Thursday, September 30, 2010

Asher Brown, Billy Lucas and Seth Walsh

September 30, 2010

I’m angry. I’m reeling from the news that on September 23rd 13 year old Asher Brown of Cypress near Houston, Texas shot himself, lost to hopelessness and fear because those who had the power to save him – the adults in his school – did nothing, leaving young Asher alone with the knowledge that he was not safe in this world.

Before that, on September 9th 15 year old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana hung himself. His friends said that he had been tormented for years based on his perceived sexual orientation. The memorial page for him on Facebook states “… he was a great person. But everyone made fun of him at school and he couldn't take it anymore so he decided to end his life.”

Seth Walsh, an out gay 13 year old in Tehachapi, California hung himself too, and after several days on life support he died on September 28th. He had been taunted by bullies for years, and school officials did not protect him. After a couple of weeks of school this year, he was transferred to independent study but it was too late to save him. While his parents say they reported the harassment many times, school officials claim there had been no reports of bullying.

Asher, Billy, and Seth – and how many more we don’t know about – chose death rather than to live in the world we made.

The news hits me raw and this is not yet the kind of anger that fuels me daily now. That will come – at least I think it will as it always has since our beautiful son Bill committed suicide at 17 after a bashing based on his sexual orientation fifteen years ago.

I know that if more of us had visibly worked to make their schools and communities places they could thrive in, these children of ours becoming adults in a world which they saw had no safe place for them might have survived the horror and suffering that killed their spirits to have the good life we know can be possible.

So now what can you do? Below is a link to what I wrote last year after two other young men died by their own hands. It is a response written at a time a little more distant from the sad news reaching me now to the people they left behind and to the helpers who were trying to figure out what to do in the face of such loss.

Responding to the suicides of two more gay youths — letter to a community.
http://www.gabiclayton.com/RespondingToTheSuicidesOfTwoMoreGayYouths.pdf (pdf format)

Gabi Clayton
Olympia, Washington
gabi@gabiclayton.com