January 1, 2009, I arrived as I would any other day, to the Randy Stone Call Center in Los Angeles, aka The Trevor Project, West Coast Call Center.
Over the past few weeks I had worked roughly 4 prior shifts, all in which superseded another; in call volume and true help line calls. My shift had just started, it was about 6:40 p.m. and the phone rang. We’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
I answered, “The Trevor Helpline, this is Kenny- what’s going on?”- My caller in a calm, confident, juvenile tone replied with a simple question “What’s this line for?”- I casually replied with a paraphrased mission-like statement of what The Trevor Project was: “Well, we’re the only nationwide LGBTQ Youth Suicide Prevention/Crisis Hotline” I quickly added “What’s your name buddy?” He quickly said “I’m Marcus”.
Marcus was 16 years old living in the great state of Texas. During the first 5 minutes of casual talk with Marcus, he didn’t sound distraught, he didn’t sound in a crisis – and what I mean by that was he’s breathing was well paced, no emotions were evident, nor was his talking irrational. When I asked Marcus why he was calling the helpline, he calmly stated he was just checking it out.
I grew up in the heart of the Bible belt, a college town in W. Va. during the mid 1950’s and 1960’s, to a Southern Baptist family headed by a WW II veteran, military background father. I was not necessarily “out” during high school, but I was sexually active and had feminine mannerisms. My mother and grandmother were my best friends. In fact, most of my friends growing up were adult women because I could not trust people my own age. At one point the harassment in High School was so bad that I contemplated suicide a couple of times. In fact, I did eat an entire bottle of aspirin, (the only thing I could find in the medicine cabinet at the time), and fortunately, I only got a little sick. For some unknown reason God had something else in mind for me; even though I was always taught at church that I was a sinner, abnormal, and a freak of nature, I knew in my heart that “my” God is a loving God, therefore I knew he loved and accepted me for the person I am.
Until after high school, I always thought the word “gay” meant happy. I had always been called “queer”, “faggot” and other derogatory names that definitely could not be considered as ego builders for a young teenager. After I graduated from high school, I went to work where I was befriended by another gay man who introduced me to the local gay community in my home town, such as it was. We had two gay bars that were private clubs with locked doors. I finally felt that I was among my element and made many friends and became an active part of my home town gay community. I was finally out, or at least as out as I could be in 1970, in a small W.Va. college town. We still had to be careful in those days but at least we did have a place of our own where we could be ourselves.
I’m a 16 year old sophomore and I can’t begin to say that I have the greatest group of friends in the ENTIRE world. I’m been aware of my homosexuality since sixth grade as confused as I may have been. Ever since I confided to the first person that I called my friend I’ve been able to become more and more secure with myself. Slowly but surely I began to open up to more and more people until I hit freshman year of high school. At this point the majority of people I bothered to call my friends (there were and currently are too many to count) knew of my sexual orientation. As a New Year’s resolution I essentially said “f**k it” and decided to immerse myself in what I knew I was, a homosexual young man. High school was never the same but I’ve always had friends to back me up. I’ve been lucky.
Now, openly gay and content with who I am I’ve seen the harsh reality and immense joy of being open with your sexuality. I’ve personally had to deal with the loss of many friends who didn’t agree with my life choice and I’ve been ridiculed beyond which no one should ever have to put up with. I’ve learned so much about who I am and who I DON’T have to be and I’ve overjoyed to know that no matter what I choose in life my friends, my family and anyone who has ever had the pleasure of knowing me will be right there by my side. My personal accomplishments with LGBT rights are few and far between, so small in fact that they’ve barely made a dent in the issue at hand in everyday life. However, I’ve bettered my life in High School by coming out as a homosexual, I’ve bettered the lives of others who have chosen to confide within me and I’ve bettered the lives of everyone who I’ve ever met by allowing them to say they’ve met a proud gay man who isn’t afraid to take on the world.
Hate come in all shapes and sizes. I’m been discriminated against due to my weight. I was raised by two wonderful parents who taught me to be open minded, and that’s helped shape me to think the way I do. I’ve had many friends who were LGBT, and I could care less about their preference. What matters to me is your heart, your brain if you use them correctly.
I knew someone a long time ago who was so afraid to tell their family they were gay, the pressure got to them and they had committed suicide. It was a great loss, and upsetting because I had talked to the parents later on, and they had know their child was gay and loved them just the same. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to someone. I see people as human beings, not gay or straight of transgendered.
You aren’t worthless, you aren’t just another number in statistics, you are who you are because that’s the way you were meant to be, and you are loved… whether it be family, friend or a total stranger like myself. You’re not alone.
Pretty much all my friends are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. But since I’m friends with them I’m automatically titled as a lesbian. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t hear someone judge a person just for the fact that they are homosexual. I’m so fed up with it because they are human just like them. People tell them that they need to go somewhere else because they don’t like gay people. But at least they have more balls than any straight person because they know the consequences but are okay to live with it. And I’m tired of my friends turning to self-mutilation because of all the judgement and hatred they’re faced with. Not only do they turn to harming themselves but some have even tried to commit suicide. There is nothing but hatred towards homosexuals in this town and no one wants to stand up for them. I give damn and so now I’m going to take a stand on it.
My story starts about 10 years ago; I was only 13 when I met the most wonderful person in the world, my girlfriend, Meri. It was truly love at first sight for me and I hadn’t felt that way about anyone at that point. We were best friends before anything else and we shared everything. One day I told her how I felt and she agreed, that’s when our relationship began. Right away I had a bad feeling about how my parents might react if they did find out I was falling in love with another girl.
Secrets only last so long as my mom found out two years later by “accident,” but I know she had her suspicions. She was outraged and assured me that I wasn’t gay and what I was going through was “just a phase.” She wouldn’t let me see my girlfriend or talk to her on the phone. She told my other friends’ moms to make sure if I was there visiting that Meri was not. I felt hurt, I felt rejected and I started feeling more depressed everyday. Pretty soon I was at the doctor getting Prozac prescriptions. I started feeling suicidal on a daily basis. Families are supposed to love each other unconditionally and that was not true in my case.
For as long as I can remember, something was not right. My body and my mind did not fit. I never wanted to hurt my family though so I suppressed my transgender feelings. It hurt me emotionally to fake who I was to everyone who I knew. I began cutting in the seventh grade. It numbed the pain I felt and let me have some control of my body as it was developing, was becoming even further from who I truly was.
I cut for over three years. I was in deep depression and nothing could pull me out of it, not even therapy and antidepressants. I attempted suicide once but it didn’t work. I thought about killing myself constantly, hoping I would come back in the correct body. I could not imagine living life like this any longer. It was time for me to make a decision: I end things or be honest.
I came out to my family and friends a few months ago. I have not cut once since coming out and I no longer think about suicide. I have never been happier. I am not saying coming out will make everything better but without it, I would not be here today.
I never used to talk about my experience as a young, gay kid in Colorado Springs, CO. It was just too painful, too personal for me to want to talk about. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that telling my story sheds light on the truth, and illustrates–vividly–why issues that affect the LGBT Community are so damn important.
I was a good kid growing up in a middle class family in Colorado Springs. I attended private Christian schools, I loved my family, and I had amazing parents. My parents were so devoted to their children, always showering us with love and attention. My mother used to make my lunch every day with a little note telling me how much I meant to her. Each day my parents would drive us to and from school, and once a week we had a family movie night–our’s was the American family ideal, and I was truly blessed.
Unfortunately, one day that changed. When I was 13 years old, my parents found my journal in which I had admitted to myself that I was gay. In the space of 5 minutes my life changed drastically, and permanently.
Being raised in a conservative Christian family certainly isn’t a bad thing, but being taught that homosexuality is pretty much the worst thing under the sun and also happening to be gay don’t work well together. From the moment my parents discovered I was gay, till I legally separated myself from them (at the age of 16) my life was a living hell. My parents became verbally and emotionally abusive–telling me that they would have rather had an abortion than a gay son, or that it would have been better had I been born mentally retarded or with Downs Syndrome. Pretty bad, huh? Oh it gets worse. Thanks to the folks at Focus on the Family, my parents were referred to a “conversion therapy” organization known as NARTH–the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. These are the people who think that being gay is something that can be “cured”.
To start off, I am probably one of the biggest supporters when it comes to gay, lesbian and bisexual equality. I have had so many gay/lesbian/bisexual friends in my short lifetime, and some of their stories are tragic and sad. Sometimes it makes me wonder if some people have souls after hearing what they do to my friends. But I knew this one guy in my high school, and his story is what I am going to tell.
His name was Josh, and to be honest to God truthful, I didn’t know him well. We were in a Theater class, and I had seen him in all the plays at my school. But it was enough to know a little about him. Josh always seemed like the happy-go-lucky gay guy, and I admired him because of that. He graduated a year ahead of me, and went to Immaculata University, but I do not think he went for theater like I thought he was going to. And let me just tell you, he was a great actor!
Again, I didn’t know him well, so I don’t know if there was bullying or what going on, but he hung himself in his sophomore year. Rumor hinted bullying, but I refused to pry my nose in that business. It didn’t hit me at first, but I went to my high school for a visit and that’s when it hit me. The whole school was out of whack for a good couple of weeks after it happened. I unfortunately did not go to the funeral because I was working a double and couldn’t get out of it, but his father came in to my store that day, and that is something I will never forget till the day I die. I really hope that I NEVER see that look on a parent’s face due to the fact that their gay son committed suicide.
Ever since elementary school I knew I was different, I have never been “one of the guys.” I was always hanging out with the girls, all my friends for the longest time were girls. I really started to see a change in who I was in 5th grade and my parents had just gotten a divorce shortly after the birth of my little brother.
Elementary isn’t what you want to hear about, you want the middle school and high school years. I am currently a Junior in high school, in middle school I got called names and I acted like it didn’t bother me because I thought they were just messing around. The year I realized that I liked boys was the most AMAZING year of my life.
8th grade my friend had a Halloween party and she invited one of her friends from her old school named Josh. My friend Todd and I got there a little early, we went and hung out in her room with Josh while she got ready with her friend in the bathroom. They were doing their hair, I sat down on the bed next to Josh. You know that feeling you get when you’re around someone you have feelings for? Like it is just you and that person and you just want to stay there forever.
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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.