The End of the Rope

I interrupt our regularly scheduled Pimping of Wry to bang you over the head with something not funny at all.

A few years ago, in an essay called "That's Kinda Gay," I wrote the following:

The first time a boy called me a dyke, I'd just turned 15. I didn't know the word in a sexual sense, so I didn't totally understand what he meant. But I knew I wasn't being complimented.

I could tell by the tone of his voice, the sneer on his face, and the way he nudged his buddy as he formed the word on his lips that "dyke" wasn't simply another insensitive teenager's assessment of my appearance, but a broader judgment -- and it was rendered with unmistakable disgust. That one word was more negatively charged than any of the names I'd been called before. ... I didn't only feel victimized and violated; I felt annihilated.

I share that today because, on April 16, eleven-year-old Jaheem Herrera hanged himself after bullies at his school had repeated called him gay, ugly and "the virgin" because he was from the Virgin Islands.   Jaheem's death came less than a month after another 11-year-old, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover from Massachusetts, committed suicide as a result of similar taunts.  ... 

Now, before you ask  yourself what could have saved Jaheem, ask yourself this: What failed him? Or, better yet, Who failed him?

The list of individuals who contributed to Jaheem's nightmare is long, but familiar, full of names you'd recognize because, if you're gay, they're the same people who contribute to your nightmare. The only difference between you and Jaheem is that you have better coping skills. 


Continue Reading: The End of the Rope



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