Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Gay suicide’

Four Gay Teens committed suicide in September
The topic this Wednesday 10-06-2010 is: Where Does Hope Go.

Last month four USA teenagers committed suicide. Where did their hope go? This question was raised in this sermon; We Will not be Silent.

Have you ever felt this low for being Gay? How did you get over it? How do you feel about being Gay? Do you tolerate it? Accept it? or Embrace it? Do you like being Gay?

Is there a connection between accepting your homosexuality and accepting your HIV status? Is there a link between feeling ashamed of your homosexuality and being ashamed of your HIV status?

-Steve

Read Full Post »

This was the message we heard this Sunday at MCC on 10-03-2010:

We Will Not Be Silent

by Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

When I was in college as an undergraduate, my friends and I…also known as the Theatre Department…formed a sort of cult…our highest ritual was to watch the Big Chill. We knew all the lines, and we took great pride in reciting them along with the characters in the film.

The film begins with the funeral of a man named Alex. Alex had tragically taken his own life. His friends from college came from all over to attend the funeral and they had a sort of reunion in his honor. The rest of the film is about that reunion. But the film begins with the funeral, and at the funeral an unnamed country parson says very simply of Alex’s death, “It makes me angry and I don’t know what to do with my anger. Where did Alex’s hope go?”

I think of that film today because you see, last month, 4…FOUR teens, that we know of, took their lives because they were bullied, harassed, tormented because they were perceived to be gay.

15 year old Billy Lucas hanged himself on September the 9th.

13 year old Seth Walsh was removed from life-support 10 days after he hanged himself. He died Sept. 19th.

13 year old Asher Brown took his step-father’s handgun and shot himself on Sept. 23rd.

The day before that, 18 year old college freshman Tyler Clements leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge…the bridge in my old neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan connecting New Jersey to New York.

Tyler was filmed sharing what he must have believed to be a private moment of intimacy with someone until he realized that his sensual encounter had been posted on the Internet for the entire world to see.

The three younger boys had each been traumatized by their peers and classmates. They weren’t miserable because of who they were; they were miserable because of how people treated them for being who and what they were.

Such abuse makes me angry and I don’t know what to do with my anger.

Where did Billy’s hope go?

Where did Seth’s hope go?

Where did Asher’s hope go?

Where did Tyler’s hope go?

And where were people of faith when these boys were being tormented? You and I both know where many of them were…they were saying dehumanizing things about same-gender loving people, justifying their own fears and hatred by claiming that they were religious values, and turning a blind eye to or sometimes even encouraging the mistreatment of Queer youth. Where were people of faith? It is not entirely hyperbolic to say they were tightening the nooses and loading the gun and pushing a broken soul off a bridge.

Statistics are as grizzly as the anecdotal stories.

90% of Queer youth say they have been verbally harassed.

44% say they have been physically threatened.

22% have actually been physically assaulted.

60% believe that it is pointless to report such abuse because they just don’t believe adults will do anything to help protect them.

Where did their hope go? It was stolen from them, beaten out of them, shamed out of them, terrorized out of them.

Too many children, many of us in the room will remember, grew up either being bullied for being different, or being so afraid of being found out that we lived a lie for the sake our own safety. And then, we didn’t even believe that home would be a safe place if our truth was known, so we kept our secrets and the scars from our bullies hidden even from our families. We felt alone and afraid everywhere, all the time. No wonder in adulthood so many of us have formed families of choice that we cherish and value with all that we are…because those families are the first families we were able to let ourselves trust.

Well, I’ve got good news today for people of all ages and all gender identities and all ethnicities and all walks of life. And the good news is we’re here, Sunshine Cathedral is here, and we’re going to always be here. We open these doors week after week, this campus is full of activity every single day, we are on the Internet and in publications, we speak on college campuses and we meet with people every day and speak with people by phone and email encouraging them, answering their questions, praying for them. We live out loud as a thriving LBGT friendly community of faith. We dare to exist openly, unapologetically, proudly, and optimistically so that there will be a spiritual home for people to come to from their long wanderings in the wilderness of loneliness, fear, degradation, and despair.

Sometimes people will send me those charming emails chastising me for talking about the “gay thing.” If you were looking for a closet to worship in, you did not find it at 1480 SW Ninth Ave. Sometimes, from their own internalized homophobia people will say, “Why do we bring up these issues? Nobody cares anymore…We’re past that. Young people especially just don’t care about sexual orientation anymore.”

Well guess what? Asher Brown didn’t the memo. Tyler Clement didn’t realize that the crisis was over once and for all. Billy Lucas and Seth Walsh were somehow unaware that nobody judged gay people anymore…in fact, they seemed to have assumed that the people torturing them still had a problem with gays.

We used to say in the early days of AIDS and it remains true today, “Silence = Death” and my promise to you is that as long as I am the pastor of Sunshine Cathedral MCC we will NOT be silent in the face of these tragedies; we will not be silent as homophobic rhetoric continues to be vomited out of the mouths of preachers and politicians. We will not be silent as people are abused, ostracized, abandoned, targeted, and spiritually destroyed. We will not be silent because Silence = Death and the Galilean Prophet whom we follow and in whose name we minister said that he came to show us how to live more abundantly. We will not be silent.

As long as discrimination is written into state constitutions, as long as entire denominations uplift heterosexism and homohatred as religious values, as long as politicians run entire campaigns based on demonizing same-gender loving and gender variant people, we will not be silent because their hate speech is costing us the lives of our children. Conscience will not allow us to be silent…and so we will faithfully, passionately, even obnoxiously affirm the sacred value of all people and make heroic efforts to make sure that LBGT people know that they are, just as they are, children of an all-loving God! We will not be silent.

A week from tomorrow, Oct. 11 (National Coming Out Day), right here at 7:30 pm we are going to have a vigil for the teens who have lost their lives as a result of the cruelty of bullies…bullies on the playground, bullies in the dorm, bullies in the pulpit, and bullies on the political stump. We will let our light shine with hope that those who need it will see it and be drawn to it; we will speak out for those who have not yet found their voice. Please join us on Oct. 11th.

Metropolitan Community Churches were founded 42 years ago this month to provide a home to same-gender loving and gender variant people and those who love them. Our primary outreach has always been to the LBGT community and our allies…we are concerned with human rights in general, because all people are God’s people, but we were born to address the very issue that is still killing our youth. Our founder Troy Perry attempted suicide in the 1960s because he was so wounded by homohatred. But thank God he recovered from that suicide attempt and answered a divine call to start Metropolitan Community Churches so that people who have been hurt the way he had been hurt could have a place to hear and to know that they are what God created them to be and God loves them just as they are.

We are not passé, we are not old news, we are not done, we don’t have to water down our reason for existing and God forbid that we should ever try to water down our reason for existing. Four teenagers last month reminded us in the most horrifying ways that our presence, our ministry is as needed as it has ever been.

I’m going a little long, and I hope you’ll forgive me; but I need to say just two more things.

To the people who currently make up this congregation…the world needs you. The world needs Sunshine Cathedral. So many people still need a safe place where they can be loved into wholeness, have their dignity affirmed, and never once be told that who God created them to be is a mistake. The world needs gay and lesbian and straight and bisexual and transgender and questioning people working and worshiping together affirming the sacred value of all people. Your generous giving, the ministries you volunteer for, the people you invite into this place, the worship services you attend each week, the prayers you say for your church, and the good things you say about your church…these things will help us always be here for those who can’t yet even imagine that such a wonderful place exists just for them. If you have been distracted by anything less important, please come back to what matters today. Will you renew your commitment of time, talent, and treasure to Sunshine Cathedral and help us be all that the world needs us to be?

And to the people who are in this room or who may be watching us on the Internet, I have to say this: YOU, just as you are, have sacred value. YOU are a child of God. YOU have dignity and worth, and you add beauty and light to the world we share. Please don’t give up! There is joy to be had. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Don’t give up until you reach the morning of renewed hope and renewed joy.

Jesus said in the gospel today, “You could SAY to a mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you.” You could SAY…you could speak up, speak out…and something amazing could happen. That’s what we are doing here today…that’s what we’ll always do at Sunshine Cathedral…we will speak up and speak out and expect and allow amazing things to happen. This is the good news. Amen.

© Durrell Watkins 2010

Read Full Post »