Thursday, October 7, 2010

"It Gets Better," Part One -- Suicide is Not An Option

(This subject is so important to me, I've decided to separate it into several shorter posts. I hope you'll read all of them because each one is on a different but related topic, and I believe each has something important to say.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the "It Gets Better" channel on YouTube, here's a quote from writer Dan Savage, explaining what prompted him to start it:

"Billy Lucas [from Greensburg, Indiana) was just 15 when he hanged himself [early this September] in a barn on his grandmother's property.  He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates--classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself.  His mother found his body....  I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes.  I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better.  I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better."

(Quote borrowed from

First, I want to deal with the issue of suicide.  I want to share with you why I, now a 51-year-old gay man, never committed suicide when I was younger--when I was growing up in a tough, farming community in northeastern British Columbia, Canada, and later in Kelowna; when I was a student in the public school system in the 1960s and early 1970s; and when I was subjected to as much bullying, including verbal and physical abuse, for being a fem, fairy, and faggot, as anyone I know.

I have my mother to thank and, indirectly, the Catholic church.  I was raised Catholic, but I now call myself a recovering Catholic and follow no formalized religion.  We all know how most churches feel about people who are gay.  As long as they maintain that narrow and misguided position, I have no use for them.  But this one point may have saved my life.

When I was growing up, my mother told me, according to the Catholic church, committing suicide is a sin.  She used to say, it's not for us to decide when to end our lives, no matter how bad things get.  Only God can make that decision.  She told me, God put us here for a purpose, and we are here to fulfill that purpose until He calls us back.

That always stayed with me, through my childhood, difficult as it was, into adulthood, through those many times when I felt the most marginalized, the most isolated, and the most alone.  So even though committing suicide may have crossed my mind at various times, however fleetingly, I could never actually plan and follow though with it.

Because of what my mom said, I always believed I was put here for a greater purpose.  Focusing on that greater purpose--even though I had no idea what it was or when I'd know what it was--is what I know got me through some desperate times as a young, gay man.  I always knew I was here for something more than to be the whipping boy of so many of my classmates.  I never believed that's all my life would be about.  And, if you're sexually confused or an LGBT youth, you must not either.    

Perhaps part of my greater purpose is to write this blog, to share with you, dear readers, what being gay and what being in a long-term relationship is like for me--with the goal of writing something that resonates with you and gives you hope.  I believe this is the work God now calls me to do.

So, the lesson here?  Suicide is not an option.  Despite what you're going through right now, despite how isolated and lonely and miserable you feel, you are meant for greater things.  You are meant for greater things.  I promise you that.  You must believe.

To view Dan Savage's video, the one that started it all, please click here:  "It Gets Better"  

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