I went to a funeral yesterday. Of a little boy. 11 years old. He lay in the coffin, in a grown up suit, dead.
He killed himself last week because he was taunted, over and over, for being gay. Who knows if he was or wasn't - not really the point. He was a sweet kid, they said, who loved to sing and dance. Very bright.
The school did not respond to his mother's repeated attempts to have the bullying addressed, to have it stopped. Instead, they sentenced the kid to have lunch with his abuser, for five straight days.
He told his mother he was suspended. It seems he was desperate to get out of those lunches. When they proceeded, anyway, he hung himself. It was too much.
I went today with a friend. The woman sitting next to her told her it wasn't the first time. There had been two other students at the same school, who suffered the same taunting. One girl, one boy. The girl tried to kill herself, her mother found her OD'ed on pills and got her to the hospital in time. The boy left the school, to pursue music.
This is baked in, deeply rooted homophobia. And just like baked in, deeply rooted racism affects us all, so does the homophobia. Sitting in that church today, I knew one thing for certain- This community of African-American Pentecostal church members and the gay community have a great deal in common.
A dead little boy.
If there is ever a time to make that bridge, it's now. No where in the national media is this story. No where. Is it because he was poor and black? Maybe. Is it because he was called gay and we're just not going to deal with that? Maybe.
I don't really care. I want to make that bridge. Because together, I think we can change things.
One of my sons is eleven. He came home from school and saw the picture on the service program.
I think I know him, he said. He looks... so familiar.
He doesn't, and didn't but ... we all do.
Please make this story get out in the media. We should be outraged it has not made the evening news, the NY Times, the talk show circuit. An eleven year old boy killed himself because he was bullied. Maybe the queer community is the only one who really understands.
Let's stand behind this family and make a roar so loud no one can ignore it.