It’s been eighteen years…

CN: murder, suicide

Eighteen years ago I sat on my couch and cried inconsolably, newspaper on my lap, while Colin and their sister played. A young college student, Matthew Shepard, had just been brutally murdered by his peers, solely for being gay. They considered him a threat over who he loved.

I looked at my sweet toddler and wondered about their future. They were so loving, affectionate, and feminine and I worried for them. Were they going to end up gay? What would their future be like?

jeremy-in-1998

Jeremy ~ February 1998

Tears poured down my face while I hoped Matthew had woken up a little near the end, just enough to know he’d been rescued… that people had cared. Enough that he hadn’t died alone. I couldn’t bear the thought that he’d died alone. I could barely bear that he’d died at all. In that moment he wasn’t a stranger’s son but my own child’s future.

Colin cynically commented that they were surprised his murderers got charged way back then and I assured them that of course they did. They were charged and convicted. But I had to admit that their cynicism wasn’t out of place. I poured through the papers over those next few months, reading all the articles and hoping for charges… hoping the plea of “gay panic” wouldn’t be accepted. That love wouldn’t be used as an excuse to kill. And it wasn’t… but only barely.

Today my news feed seems to alternate between pictures of Matthew and a story by a young man who survived conversion therapy, despite several suicide attempts. He’d been told 50% of his class would kill themselves and admits that number ended up being correct. The youngest was 13 years old. Those children were placed in that camp by parents who couldn’t accept their children for who they are and were willing to accept a 50% survival rate as long as their child came home straight. They seem to feel it’s better to bury a dead queer than love a live one.

jeremy-in-2010

Colin ~ February 2010

A young trans friend of mine attempted suicide a couple of days ago. Another is contemplating it over top surgery. There were the Orlando shootings in June and, in Canada, the young artist Sophie Labelle gets death threats daily for daring to draw queer issues (mostly regarding the T in LGBTQIA). And if I hadn’t been a bit on the delusional side on how high you can jump and live, I wouldn’t be here either. I didn’t want to risk living through a seven storey drop (eight considering we live over the basement drop off) so, ironically, I’m still here too.

Eighteen years ago I’d hoped that our society would have changed dramatically for the better. It’s changed but not enough, not nearly enough. Today is beautiful, warm, and sunny but in my heart it’s raining. I am so tired of the deaths. Please help make it stop.

Advertisements

Changes and other positive stuff…

The new year is only four days old and it’s already brought multiple changes. Emma and her boyfriend came over for dinner on the 1st. Emma had some mild grumbles about Mark’s family New Year’s Eve party but nothing major. She’d also just told her Dad not to contact her again unless he’d grown up. I agreed with the sentiment but felt her message was too subtle for him to comprehend. It was a big step though as she’s always been worried that her Dad would abandon her and tolerated too much manipulation from him.

I woke on the 2nd to the real beginning of the changes. Two voice messages waited from Emma on my cellphone. Mark’s parents had heard an exaggerated version of her grumblings and told Mark she had a month to get out of their house. Which means she’ll be living here in three more weeks. Plus my phone hadn’t charged overnight (which is understandable considering my charger was unplugged) so listening to her messages took the last of my battery. This meant I’d been off Facebook for almost 24 hours by the time I got home, so it was a huge surprise when I discovered messages from friends asking about and apologizing for the upheaval, as well as an open chat message from “Facebook User”. One of my friends, who I’d had a pleasant chat with the night before, decided that myself and two other friends were deeply religious then went on to make nasty comments on a mutual group before deleting and blocking us (hence the Facebook User status). Calling me deeply religious is akin to admiring Patrick Stewart’s luxurious locks but I’ve never considered it an insult. I found myself wondering exactly how someone can go from having a friendly, casual conversation with a person to ranting and blocking them in under an hour but I guess I’ll never know. Having her block and delete herself saved me from a world of drama, which is a positive.

I was sent home work early on the 3rd, thanks to managers who knew a nasty winter storm was approaching. I got in just as the storm began and Emma arrived less than 5 minutes later. Her father began messaging and calling her almost immediately. She asked him not to call because she wasn’t home and he persisted, calling four or five times in the next half hour. The final straw was his last message in which he asked, in a whining tone, for her to please ask Jeremy if he* still liked his Dad and to text him the answer. Jeremy’s phone number has been in the family for seven years. Their Dad had it memorized when Emma held the number for the first three years but forgot it as soon as Jeremy took it over four years ago. He went on to tell Emma “you’ve been no fucking peach of a kid yourself. You’ve been a shitty kid yourself.” I listened to that message then helped Emma find a free program to block his number. It’s in the Google Play store under Calls Blacklist – Call Blocker (with a picture of a red shield and a crossed out white phone receiver). Blocking him will save her from a world of pain and drama, which is a huge positive.

Thankfully today has been fairly quiet. I went to our church’s fire communion, a UU ceremony which involves writing both things to hold on to and things to release and releasing them into a chalice flame.

fire communion

Afterwards Jeremy and I went shopping, both for groceries and to pick up Christmas items on clearance. Jeremy picked out a teal blue, glitter encrusted reindeer from Bouclair (a store zie sweetly mispronounces as Blue Care). Zie also asked if we could pick up more of that “soap for hair” while we were out (I still had some shampoo from my Christmas stocking so zie’s happy). Right now the biggest change here is the weather. It was below zero and snowing yesterday then plus 8C and drizzling today. Tomorrow’s going to be -8 with a windchill of -14. I’m just going to cart around a bottle of Advil because even if I don’t need any, I’m sure at least two of my coworkers will.

Emma shared this picture with me yesterday and I just had to share it…

10904865_10205021851082908_1074900481_n

Someone in one of the forums I belong to shared this post titled 9 Ways to Save Your Life if You’re Young and Trans. It’s definitely worth a read and I’ll be adding it to my resources page as well.

This book came out about a decade too late for my kids but looks like a great bedtime story for anyone who has young children. Made by Raffi is a story about a shy young boy who gets teased. Then he discovers knitting and, with some ingenuity, makes things better…

Photo from Amazon

Written by Craig Pomranz and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain

A friend of mine wrote some prose that is well worth reading. Seriously, hop on over and read this… You are beautiful just as you are.

I started crying on the bus yesterday when I read this cartoon but they were more happy tears than anything…

10835222_350056845176586_7001481383201988403_o

by Sophie Labelle

Jeremy has a couple of songs zie listens to regularly. I shared one a few months ago but zie has another by Emma Blackery that zie would love to share. Enjoy…

* Jeremy is not out to zir father, hence the male pronouns.