Sunday, October 10, 2010

Suicides Shock Gay America

by Norm Kent

This is the South Florida Gay We are the real community newspaper in town. Forgive me if I do not run a ‘Best of Florida’ contest seeking out our community’s ‘Hottest Bartender.’ That is not what this newspaper or I am all about. We are about news, content, and reality, painful though it may be.

We report our wins and our wounds. This week those wounds are very large and cut very deep.

Late Friday, we learned that a young gay man, Raymond Chase, took his own life at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, where he was a culinary student.

In an astounding and remarkable month, it was the fifth documented LGBT teenage suicide in America in the last three weeks. The recent pattern has to generate alarm.

As we go to press, on Tuesday, October 5th, news reports from Toronto reveal that the bodies of two young lesbians have just been found in a mutual suicide pact.

Last week, Tyler Clementi’s death made the national news, and how could it not? The young and closeted violinist could not handle the humiliation and jumped off the George Washington Bridge when he discovered classmates had published a secret video on the Internet of a sexual encounter he had with another man.

On September 23rd, 13-year-old Asher Brown, from Houston, Texas, shot himself in the head. His grieving parents said he had been persistently harassed by other students who thought he was gay. Asher Brown’s uncle told a big gathering of mourners and family supporters on Saturday, Oct. 2 that school bullies “ripped him up and tore him down everyday.”

Bright balloons floated in the air as Reverend Truong, his uncle, a minister, eulogized his nephew- “The bullies picked on my nephew because of the way he dressed, how he talked, and the fact he was small. He was a David among Goliaths; but Asher’s heart was so big! His heart made him a giant.”

Fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas, of Indiana, hanged himself on September 9th. Classmates said he had been bullied and tormented for years over his sexual orientation. "People would call him 'fag' and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he's different basically," said student Dillen Swango. Students said on that same day, some students told Billy to kill himself.

Another 13-year-old, Seth Walsh from Minnesota, died in hospital on Wednesday, eight days after attempting to hang himself from a tree. He is said to have endured taunts and abuse for being gay from other students; “chronic, non-stop teasing,” his older brother said.

Close to 600 townspeople crammed into the small church in rural Tehachapi, California, to remember the teen who loved Pokemon, adored French fries above all other food, and had an obsession with disco music.

He was different. He knew he was different," Seth's mother, Judy Walsh said according to "He was a very loving boy, very kind. He had a beautiful smile. He liked fashion, his friends, talking on the phone. He was artistic and very bright."

Events are being planned across the country in the coming weeks to mourn the loss of these young people, and to take action to stop bullying crimes that lead to suicide, and a website . SFGN will support these events in every way we can.

To help stop the cycle that leads young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people to feel they are alone, connect them to The Trevor Project. There is a place that's free of bullying and judgment online, where young LGBTQ people, their friends and allies ages 13-24 can connect safely and be themselves.

More than 13,000 young people already belong to, and more youth join every day. If you or someone you care about shows warning signs for suicide, please do not hesitate to call The Trevor Lifeline at: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). The call is free and confidential.

It is unclear whether suicides for young gay men are up, or if there has been better reporting of their deaths. LGBT students are known to be at a higher suicide risk than their heterosexual peers. One thing is clear. The rapper 50 cent is a moron. A public figure subject to criticism, there are few words that can’t be said derisively over his homophobic rant last week on Twitter:

“If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol”

No, the world will be a better place without bigotry, and if these national organizations like the Task Force want to do something more useful with their lives then throw cocktails parties in fancy hotels, let them lead a national drive to drive 50 cent’s albums offer store shelves where gay shoppers congregate, like Target, Borders, or Barnes and Noble. Let 50 cent know he ain’t worth a plumb nickel, and we won’t give a dime to support those who support him.


The deaths have shocked America and lesbian chat show host Ellen DeGeneres implored the country to take action and prevent further deaths.

Speaking on her daytime show yesterday, the presenter said: "Something must be done."

"This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing."

"We have an obligation to change this."

In response to the suicides, Dan Savage has launched the It Gets Better project, where adult LGBTs create videos reassuring teenagers that however bad things are, they will get better. Savage created a YouTube channel to solicit more encouraging videos and posted the first one: he and his husband, describing their own high school horror stories, explaining how they survived and offering evidence that a healthy, joyful life exists past the teenage years. Since then, Savage has been flooded with videos from around the world, encouraging bullied, gay teenagers to hang in there. Sebastian Fortino has the full story on Page 2.

At SFGN, our staff is encouraged by the response to the It Gets Better Project, and inspired to contribute.

Not everyone has access to a webcam or the desire to post their images online. Like the Watermark in Orlando, we would like to invite SFGN readers to share written accounts that It Gets Better.

Here’s how:

• Write up your story

• Sign it with your name (or initials), plus your age and occupation

• Email it to

Gay life is more open and honest than any other time in our country’s history. But these tragic suicides should remind all of us living in too much comfort that there is another world where people still live with pain. Let us all do what we can when we can to tame the aggressiveness of mankind and restore humanity to our lives.

1 comment:

  1. So moving. In light of the recent events and tragedies in the LGBT community and in honor of National Coming Out Day, I wrote a song titled "Other People" as a part of this project. I'm just someone that wants the world to know that by showing support in this difficult time, we are helping to create a world where everyone can live however they wish...openly, honestly, and without fear of bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

    If you have a moment, please listen. Here is the direct link:

    Heather Mae Foard