Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rest In Peace Ben Lewis 11/19/2011 (15 year old victim of bullying)

The prayer is that someday, SOMEDAY!!, these headlines will disappear.  Fifteen year old Ben Lewis, of Lincoln, Nebraska took as much bullying as he could handle.  On November 19th, the bullying claimed his young life.  Say a prayer for his devastated family.  Then, get involved.  In your own way, to whatever extent you can afford, get involved.  This HAS to end!!!  Every state in the Union needs to examine and re-examine their anti-bullying laws, make them strong and all-encompassing, then ENFORCE them!!!  That these young people to get away with pushing another human being to their death with impunity is absolutely an issue that needs to be re-examined.  Rest in Peace young Ben Lewis.

Prayers for Brittany and Roger

I want to thank every one of you who rose to the occasion last night in attempt to save a young life.(blog entry "AN URGENT CALL TO ACTION")  I don't know where this young man lives other than in the US.  I've sent him links for help, my own contact information, and prayers.  Many of you did, too.  Let's hope for the best.

And, as I'm sure you know, there's always more to do.  Fourteen year old Brittany needs your prayers.  The facebook posting that I saw said that she's in ICU after attempting suicide today.  We need to send lots of prayers her way.  And, yes, she was yet another victim of bullying, but we'll get to that later.  For now, let's send lots and lots of prayers and hope she pulls out of this first.

Lastly, and sadly, we lost a crusader in the war against bullying.  Roger Crouch, whose son, Dominic, committed suicide in May of 2010, passed away tonight.  In loving memory and honor of his son, Roger worked hard to bring about changes that would hopefully help prevent other teens from going through what Dom endured.  His efforts reached around the globe, and he will be missed.  I'm sure his family would love to hear your words of support.  R.I.P. Roger Crouch.  

Monday, November 28, 2011


I spend a lot of time perusing through information to share with you in this blog.  Tonight, I was watching a video of an actual suicide note that was written by a young boy just before he killed himself.  Heart wrenching doesn't even begin to describe the feeling I got.  And, the feeling YOU would get if you were to read the same note.

Then, I started reading the comments.  This one jumped off the screen at me:  "I'm 19 and I'm going to end my pain...Well my b day is december 15th...I'm 18...If only you guys knew my life...And the pain I'm going through"  You read that right.  And, THIS WAS WRITTEN JUST A FEW HOURS AGO!  So, I'm calling on every single person reading this to help save this young man's life.  I've only been able to connect through his youtube page, http://www.youtube.com/user/donaldadin2009, but I sent him a message pleading for him to seek help.   I sent him a link for befrienders.  Lots and lots of kind words and genuine concern might just save a life!!!!  Let's give it a try.  Like, right now!!!  A life is depending on it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Good....

In the grand scheme of things, this is a battle that's been fought for as long as I can remember.  In the '50s and '60s, it was the Civil Rights movement.  That torch was passed on to the Women's Rights movement.  And, here we are today.  Same fight; new warriors. (well, on one side of the battle, at least.  If you look deep enough, I'm thinking you'd see the same core institution on the OTHER side of the battle in all of these cases.  Makes you wonder...)  

This battle for acceptance, gay rights, gay marriage, tolerance, ending gay teen suicide all fits under one big rainbow-colored umbrella.  Our army has some strong leaders.  Fighters.  When you have a 14-year-old openly gay student taking on the school board, that's a fighter!!

In seeing and listening to young people like Graeme Taylor gives you the sense that, through the darkness, there really is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.  The message here for young people is it can and will get better if you just hang in there.  Pass it on.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why It Matters to Me

Twelve years old.  I'm on vacation in a little rural city named Portsmouth, VA.  My aunt, with whom I was spending the summer, prearranged with her friend and neighbor to have her friend's nephew also visit from out-of-state at the same time.  Built-in companions.  Little did my aunt know that I would become very attracted to this boy.  Sure, we certainly did hang out together nearly every minute of every day!  I was mesmerized by him.

One summer afternoon, we were over his [aunt's] house shooting pool in the basement.  This was the most exciting time of the entire vacation for me!!  My heartthrob and I were alone together at last!!  Who cared who would win the match!?  I just wanted to be alone with him.  Eventually, I got close enough to sneak a kiss on the cheek!  I was in Heaven.  He was furious!  Needless to say, that slammed the brakes on our friendship.  Stopped on a dime.

I went on with my summer vacation sans my former heartthrob.  I'm resilient like that.  We never uttered another single word to one another, as badly as I wanted to.  He met all new friends.  They weren't the kind of kids I would hang around.  Riding my bike merrily down a neighborhood street on blazing summer afternoon, I spot my former friend at the other end of the street riding his bike towards me.  And, he was with his new friends....the ones I would never hang around.  My gut instinct told me that this wasn't going to be a friendly encounter.  I had no idea how right that instinct was.

As we met in the middle of the block, one of the boys knocked me off of my bike.  It was downhill from there.  Quickly, I was surrounded by the pack as they proceeded to beat the holy shit out of me!!!  At one point, the biggest of the boys had my head locked between his knees, using his knees as a vice grip!, as he delivered blow after blow after bloody blow to my face.  Eventually, I was rescued, and the gay bashing was over.

Nothing about me was ever the same after that summer.  Whereas it didn't lead me to suicide (told you I was resilient!), it forever changed everything about how I view life.  There are emotional scars left even today. (to wit, my eyes teared as I wrote this recount)

It matters to me because I've been there.  It matters to me because it's either costing lives or leaving a lifetime of emotional destruction in its wake.  It matters to me because THIS kind of brutal, animalistic behavior MUST end!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Taking Steps to Prevent Bullying

Bullying has been identified as one of the major contributors to gay teen and teen (in general) suicide.  Certainly, the latest rash of teen and gay teen suicides have named bullying as such.  So, maybe the issue is to catch the situation before it becomes an irreversible issue.  Do YOU know what to look for?  Would you know how to identify if your son or daughter is being bullied?  My next several entries will be providing very valuable information on how to recognize the signs before it's too late.The Bullying Report is a 44-page free downloadable book full of good information.  Get yours now!!

A Day of Rest (Updated)

Today, and everyday, give thanks for what you have in your life...especially your loved ones.

I'm actually doing something today that I very seldom get the chance to do:  nothing at all.  It's my day of rest.  In just about an hour or so, I will be well-rested with a big, full belly.

I wish that the dilemma of teen suicide, gay teen suicide, and suicide in general could take the day off, as well.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  In fact, suicides tend to increase during the Holiday Season, which is now upon us.  Unfortunately, depression, the feeling of isolation, and all of the other native causes of suicide doesn't take the day off.  As we gather with our families and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, let's also remember the families and friends of those who have left this world through their own actions.



It was quickly brought to my attention that suicides actually DON'T increase during the holidays, that it's just a long held myth.  I stand corrected.  In fact, suicides tend to lower in December.  Sorry for the misinformation.  I, too, fell for the myth.  Thank you, Barb, for the correction.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jamie Hubley

You know, 40 short days ago, I had no idea in the world who Jamie Hubley was.  In the days since then, however, his name, his voice, and even his spectacularly handsome image is known to people all around the globe.  On October 14th, Jamie ended his young life.  Being 15 years old and openly gay had its price as Jamie was yet another victim of homophobic bullying.  Being 15 years old, openly gay, enduring bullying, and having clinical depression on top of that proved to be too much weight to carry.  In his short time here, Jamie was already making a major impact on people's lives.  According to his father, in a recorded interview, Jamie just loved people and wanted to make a difference.  According to Jamie, in his now-defunct tumblr blog, "I just want to feel special to someone".  Today, the things he wished for and wanted are coming to fruition:  he is making a difference in people's lives around the globe; he is very special in the hearts of thousands and, perhaps, over a million people from that same geographic location.  To be sure, as of this day, I can still say I never "knew" him.  I can say, however that he has had a profound impact on my life.  See, Jamie Hubley is why you're reading this.  Jamie Hubley gave me my voice.  As a singer/songwriter by profession, and as a gay man by nature, I'd ALWAYS taken the issue of gay teen suicide very seriously.  I'd been trying to bring awareness to the issue for a couple decades.  I'd written about it in a few of my songs.  It wasn't enough.  I needed to get more deeply involved in helping to bring about change.  This very blog is in Jamie's honor.

Today, November 23rd, 2011 is Jamie's sweet 16th birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, JAMIE!!!  You are loved by many.


Those of you who have been following my blog will remember a post about the bill in Michigan that was trying to get passed.  In the bill, however, was an exemption for people who acted out of “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”  Hard to believe, I know.  In response, there was a petition sent around to get that exemption removed from bill.  And, people from all around the country were signing it.  GREAT NEWS!!!!  Your efforts worked!!!!  No hiding behind religion to commit your acts of hate and intolerance.  Thanks for your signatures!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teen Admits Killing Gay Classmate

Ok, so a teenaged straight kid gets hit on by a teenaged gay kid.  It's pretty safe to say that it happens everywhere, everyday.  The straight kid doesn't like being hit on by the gay kid.  More often than not, that happens everywhere, everyday as well.  The straight kid goes to school and EXECUTES the gay kid for the "unwanted advances". (a bullet to the back of the head and one while the gay kid lay on the floor constitutes an execution in my book)  Two days later, Larry King died of his injuries inflicted by Brandon McInerney.  I think it's hardly fair that Brandon's family will get him back in their lives in roughly 20 more years.  Larry's family will never have that joy again.  At least this bring a sense of closure to one of the more horrific cases in recent memory.

Ever Wonder What Makes Bullies Bully?

We've reached the point, finally, where we all, for the most part, agree that there's a serious problem in our society today with bullying, especially (though, not exclusively!) with our young people.  Great!  Now comes the real work.  How do you detect a bully when you see one?  How do you know if your own child is a bully?  You certainly can't be with them 24/7 and almost certainly have no idea of every single thing they do at school or in public when you're not around.  Well, good news!  There are characteristic that you can look for to help you detect and correct it.  Some of the incidences of bullying that we're seeing today are nothing short of appalling.  Lives are being lost because of it.  Acknowledging, finally, that there is a serious problem is a great first step.  Now, let's educate ourselves so we can start reversing the trend.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ray of Hope: Students Fight Back Bullying!!!

THIS IS THE KIND OF RESPONSE WE NEED TO SEE MORE OF!!  Fifteen year old Cole Peterson, openly bisexual, was attacked by two of his classmates because of his sexuality.  Here's the twist:  300 students from his high school staged a sit-in in protest of his attack, in specific, and against bullying in general.  That is exactly the kind of response we need to see every single day in every single incident of bullying!  Bravo to you, Cole, and definitely BRAVO to you, the students who supported him!!!

R.I.P. Jasmine McClain (ANOTHER 10 YEAR OLD!!!)

Her name was Jasmine McClain.  She was just 10 years old.  She was being bullied.  And, now, she's gone.  There's a tribute page set up for her on facebook.  Go, leave your condolences for the family.  As you can imagine, their grief right now is overwhelming.  When I read this article last night, all I could do was sit in a stunned silence.  We need more and more people getting involved with this cause.  As you see, it's reached epidemic proportions.  We need more people sharing this blog with their friends (or, any other similar information outlet!!  As long as the job gets done!!!!)  But, right now, we all need to pause and go to Samantha West's aid.  Her beautiful 10 year old daughter isn't coming home any more.  Rest in Peace, Jasmine McClain.

Know the Signs

I awakened this morning to the following post on facebook:  "I want to die".  Needless to say, every alarm in my head went off .  I checked my text messages, and the same person had texted me:  "Well, things are worst than ever.  suicide seems like the best way to go now".   Let me first say that he's alive and well.  Secondly, this is a young man I've known a few years.  And, it's been a struggle for him the entire time I've known him.  He doesn't want to die.  He wants the pain, suffering, and struggling to go away.  Sound familiar?  I do know that he suffers from depression, so I contacted him right away.  Depression, however, is just one of the warning signs to look for.  Can you name 4 more?  Most people can't.  In order to bring this sad chapter in our history to an end, we need to educate and re-educate ourselves. LEARN THE WARNING SIGNS!!!! (lives depend on it)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Give Them Hope; Give Them Life

Since getting involved in this mission to help save some young lives, I've come to recognize a  very clear and discernible constant:  a pervasive sense of hopelessness.  And, in many-to-most cases, I could understand where their sense of hopelessness comes from.  In addition to the normal angst and anxiety that comes with being a teenager, and with the added weight of dealing with their sexuality internally and externally, they are bombarded with negativity as it pertains directly to them.  In many, but certainly not all, cases, they are made to feel less than whole, "defective", unwanted, unloved, and add your own adjective.  There's, unfortunately, too many to add them all here.  So, in my ongoing, and never ending, effort to help bring this culture of intolerance to an end, I want to pass along this information.  Someone's life will be saved by your efforts.

Today is International Survivors of Suicide Day

This is the 13th Annual International Survivors of Suicide Day. It's a day of healing. From my experience, I will tell you that EVERYDAY, for the rest of your life!, will be a day of healing. I'm posting this early enough for any of you who wants or needs to can get involved, either in person or via Internet. And, it's available is Spanish and French, as well.  For you who want to attend...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hating In The Name of God

So, you've seen the videos over the past few days of school administrators bullying students, unaware that their actions were about to be broadcasted worldwide.  It's well documented how, in some cases, the parents, themselves, are as responsible for their children's low self-esteem, and in some cases suicides, because of their intolerance and lack of acceptance.  But, to have a pastor, A MAN OF GOD, spew hatred towards, intolerance of, and utter lies about gays is absolutely unacceptable.
When you start to look at the bigger picture of what today's youth have to deal with as the struggle to find their place in this crazy world, it's quite easy indeed to see why we have so many emotionally damaged young people taking their own lives.  When they see and hear so many adults, people they look to for leadership and affirmation, from the homes to the schools to the churches, instead give them just the opposite.  Then, when the end result is another tragic loss, we shake our collective heads and wonder "why".

And You Thought It Was Just a Kid's Thing!

It's horrific enough that you have to be concerned about your son or daughter being bullied at school by their classmates.  We've already seen the damage that causes, and we are very well aware that it oft times is the major contributor to teen suicides.  And, we as adults have been preaching that they should report these bullying instances to their teachers and/or school administrators immediately.  Well, as I'm sure many of you saw just yesterday, it isn't JUST the kids who are doing the bullying as a teacher in New Jersey was caught on video verbally abusing (bullying) a special needs student.  That's unacceptable, right?  Of course it is, and we should be outraged.  But, if you think this is an isolated case...an anomoly, THINK AGAIN!!  See, this atmosphere of intolerance isn't a kid's thing; it's handed down to them from the very people who are entrusted to mold them into upstanding citizens.  It's taught in churches, in the homes and, as is evident here, in the schools.  If it's true that the young minds are like sponges, and it is, then why are we so careless as to what they're "soaking up"?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Every 18 Minutes

Ok, I've set my stopwatch.  It wouldn't make sense for you to set yours since it will take you less time to read this that it will for me to type it.  The fact I want to drive home is the there's a teen suicide every 18 minutes, statistically, in this country.  That's exactly 18 too many.  And, in most cases, bullying played a major role in it.  The time is now for every single person with an iota of compassion to start getting involved in order to bring this epidemic to a swift end.  Educate yourselves on the issue.  Educate your own children!  And, educate your friends.  The atmosphere of hate and intolerance comes from somewhere.  So, the best place to start attacking it, in order to eradicate it, is in the homes.  We can NO LONGER count on the schools and school administrators to do the job for us.  To be sure, in some cases, they're as culpable as the kids who do the bullying.  It is my belief, and I'm sure the belief of countless others, that the time is now to get involved (...just lost another teen to suicide).  Here's a helpful tool to help kickstart the education process.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It Takes a Village (Update)

The more I read, listen, and learn, the angrier I get.  Violence against the GLBT community is being sanctioned, and your loved ones are at risk!!  I told you in an earlier entry about the new law in Michigan that allows bullying of gays if it's done for religious reasons.  Wait!  Did I miss something?  So, Billy the jock can go beat the snot out of Jimmy the homecoming queen and, as long as he says Jimmy's being gay went against his religious beliefs, he's excused?  Oh, HELL NO!  It truly does take a village, and I'm a staunch believer in the power of numbers.  For the sake of your own children, be they gay, straight, or Martian, let's get this law reversed. Every voice counts!

11/17/2011:  Voices from around the world are being heard!!!  OVER 80,000 PEOPLE have signed this petition so far!!!  Let's keep it going.  Add your name to the growing list so that we can get rid of this evil bill. If you haven't signed yet, do it now. If you have, pass it along to someone who hasn't.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rest In Peace Ashlynn Conner (she was 10 YEARS OLD!!!)

I'm reminded of a saying: "if nothing changes, nothing changes".  There is NO WAY a family of a 10 year old should be mourning and planning a funeral for their child BECAUSE OF BULLYING!  NO WAY!!  THIS has got to end!!  Where are such young kids learning to be so extraordinarily cruel?  The answer, far too often, is they learn it from home.  Teach your children well.  Rest in peace, young Ashlynn.

How Some Parents Drive Their Kids to Suicide (Updated)

I've been saying for too many years that there are parents in this country, and probably around the world, who drive their gay or lesbian sons or daughters to suicide.  And, to their defense, I will say that they don't even realize they're doing it until it's too late.  We as adults, young or old, already know how difficult the teen years can be.  The teasing, the bullying, the "trying to fit in", the sheer weight of peer pressure.  Toss into the ring the reality of being a gay or lesbian who is still figuring themselves out - or, for that matter, even the ones who are confident within themselves with their sexuality - which is almost certain to bring added pressure and tension.  Take all of that turmoil that they're already dealing with at school amongst their peers, add to it living in a household where they already know that gays and lesbians are not accepted, looked down upon, or (in some cases) vehemently hated.  That's a recipe for disaster.  It plays out in household across this country, and around the world, every single day.  Remember: every 18 minutes, a kid takes his own life.  That's an epidemic!  It's time we start changing the way we think in order to start saving some lives.  Even the strongest steel breaks under too much pressure.

I thought it was fitting to add to this entry.  At this very moment, I'm also chatting with a simply delightful, highly intelligent, very handsome and sensitive young man.  Unfortunately, he also fights suicidal tendencies regularly.  And, at the root of that is a home where his family, his parents belittle him (at best) for who his is.  I spend as much time as needed, and as I can, talking to him.  It's paying off.  He IS doing better by the day.  However, this morning, his self-esteem took another punch to the gut as his own mother called him "...a fool" for being in love with someone from his own sex.  If only we could get these parents to understand the devastating affect some of their words have on their children, I'm sure the suicide rate amongst teens, gay and straight alike, would be drastically lower.  Here's the blog entry this young man made (his permission to reblog was granted) after being verbally assaulted by his own mother:

I feel like everyone is stalking at me… Pressured just anywhere I go… Finally when I’d try to get closer to someone I love from all my heart… someone will surely be there to break my least effort… and break my heart to tiny pieces…
Even my own family wants to take away from me what matters to me the most… Urging me not to have what my life is just all about… if that’s so then I don’t even need my life either :( 
Sometimes I just wish to run away and get the whole thing over with…
Only then comes school, where I’m, yet again, handled as a darts target, a trash can, a whatever… what does life worth like this? :(
A grateful thanks to the few beautiful people who reassure me from time to time… ily!

Pray for change.  Then work towards making it happen.

Sunday, November 13, 2011



    This is a link to a wonderful page giving many different types of resources. http://www.feelingblue.org/resources#yspr

    • National Suicide Prevention Organizations
    • National Support Groups
    • Depression Resources
    • Youth Suicide Prevention Resources
    • Resources for Finding Facts and Figures
    • Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Questioning Resources (GLBTQ)
    • Pennsylvania Resources
    • Survivor of Suicide Resources

    Feeling Blue Suicide Prevention Council is a community-based organization dedicated to preventing suicide, reducing the stigma associated with suicide, and supporting those people affected by depression or by the loss of a loved one to suicide. We do this through education and support.

    A couple more links have been added, so I wanted to post them here:

    This is a link for a downloadable PDF done by C.O.M.H. (Consortium for Organizations Mental Healthcare)


    A practical guide (download )for people who have lost someone to suicide in Ontario (adapted from Alberta but updated for Ontario)

    Thanks, Barb (again!), for posting this.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Make a Note; Have a Plan

A couple things became obvious after last night's ordeal(s) (yes, there was a second one later in the evening): 1.) this truly is an epidemic.  Last night, in a period of 5 hours, three young people THAT WE KNOW OF attempted to take their own lives; one succeeded.  So, I guess it's safe to say that it served as a microcosm of society as a whole:  for all our efforts, we just couldn't get to them all; and, 2.) there needs to be a concrete plan in place for when this crisis reaches you.  And, trust me, at the rate of 1 suicide EVERY 18 MINUTES!, it's only a matter of time before it effects your life.  Map out your plan, now.  Make mental notes.  If it's pre-crisis, meaning no attempt has been made but the at-risk person is in a very fragile state, get professional help immediately.  If it's too late for that, if the attempt has already been made and every second counts, call the proper authorities immediately.  Every single second counts.  We're going to win this battle and cut significantly into the current statistics.  We can make a difference!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Would You Do?

Last night, we had a crisis in my online community.  There were signs that a suicide attempt may be underway.  So, for the next several hours, several of us scrambled in an attempt to put something concrete together to present to the proper authorities.  After nearly three hours of intense information gathering and sharing, we were able to track down the at-risk person and get them to the hospital.  Safe and sound.

Once I was able to catch my breath, it made me sit and wonder what would you do?  How would you have handled a similar situation?  Would you believe that there was one young person who had the vital information we needed but wouldn't (COULDN'T) give it to us because their parents said "don't get involved with it, it isn't your business."  Saving a life, whether you know the person or not, should be EVERYBODY'S business.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Suicide Note

A while back, my former songwriting partner contacted me to ask if I could "come up with something..." for him.  He had this title, and an idea of what he wanted the song to be written about.  And, he knew that it was a subject matter that was very dear to my heart.  Still is.

This is written as an actual suicide note.  I would greatly love to wipe out the need for any parent, any friend, and loved-one to ever have to read a similar in their lifetime.  Please pay close attention to the lyric of this song, then do EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER to make sure no parent or loved-one has to endure reading a letter like this again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ever Wonder Where The Atmosphere of Hate Comes From?

We live in a very complex world. Our society has become deeply divided and polarized. And, people have become all too comfortable with spewing hatred and intolerance all in the name of God. Case in point is that church, you know the one I'm talking about, that, in the name of God(so they believe), goes around to funerals and high schools with extremely toxic, hateful, and purely evil signs stating how much God hates fags, how fags should burn in hell, and worse. Here's a deeper issue, and one that really merits looking into: these people have children, no doubt. So, what's the lesson learned by the children? That it's totally ok to hate as long as it's done in the name of God. That intolerance is fine as long as God is in the mix. And, you wonder why there are hate-filled bullies in the schools? Well, wonder no more.  Here's the eye-opener: one state just sanctioned bullying as long as....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Is Depression?

Now, if you ask the average person what depression is, they'd probably have a very pedestrian response, like "when your boyfriend breaks up with you." To be sure, that can be quite depressing. However, it isn't depression. Clinical depression is an illness, and it's an illness that is at the root of the overwhelming majority of teen suicides, be they gay or straight. This article, posted by my good friend Maureen, will certainly explain better than I can.  Depression

Monday, November 7, 2011

My New Voice

Recent tragic events have served to give me, finally, my true voice. I've often written about gay teen suicide in my lyrics hoping, I guess, that someone, somewhere who was truly at risk would hear the songs and reconsider. Not enough. I took this particular suicide very personally even though if he were alive today, I wouldn't know him from the man in the moon. Doesn't matter. I know him now. He's directly and incredibly touched my life in a very deep way. To say "things will never be the same" is cliche at best, moot at the least. I can't say this any clearer or directly: I want gay teen (and, ANY teen!) suicide eradicated. And, I won't stop raising awareness...ever. That's my gift to you, Jamie Hubley, as a tribute to your life and as a thank you for giving me my voice.