By now, I hope you’ve heard about the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer. I say “hope” because it’s a story that isn’t going to get a lot of mainstream attention and I think it’s a story that everyone needs to hear. It’s made the rounds on my RSS feed but then, I’m prone to subscribe to feeds that would naturally cover this. So often, I get bombarded with news stories that I feel everyone MUST know about just because I see them constantly, only to learn that many people don’t know what’s happening.
And maybe you’ve also heard the story that after Jamey’s funeral, his sister went to a dance at school where the bullies in Jamey’s life chanted that they were glad he’s dead. Remember when you were told to just ignore a bully and they’d go away? That’s a lie. It’s always been a lie. Today, they bully you even when you’re dead.
I’ve got my own stories of being bullied. In grade school, a wealthy classmate offered to buy a brand new BMX bike for anyone who would beat me up. In junior high, I got tossed around a bit. High school was more about psychological abuse. Let’s face it: when your last name is Farrey, you’ve pretty much got a bullseye on your forehead 24/7.
When I think of how prevalent bullying was in my life, it seems insurmountable. Like NOTHING could ever be done to stop it. And there are elements in this country who don’t think it’s possible to stop, or insist it’s a “natural part of growing up,” or have no interest in trying. (Yes, Representative Bachmann, I’m looking at you.) But it’s only in recent years that I’ve begun to believe we CAN do something. We SHOULD do something.
I’d like to suggest some fairly small/easy things you can do that could make all the difference to someone who’s being bullied:
–Donate to the Trevor Project. This is a great hotline dedicated to preventing suicide among LGBT youth. At our wedding last year, my husband and I did a dollar dance where we contributed the money to the Trevor Project. I say that not to boast but to show that I’m getting behind when I say “please donate to the Trevor Project.”
–If you’re in the Twin Cities, check out a performance of MEAN, an original drama about bullying and it’s increasingly tragic consequences. Produced by the Youth Performance Company, it traces the story of three students being tormented based on physical appearance, perceived sexual orientation, and religion.
–Donate a copy of the recently released DEAR BULLY to your local library. 70 authors recount stories of their own abuses growing up in an attempt to reach out to anyone in a similar predicament today.
–Follow Caleb Laieski on Twitter. He’s a 16-year-old guy from Arizona who is lobbying President Obama to to appoint a youth advisor to work with the administration on the everyday emotional and complex issues that LGBT youth face. You can sign Caleb’s petition here. I’ve got tons of respect for Caleb and what he’s trying to do.
I’ll be honest: I don’t know how I got through it. I know I had a close knit group of friends in high school who were a large part of helping me achieve some mental stability. But before that? I have no clue. I just know that as long as I can do SOMETHING to reach out, I’m going to.
I am, of course, not just talking about LGBT youth. But I can speak from experience that maybe the greatest moment in any gay man’s life is that moment of recognition, knowing conclusively that you’re not alone. It’s liberating. That’s what I want any teen considering suicide to realize.
Never pass up a chance to tell someone who’s being bullied that they’re not alone. Never stop reaching out. We can do something. And we will.