This is Carlos Vigil, of Valencia County, N.M., just south of Albuquerque:
Here's another picture of him:
By all accounts, Carlos was a terrific young man: compassionate, thoughtful, kind, actively engaged in helping young people deal with the devastating effects of being bullied.
Being bullied was something Carlos knew much too much about. He was gay, and for that he had been relentlessly bullied for as long as he could remember. Finally, as he was set to enter his senior year of high school, that bullying proved too much for him. On July 13, Carlos posted this online:
And then he hurt himself so badly that, three days later, his family took him off life support. Carlos is now in a place where no one is ever bullied.
Bullies bully because they feel empowered to do so. And why do bullies in America feel particularly empowered to victimize gay people?
If you're wondering about the answer to that question, you're only pretending to, because you know why. We all do. American bullies feel empowered to freely hound, denigrate, and beat up LGBT people because they live in a country historically and culturally defined by, and everywhere infused with, Christianity. And the ubiquitous "traditional values" brand of Christianity (as opposed to the Christianity in which I believe) has long and very actively taught that being gay is a reprehensible moral abomination, an offense against God so foul that divine justice demands that in the afterlife gay people be punished by spending eternity having the living flesh burned off their bones.
Many American bullies who victimize gay people do so confident, at one level or another, that they are furthering the cause of God -- just like the pastor up the street, or the pastor on the radio, or the pastor on TV, or the pastor at the head of any of the infinite number of Christian "ministries" that trade in the hectoring of gay people.
Anti-gay theology and physical brutality are as near as the church pulpit is to the street outside the church.
If you're a Christian who believes that being gay is a sin, then tonight, after you've turned off the lights and laid your head down to sleep, take a moment, please, to listen into the darkness.
Hear that distant, horrific scream? That's yet another gay teen being piteously tortured by a bully acting out the theology that you subscribe to and support. It's the sound of another young gay person accepting as true about himself or herself what Carlos so heartbreakingly expressed finally and ineradicably believing to be true about himself: that he was born a freak unworthy of ever loving or being loved.
That scream is, or should be, your "Christian" conscience.
See also: "Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality," which shows that the notion that God condemns homosexuality is anything but biblical; "Christians and the Blood of Jamey Rodemeyer"; and this cartoon, which I made to be watched until its very end: