Today, 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover was laid to rest. I cannot even bring myself to type out the reason for this sad, crushing and entirely preventable death.
Carl is hardly the first child to have died, in all likelihood, due to ceaseless bullying. My rational side knows full well that Carl will not be the last, though everything else in me is screaming:
I'll keep the banner on top of this blog (or someplace in the blog) for as long as the organization exists (or until this blog is finally finished). If you or someone you know is feeling despondent, withdrawn or is behaving in some unusual way and you suspect it is because they may be the subject of bullying based on perceived, actual or some other issue related to sexual orientation or gender identity, please reach out to them then connect with the Trevor Project.
They are open 24/7/365 and have a toll-free number.
Carl's mother is a breast cancer survivor, like my mother was and my sister-in-law is. I was bullied, called names, etc. as a child and a teenager. I found many ways of making it through each day -- sometimes just compartmentalizing my sexuality and other parts of my life, sometimes using the bully's words to push the bully back (to this day I have never thrown a punch, though it doesn't take me too long to remember what the urge to do that feels like).
Once in a while, I drank to numb myself and escape. And, like far too many youths, thought in passing about killing myself. I never had a plan -- somehow I always figured if I could hang in one more day that I was one day closer to no longer being conflicted, no matter what that meant.
As these sorts of things go, my personal experience was easier than most. I'm not sure that if I was wrestling with feelings, etc., and the Trevor Project was in existence then that I would have availed myself of their services.
All the more reason to butt in and get involved by making the call / sending the e-mail yourself if you know a young person who may be struggling the same way I, Carl and countless others were.