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Living with PAIN…


I never truly appreciated living without pain until recently, taking it for granted that I could have that state on demand. I could always count on the medication to stop it in its tracks. Those days appear to be gone. Since the FDA decided to take Darvocet and Darvon off the market, I am now in an entirely different situation.

The Lyrica stopped the fibro myalgia pain. I was amazed at how well that worked. I hadn’t realized just how much pain I was suppressing until it suddenly left. That just left the occasional neurological pain spike to deal with. They aren’t that frequent but often enough that I need to keep pain medication on hand when it does so that I can function. Now that I have been on the Lyrica for about 3 years, I am finding my pain threshold has declined and I don’t have the resistance to pain that I used to have. I was spoiled by having a nearly pain free life for the first time in decades. Little did I know what losing that resistance would mean now.

In the past, a prescription of 90 Darvocet would last me 6-9 months. That was the standard for over 10 years. When I would have neuropathic pain flare-ups, the Darvocet beat it back and eliminated it. No side-effects, no buzz, nothing but what you want from a pain medication: relief. Only once, in all those years did I get any flack from any medical personnel. I had a PA I wanted to smack upside the head when I went into Urgent Care to get a refill since it was a Friday and my own doctor would not be in again until Monday.

That PA tried to give me the pill chaser line. I calmly told him to pull up my medical records and take a look at when the last proscription was issued and filled. I also asked him how having a chronic pain disease made me a pill chaser. He clamped his lips shut after that and just gave me the prescription. I made a point of letting my Neurologist know about the incident and how much I didn’t appreciate the attitude of the PA. When a person is in pain, they really don’t need to have a verbal battle just to get relief.

So, now my Darvocet is gone. Turns out, I am allergic to Vicodin. I am also allergic to Codeine. Add to that, I am allergic, severely, to marijuana, which rules out getting Medical Marijuana, which, ironically enough, my own department at work oversees for the county. Nope, not for me. Now I can’t find anything to deal with the flare-up of pain that has arrived with the summer heat.

It is going on 4 weeks. I had my first instance of pain causing nausea this week. I never quite understood before how that works. My pain levels never reached that state before. Now they have and I can only imagine what may come if something doesn’t break this pain spike. I have to fight just to function at all. My internal thinking ability is fixated on pushing down the pain. Moving has become a trial and major triumph just to get from my car to my desk at work. I have called in sick 8 days in the last 4 weeks because I knew it was just not going to be possible to move without crying.

My Neurologist is doing the best he can, I understand that. My turning up allergic to pain med after pain med is frustrating us both. Out of desperation, he gave me a referral for acupuncture. Neither of us has any idea how that will work with a damaged nervous system, but it is something else to try on the road to solving this issue. He wants me to go through my copy of my past medical records and make a list of all the medications I have tried prior to Kaiser so that we don’t cover old ground. Meanwhile, he is consulting with another neurologist about the situation.

His nurse called me with my lab results, with everything being ok except low B-12 and elevated muscle protein(?). They want me to redo my labs in 3-4 weeks and told me not to exercise for 48 hours before the lab draws the blood. I laughed. Exercise is NOT on my list of things I can do currently. She then told me he wants to see me again in 6-8 weeks. I replied I would be a drooling idiot by then if the pain is not dealt with before that. I requested she remind him that he needs to consult with the other neurologist and get back to me about the Lidocaine patches he hoped might work.

Meanwhile, I had another friend tell me that Percocet worked for her when she turned up allergic to Vicodin. I will be suggesting that ASAP. This has got to stop. I am probably at an 8 on the pain scale of 10 right now. I dread finding out what a 9 feels like and heaven help me should 10 ever cross the horizon. There comes a point where a limit is reached and something MUST be done. We know I am not allergic to Demeral or Dilaudid. Fine, hook me up to an IV drip, whatever it takes to end this.

I guess it is time to accept the referral for a Pain Management Specialist. I have resisted for a long time. The very name offends me. It implies that the pain is to be borne and will never go away. I know that isn’t true. Darvocet did that for me, when I needed it. I swear though, I will brain the Specialist with my cane if meditation is brought up at all. Do you honestly think I wouldn’t already be doing that, for spiritual purposes, if I were able?! Meditation is not on my list of possibilities. My mind is too active and constantly shifting for meditation. Add the pain and I doubt I could clear my mind enough to make it work.

I never imagined that Darvocet would disappear, my faithful champion. I always counted it as perfect, no side-effects, no buzz, just pain relief. To have a working drug taken off the market and then no replacement… I can’t describe the anguish emotionally, much less physically. My stable life is upside down and I am a hair’s breadth from severe depression. I’ll keep fighting. I’ll keep looking for a solution. Meanwhile, I will resist the thought of leaping off a cliff to find an end to it. Though it does make me wonder if a pair of broken legs might not be a welcome distraction from the everyday pain…

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Ya Never Know… Until You Do.


I had an interesting day yesterday. Typical in many ways, busy and not a lot of time to slow down. The part that made it interesting wasn’t actually about the job. Sure, it put me in a position to have a particular conversation at a particular time. It was fascinating.

Our business concluded, we needed to wait out a period of time. The client talked a bit about their personal life. I talked about mine. The catch: they assumed I was straight. The look of surprise as I quietly corrected the assumption was about what you would expect. They paused a moment and then dived for it. Did I mind answering questions they were curious about? I had no issue answering whatever they might choose to ask. I also knew just where it would go. Which it did.

The client was originally from Ohio and in their middle 50s. They grew up Southern Baptist and in a very conservative family. Again, I was not very surprised with any of that. What did surprise me was the statement that they had never actually known anyone that was gay. My mind instantly supplied: That you know of. (Which my tongue did not unleash)

So, the standard questions followed, who is the man and who the woman in the relationship, so forth. I answered calmly and politely while trying not to outright laugh. All of the propaganda that the conservative talking heads slather on about came up and I was able to to address them logically. Then came the prize winning question, the one that took the amusement out of the encounter and brought in some genuine thought and interest.

How did you know you were? I almost wanted to clap and applaud! This is a good question. This is really what people want to understand. I smiled and gave her the story of my light bulb going off about Scott Martel. They listened intently and nodded when I was done with the tale. Then came the next bombshell.

They firmly believed it is genetic and had nothing to do with environment or nurturing. I nearly fell from my chair. They thanked me for answering their questions and being willing to share without hesitation. They were now glad to be able to say they knew someone gay and it was really, honestly okay and their world did not end in a rain of burning brimstone nor did Jesus immediately appear and hit them over the head with his shepherd’s crook.

Ya know, I really am coming to believe it does come down to knowing people. It is harder to fear something you have faced and discovered isn’t the hideous, insidious evil incarnate you were brought up to believe in. Living an open life is the best course. Having patience and the willingness to talk about that life can change someone else’s day and potentially their perspective. Who would have thought??

Add to the Light, not the Dark


Such a simple concept. It cuts across religious and cultural barriers. Somehow though, it gets lost in the dogma, in the translation. Do unto others and so forth. Ye without sin, cast the first stone. Judge not, lest ye be judged. It goes on and on and on. Fairly simply, pretty clear, concise and elegant.

Each religion has its variant on those concepts. Every culture has them at their core. Hard to see it these days. Twisty, self-serving layers overshadow the ideals now. I would almost believe that everyone must want to be miserable since they are dead set on making others miserable. Live and let live has fallen to my way or the high way. Do as I say, not as I do is the average in politics. Leadership has come around to controlling others and not expecting those oh so necessary rules to apply to them. Its in the public’s interest. If we shove the negative in their faces, in all its scary horror, they shall follow blindly and give up their thinking. Hide anything positive. Hide responsibility. Keep them fighting each other and they will not question the decisions objectively.

What happened to doing something because you know the result will be positive for someone else? You know, not because you specifically gain from it but because it will give someone else joy? What happened to accepting that sometimes we make a wrong or ill-considered choice and must own it? When did it become about finding someone else to blame? What is this necessity that demands that we further ourselves at the expense of others? How is it logical that rights or the removal of rights should be in the hands of negativity?

Make someone else smile and laugh. You add something to their life.
Hold back a negative comment and save someone’s dignity. It adds to your own.
Take pleasure in the joy of someone else rather than seek to show their supposed folly.
Light the way for a stranger in the dark rather than putting out that light so that they may fall.
Play with a child and keep your own youth. Speak with an elder and expand your own knowledge.
Intervene when you witness a beating, no matter if you think it deserved. Pain only leads to more pain.
Just take time to look beyond the self and care about others.
Live in the present, for the past is unchangeable and tomorrow may not come.
Seek the best solution not the expedient one.
Hold yourself to a higher standard than those around you.
Never let a lie pass your lips and then everything you say will always be the truth.
If you are not sure, then don’t.
Considered action rather than just reacting.
Cast no blame, for if you know about the problem you, own a share in it.
If you must convince someone that is unwilling, perhaps it is yourself that needs to rethink the subject.
There is always more to learn and there will always be another opinion.
Take the time to do it right and then you don’t have to do it over again.

This is how I try to live my life. I fall short a lot. I’ll keep trying though. I still get angry and upset and even mean. Hopefully I will keep improving and adding to the light in the vast darkness. I don’t think that would be a bad epitaph punctuating my life’s eventual end.

“Passing the Torch of Motherhood”


“Passing the Torch of Motherhood”

Taja and I met on the job. She was bar tending and I was a busboy at the same bar. We clicked immediately. We had the same warped sense of humor and appreciation for the differences between us that really weren’t that much of a big deal. She accepted me being gay without hesitation and I had no issue with her somewhat lofty attitudes. All in all, we had fun and enjoyed our time together at the bar.

I ended up losing that job. Downsizing, they let me go. I turned inward and sought some answers to myself. I found my mouth opening and committing to a Mescalero Apache Vision Quest while at a pottery workshop in San Diego. The irony is that I had sworn up and down until I turned blue that I would NEVER do a Mescalero Quest. After attending the sweat lodges for several others before they went Up the Mountain, I had shaken my head and wondered at the sense of such hardship.

Imagine my surprise as my mouth opened and I asked the last person on Earth I ever thought to guide me through the Mescalero Vision Quest. My heart was thudding like continuous thunder in my chest and my mind was literally asking me what the holy hell I was doing as the words poured from my flapping lips. I nearly looked around to see if someone was speaking behind me so I could tell them to shut the hell up. That is, until I had to acknowledge that the voice was mine. My horror only magnified as my request was accepted. Oh shit!

Since I lost two jobs on the same day, I had nothing holding me to Riverside. I moved out to the desert to focus on my preparations for Vision Quest. It was an interesting experience as I lived in Joshua Tree. I learned a lot about myself and my place in the world during that time. I finished and survived the three days and nights on the mountain. As I tried to decide what I needed to do now, I did a stupid thing. I asked Creator to put me where I was needed. The request was promptly accepted. Go figure.

Within two weeks I received word from a mutual friend that Taja wanted to talk to me. She was in the middle of getting a divorce. She was also buying the bar we both had worked at. Taja knew that she would be gone for long hours far into the early morning getting the place running the way she wanted and making it work. She wanted someone as a live-in to look after her three sons. Devin was 12, Tristen was 6 and Courtlen was 3. Her soon to be ex was a truck driver and often out of state so he could not be relied on to look after the boys. After a trial run, she and her ex agreed that I was the person for their needs.

Once of the issues that I addressed right from the start was that I was gay. This may seem odd, but this was in 1992. Things could get ugly pretty easily if I did not confront them from the beginning. If it was going to be an issue, better that they not hire me in the first place. I made sure they understood the limits on what I would do or should do. One of them was that I would not bathe the children myself. Either the kids did it for themselves or the parents would have to do it. At no point would I put hands on the boys unclothed. It may sound prudish or odd, but I wanted to keep things clear and without even the appearance of impropriety. It is hard enough for men in the childcare field but adding that it is a gay man dealing with young boys, well, I was not going to allow that possibility to ever become an issue.

Taja took time to think about it. Her ex talked with some of his friends and also took time to think. Both agreed that it wouldn’t be an issue. So, with everything settled, I moved in and began to take care of the boys. It was an enlightening experience, those first few weeks. Devin, the eldest, was used to running amuck, doing pretty much whatever he wanted. Tristen, the middle child, was used to getting whatever he wanted for the asking. He had a liver transplant when he was 3. Given that they thought he was likely to die, he was given whatever he wanted. Courtlen was quiet. He barely spoke above a whisper and you had to listen very carefully and sometimes ask him to repeat what he said if you couldn’t catch it the first time. He was largely ignored in the household. This is what I had landed in. It was hard to understand why Creator would place me there.

Taking care of the kids was definitely challenging. Devin learned that I was not someone that he could run over. He certainly tried. He even got his best friend Dustin to try to help him jump me. I fended both boys off as gently as I could while making them understand that gay did not mean weak or unable to whomp them both flat at the same time if needed. Devin liked to get physical, hitting and pushing and generally doing anything he could to initiate some kind of confrontation. It took me a long time to get him under control. He also had to learn that I would not let him out of my sight unless I had some way to find him. He resented it a lot but I held firm.

Tristen also fought me, though not physically. He demanded things and I would not give in unless he had earned it. If I let him have what he wanted, I told him why I said yes. If I denied him what he wanted, I told him why. I made it clear that his choices determined if he could have or do what he wanted. Homework before games or TV. Chores before playing outside. Shower before he got to watch TV at night. Little by little, Tristen came into line with accepting that his choices had consequences and that I would be consistent with it.

Courtlen was a puzzle for all of 30 seconds. He had been ignored most of his life. Tristen had his transplant shortly before Courtlen was born. All of the focus was on Tristen and Courtlen was an afterthought, if even that. I was patient and careful with him. He loved to be read to. I would sit him in my lap and read to him for hours. He soon started bringing me books and plopping himself in my lap to be read to. I slowly worked on getting him to speak clearly. With positive attention, Courtlen bloomed and gained in confidence that someone was listening to him. He would come to me for comfort and I freely gave him hugs and praise.

Having gotten into a routine, the other shoe dropped. Taja was diagnosed with cancer. This was a month after I moved in. Not only was she diagnosed, it had already metastasized virulently. They found cancer in her breast, sternum, stomach, lymph nodes and brain. The shockwaves through the household are indescribable. Taja immediately went into aggressive chemo and radiation treatments. Her divorce became a moot point and he returned to the house. I’ll give the man credit; he stuck by her and did everything in his power to help her. I took care of the kids, the house and Taja when he had to work.

Many friends told me I was insane to stay. That it was not my problem and that I should get the hell out of there. I just couldn’t. For one thing, it was obvious I was needed. For another, what kind of person picks up and leaves when things get rough? I couldn’t. It just didn’t seem right. She was my friend, I cared about her. I was also getting attached to the kids. Even the older two had grown on me. Courtlen most of all decided me on staying. So, I stayed.

One day we were all outside by the pool. Taja was still able to walk but was very weak from the chemo and radiation. She was sitting and talking with Courtlen. I was a distance away on a deck chair reading. Courtlen finished talking and ran off to go play. As he ran, he slipped on the concrete and fell right into the pool. Taja screamed and struggled to get up. Courtlen didn’t know how to swim. I found myself in the water, fully clothed, lifting the little form up toward the surface. We broke the surface and I carried the crying child out of the pool. I have no idea how I got there so fast. Taja didn’t see me go in after him either. Courtlen coughed out all of the water he swallowed and kept a death grip on my neck. Once I got him a little calmer, I put him in Taja’s lap and got towels to dry us off. She rocked him in her lap and couldn’t speak. It was a near thing. If I hadn’t been there, Courtlen would have drowned.

As Taja’s illness progressed, the difficulties increased. A tumor grew through her spine and paralyzed her from the chest down. She decided to remain home and use a hospice program to deal with any medical needs. The hospice nurses helped me learn what I needed to do for Taja that was within my abilities. My care for her brought us closer than ever as friends. We talked a lot and I drove her to her appointments.

One day as I was shifting Taja’s position on the couch, Courtlen ran into the room chattering up a storm. He was happy and wanted to share it. I laughed and so did Taja. After he ran down to a gasping halt, I asked him to go play for a while and I would read to him once I finished making Taja something to eat. He said, “Ok, mom.” and ran off. I was looking at Taja when it happened and I saw the shocked hurt in her eyes. I asked if she was ok and she nodded. Still, I knew. Her baby had called someone else mom. It was possible that she wouldn’t be there much longer. The mortality had finally struck home. I held her hand as she quietly wept.

I waited a couple of days and then approached the topic with Taja. I apologized for what happened. She waved it off and said it didn’t matter. She was ok with it. I asked if she were sure. She told me that she hoped I would stay once she passed. She knew that Courtlen loved me. She was glad. I wept. Knowing that the treatments weren’t helping and her time was limited, we did the best we could to make sure her remaining time with the kids was memorable.

In August of 1992, she died in the night, at home. My friend was gone. Her children remained. I helped as much as I could with the preparations for the funeral. I got Courtlen and Tristen dressed. I got dressed. We went. Courtlen was enraged. They put his mom in a box! How could they do that? He pushed away his father and his aunt and his grandmother. They just couldn’t calm him down. Finally, I took him in my arms and squeezed him tight. He resisted and then relaxed. He wouldn’t go to anyone else that day. He sat in my lap at the graveside and I explained what was happening and why. I took him home and helped him change clothes again.

I had a hard decision to make. I didn’t like their father. Not at all, I considered him a selfish inconsiderate despicable excuse for a man. There was also Courtlen. I just couldn’t leave him right away. Not with him losing his mom. In his world, I was the only other person that loved him for him and paid attention to him at all. Though I considered leaving, I stayed. How could I do anything else? Taja had as much as asked me to.

I stayed for 3 more years. I got Courtlen through kindergarten and volunteered in his class 3 days a week. Once he finished, it was time for me to go. He was going to be in school full time and they wouldn’t need me anymore. I was near a nervous breakdown from their father. It was definitely time to go if I wanted to keep my sanity. I found another family that needed me and said goodbye to Courtlen.

His father contacted me a couple of weeks after I moved out. Courtlen had quit speaking. He would not talk at all, not even a whisper. His dad had a family conference and was told that he should let Courtlen see me as often as he wanted and as often as I could manage. That I should take Courtlen for weekends and that he should encourage it. I was floored. I took Courtlen for that first weekend and explained that I wasn’t gone. I was just living somewhere else. I wasn’t dead and he could see me and call me and write me as much as he wanted. He started talking again after that. Courtlen had just needed to know that he was still loved and he hadn’t done anything wrong to make me go away forever like his mom.

When he turned 9, he and Tristen spent the night with me and my husband to be. Tristen was totally conked out on the couch. I was sitting in bed reading and Aaron was asleep. Courtlen came in and told me he couldn’t sleep. Would I rock him to sleep? I was flummoxed. He was 9! I thought he was past the point of needing or wanting that. I nodded and got up and went with him back to the living room.

I sat on the recliner and he climbed up into my lap. His head was right up under my chin and his legs trailed nearly to the floor. He wrapped his arms around my chest and leaned into me. I held him and rocked the recliner using my feet. The smell of his fresh clean hair was in my nose and it tickled a little. I rocked and rocked and hummed. Slowly he relaxed and then fell asleep. I was at total peace. This was what life was about. Simply being and just loving without worry. I also almost cried. This was surely the last time he was going to ask to be rocked to sleep in my arms. Not many are given to know when that last childish thing will pass and never come again. I was grateful for the insight and rocked and rocked. The memory is one of the most treasured that I have. It was hard to get up and put him on the couch fold out with his brother but I did it gently. I kissed his cheek, put the sheet over him and went to bed myself.

Devin has 3 beautiful daughters now. Tristen died when he was 17 due to complications from his transplant rejecting. I saw him a couple of months before he died. He knew it was coming. I spent 3 hours with him and we talked and talked. He kept coming back to Courtlen and reinforcing that Courtlen needed me. He went so far as to make me promise to never give up on him. Of course not! Still, I promised. I have kept that promise and always will. If he needs me, I am there. If he doesn’t, I am there. I also can’t watch “Stepmom” without crying. Way too close for comfort.

Courtlen had his first child, Blake Mitchell Rhoades this year. He made sure I was one of the first to hold his new son. He has always told people I am his godfather. He firmly declared I was Blake’s grandfather and I could see him as often as I wanted. I am so proud of Courtlen. He has become an awesome father. He is a good man. He is kind, caring, compassionate, funny, and smart and everything anyone could want for and of their child. Yes, Taja, you can rest easy; your baby is doing better than fine. You can be proud too.

Most recent teen suicide – The Trend of Non-Responsibility of Anyone


2009:

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, 11 (MA) bullying because of perceived sexual orientation.
Jaheem Herrera, 11 (GA). bullying because of perceived sexual orientation.
Tyler Lee Long, 17 (GA) was called gay as part of his bullying before his suicide.

2010:
July
Justin Aaberg, 15(MN) gay

September
Seth Walsh, 13 (CA) gay
Asher Brown, 13 (TX) gay
Billy Lucas, 15 (IN) bullying because of perceived sexual orientation. (Mother claims he wasn’t gay)
Tyler Clementi – 18 (NJ) Gay

October
Corey Jackson – 19 (MI) Gay
Raymond Chase – 19 (RI) Gay
Zach Harrington – 19 (OK) Gay
Aiyisha Hassan – 19 (CA) Lesbian
Chloe Lacey – 19 (CA) Trans

November
Brandon Bitner – 14 (PA) bullying because of perceived sexual orientation.

With this new suicide, I started looking back at the articles for the others I wrote about. Something had struck me about how the bullying was handled by the schools. Consequences of actions by the bullies are never there. Consequences for the inaction of the schools is always ignored by the schools admins. Look through the quotes. Go back to the original articles. They all show the same disturbing trend. I noticed when I read about Friday’s horrific circumstances and happened to click on an older link to another one. The words about insisting on teacher’s neutrality concerning sexual orientation bullying smacked right between my eyes. Read for yourself and see if I am imagining things.

This segment is from Daily Item:

There seems to be little doubt in the students’ minds why Brandon Bitner did what he did.

“It was because of bullying,” friend Takara Jo Folk wrote in a letter to The Daily Item.

“It was not about race, or gender, but they bullied him for his sexual preferences and the way he dressed. Which,” she said, “they wrongly accused him of.”

His death came just days after an anti-bullying assembly at the high school, which, according to district Superintendent Wesley Knapp, was not held in response to any specific problems at the school, but because it is an issue Principal Cynthia Hutchinson has always felt strongly about.

After the assembly, according to student Briana Boyer in another letter to The Daily Item, “No one took it seriously, and joked around about it.”

Former Midd-West student Erin Barnett sent a letter as well, blaming the school, saying that when students report bullying, “Nothing is done.”

This is from WTHR:

But it was alleged bullying that, according to the Billy Lucas Memorial Facebook page, caused the outgoing freshman to take his own life.

“He was threatened to get beat up every day,” friend and classmate Nick Hughes said. “Sometimes in classes, kids would act like they were going to punch him and stuff and push him.”

Chappel said that no one had been punished for picking on Lucas, and that bullying had not even hit their radar.

“Sometimes he created that atmosphere around him,” Chappel said. “Kind of like a little tornado because he went around doing things that made dust fly, I guess.”

Friends of Lucas say that he had been tormented for years.

“Some people at school called him names,” Hughes said, saying most of those names questioned Lucas’ sexual orientation, and that Lucas, for the most part, did little to defend himself.

“He would try to but people would just try to break him down with words and stuff and just pick on him,” Hughes said.

This is from ABC News:

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover was 11– hardly old enough to know his sexuality and yet distraught enough to hang himself last week after school bullies repeatedly called him “gay.” Derogatory labels regarding sexual orientation torment kids across the country. The Springfield, Mass., football player and Boy Scout was ruthlessly teased, despite his mother’s pleas to the New Leadership Charter School to address the problem.

This is from WSB TV:

Jaheem Herrera, 11, hanged himself after coming home from school on April 16.
Masika Bermudez said her son was being consistently bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school, and she said it was her 10-year-old daughter who alerted her to the stress Jaheem was under.

Channel 2 Action News reporter Pam Martin went to speak to Jaheem’s mother Monday.

“She said, ‘Ma, did you know they called Jaheem gay again today in school,’” said Bermudez.

Bermudez said bullies at school had called Jaheem “gay” and had taunted him about his accent. She said when he came home Thursday and she asked him about it, he denied it. She sent him to his room to calm down. That was the last time she saw him alive.

The front door of their apartment is now a shrine. Dozens of friends have come by to say goodbye.

Bermudez said she talked to Jaheem’s best friend about his frame of mind Thursday.

“He said, ‘Yes ma’am. He told me that he’s tired of everybody always messing with him in school. He is tired of telling the teachers and the staff, and they never do anything about the problems. So, the only way out is by killing himself,’” said Bermudez.

Bermudez said she had been to Dunaire Elementary School six or seven times to complain about how Jaheem and one of his sisters had been treated, but the problem persisted.

Bermudez said she is suspicious about why she didn’t receive her son’s notebooks until Monday afternoon. She said she had been told he documented the bullying.
“When she finally gave me the book, I was looking for these disturbing things — and it had torn pages and it has pages cut, like with scissors,” said Bermudez.

There is also this from Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Tyler Lee Long, diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, a form of autism that causes social anxiety, was found dead in October, dangling from a belt in his closet. His parents, David and Tina Long, say the honor student was depressed about the abuse he had suffered at school. The teen complained of being mocked, pushed and punched for years, they said.

“He hated school,” his mother said. “They would spit in his food, call him ‘gay,’ smack him and say, ‘I can’t wait until you are six feet under!’ A lot of [the] time he would go to the counselor’s office and call me. We complained, but nothing much was done. If we had the financial means, we would have put him somewhere else.”

This is from an article on Sept. 14th at WCCO:

“Tammy Aaberg spoke up at a recent Anoka-Hennepin School Board meeting about the district’s sexual orientation curriculum policy which states, in part, “Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.”

“I’m asking you all to rewrite the policy in order to give teachers training in how to be more sensitive to GLBT students,” Tammy Aaberg told the School Board on Aug. 23.

After Tammy Aaberg spoke, two other recent graduates spoke too. One was a lesbian student who asked not to be identified.

“If you have students feeling like they’re isolated, like they have no one to turn to, and then they fill with self-hatred, are we surprised that we’re having suicides in the district by GLBT students? Something needs to happen,” said the graduate.

That student and a teacher, who also asked not to be identified, believe three of the five suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin District last year were because of struggles with sexual identity. They say name-calling and bullying happen often in the district because teachers and students don’t stand up to it.

The teachers said that’s partly because other teachers are scared and confused about how to interpret the curriculum policy.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District said the curriculum policy and bullying are two entirely separate issues.

“It’s very difficult. We have a community that has widely varying opinions, and so to respect all families, as the policy says, we ask teachers to remain neutral,” said District Spokeswoman Mary Olson.

Olson said the district doesn’t tolerate bullying and expects staff to stand up to it, but does acknowledge it happens to gay and lesbian students at school. She said the schools are adding some new training to their anti-bullying policy, which is currently seven years old.

Teachers will get a new training on sexual orientation and harassment. Every student will also be shown a video to lay out what that might mean.

A clip from one of the videos shows students acting out a scenario:

“The word ‘fag,’ the word ‘dyke’ is also awful,” says one student.

“When I hear kids say the word ‘fag’ in front of a teacher all time, and the teacher doesn’t even say anything,” responds another.

The teacher tells both, “You’re right, they should say something.”

Olson said the district doesn’t have any plans to change its curriculum policy but thinks the new training will have an impact. “

And another from San Francisco Chronicle:

Seth Walsh was an ordinary everyday kid who just wanted to live his life except there were cruel kids around him who won’t let him. Why you ask? Walsh was a young gay kid and there were kids that would not stop tormenting him while school officials ignored the problem despite being aware of the bullying.

Walsh as s 13-year-old student at the Jacobsen Middle School in Tehachapi, Kern County, California. On September 19, Walsh hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. Walsh did not die immediately and was discovered and taken to a hospital where he was placed in life support critical care.

Seth Walsh from Tehachapi, California finally died Tuesday afternoon after clinging on life support for nine days.

During the investigation many students acknowledged that Seth Walsh was in distress due to bullying over a long period of time because Walsh was gay. In spite of an anti-bullying program mentioned by school, the school officials nor the school board (more on the politically inept school board later) didn’t intervene to stop the bullying and mental torture of Seth Walsh. It’s ironic that the principal of the Jacobsen Middle School Susan Ortega proudly claims that she has a B.A. in Child and Family Crisis. Apparently Seth Walsh was a crisis Ortega did not see.

This is another from ABC Local:

The 13-year-old’s parents claim that the bullying went on for two years, ever since he got to the middle school. They claim that during that time, they had gone to complain to coaches, an assistant principal and anyone who would listen. They say nothing was ever done.
Now some other parents have come forward, seemingly supporting that claim.
“I told him I loved him and I hoped he had a good day,” said Amy Truong, parent of Asher Brown. “He said, ‘I love you too.’ He seemed fine.”
Just a few short painful days after their son, Asher Brown, took his own life, there are questions whether people at his school did enough to protect him.
“We never had any indication that those children were disciplined at all,” said Amy.
She and her husband David Truong claim Asher was bullied to death, taunted by other students at Hamilton Junior High School. They say he was ridiculed over his appearance, his religion and his sexual orientation.
The final blow, they believe, came just a day before he committed suicide.
“They literally tripped him down one flight of stairs; then when Asher got up to collect himself, they tripped him down a second one,” said David.
The Truongs claim for months they had complained to the school about the bullying, calling and showing up at least six times. But it was always the same response from the school.
“We gave the names to the school and nothing was done. Nothing,” David said.
“I said, ‘Sir’ — I don’t remember their names, the coaches — ‘Asher Brown or Killian Brown, our other son, they’ve been harassed, or they’ve been ganged up on.’ I would use different words of what was done to them,” recalled David Truong. “‘We need to talk.’ And there were no returns. Or I would go there, and when I would go there, I would even sometimes dress in a full suit to try to get a different response. No. They said, ‘You don’t have an appointment.'”
Amy Truong said, “They were just hoping we would leave it at that and go home.”
Cy-Fair district officials say they have no reports from students, staff members or parents that Asher was ever bullied. If he was, they say, the case would have been investigated.

Accountability and consequences need to happen. Otherwise this will go on and on and on as it has for decades already. Now is the time to institute changes in law, policy and social acceptance of bullying, for whatever basis. Society as a whole IS responsible for what it condones. It IS responsible for inaction. It IS responsible for setting the tone of what is right and wrong within the sight of children and teens. Churches are accountable and responsible for what they preach. Hate is hate. Love is love. No one gets the right to condemn another to death, by another’s hand or their own, for the sake of love.

How Love Grows


LGBT Suicides – 7 more since my first blog


Terrel Williams – 17 (WA) Gay
Corey Jackson – 19 (MI) Gay
Tyler Clementi – 18 (NJ) Gay
Raymond Chase – 19 (RI) Gay
Zach Harrington – 19 (OK) Gay
Aiyisha Hassan – 19 (CA) Lesbian
Chloe Lacey – 19 (CA) Trans

I originally wrote concerning recent gay teen suicides in this blog post.
I then wrote two more blogs on bullying here and here .
I also wrote about how conservative christian organizations were claiming we are becoming intolerant of their intolerance here.
While reading another article elsewhere I ran across this. The comment by Regan DuCasse was enlightening and timely concerning religious accountability for bullying.

This blog continues to address the recent suicides. Seven more since I originally posted in September. I guess I should be used to crying for these people. I am not. Each is a fresh cut to the soul. Each hurts as much as the one before. I can only hope I never become so desensitized that tears fail as I read or hear about a new death and loss to the community.

I have only been focusing on the deaths here in the US. They are happening all over the world. They have for decades and probably centuries. I don’t have the strength or will to try to address them all. It is hard enough to keep track here in this country. I am just acknowledging that it is a global problem, not just a local problem. So many have no voice, no visibility on the world stage as they should. Most media are only now actually speaking on this as being a real problem. Only now. Those words tear at me. How many happened and were ignored? How many happened and were covered up and/or silenced out of shame by the family? Many is the likely answer, in all honesty.

The media has focused on the teen males but it isn’t just males. Trans females and lesbians are also killing themselves. For the exact same reasons. This is why I expanded the list once I realized the media bias. This a LGBT issue, not just a gay male issue. I had originally focused on school bullying with my posts. It goes beyond that. There is also societal and religious bullying.

Zach despaired because he witnessed his town’s homophobia in a town meeting. That is societal bullying. He couldn’t see an end to it or that he could survive it. Chloe feared discrimination because she was trans and it is not easy to live with people that won’t accept you as you are. Aiyisha died without being able to reconcile her feelings for herself. Society still allows blatant hostility and outright discrimination. The media is full of it. While there are some efforts to try to stem the tide, it doesn’t help if our youth don’t find those few places before they give up. Churches preach and rail against our very existence. Countless children grow up with fear from their church and parents that they aren’t worthy of life just for being who they are.

It is good that this issue is becoming a national dialog. It is way overdue. Discussion needs to happen. Anti-gay organizations are making hay with it, trying to turn it all back on the victims in twisted and illogical ways that are downright offensive. Many voices are coming forward to try to counter this. Videos are being made in an effort to let teens know that their situations will change and for the better if they can hang on long enough. That is good and needed, but it only works if the videos are seen.

When our politicians use us to increase their power, they are adding to the problem. When they make their statements to try to pull in more votes from anti-gay voters, they are contributing to a cycle of death. Our government owns a piece of responsibility in this crisis. When school officials think more about their conservative parents reactions than the safety of children, they are responsible. When authority figures in any official office turn away and ignore the issue before them, they have responsibility. When parents bring up their children to hate those that are different, they have responsibility too. When any adult can justify not taking action when they see something wrong right in front of them, they too own a piece of the responsibility.

Three years ago I started a project called Finding the Rainbow. It is a series of books talking about how people discovered they are gay, bi or lesbian. It also talks about how they came to accept themselves as they are. It was started because I couldn’t find any material on how people knew that they were LGB. I was looking at sexuality, so Trans wasn’t going to be covered. I asked for people to submit their histories. Not stories, because stories implies fiction. I was asking for their memories and experiences. Between the two questions, knowing and accepting, these histories show that we survived the experience.

I have been unable to complete the first book in the series, the gay male edition, due to lack of submissions. Many agreed to participate, few followed through. I am grateful for those that did. I am frustrated with those that didn’t. These histories might have made a difference, possibly, for one of these kids if they had a chance to read them. This is one of the purposes of the project, to give hope and understanding that we CAN survive. That these people, of various ages and from various places around the country, made it and are ok.

My request is that you pass this blog around. Spread it as far as you can. Maybe someone (many I hope) will come forward and not just commit to the project but also follow through. Now is the time. We need as many resources for our kids as we can bring out for them. It is important. It is the right thing to do, now and for the future.
I can be reached through my Facebook group Finding the Rainbow so just join and contact me there. We need to show our youth that we can survive anything. I am looking for Gay men, Bi men, Bi women and Lesbians willing to write their experiences and contribute them to our youth’s future. Please help me with this project and hopefully help our teens.

Thank you,
Lael