Well that isn’t exactly the saying is it? It should be, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but this morning that wasn’t the case.
Pictures are amazing things. They can transport us back in time in a blink of an eye. Sometimes they are memories that make us laugh. Sometimes they are memories that make us swell with pride. Sometimes they reduce us to a puddle of tears. That’s what happened to me today when Facebook decided to remind me of a memory.
The picture that greeted me this morning was one that most people would think would be a happy memory. After all…it’s a picture from a vacation 8 years ago. But it was a reminder of one of the darkest times my family has experienced. And in light of losing another young person to suicide this past week, it hit me hard.
Here’s the picture. We are at the beach having our yearly end of vacation bonfire. Roasted hot dogs and of course smores were on the menu. You can see how happy McKensie is with her marshmallows. Now look at Kyle’s face. Can you see it? When I look at this picture, the pain I see is palpable. It crushes me. And it brings me back to the fear and desperation I felt. This was taken 3 months after we learned he was gay, and just four months before he landed in the hospital for suicidal thoughts.
I share this because of the suicide I mentioned that happened this week. The young man who took his life was afraid to tell his parents that he was gay. I don’t think people understand what a traumatic experience this is for the LGBTQ community. I posted this on Facebook, but wanted to share it here as well in hopes that it might prevent another tragedy.
Why would a child be afraid of their parents?
- They may hear them speak about the subject of being gay in an unfriendly, unloving manner. Watch how you speak about it. At least 50% of the parents I come in contact with had no idea their child was gay. It totally threw them through a loop. Why? Because they have a stereotypical idea of what being gay is in their minds and their kid didn’t fit that mold. Be careful what you are against because it could be the very thing you love most in the world. Our.Kids.Are.Listening.
- If they come from a Christian home, they may have heard that it’s a sin and that gay people are going to hell. Let’s commit to love our kids towards God…not away from God. Let your kids know you love them without putting the word “but” in the sentence.
- They may know kids that have been kicked out of their homes for being gay, and they are afraid their parents will do the same thing.
There could be many more reasons. Silence can be deadly as well. Talk to your kids. Having a difficult conversation with them is sure as heck better than burying them.
Of course parents can do all the right things and still may face the tragedy of their child taking their lives. I’m not here to place blame or shame anyone. I just ask us all to think about how we treat others. This could have very easily happened to my family and I want to prevent it to happening to any others.
Fast forward almost 9 years and look at this picture.
I hope you can see the difference that I see in Kyle. This is the face of love and acceptance. Not just our love and acceptance, but the love and acceptance that he has for himself. He couldn’t have gotten there without our love and support. We went through such a dark time. This is what love, acceptance, and freedom look like. You can get there too.
If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life and feel like you have no one to turn to, contact The Trevor Project.
Again, this post isn’t to place blame on anyone. It’s just a reminder that words matter. Attitudes matter.
But most of all…love matters.