It happens again. It always does. The news reports another innocent child driven to take their own life because of homophobia and bullying.
This news always hits me hard. I vividly remember being bullied in middle school and high school. I remember the kids who did it, the teachers who told me I brought it on myself, and feeling the complete lack of anyone or anywhere to turn to for help. I remember feeling so alone, and often wondering if it wouldn't just be easier to end it.
So, yeah, those stories have always affected me, but now they devastate me, because now, when I hear or read those stories, I wonder if that kid is one of the many who have written to me. And more than that, I wonder if it is "my kid."
After I posted a blog about my oldest son having a crush on Blaine from Glee, I heard from a lot of kids whose parents aren't accepting of homosexuality. I cherish all the words they write to me, but of all the kids, there is one I simply can't let go.
It was early on, and that post had only been out for a couple of days. I was approached about writing a reaction piece, considering that it had garnered a lot of attention. I told the very nice gentleman I would think about it, but that I was feeling really overwhelmed and it would be a while.
That night I was up late answering messages, and the first message from "my kid" popped up. I read it with lead at the pit of my stomach. Pain just dripped off every word. His situation is horrible, and he's trying, trying so hard to make it. Tears streamed down my face. I was lost. I tried to read it to my best friend, hoping she could help me find something to say to him, but I couldn't make it through his entire message before it was just too much.
And suddenly I knew what I wanted to say as my reaction to the first post. I quickly wrote it out and sent it off. I wrote "my kid" back before I went to bed that night, then I did something I hadn't done with anyone else: I bookmarked his blog. The piece was posted on Out's popnography.com, and I linked to it on my own blog. It wasn't even a day later that another message popped up from "my kid" because he had recognized himself in what I wrote.
I call him "my kid" because I don't have anything else to call him. I don't know his name or where he lives, but none of that seems to matter. I think about him, worry about him and wonder if he is OK. I talk to my husband about him, and at one point he turned to me and said, "Amelia, we can't adopt him. I know you want to, but the world doesn't work like that." He's right; that is exactly what I want to do. I want to send "my kid" a message asking for his address and telling him to pack his stuff because I am coming for him. But he's a minor, and that is called kidnapping.
I don't know what makes this particular boy "my kid." I can't explain why. I just know he sticks with me, in my head and in my heart.
A couple of weeks later I sent him a message telling him I hoped he was having a good day. For weeks I didn't hear anything... and I worried. I wondered if he was even still around, if he was still with us. Then he suddenly answered. Yes, he was having a good day, and he thanked me for checking on him. Then he asked about me, hoping I was doing OK, too.
So now when I hear tragic news, I think about him. I wonder if it's him, because realistically I know it very well could be. I check his blog and hope like hell he has posted that day to give me some peace of mind.
But in the end I know that even if it isn't "my kid," the child who died is someone's kid. Someone is destroyed by the loss of child whose life was taken far too soon.
How many kids have to die before people understand?
Homophobia. It is every single person's obligation and responsibility to be part of a solution, whether by raising our voice or casting our vote, because it is well beyond time to stomp it out.
The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources, including its nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone. For more information or to talk to someone, visit their website or call 866-488-7386.