I GIVE A DAMN about the safety and security of all of us. As I get older, I struggle with being aware of how imperfect we are as humans, but there is always cause for hope.There are many, many people out in this world combating evil and ignorance with good work and open hearts. As an independent adult, I admit my own childhood memories are hard to take at times, but they remind me of how far I have come. I want every boy or girl, no matter how you act, look, no matter what you like, no matter how different you feel or others think of you, to know that you are loved, appreciated and valued. There are many places in this world where you will feel that love, be appreciated for your unique gifts, and will be free to live your life without fear or shame. Our job as adults, as a society, is to be here to help you get to those safe places, learn how to deal with your own pain, and to help you grow into confident, responsible and caring adults. I was saved, not only by others, but by the force of an internal moral compass that had always been inside of me. When I became fully aware of it, I began fighting back and standing up. And, I made friends who sheltered me, literally taking me in, at exactly the crucial moment when they were needed.
In the larger picture of my life, the physical and psychological abuse, the pain I suffered in school and at home growing up ultimately made me stronger. Only after you have been in the darkest part of the storm, had some real help or insight do you realize that the abuse, the negativity and discomfort that you experience is not because of YOU. It is because of the problems within other people, those who hurt you. The problem, what is wrong, is NOT YOU.
I was just a five year old child when it all began, an ordinary boy who just couldn’t catch the ball as fast as my older brother, couldn’t get encouragement or acceptance from my dad, and the name-calling began. First I was called a sissy and an embarrassment in front of my family, then I was called a faggot for the first time. I didn’t know what any of the words meant, I only felt them crushing my spirit and self esteem. Both my father and older brother suffered from mental illness and, very soon, the physical abuse began. I would get beaten several times a month for years starting at the age of 6, simply because my brother and Father didn’t like the way I looked at a given moment, or how I carried myself. I had a younger brother who died of cancer when I was 7 and the stress made the violence and abuse worse. I internalized my pain, my mom was overwhelmed, and my other siblings withdrew into their own emotional worlds. I had no protection, like so many kids I hear about. Or simply not enough of the right kind. I began having trouble sleeping, and having trouble eating. By the age of 8, I was becoming grossly anorexic, and had been called a fag so many times, even my brothers friends called me a fag, at home and at school. I was only doing well in Art, which was something that seemed to draw increasing criticism to me, and made me more vulnerable to taunts and abuse. Making friends was impossible by then.
When others sense weakness, they can prey upon it. I was fearful and introverted, haunted by nightmares of being killed, and began getting physically bullied at school. These patterns continued at home and school till I was 16. By the age of 9, I was already wishing I was dead, that God would take me in my sleep. By 14, I was getting suicidal. I felt there was no safety, no love, there were far too many things wrong with ME. I was told I would never be loved, I was a freak, I was a faggot and God hated faggots, and I was going to be killed and taught a lesson. I was so ashamed of myself, I never went to gym class, using my asthma as an excuse. The jocks were the most brutal and harsh to me and I had plenty of hatred to face at home. I never had a single date from middle school through high school. I knew other artists, but I couldn’t make friends. Finally, I started making friends in the Theater Department. It was an energetic, talented, welcoming experience I had never had before. But the fights at home grew worse. I started trying to decide how I would kill myself. I decided pills and alcohol were the answer. I even started an attempt while my mom was at home. I had gotten a bottle of wine and a bottle of tranquilizers. Once I started to feel the pills slow me down, I stopped trying to end my life.
A light went on in my heart and my head. I could never let the hatred, the illness, and the violence triumph over me. I found the moral compass I had always had, that knew everything I experienced was wrong, that knew I deserved better. I told my my best friend, Susan about my suicide attempt. She told her parents what was happening and, at a time when my life was in danger and falling apart, her family took me in and treated me with love and kindness. It saved me.
I’d grown as big as my older brother, though I was still anorexic well into my 20’s. Finally, one day, I stood up to him and exploded in a rage when he started to swing at me, and I fought back hard, even violently. Something inside me snapped. And, while I do not condone violence, standing up for myself when no one else would felt right. After an explosive fight, we never fought physically again after I was 16. I also exploded at my parents as never before for letting it go on, for allowing me to be tortured, and I made it clear that I would rather kill or be killed than endure another day at home with them like this. I would never tolerate those words again, and I meant it with every fiber of my being. I would leave and tell everyone what was going on, never see them again. But we never were really brothers, never family. Never close. Sadly, he and my father both left their illnesses untreated, and they both went to early graves. To this day, in my 40’s, I am still making peace with my family that survives.
Most importantly, I survived. Thanks to the miracle of friendship that came into my life at a crucial time. It is also thanks to an internal spark, the knowledge of what is right and wrong that stood so firm in the face of everything I was dealing with. I know that simply knowing right from wrong won’t save many people from abuse. But the sooner you find out that what is wrong IS NOT YOU, the sooner you will be able to change and get the help you need. You can find the safety and peace you so need and deserve. Those of us who know the pain and the suffering will be your bridge to the loving world you have been missing. Life is hard enough, we can’t go it alone, or in pain. Words matter. Actions matter. You matter. We all matter. The most important thing is that you are safe and that you know you are not alone. Not by a long shot. This isn’t really about my pain, this is about sharing truth. It matters. I give a damn.
I came to terms that I was bisexual during my sophomore year of high school and was totally happy about who I was. In the middle of my sophomore year, I wanted to tell my parents that I was bisexual. I was only able to tell my mom. Her reaction was less than supportive. After my experience with my mom, I could not tell my dad. As the months went on, my mom and I grew apart. I desperately wanted to become closer with her. I came up with a plan that I would date a girl for a while to mend the broken bonds between us. I ended up staying with this girl until I entered college. When I entered the university, a lot of things happened to me. I met new people and made good friends, but the best part was being away from my parents. I had officially become free to do what I pleased. While at this university, I joined a fraternity. This decision ended up becoming the best experience my life.
While I was attempting to join this fraternity, I became close to my entire pledge class we gained more than friendship. We all became each others’ brothers. To attempt to try and explain how close we are I will tell you a story. Near the end of the pledging process, a few of my pledge brothers did not have enough money to become a brother. My entire pledge class agreed that if one of us could not cross then none of us would cross. During the last week, it became clear that some people would definitely not be able to meet the financial requirements that the fraternity required. I pulled them both aside and pulled out my wallet. I asked them how much they had and handed them both forty dollars each. When the other pledge brothers saw this they did the same thing until both of the members had the money they needed. Once I was a brother, I told my new brothers that I was bisexual and, to my surprise, they thought it was cool.
After I became an official brother, one of my pledge brothers wanted to take me to a gay bar. I was excited because this would be the first gay bar I would go to. It was at this point in time when I finally came to terms that I was gay. I was happy that I had realized my sexuality and what gender I would want to spend the rest of my life with. A few weeks later, I wanted to tell my parents the truth about me being gay. I didn’t want to keep the most important aspect of my life a secret from them. I had a few problems though. One was I was still dating the girl from high school and the other was my memory of my mom’s reaction when I told her I was bisexual. Even though I had great friends and brothers I started to go into a deep depression. I could not stop thinking about how my parents would disown me and how my girlfriend/best friend would hate me.
Near the end of the second semester this depression got even worse I felt that I had nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. I felt that even if I told my friends and brothers they would not fully understand what I was going through. I had it in my mind that if I told my parents about my sexuality that they would take me out of school and toss me out on the streets. One night, I went over a friend’s house and got extremely drunk. I felt that I had nothing else to live for. While I was there, I downed a full bottle of ADHD medication as well as two full bottles of Advil. I walked to my friend’s room to go to sleep, but, while I was walking to his room, I stopped and quietly said good bye to my brothers who were asleep in the hallway. I went into my friend’s room and closed my eyes. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital with one of my pledge brothers. He explained to me that I was dead for a while and that my friend had gotten me to the hospital just in time.
My dad came and got me out of the hospital but I did not tell him what had really happened the night I tried to commit suicide. It wasn’t until a few months later that I had told my parents that I am gay. My mom had quickly remembered the way she acted when I told her that I was bisexual and apologized for the way she handled it years ago. My dad told me that he was ok if I was gay, but still believes that I am straight. When I got settled in back home, things became better and I told my girlfriend that I was gay. Not to my surprise, she hates me. However, at least I am being truthful to myself.
I have come to realize that living life has its own set of challenges. People’s opinions can be negative and hurtful. There assumptions about others are not normally based on facts and/or experiences. Life has its ups and downs but I have learned that I need a support system of friends to help get me through the good and the bad times.
I am now 18 years old and proud to say, I’m gay.
It hasn’t always been this way. Actually, it just recently became this way. I was always a quiet kid. I always knew there was something about me, but was sure what it was. As I got older I knew I was attracted to men. I denied it as much as I could. I always heard family members talking about gay people and how wrong they were. I would always hear how gays were all morally wrong and going to hell for sin. And how they gave/spread diseases because they only wanted sex. Hearing this on a daily basis I was always thinking to myself that this is me my family is talking about. This is me my family hates.
In school I wasn’t very social because I felt awkward and scared about being myself. I still denied that I was gay and thought that it was wrong and that I could change myself. I hated everything about me and kept pushing myself away from everyone. I had no close friends and no one in my family to talk to. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why it was happening to me. I felt like crap and was sick of crying day after day. Suicide and running away were the only two things to cross my mind for years. I thought if I killed myself that things would be better for me and my family. They wouldn’t have to deal with having “one of those gays” related to them and I wouldn’t be miserable. I thought if I ran away that things would get better. I didn’t know what to do, I was scared.
I had been feeling this way since 6th grade and I never told anyone until the summer of senior year. I finally stared feeling better about myself and starting to accept who I was because of a well know singer, Lady Gaga. Obviously Lady Gaga is an amazing artist, but she is also an amazing person. Listening to her tell everyone that they are beautiful the way they are made me love myself. She made me realize that it is okay to be different. That I can be gay and nothing is wrong with that. That I can still be the weirdo I am, and it’s okay.
I then opened up to a friend who I thought I could talk to about anything. Turned out that she once liked me and she said she would rather not know about me and pretend like I had never said anything to her when I told her I was gay. This made me feel even worse about myself. I cried even more and thought that no one would like me and that I was going to be alone like this forever. I thought of how there was no one for me and how I would be better off dead.
Once again, I would listen to Lady Gaga and cry every chance I got. I would watch videos of Lady Gaga and see things she had said and she made me feel human again. Then my friend who I told I was gay, texted me a little afterwards and wanted to talk. She didn’t know what to do or say. She didn’t understand the whole thing of me being gay because I don’t come off as “gay.” I was still hurt by her reaction and it did come between our friendship, but it made me feel better about myself telling someone.
It felt so good to be able to say this is who I am and I’m okay with it. I ended up telling a few more friends and then a few more after that. Some were surprised, but didn’t mind. I told my family and they don’t agree with it. But this isn’t their choice, it isn’t even my choice and if they don’t want to accept me for who I am, then I don’t want them in my life.
Family and parents should be an important part of your life so if at first they don’t agree with you being gay when you tell them, give them some time. They might come around and realize that you were always you and that they should love you no matter what.
Now I realize that nothing is wrong with being different. That it is okay to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It means you are you. And you are beautiful. Be yourself and be proud. Don’t let anyone tell you different and make you feel less about yourself because you are not. I now am happy with myself. I love who I am. I want to help people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who are having trouble accepting themselves and I want everyone to know that they are beautiful. Everyone is different and everyone has something they can offer. Be who you are and love it, love every minute of being different because life is too short not to.
I give a damn because I have too many friends that have committed, thought about, or are thinking about committing suicide. One of my best friends is scared to come out because he’s afraid of being labeled as different; he struggles with it every day.
Suicide is a day-to-day choice. You don’t pick and choose when you want to be suicidal. It’s a daily struggle, to live or not to live.
I give a damn because I want all my friends and even strangers I don’t know to know that someone, somewhere cares.
I’m not a youth. I’m really old…older than the parents of college age kids, but not old enough to be your grandparent. I’ve been gay since I was a pre-teen. But it wasn’t safe back then to be gay. I completely understand the fear of violence kids, even young adults, feel today. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Bullies were also around when I was a teen. I was afraid to be identified as gay. I did everything I could to be “normal” around everyone. You didn’t “come out” like kids do today in middle school or even high school. I experimented in college, but even that was on the sly and I did everything I could to show that I was normal…even dating and eventually marrying, the ultimate cover. I was honest enough to tell my future wife long before the engagement was made public so she could back out.
I never considered suicide as a way out. Suicides weren’t publicized the way they are today. They were hushed up. I’ve known parents these days who do want to tell other parents about their teens suicides or suicide attempts to warn other parents to pay attention. They want to help those most affected by suicides of their peers. But I’ve begun to suspect something else. I think that somewhere in the dark parts of your heart, you will say to yourself, “Sure, things will get better, but what about TODAY?” On the outside you’ll be on the side of things getting better, that suicide is not the way out, that suicide is indeed a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But in that dark part of your heart you will hide the emotions of fear and abandonment and hopelessness and that all-consuming desire for relief right now. And that’s when you stop believing the truth and start believing the lie that suicide is the best way out. You make a plan and carry it out without discussing it with anyone. You may leave messages and clues that will be apparent afterwards, but you believe the lie that silence is the best way.
I’m here to tell you, like a lot of other people, that I give a damn about you. Lots of people give a damn about you…people you don’t even know. We don’t have to know you to love you as a hurting child (no matter your age). We care for you and about you. Since you’re reading this, I know you can contact someone at the Trevor Project Helpline. If you don’t there’s anyone you can talk to that you know, call the Helpline. There is someone who will listen, who can identify with you, who can help you recognize the lies that you are believing now and tell you the truth about who you are and how important you are and what the future, and probably the present, can hold for you as long as you hold on the most precious gift of all…LIFE.
Remember we give a damn. Why don’t you give a damn about the real you and talk to someone right now. Go to someone. Text them that you have so see them and talk to them, ask them to come to you. Or call the Helpline or maybe you know of something local that’s like it. Reach out and TALK, TELL somebody what you’re feeling and how you’re feeling and what’s been going on inside your head and all around you. People can help by listening. People can help by identifying the lies and telling you the truth. It works. It’s worked for me. I’ve seen it work for lots of others. Do it now.
I remember growing up in a small town in Massachusetts, described as a village once on Dateline NBC. I never really believed I was any different than anyone else, until I entered the public school system and the total chaos began. I don’t know exactly where I went wrong or what I did that was so different from all of the other kids, but I got singled out and it only continued as I grew older.
When I was 11, I was forced out of the closet. I didn’t want to be gay, I never asked for this and at the time I would never have wished this upon anyone else. I found being gay to be so troublesome that suicide seemed to be the most logical option. I remember praying to God to forgive me for taking my own life, I really thought that this was my only option to seek solace. Then, the strangest thing happened. After an unsuccessful attempt to end my life, I felt an awakening within me. I felt God in my heart and truly believed for the first time I was created in his image.
Fast forward a few years, and it did get better. Although I am skipping over chapters of hate, shame and the feeling of total isolation- I am doing so with the specific intent- the focus is, IT GETS BETTER!
Don’t ever forget how amazing you are. Don’t ever forget the color you bring to this world. I am a heterosexual female, but I could not even imagine my life without my gay, lesbian, transgender, pansexual, and bisexual friends. No one has any right to tell you you are not good enough because of the way you are. No one has the right to judge you before they know you in any case.
My heart always breaks for any teen suicide. That’s a young life gone, no longer here to laugh and smile and find the kind of love we all look for. But for those of you who are still here, who have survived and know that there are people out there who totally and completely support you…stand up! Do great things! Be the great person you are! I firmly believe that this is only the start to something really great.
Be creative. Be kind. Be generous. Be faithful. Be brave. Be happy. Be outgoing. Be selfless. Be crazy. Be fun. Be smart.
And smile, everyday..because You. Are. BEAUTIFUL.
I joined the “Give A Damn” Campaign because I do care about the rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Even though we have a different sexuality, we are all human no matter what color, shape, size or gender we maybe.
I feel so bad for the kids who get bullied and looked at differently. Some teens can’t cope with it so they commit suicide or harm themselves emotionally and physically. I joined this website to help get it across that just because we are people with different sexualities we are still human and we deserve to be respected for who we are and not pushed away because we’re not the same as everyone else.
My name is Chynna. I’m a sixteen year old bisexual and I Give A Damn.
Now we all know by now coming out in high school can be difficult and I’m no exception. I wish I had come out earlier, but like most was afraid to come out until I was 100% ready, which I still kinda wasn’t. I had waited until the middle of my junior year of high school and to my surprise a lot of people knew. All of my friends were accepting and I even found out some of my closest friends were bisexual and gay. But with that came the harassment.
Daily I would be ridiculed about being gay or teased, but I’m a lucky one because I didn’t have to deal with physical violence and I wish no one would ever have to deal with violence. Eventually when it came down to it people found out who I liked and told him. He literally tore me apart and might as well have shot me because what he had said killed me. So that same night I almost attempted suicide, but I couldn’t and to this day I am happier then ever that I didn’t do it because I may still be single and people still ridicule me, but I have a life to look forward to.
I have the chance to help people in my life that are going through the same things and since I have gone through it I can help. All those who think about suicide please push those thoughts out of your minds. All it does is let those who bully and hurt you know they have won and it takes away one very important thing that you could never replace. Your life and the love of your loved ones. So please don’t ever think about it and if you do just talk to someone so they can help you because we all can make it through this. I want you all to know that I love each and every one of you for who you are and not who you pretend to be.
I went to school in a very small town in east Texas. The bullying began in 6th grade. Being called a fag or homo was daily. High school was hell. My car tires were slashed, locker was robbed, homophobic cat calls, being beat up, you name it. This was in the 80’s, so thank God there were no cell phones or Facebook or I don’t know if I would have had the strength to get through. Absolutely, I thought of suicide daily and going to school was a struggle knowing what torture was in store. I had ONE goal, to get out of that f**king town and “re-create” myself.
It’s taken 3 years for me to decide if I should write this because it is not a solution for all you kids who read it and not heroic in the least. I decided in 10th grade that the only way I was going to end the abuse was to get out. I put every minute I had into graduating early, took every class I could, studied for the SAT like my life depended on it (which it did) and basically took CONTROL of my own situation. The hard work paid off, I was accepted to college after my junior year of high school without having to go through my senior year. College was so much different, new start and such a new beginning. Graduated from college in 3 years, went to law school and had even more acceptance. Came out to my parent (officially) at 30 and then went back to school at 35 and got my PhD in psychology.
I didn’t come out to my law firm until I was 40 but, when I did, it was basically “Big deal, like we didn’t know”. I was made partner in my firm that same year. I must give credit to Cyndi, because being a part of the True Colors Tour in 2007 & 2008 made everything make sense. I got married to my husband in California October 31, 2003, just before Prop 8.
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Something has to be wrong, when 1 in 7 people who commit suicide is a child. And when suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 10 to 24.