Monday, September 9, 2013

Pauls Toutonghi on Suicide of Gay Teen Jadin Bell: "As a Recent Father of Twins, This Story Wouldn’t Leave Me Alone"

At Salon, Pauls Toutonghi discusses in heart-rending detail the protracted, relentless bullying that led to the suicide of 15-year-old Jadin Bell on 19 January this year. Bell was the only openly gay student in his high school in La Grande, Oregon. An excerpt:

As a recent father of twins, this story wouldn’t leave me alone. It lingered, with granular specificity, in the fabric of my imagination. So much of the joy of the early years of parenting, for me, was the physicality of my kids’ bodies—the way it felt to lift and to hold them, to smell the buttery scent of their skin, to pull them close against me. Now, I imagined the converse of this: Jadin’s parents, watching their son die in his bed in the pediatric ICU, beloved but unreachable, a compression bandage holding the IV in his wrist, his immobile body tucked into the starched cotton sheets of the hospital bed.

And another:

I met with Bud Hill ["a man whom Jadin had considered an uncle, and who was now handling the family’s media requests in the wake of the suicide"] at the Smoke House later in the day. Hill was hesitant to assign blame for Jadin’s death. The high school, in his view—while unforgivably slow to act—was motivated more by fear, embarrassment and conservatism, rather than outright malice. But the churches in town were, in his mind, a different matter entirely. Three different congregations had just refused to host a fundraiser to help pay the family’s medical bills. 
"These churches run La Grande, really," Hill said. "They are the social life of the community. And because Jadin was gay, they didn’t want to be associated with the family. Even after he’d passed away."

I highly recommend this essay. We Americans need to find a way to stop the bullying and self-destruction of gay teens. We need to find that way yesterday. Before one more teen dies.

The photo of Jadin Bell is from Huffington Post.

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