Sunday, November 04, 2012

Bigotry, Bullying, Suicide and the Tragedy of Youth

I’m going to tell you a story about a beautiful young man whom I will call Z.

Z is his first initial. In order to protect the privacy of his family I will not be using his full name.

Z realized at a very young age that he was sexually attracted to males … that he was gay. It wasn’t something he felt he should be ashamed of but he wasn’t open about it.

Unfortunately, despite our alleged enlightenment in the 21st century, bigotry reared it’s ugly head and Z paid a horrific price for his sexual orientation.

When Z was 15, in 2007, one day after school he was grabbed, dragged into his school washroom by a group of 4 older and bigger male students, and brutally assaulted for no other reason than he was gay.

The assault was so brutal that he lost hearing in one ear, his teeth were broken, and he almost lost one eye. The baseball bat and the bag of oranges that they used resulted in a broken pelvis and so much damage to the genitalia they had to be removed. Z lost consciousness during the assault.

He knew the boys who assaulted him and he knew why they assaulted him but he covered for them anyway. He told the police and doctors that the attack was his fault and he didn’t know the people who had done it.

To add insult to injury, his step-fathers discovery that he was gay led to him being thrown out of the house, 6 months later, at the tender age of 15.

He stayed with a gay friend and his family and completed his year of high school with them. All the while missing his family and brothers and friends and feeling very alone and abandoned.

His counsellor put him on Valium to help but he became addicted and started drinking to supplement the Valium. When the Doctors refused to prescribe more he went to other drugs and pills to ease his pain and addiction. When he tried to withdraw from the drugs the nightmares and horrors of what he had experienced flooded back so he started drinking regularly.

And then, finally, with the resilience of youth, managed to deal with that addiction as well.

In 2011, he reconnected with his mother and brothers again. Something which brought him a great deal of joy and happiness.

It took Z quite a while and a great deal of patient counselling to accept what had happened to him and he appeared to have accepted it.

In 2011, a friend who provided online suicide counselling to gay teenagers in crisis worked with him, encouraged him to go on Facebook and start connecting with friends.

Z seemed happy. He seemed to be accepting his life and working towards something better.

In Z’s own words:

I could fully redo the pelvis and set an artificial penis, but it's too expensive and of course, Michael refused to pay and my mom has no money, so I save money and maybe one day , I could have the operation ... who knows?
For the moment there are only big hugs between my partners and I, no need to explain I guess, but as long as I can see tenderness and affection into the eyes of Max, I am pleased ...
Above all, Tim, let me say a BIG, BIG thank you for staying there, having lost on sleep to back me up; being so friendly, sweet, kind and comprehensible ... Namaste Tim

And then one day, Z suddenly, quietly and efficiently took his life.

Today is the anniversary of Z’s death and Z’s friend, Tim, would like everyone to remember the serious damage that bullying, bigotry and hatred cause.

Especially to the young.

Much love to Z’s family and friends. May he continue to be the inspiration to all of you that I know he was.

For further information about Z's story you may contact:  zachsstory@gmail.com.

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