Saturday, May 21, 2011
"It is in your weakest moments that you find your true strength" - Unknown
O.K....I'm sitting here staring at this screen trying to figure out how to put these words on the page and I am coming to the realization that I will think in circles forever and not get any closer to what I need to say....so I am going to just lay it out there and let the pieces fall were they may...
Today many people are fretting about the end of the world because of the predictions of Harold Camping. But last night we had an all to real reminder that sometimes the world does end for some of us because the world simply will not allow us to be. Last night a young man who watches our family on YouTube..and who we have been communicating with from time to time, contacted us because he was going to commit suicide. A family member had noticed that he was friends with us online and was asking questions. He was fearful that his family would find out...he was fearful that everyone in his town would find out and that his life would be in danger. So...he decided that ending everything on his own terms was a better option...so he took twenty of the first prescription meds he could lay his hands on. He contacted me right after he had taken the pills to say he was sorry and between Jay and myself, we talked for a very long time. In the end, I am very...very thankful to say that he did not die, though I know that is not the end of this young mans problems. There is still much for him to deal with.
All of this came about because of his friendship and communication with us through Facebook. This has my husband and I to wonder, if...in our desire to help others feel not so alone...we are actually placing them at a higher risk of danger through discovery. We feel this way because this scenario has played out before in slightly different ways...
We very often get emails and sometimes actual letters from young men and women who have come to accept that they are gay and can't speak to anyone about it because of their family, their community, or their cultures condemnation of it. They hail from all over the U.S....sometimes from Muslim countries...sometimes from Asian ones...but no matter where they are from the stories are always remarkable similar. They have figured out that they are gay and can't talk to anyone about it. Sometimes they are on that verge of suicide either because of shame...or sheer loneliness, fear, and desperation. Often times we answer an email with an email and pray that they read it...it helps in some way. You hope fervently that it is a safe communication that does not out them to a family member. And sometimes that's all you get...your email fires off into the electronic universe and you never hear back from that person again leaving you to wonder were their journey will take them. However...a few continue to talk to us and we make ourselves available for anyone that needs it.
Most recently it was a 16 year old young man from the south who was getting very brave with his YouTube videos. After years of not being able to talk to anyone about being gay he had found an outlet and was getting progressively braver and more able to accept himself. He also had moments in which his isolation and family life had brought him to the edge of suicide and we talked to him back and forth for some time. Eventually his parents discovered the text conversation on his cell phone and confronted him about it. he then spilled the beans about his YouTube videos..which were nothing more then him walking around his yard talking about his feelings. His parents were not happy...and nor would I be to discover my child was having a secret life on the Internet. However, This young mans parents were not accepting of gay people before and now that they knew everything one of his parents took every opportunity to express how disgusted they were with him and how ashamed he aught to feel about himself...not what he did...himself. It was another very dark time for this one as he lost all connections the outside world and found himself wanting to commit suicide again. Fortunately, he did not.
But now we have a pattern and it is prompting myself and my husband to ask if...by keeping a dialog with people who live in areas or life situations in which harm could come to them just for associating with us...if we are in fact putting them in greater danger. I can not imagine not talking to someone who has no other gay person to talk to..no one to ask tough questions to. I remember what it felt like to not be able to live what I felt inside or talk about it to anyone. Not every person we talk to is on the edge of suicide but they almost always are contacting us at personal risk to themselves. For the young man last night, it was merely being friends with us on Facebook....he lives in a Muslim country...so supporting anything gay, for any reason, ever, is an invitation to outing and possible violence. For the young man in the southern U.S. it was a text conversation. It was nothing we would be concerned to have found...but for him it led to premature outing and hell at home that has not gone away for him.
When you have a written conversation of any kind, it's going to leave a trail. Letters and text conversations can be found. Emails and browsing histories can be retrieved. Friends lists are open to anyone who has the patients to go through them. having these conversations with people will always involve some risk of discovery for them....and in some cases it can be disastrous. So...what do you think dear readers. Is it worth the risk of discovery to keep a lifeline open with a gay man living in a Muslim country or a teen living in the U.S. living in a home that is hostile to him. Is it doing more harm to them than good? From where I am sitting right now it is hard to tell.
I do not regret any of the things that were said to them..we meant them with all our heart, but it would kill us to know that when we thought we were helping, we were actually increasing their risk. We can not control what those who discover their truth will do with that knowledge and perhaps it would be wiser for us to help them take more precautions at the same time we are counciling them not to be ashamed of being gay. but neither my husband, nor myself can stand their while someone reaches out for help. We know too much what that feels like to let them fall back into the darkness.
Our friend from last night kept apologizing for not being strong enough. It broke my heart. here was a young man for whom discovery of his sexuality could equal death, apologizing to me for not being strong enough. Man, just admitting to yourself that you are gay and reaching out to others when you know the risk is so high is a courage I can't even fathom. It amazes me. Just facing every new day is an act of courage and I let him know as much. It's not about being strong...it's just about living every day one at a time until you can get to a better place. but would he have been in that place were it not for our contact with him. Would he still be curious and alone but alive and safe?....I wonder.