My friend Daniel wrote this where he is living in Switzerland and I wanted to share it with Huffpo readers. -- Jennifer Lehr
It Gets Better by Daniel Hernandez
I am absolutely furious & heartbroken over these young gay kids, Asher Brown & Seth Walsh, committing suicide.
I am going to "out" myself on a very personal topic; I tried to kill myself once. It's not something I've told many people and it's difficult to talk about because the shame I have is for not valuing this precious life I have.
I was about 17 or 18 and I was so tired of my mind constantly trying to reason why this "gay" thing has happened to me. Why was I going to hell when I haven't done a thing? How can I do this to my parents especially when I was brought up Catholic, went to a Catholic school where I served as an alter boy, and my father was a hardcore Marine. This should not have happened, I thought, I should not be gay.
But I was.
I had contemplated suicide for years. I used to call the suicide help lines. One night everyone was out of the house and I was very depressed. I had called a friend or 2 to talk but it didn't help. I thought that since everyone was out this would be the perfect time to do it, but I called a help line again. The lady tried to get my information and I could tell she tried to keep me talking on the line. I didn't want to hang up, but I wanted this pain to stop. Eventually my family came home and I quickly told the lady & hung up. I was saved for that night. I found out later that my friends Ron & Michelle had parked outside the house that night to keep an eye on me. My friends are where I found strength & support from. Thank you.
Finally one summer day I had enough inner torment & started taking aspirin. I took them all day. I must have taken at least 20 plus when I went to bed I took about 4 or so sleeping pills I found in the bathroom closet. I admit, it was a feeble attempt. I knew I didn't want to die, but I couldn't see how I could live my life gay, disappointing my parents, brothers, family, & religion. I went to bed. The next morning (late) I woke up. I looked around my room and literally said to myself, "Ok, this is it. You are alive - no more suicide thoughts, you have to live with what you got". It wasn't that all of a sudden I was cured of my depression, but it subsided tremendously.
It wasn't until my gay cousin Bobby committed suicide a few years later in 1992 that I found empowerment. My cousin Bobby was 33, handsome & smart. At this point he had AIDS and was completely dependent on his parents, devout Catholics, to pay for this meds & things. My uncle found him hanging in his room with a dog leash. It was a true awakening for me. I didn't want to be like Bobby. He had distanced himself from everyone and lived in such sadness all his life. I had started to distance myself as well. I decided that I love my family and if they didn't love me that's tough because I'm going to at least try and be a part of everyone's life because I love them.
That's when my life truly started to change for the better. I got into art and did a very successful degree at UT El Paso, which led me to a fully paid summer program at Yale, which led me to an almost fully paid Master's degree at UCLA. I would have never expected it, but I finally let life be.
Teach kids now that being gay is just another form of love. My brothers don't want to tell their kids about my being gay until they're older...a discussion we don't need to go in to fully right now. I don't hide it, as a matter of fact they all know my partner. I make sure and say "my boyfriend" whenever I can. My nephew once said, "you can't date boys", and I said "yes I can". It stung, but over time I have taught them how natural it is in my own just-being-me-subtle way. A few years ago my niece asked how long Tim and I had been dating and I casually answered. She teased "wooooo", in a you're-in-loooove-kissy-kissy way. I felt triumphant. She understands that it's just love.
I am so grateful for surviving. I am so grateful for the experience of my life because I have learned so much. Being gay has made me learn so much more than others because I had to try and figure things out. And I have. I am here in this life to teach and spread love.