own life.
Love and Power,
Elmo Gene Painter