One small warning: Some of the responses to "Bill's Story" may contain words which are considered offensive to some people. The strong language comes from strong feelings, and in the context of what the writers are saying, I believe it is important. --- Gabi Clayton
Responses to "Bill's Story" - page 10
Well I read your the story about Bill. I don't know what to say except I
tried to kill myself twice and I am still here. I am one of the lucky ones to
have made it throu and have seen the reason why I am here. I have heklped
people cope with being gay and excepting themselfs for who they are. I am so
sorry I have cried reading this and wondering what I could do to make sure
that something like this would not happen again the only thing I can come up
with it that if someone needs to talk to someone else about it and they wantt
to talk to more then one person please give them my e-mail address. I am 22
I have seen more then most people should and I want to help. If there is
anything I can do to help please let me know. Thank you Mrs. Clayton I hope
your story touchs more people's lives like it has tiuched mine. I came out
whenI was 18 and I have had it rough, but I have survived and I want to help
others survive as well.
I have started an discussion forum, that I would like for you to visit
and to let others visite. You may have to join DELPHI, but it is a FREE Join.
Please let others know about my discussion forum and please let them know
about the joining but it is FREE.
My personnel saying: "Where There Is Love There Is His Grace."
Gabi, thank you for sharing your son Bill's story. I wept when I read it.
I also lost a son named Bill to suicide, on March 14, 1996. He was 25.
Although my Bill was apparently straight, I found out after his death
that he, too, had been sexually assaulted by a male family member when
he was 14. A very proud boy, he never told me, although two of his
closest friends knew.
Several of my Netfriends who have lost a child to suicide tell me that
their childrens' histories include sexual assaults, or assaults based on
just being "different" in some way.
This kind of PTSD just eats away at a sensitive young person.
Here is a poem I wrote for *my* Bill, but I think it works for your
For William Ellery Weiss
12/9/70 - 3/14/96
This one's for the gentle boy
Who wrestles with his pain,
His easy-bruising tender heart,
And ever-active brain.
He feels much more than others do,
But then he tries to hide,
With laughter or bravado,
The gentle boy inside.
With wit and style and artifice
His secret's kept so well.
Who dreams the brave facade you see
Conceals some private Hell?
Meanwhile, the brutes live on and on
Their unexamined lives.
The low, the stupid, and the cruel,
The sluggish idiot thrives,
To fill the world with empty talk
And greed and hate and noise,
To breed, carouse, and make life Hell
For all the gentle boys.
Some gentle boys grow heartsick
And tired of this charade.
They blow themselves right off the Earth,
Or fight, then fail, then fade.
If you should love a gentle boy
There's little you can do.
If he decides his time has come,
He'll leave the Earth and you.
He cannot see that if he goes
You'll never fill that space.
You'll spend your whole life searching
For that laugh, that kiss, that face.
How can the gentle boy not know
You love him beyond death,
You'd help him any way you could,
Unto your dying breath?
Someday when justice reigns on Earth
We all may greet with joy
A world where it won't hurt so much
To be a gentle boy.
Mary Withers (email@example.com)
Thank you for sharing the story of your son's life. I can't imagine the pain you have suffered. My partner and I live in Dallas and realize everyday how lucky we've been not to have directly faced the violence and rejection Bill had to endure.
Our prayers and thanks go out to you.
A friend of mine emailed me the URL
(http://www.youth-guard.org/gabi/Bills_Story.html) to your web site this morning. She mentioned that she was in tears after reading it.. me too. Sometimes the world can be a very hard thing to understand. Sometimes the world can be a very hard place to be in.
I am a 24 year old gay male, living on the shore in central New Jersey. I have been out since I was 20 years old.. and it was the hardest thing I have had to do in my life. It was also the best thing I could ever have done, and I wish I had done it that much sooner! :) I am the type of person to not go around announcing it; I do not feel that one's sexuality is something to be tossing around in the air, but I am out to many co-workers (even upper management), all of my friends (they must accept me for who I am to be considered a friend), and immediate family (there will always be issues there...).
In writing you, I am hoping to express a few emotions and have them shared with others who may benefit from knowing that they are not alone in their daily struggle and search of finding acceptance and love from all of those surrounding their life. I saw a few comments in the guest
book that also hit close to home, and it is so sad to hear that others are still struggling with the ignorant society that surrounds us.
When I was growing up, being homosexual was just not an option for me. The belief system that I was raised with held no place for someone who was not here to bond with a member of the opposite sex in 'holy matrimony' for the purpose of populating the earth with offspring.
Mainly because of this, I entered a period of depression starting from around age 8 till about 21. When I was 15, I "found" alcohol, 17, marijuana, 18, LSD, pain killers, antidepressants, speed, ecstasy, etc. I became a full fledged drug addict.. bouncing checks to pay for pills, buying pot instead of food, skipping out on work to go for a month long 'trip', etc. It was a great time, not being in control of my life. I look back now and wonder what the hell I was thinking, but we have to learn somehow. The people I met and the experiences I had surrounding
the intoxicated phase of my life taught me that there are people of all types in this world. And that people can be accepted for who they are by someone entirely different then them. In the world of drugs, I found that there were almost no prejudices. As long as you have the cash to
buy, or the toke to smoke, no one cares if you are of another color, from a different part of the world, hold a different belief, or, even, a different sexual orientation. When you are hanging out with a bunch of people who are all trashed and not-quite-with-it, you realize that we
are all one in the same. We are all just people. So, I learned the lesson of unconditional acceptance.
Ok, so there ARE MANY OTHER WAYS to learn that lesson, but for me in this lifetime, that's how it clicked in. I have had to accept that. Well, I continued to be extremely depressed, but quite numb, until I was around 21.. a few months after I had come out. I was living with a
great friend, my girlfriend at the time, and one night, on our way down from an acid trip, she confronted me and asked the question I was most afraid of. "Are you gay?" ACK! Still being intoxicated did not help one bit. Somehow, I was always able to avoid that question my entire
life! It was the one question that I would have nightmares over, that I was constantly beating myself up over and over and over on the inside. Weeks would go by where that was the only thought that was on the front of my mind... until I would find some excuse to justify my thoughts, feelings, and desires and push the question far back into the depths of
my mind.. only for it to surface again at a later date. Somehow I was always able to keep a smile on my face, and even after multiple suicide attempts I was still able to keep moving forward. How? I don't know, I still question it to this day.. Heaven forbid I ever let anyone else in on my secret, that anyone ever find out what was really going on in my head....that just would have been the end of my world. I even dropped out of High School because I felt that I would be found out soon. The stress was too much...
Well, many many many many many tears, boxes of tissues, cigarettes, hugs and words of comfort from my best friend, hours later, I finally said IT out loud. "I am gay. I AM GAY!" Wow! What a feeling. Instantly, the whole world changed. I felt like I was on top of the world, and now
from this point on, I can live! I can breathe without fear! I am really alive... I have just, in three words nonetheless, told the entire world to FUCK OFF! This is who I am and I can admit it and no one else is going to make me surpress it! No one else is going to make me hold this
in or change who I am to fit THEIR DISTORTED VIEW OF THE WORLD anymore! Words can not describe the relief, joy, excitement, happiness, etc. that I felt....
And you know what? It really is just that simple! I wish I had figured it out that much sooner. I think being lost for 5 years didn't help that fact, but.. Im better for it now. I look back and giggle at myself for making such a big deal over absolutely nothing. Really! It all comes down to how YOU see YOURSELF, NOT how you think OTHERS see you. Since then, I have grown in soo many ways. I have almost no fears in standing up for what I believe in, telling society that this is who I am and I honestly don't care if you do not like it.. I never asked you to like it! Teenagers have this determined reason to be sure that they fit in with their crowd and group of friends. One day they too will realize that they only need to fit in with themselves, and the groups of friends and social crowds will follow them.
Now, off to live in the world as a gay man. I was ready for anything. NOT! Who was I kidding? OK, a large percentage of me was, but I was not ready to handle the HATE and the BIGOTRY and the SOCIAL IGNORANCE that was to come. Even to this day, I find myself being quite paranoid of where I am and the people around me. Comments here and there. Whispers
from over there. The funny looks, the silly stares. Being followed in cars with people screaming slurs down the highway.. dodging rocks from ignorant youths who more then likely can't handle themselves. Even my father unknowingly puts his foot in his mouth at just about every family function.
But, I have come to realize now that this is how society works. That I am no different from anyone else, and that we are all subject to unjustifiable HATE and IGNORANCE. This has been proven over the years. People dying for their religious beliefs, their color, their thoughts on
this or that, etc. Being is one of the many (sometimes obvious) things that the ignorant people in our society can easily pin-point and act out upon. Why they feel the need to act that way we may never know. I believe that it comes from an insecurity in themselves... they know of
no civilized way to handle what they feel is different. If only they could open their eyes to see that there is NO difference. That we are all one in the same. We are all people!
Well, thats just great. It is a fact of life that HATRED is everwhere. What can be done?
- Well, I feel that the best way to change things is to continue to speak out, but softly. People have to make up their own minds and will shy away from anything that is forced upon them. I applaud you Gabi for doing just that!
-Also, I feel that we need to love and accept those that can not accept us. What type of image would we be presenting if we could not offer unconditional love and acceptance to those that we are trying to teach those values to? We can not hold any prejudices against them because of what they believe! Also, we need to realize that they are lost in their ignorant delusions. Something that might make it easier is the fact that "Most homophobes are Gay"
-And we need to thank the ignorant people in society. Thank them? What?! Why?! Because they are teaching us how to live by showing us exactly what we do not want to become! They give us a goal, a focal point to strive for...
-Finally, we must be the change we want to see in the world. If we don't want to see HATE and IGNORANCE among society, don't create it, IN ANY WAY, yourself. The world can only change one person at a time.
Gabi, I send you and your family much love, and I hope that your message and memories of Bill continue to be heard. Thank you for listening to my story.
In Love and Light,
Scott Everson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I was on the gay suicide website and i found it deeply sad and horrific. To me it is quite depressing to know people can be filled with so much hate and anger. I just wrote to let you know that my thoughts are with you.
Thank you, Jessica Lassiter, age 16 (email@example.com)
Dear Mrs. Clayton,
I read your web page for your son Bill, and was, what can I say, moved. I am recently turned 18, and living in Pennsylvania. For the longest time, I had questioned who I was in all aspects. To be honest,
I had always hoped that my feelings weren't right, that I wasn't gay, but I came to the conclusion that I am. The hardest part for me is the personal acceptance. Like your son, I had worries about telling my
parents. I told them last year, and they love me still the same. I couldn't imagine not being on this planet without there total love, and being able to live my life the way that I was born. Bill was right, it
isn't a choice. Who would ever choose to be hated? Not me, but I have realized who I am, and that I am proud of who I am. I would never change being gay, because it wouldn't make me the unique person that was put on this earth. I am by no means open about my sexuality, but after graduation, I will be more willing to be free. I am not familiar with Olympia, but I am from a small town, that I can only imagine being hurtful. I too go through those times of depression, and loneliness. I have been blessed with wonderful friends who love me, not a facade. The more and more I become comfortable with myself, the more I have realized that I never want to see others go through some of the smaller hells that I have gone through, so far. I am sure that there will be more.
Thank you again for understanding the importance that your love meant to your son. That is the most important thing. Looking back on my past year, I have had a fairly successful experience with my sexuality, or rather my telling of people.
I just wanted to write you and let you know that there are still many teenagers across this country that are scared of what the ignorant people can do. Hopefully, by continuing the work that you are doing, that can be stopped.
Dear Ms. Clayton:
I read through the posts about Bill. Your web pages are helping a lot of people. They seem to be finding a real source of strength and inspiration. I am really glad the people at ihave.com/ have linked to your pages.
I feel sad that you have had to put up with crap from some people.
Thank you for being so brave.
-Gary Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My name is Aubrey, and I'm 19 years old, living in the UK.
I clicked a link to your home page from someone elses site, and read it all. I'm really pleased that there are parents like you who are so understanding, I've not been able to tell my mother that I'm gay, because I've only just started to tell my friends, and I'm not ready for the big commitment.
Your site, dedicated to the memory of Bill, really hit me hard, it makes you think "Why can't everyone be classed as equal". I've only told about 8 of my friends, but many more people know. I myself have had some terrifying reactions, which really scared me, and it was those friends close to me that helped me -again-.
I hope you are all ok, and keep up the good work.
I'd like to add a link for your site to myown, but thought I'd ask you first... My site is: http://members.xoom.com/Aubs010/
p.s. I've sent a link for your site to a few friends, hope you don't mind...
I was just tooling around the internet tonight and I read your moving page about your son Bill, may
he rest in peace. I don't really know why I'm writing to you, but there was just something in
your words that inspired me.
I have never been the victim of a hate crime, but I have been through depression. It is rotten to
feel that way, and very difficult to dig yourself out of it. In difficult times, I think we find
out who is really on our "team" and who isn't. It's those times in my life that have convinced me
that there are essentially two kinds of people in this great big world: people who create and people
Some days I think this world has gone completely mad, and it's nice to see that there are people
like you who care, who create. Thanks for the inspiration.
I kind of stumbled upon your site for your son Bill... After reading it, my eyes filled with tears. You are a beautiful and caring mother. I really don't know what else to say except thank you so much for sharing Bill's Story.
Stephanie Baranowski (email@example.com)
Just wanted to quickly voice my sympathy and support after reading Bill's
Story. It was very moving, and it reminded me of the terrible and saddening
struggle that people of different sexual orientations must undergo every
day, and how far we have to go as human beings. I will never understand why
we as a species cannot get along, cannot support each other, live together,
love together - how some of us cannot seem to get through a day without
causing suffering to another. I doubt any of us will ever understand.
I wish you the best of luck and continued strength in your future, and urge
you to stay hopeful - the world can be a beautiful place, despite the
unfortunate scars that sometimes walk across it.
Warmest wishes and regards,
Thank you for your wonderful site! My daughter is lesbian and now studying sociology in college. She has a circle of lesbian friends and great support and total family acceptance. However, at age 16 she attempted suicide. Your site is so important. I am a social work graduate student planning work focused on women, including lesbians. Thank you again for your informative and charmingly personal site. Love to you and your family and precious Bill.
Thank you for your site. As a gay man who has long endured the hatred of fearful and ignorant people, it is heartwarming to discover one whose love has prevailed over cultural biases and pressures. So many parents of young gays never acknowledge their children's sexuality, nor problems in dealing with it in an oppressive society. I admire you for sharing your grief, and for having unconditionally loved your child. If only more parents could be as accepting and as loving, the prejudices that consumed the life of your son might disappear.
Thanks again, and feel free to visit my website at www.southcincy.com though it is rather large and complex and takes a goodly amount of time to navigate.
Ron Tunning (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am 17 live in the UK and i am bi-sexual i was looking throuhg websites ect
and found yours. I would like to show my sadness for your great loss and to
say there are many evil and narrow minded people in this world and for me to
think that there are people out in this world how would kill due to somebodys
sexuality makes me feel sick.
Many people i know i could never tell as opnely in discussions i have with
them they say 'We cant stand Queers they are eveil ect" I do not hate these
people i feel sorry for them to have for having such narrow mind this
impression of homesexual and bi sexual people i hope only that one day they
will understand that it isnt our fault and that you arnt commiting a sin it
is just they way you are. Your sexuality means nothing it is only a small
part of how u are. I live in a what u could say brorder minded community that
yours.But i feel i could never teell them i have a loving and supportive
mother who i know would stand by me but i am so wored that if i told her our
relationship would be changed. So i feel that this will have to be a secreat
from my freinds. I would love to be able to shout in the street i am gay i
fancy men and not to feel the threat of being beaten up. I hopew in our
changing world that one day this subject will not be a taboo but open and for
people to except it. if this had of been the case when your son was alive
maybe this tragedy would not have happened. I can only once again say how
sorry i am at such a loss to this world and hope this happens no more.
and hopefull a freind
I am currently an *unannounced* bisexual and I have felt, experienced, and seen all the persecution that my age/sexuality type has experienced. I saw your page, and became very moved about your devotion to your son, and the way that he stood up against a town that was majority ruled. I seem to have accepted my status, and I have saved about 2 other teens from doing the same thing that you and I both know all too well. I ahve seen a friend who was assaulted, and teased, just like your son, but they didn't commit suicide, yet they were still affected for the rest of their school years. The reason why I don't come out, is because I am afraid of these slanderous acts, and also religious persecution. I guess I feel so compelled to your story is the fact that you remind me so much of my own mother. Your support and others such as Bill's friends are the only things that keep us going.
The only thing that I have lived on through half my school career is love. Love is much stronger than the words that are meant for hate. Love is much more strong than the assaults. Love was put there for a reason, I believe that this was one of the main purposes; to be able to survive life itself. Why did God put us here? The answer is simple, so that we can be the most special kind of people, a kind of people that can love deeper,and care even more for the family, because of our closeness. We are the "different" people, a people only "normal" people could hate. Because normal just can't understand "difference" because of the mold that the other normals have shaped them into.
I would just like to say this: I ask, for any parents who feel their child is "different" (not just gay or bisexual, but all forms of "difference") to give as much love, compasion, and hope to their children. Because these are the only things that we really can survive on in this world of hate.
Gabi, you are one of the greatest parents I have ever heard of in this case, and I believe that you and your husband were the most supportive, and understanding people possible in a situation like this. I think everyone should take you as a model for other parents to understand acceptance of their son's/daughter's sexuality. And all parents should understand that it wasn't their fault, it wasn't anybody's fault. We were created like this, and people should accept it (if only it were this easy). I hope you continue to spread your stories of your son's triumph, and his short-lived, but very meaningful life (if it touched me, just think how many others this has touched). I know that he is smiling down on you right now and seeing that you are making a
P.S. please (if you want to post this) have my reply address go to email@example.com Thanks alot, and once again, please continue spreading the love!
Note from Gabi -- "Bill's Story" was translated into Portuguese by Mariana Maia and is posted at http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/3663/bill.html
Subject: Admirable history/ e-mail from Brazilian friend
Brazil, june the 13º, sunday
Ps--- Sorry my bad english. :)
Hi Gabi Clayton,
My name is Victor, 18 years old, brazilian and I'm gay. The history about your son, Bill, touch my heart and make me fell not alone. I admire Bill and all of his actions.
Unfortunate my english don't permit me to say all I realy want to say. But, Ms. Gabi...your sun help me to understand one thing: I have right to be what I am.... accept my difference, and fight for my
My mom and my dad don't know about the fact that I'm homossexual....but I hope they undestand me and continue to love me, just like you make with Bill.
A big hug for you and your family!
I would first like to thank you for having the courage and strength to come forward with such an important issue. I am 19 years old, gay and had once been at the point of suicide myself. My whole life came into perspective when I read the story of one gay teen, Robbie Kirkland, and who he had killed himself. After reading his story I was able to view my life from a different perspective. Through the courage and power of his mother (who came out w/her story) I was saved. I just wanted you to know how important you are in touching the lives of people you will never even know.
My name is Oscar Flores. I don't know how but somehow I ran across your website with "Bill's Story" on it. I am a 21 years old gay male. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I cried when I finished reading the story and I started thinking. I am openly gay in a community that isn't very friendly to the gay community but I decided to make that choice. The only person's I haven't told are my parents. But that will come in time. I can't help thinking about how young Bill was when he was taken from this earth. He was only a year younger than me. I have a feeling that if I had met him while he was still with us we could have been great friends. Again. I just wanted to extend my heart out to you and your family.
I wanted very, much to sign your guest book to show my support for "our" cause and to convey my deep sorrow for your great loss. Unfortunately I lied on my application to get into the Air Force and I am afraid that the wrong person might stumble onto your web sight as I did and see my information.
I wish I had the words (which I'm sure have already been said to you over the years) that would show how much Bill's story (and your family's) touched me. I cried (as you have) when I read it. I know that your hurt and pain will never go away, but I hope it has become bearable for you. I wish that I had the courage to be upfront with my family and friends as Bill was. I too have thought about leaving this place. Hearing stories like Bill's and the pain of your loss keep me here because I see what it
would do to my family and friends. I have also come to realize it wouldn't change anything and that the haters would win. I really don't know what I should say in this E-mail, except that your page has purpose and never give up hope. I won't either. I guess all I can say is that I will pray for your family and that Bill is in a good place. Thank you for unselfishly posting your story so that others like my self could learn from it. God Bless Gabi...
Dear Gabi -
I found your site (dedicated to your son) to be extraordinary. It aroused a number of emotions in me, from deep down inside - that's good. I'm a 23 year-old gay student living in London, Ontario - I've
been 'out' since 1995. I've been doing a lot of small things to make this world a better place ... I teach sociology to undergraduates at the University of Western Ontario, and I volunteer my time as a webmaster for this site: http://www.geocities.com/westhollywood/village/9410 - a site dedicated to GLBT youth in my home region. I invite you to visit
it, and to see my own personal site located at http://publish.uwo.ca/~rtelfer. It sounds like your son Bill was a wonderful, strong soul. I am confident that that is a direct reflection
of his nurturing family.
All the best,
Rick Telfer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am 28, brasilian, veterinarian and gay, but I am not strong as your sun was. I've never tell to anyone that I am gay.
You touch my heart with your history and I know that it is so important to change the world, to end discrimination.
Sorry for my terible english. I hope you good look.
What a site.
What a wonderful mother. Even after Bill has left you you continue to support him and love him. If I am every blessed with a baby I hope to be one 10th the loving mother you have been to your sons.
A fantastic and informative site like no other I have seen from a 'mom'.
know there are those silent children out there who view your site and appreciate you for your thorough, informative contribution.
I came across your web page while looking for anti-hate web pages. I am truly happy that you as a mother have spoken for us. I know too well what it is like growing up gay in a small town. I had no one to turn to but my mother. She shaped me into a fine young man. I am proud to say that I am happy who I am! Thank you!
Andres Champion (email@example.com)
Subject: Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Hello, I am sorry to bother you but I just read your web page, and I would like to thank you for your help, I am sure this sounds stupid, because I do not go to any of these schools but I do now what it is like to live in fear and be the target of hate crimes, well thank you all for what you are doing for us, if only the world had more people like you.
Dear Gabi: In my attempts to gather research material on a screenplay I'm writing, I was linked to your page via "PionerrGrrrl's" "It's NOT 'us" vs. "them" website. The emotions I've experienced during and since reading "Bill's Story" are something akin to having several internal organs take a test run through a Cuisinart! Your account is SO moving ...and so very, VERY inspiring!
I am a 43 year-old gay man who grew up in what I call "The Outback of Alabama" and now live in the Orlando, Florida area. I have struggled with depression most of my life and, during my adolescence, flirted with suicide as well. It certainly gives me pause to appreciate the gut-level support that you offered your son during his own struggle. I found support in quite a different way: I became an alcoholic! My own "story" doesn't stop there, thank God... I found recovery from my "ism" and have been sober now for a little over 12 years. It was through that experience which I discovered that I could take some dreams off the shelf and see if I could make them come true.
All I have to say is that "Bill's Story" has provided me with a new impetus to continue my writing. I have a few screenplays that I've jotted down over the last five years or so and, just this week, contacted a producer with a synopsis of one of them ...and he wants to see it! It used to be "me vs. THEM", now I know better!
Please, please, PLEASE keep your website and your efforts with PFLAG going as long as you can! While I don't have a web connection at home (I'm writing this from work), I'm going to refer *anyone* who is struggling with their sexuality to your homepage!
...more shall be revealed...
John E. Baker, III (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is a bit long so I thought I would send it directly to you so that nothing gets cut off. You are welcome to post it on your web site if you want to.
I just wanted to thank you, Gabi and Alec, for taking the time to share your story with the world. It is a tragic story... one that brings tears to my eyes. I can only imagine what the pain of a parent losing their child must be. As a gay male, I have never been personally assaulted, but I have been called names in school, and had my car vandalized several times. I moved to San Jose from New Mexico, mainly for work reasons, but also because I thought Northern California would be more tolerant of people like me. I used to have a relatively small rainbow stripe on my truck, but twice, while just driving in everyday traffic, a guy has leaned out the window and yelled "Hey, Faggot!" Maybe I don't have very thick skin, but such things hurt. I got rid of the rainbow stripe, and keep a very low profile these days.
I don't know which is worse: being open and facing the ignorance and hatred face on and living each day in fear for your own personal safety, or being relinquished to a quiet, silent, lonely life in hiding where your heart can never sing. Sometimes I see couples walking hand in hand or kissing in the mall or in a restaurant or somewhere.... I think to myself, "How nice it must be to have a person you truly care for and to be able to show that love in public without fear of having your skull bashed in for it." I know that if I ever do find a person that I care for in that way, that the rules will always be very different. Sometimes that makes me very angry.
I read about things like the Columbine High School Shooting and Buford Furrow shooting children and women in broad daylight right inside their own synagogue, and it makes my stomach churn. I can hardly believe what I am reading. The idea is so absurd - it must be a fantasy. But, sadly, I know it is no fantasy. I know what Bill must have been going through. I sometimes find myself in a depression, wondering what the point of it all is? I mean, in a world full of hateful idiots, is there really any sense in trying to lead a happy life as an openly gay or bisexual person?
We live in a society where hate groups such as Aryan Nations and The Order are free to perpetuate their hate. Something is wrong here... and it's not the First Amendment. I am all for their right to believe and say what they choose, but I ask myself, "Where is public outrage? As a society, why are we willing to accept such ideas?" Just because they have the right to say it, doesn't me we have to swallow their tainted ideology of hate. The first amendment doesn't validate all speech - only protects its right to existence. Trying to legislate such hate out of existence is simply not going to work. It is up to each and every one of us to judge the ideas put forth. The scary part is that there seems to be plenty of people who are willing to listen to and accept their rhetoric.
I am personally struggling with how to be an effective part of the solution, without at the same time essentially standing up and yelling "Hey!!! Over here!!!! Bash me!!!!" Maybe you have some good ideas on that?
There are too few people in this world like Bill Clayton. My heart goes out to him and his family. There are too few parents in this world like Alec and Gabi Clayton who are teaching their children the value of tolerance and are willing to stand up and speak out for what is right.
Again, thank you. I'll leave you with these parting words.
"In Germany, they first came for the Trade Unionists,
But I did not object because I wasn't a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Socialists,
but I didn't speak up because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Communists,
but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak up because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me,
but by that time there was no one left to speak up."
- Pastor Martin Niemoller, German Protestant
Dear Mrs. Clayton,
It has taken me three times yet I can't finish this story you so elloquently
write about the boy who you call son. Mostly becasue I know once I am done
reading I will realize, this is not a story it is life. That is both sad and
scary for me. You see I am 16, and am bisexual. Not openly, atleast not yet.
I wanted to do something for a frined tonight. This boy Will who is 22 his
parents sentiments on homosexuality are that of a Archy Bunker laced wiht a
more arsinistic vulgarity. He was crying tonight. So I thought of you, you
see I had bookmared your son's story as soon as I saw it. I got out the
address and asked him to read it when he had time to take it in.I decided to
send it to a few of my friends. I wrote a message which pretty much said
"please sedn this to anyone who you think would be touched or affected by
this, a caution, it is hard to read, and if you can not read it with out
inturruption please try again when you think you can get through it..."
Well I am not really sure what I want to say to you. I am so very sorry for
your loss. But I want you to know. I won't let your son be forgoten. I am
doing evrythign in my power to stop the hate, and you have fuled my passion
for my work .... thank you! I wish there was more I could do, but if I had
the power Will would be embraced by his parents and you would be able to
embrace your son.
Thank you so much,
I was amazed to receive your reply to my email. It only confirms my original thoughts that you are indeed the most amazing woman. Thank you for writing. I simply couldn't write any more when I last emailed you as I had tears streaming down my eyes and I just couldn't stop thinking about your son. The reason I found the site are simply these:
My son, aged 15, told me he was gay about eight months ago now. I was absolutely cool about it, but for reasons known only to himself, he thought I wasn't. Therefore, he ran away and for three agonising weeks, I searched the streets of London for him. I was lucky, so very lucky. I found him staying with a friend and since he has been back home, he has been his usual loving self, although he hasn't told anyone else yet, except his close friend with whom he stayed for those weeks.
I read Bill's story and thought: "that could have been my experience as a parent". My son read it with me because we surfed the net together to look at various gay material. A lot was perverse and sordid, but your site was simply wonderful. He knew I was upset, but we downloaded it all and we keep reading it each day, together.
I am not really sure where to go from here. At the moment we play each day as it comes and now he has told me that one of his teachers is gay and has been talking to him for some time. I know the teacher and I do trust him implicitly. He is a young 23 year old and an extremely nice young man. We befriended him because he was living in London on his own, having come down from the country. However, my son does need guidance and I am not very well equipped to give it to him.
I am a lecturer at the College here. My wife died when my son was very young and although I think I have accepted her death after all these years, I have never remarried and have devoted my life to him. That he is gay, is wonderful and I am truly delighted he could tell me. However I still do not understand why he left home for those few weeks and he is unable to explain it to me.
Anyway, I admire you and I think you are doing so much for the young gay kids out there and more importantly, for the hatred and bias that seems to still exist. That was the one point that my son made to me. His words were: "See Dad, it's not being gay that is the problem, it's the hatred that some jerks show towards you and I could be bashed up one day."
That worries me so much. Gabi, I mustn't go on as you are obviously an extremely busy person, but you exude a tremendous warmth after all you have been through. I sincerely doubt I could have done it and when I read your story about wanting to be with Bill, they were my sentiments exactly. If something happened to my son, I would see no point in hanging around. But you are an inspiration and by your "hanging around", look at the wonderful work you have done.
Do you have contact with people in England and if so, is there anything or anyone over here we could make contact with? If you don't, then it is high time your work was developed over here and I would love to think I could possibly help in that direction.
With my kindest love to you and your family
I was told about your site from a friend, who I believe met you recently when he was visiting the US, Tony White from the UK?
I just want to say your site is fantastic and is an brilliant way to educate people, especially those who chose not hear the fact that all people regardless of who they love or are attracted to, are equal.
Through my work, I have volunteered and was subsequently chosen to take part in an Equal Opportunities Action Group, addressing Lesbian and Gay issues in Government departments, here in the UK. We have only had a few meetings so far, the group was only established in May this year, but it's a start. I also volunteered for the Support sub group, a ear to listen if you like.
Keep up the good work, one day the world at large will realise that people are all the same, regardless.
this is merely a note from a stranger.
i happened on your site by chance, and glancing at it, was touched by the simple account of your son Bill. i am a straight male myself, but have known dear and kind gay friends over the years, and though i have little insight into that matter, i am moved by the common horror of the cruelty against an innocent person.
There is no way i can truly understand your private pain, nor your son's, so i write this brief note only to say that your life and your loving heart have touched a passing stranger...
There is a beautiful book that treats the path of life as a series of valleys ( "The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys" )
The First Valley is the Valley of Search, whose steed is PATIENCE; when that Valley is attained, the next is the Valley of LOVE, and the steed of love is... PAIN.
There are more Valleys.......
curious- i just realized that this is the 20th anniversary of the death of my mother, who died one day after her 60th birthday.
have you ever heard this? :
"I have made death a messenger of joy for thee- wherefore dost thou grieve?"
my prayers for you and your son,
loyd myatt (email@example.com)
I think I'm at a loss for words, and that usually doesn't happen much. I want to say I'm so sorry, but I know by now you are sick of hearing that. I just don't understand how something like this could happen in America. The very place that's suppose to be free for all, have entrapped so many. But I will say my heart goes out to you and your family.
Ms. Clayton, I'm completing a degree in computer information systems after serving many years in the United States Marine Corps, and this is my last quarter at a small university in Louisiana, Louisiana Tech University. I will graduate on Nov. 18 at the age or 32. But all that really doesn't matter. The reason I'm writing you is to ask for your blessings to take Bill's story and public to my web page. I'm in the process of creating a web page for a class I'm taking, and Bill's story has really touched my heart. I don't know how people react to the gay community there, but here in the "Bible Belt" it is totally different. You would think that bi/gay people were from another planet.
This may turn you off, but I'm a Christian, a Southern Baptist at that, and God has given me a heart for gay people. Not to try and change them. But to love them, and help educate America that it's ok to be gay. If I can keep one teenage from becoming a Bill then I have completed my mission.
Ms. Clayton, I wish I could have personally known your son, Bill. His story has truly touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing his story for the world to hear, and now I'm asking for the ok to do the same.
'If you keep your eyes toward the Light, shadows will still come, but they'll always be behind you!'
Dear Mrs. Gabi Clayton
I just found your site and just finished reading the story about your son Bill... it was so sad that such a sweet guy would choosed to end his life... I just turned 17 and just discovered the fact that I'm gay, it was very hard for me to accept this, in fact it turned my life up-side-down...
just like your son i struggled with the world and myself... I'm glad to hear he is open and you accepted him for who he is. I'm also glad that he spoke and stood for himself... you're right about the pictures... you can see the fear and pain in his eyes... I'm sorry... I have something in my eye right now... I know its both very hard on you and Bill, I hope he would see my words and know there's something has to be done to this sick, twisted world... and you're the ones who is taking the lead... once again I'm glad that you are doing the right thing, both for Billy and for the all of us... and our hearts goes out to you.
God Bless You
Daniel Lu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I felt that I couldn't end my day without writing back to you having just visited your website. The lump sitting in my throat will take a long time to shift as the whole range of emotions I experienced when looking at your story floods through me.
Just as you wrote to me saying 'well done' about our campaign I want to say the same to you. Well done for having the conviction for sharing your pain and your honesty - because it is the truth telling of families such as yours take reminds me of why the day-to-day slog of working on campaigns such as this are important. During the development of the campaign we have been challenged by a number of people who felt that a bit of name calling and bullying is nothing to make a fuss about. The effects are clearly far reaching.
I offer you my strength, solidarity and connection from across the other side of the world.
Thank you again Gabi.
Will Nutland (email@example.com)
The Terrence Higgins Trust
I found the story of your son accidently while searching for stories about
Bill Bradley. Now I am feeling moved to tears, as a mother of an 18 year
old boy, and as a human being who is so frustrated by bigotry and hate. I
am so sorry for your devastating loss, and also so admiring of your courage
and dedication to maintain your web sites about your Bill. Thank you for
sharing your story.
I read Bill's story and do wonder why things have gotten worse for gay's during the past 30 years. In 1966, then 19 years of age, when I was discharged from the military for homosexuality.
I was grilled and demeaned by investigators, until I and another Wave, signed
I was never able to recover from this horrible treatment and could not hold a
job after trying for several years. My self esteem was so low I would
literally shake, when I went anywhere in public.
I eventually was hospitalized in a mental ward. Later I was put on SSI disability. That was in 1972. It is now 1999 and I am still on the disability, after years of therapy, some medications. I have had a horrible life. I am poor, alone, still scared of people, especially those in my
immediate neighborhood, who look at me with a nasty sneer.
I am sorry you lost your son, but I do wish I had been successful at my young
attempts at death. Not a day of my life has been worth the pain.
The story about your son, Bill, on your website made me cry very hard. Being
a 17 year old who himself is confused about "who he is," the story gave me
comfort and sadness. Sadness on the part that you had lost your son, who died because he was who he was and was not afraid to show it, and comfort on the part that if I committed suicide, how many people would actually care. I have contemplated it before, enduring all of the taunts and name-calling at my highschool. However, I am not out, and it hurt even more that they somehow knew (although they were just "guessing") and I hadn't told a soul. How could they possibly know? Was it the way I acted? Talked? What? I still do not know. Anyways, this is not about me :) This is about how great your website is, and how you have reassured me that people do love me no matter who I am.
Thank you again, and I think we both know that your son is in heaven with God right now :) I am starting to cry right now, so I will say goodbye...thank you again!
(Please keep my secret our secret...I know I do not have the courage in my life at this moment to tell anyone..but I will eventually, and I will always think of those who will help me through that time in my life, especially my parents...and I can only hope they will be as supportive as you)
Dear Mrs. Clayton,
Earlier today I was visiting a website, gay.com, which featured an article
about your son, Bill. I followed the links to your homepage and read "Bill's
Story." To say that I was brought to the verge of tears several times is an
understatement. Bill's story touched many of my own emotions and memories.
I have so many things I could say right now that I can't begin to mentally
sort thru them all so I will just focus on the reason I am writing to you.
I am a 33 year old, gay white male. I've lived in the same general area of
NJ all my life. I attended both public and private schools, including
parochial high school. To this day I can remember the intense homophobia I
faced on a constant basis. I was deathly afraid to come out and be myself.
I was always led to believe that if I was "gay" that I would burn in hell.
Going to catholic schools only made those fears more real to me. It wasn't
until I was TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS OLD that I finally snapped and realized that I
could no longer ignore who I was unless I wanted to finally self-destruct.
In a way, your son, Bill, even though he suffered so much and died at a young
age, had so many things going for him. He was so lucky in many ways that
will never be obvious to the average heterosexual person. Only another gay
person -- someone trapped in their own closet -- can truly understand how
"fortunate" Bill was -- yes, even though he died. He was OPEN about himself
and more importantly he was TRUE to himself and everyone he loved and cared
about. That made it possible for him to be surrounded by people who loved
and accepted him for the true, loving person he was. There are always people
who make life difficult -- sometimes impossible -- but if I could live my
life over again I would gladly face those people like Bill did instead of
hiding from everyone including myself.
One of the reasons I'm writing to you is because in Bill's Story, you
mentioned the part about the Lion's Club refusing to accept Bill's organs
because of his sexual orientation. That thought made my stomach churn
because it was so unfair and hypocritical.
Some of the "darkest" areas of gay life, like it or not, are the random
sexual encounters which people experience, each one for their own reasons.
Near my home are several "adult bookstores" (porn shops). The biggest
selling feature of each of these places is their arcade which features peep
shows (booths where people go to view pornography, masturbate, etc.). It
quickly becomes evident that the overwhelming majority of the people who make
use of these arcades are there for something other than viewing movies. It
is one of the most active and successful ways to find anonymous sex partners, who engage in any number of sexual acts (including oral and anal sex) and do
not limit their number of encounters or partners at any one time. Why am I
telling you this? Because a HUGE number of these people are "straight men"
-- many, MANY of whom are married with families -- from every walk of life --
blue-collar, white-collar, doctors, lawyers, politicians, teachers, fathers,
brothers, grandfathers, uncles -- you name it. And who is to ever find out
about this? Yet you can bet many of these people will become donors one day
and no one will question the "quality" of their organs.
Mrs. Clayton, these things are just NOT discussed openly -- not even within
the gay community itself -- because they are considered so taboo. If you've
ever seen people entering or leaving one of these shops, you can see they do
their best to hide themselves and act discreet. I'm not attempting to
address the morality of this behavior. What I am trying to do is highlight
the fact that the policy of organizations such as the Lion's Club should be
examined in a more "realistic" light.
I hope this email will help, in even a small way, in doing something positive for you, your family, Bill's memory and all those people who can't speak out for themself.
DEAR MRS. CLAYTON,
SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR SONS DEATH, SOMETIMES PEOPLE DONT UNDERSTAND THE WAY WE ARE, SOMETIMES I DONT UNDERSTAND MYSELF, I DIDNT WANT TO BE LIKE THIS NOR DO I ENJOY IT, I ONLY WANT TO BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE AS DID YOUR SON, I CANT HONESTLY SAY THE WAY HE FELT OR WHAT HE WAS THINKING, BUT I KNOW HOW IT IS FOR ME, GOOD LUCK AND CONGRADULATIONS FOR MAKING YOURSELF KNOWN ON THE NET, SORRY IT HAD TO HAPPEN LIKE THIS.
My name is Adam Bell & I am the former Treasurer of PFLAG Melbourne, Australia. I am currently in Calgary, Canada & was recently in Washington, DC and decided to pay a visit to PFLAG's global headquarters. It was there that I was given a stack of information and some of that was of your story.
I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of your dear son and friend, Bill, particularly as his passing was on my 20th birthday. To lose such a precious life for such frivolous reasons is a crime and a waste.
I must congratulate you, however, on your fantastic website & for all of the resources, information and emotion you have given so many people access to. Such a cruel irony that from something so nasty, something wonderful has become. Your courage is most admirable.
Only last week, I was travelling through Portland (OR) and Seattle. It would have been nice to have congratulated you in person, however, as I am flying to London in 2 days, this is not possible, for the time being.
I wish you all the very best for the future and again, congratulations!! Thank you for making a difference and keep up the invaluable work that you
Adam Bell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I just read your page on your son's suicide, and want you to know that I am moved to tears, and to action (albeit modest action).
I am a psychologist who specializes in treating suicidal people, and I am also a gay man, one whose life has been largely free of the awful abuse your son suffered at the hands of the ignorant and the small. So, the tragedy of suicide is something never far from my mind, but it is unimaginably awful to realize again, with such personal detail and vividness, that young people of such strength and courage and depth are targeted in the way your son was. This, of course, is something I know, intellectually, but often lose awareness of on an emotional level, because I was not targeted and because I do very little work with teens (mostly adults and the elderly). I did not have the sense of self to come out till college years, which probably insulated me from some awful stuff.
I have for about twenty years been an active supporter of PFLAG, both local and national, and I will make an extra contribution this weekend in memory of your son. It is a small thing, but it is one thing I can do NOW, so I will.
With care and concern, and appreciation for your story and your son's life
I was surfing the net and read some of the story. I have to tell you I have
tears in my eyes. I am so sorry about your son. I too have been a victim of
hate crimes and had to live my homeplace to California where I am more
People must be educated about subjects like bisexuality, homesexuality, etc.
I strongly believe in the spirit of those who left us. May his spirit comfort
you and be near you when you most needed.
Thank God for the Internet. I never would have heard about this story
without it. I feel very sad at this moment for your son and your family. I
wish he could have found strength somewhere in knowing that eventually, it
gets better. Times were HORRIBLE for blacks, jews, and native americans at
one time, but they are better.
I am a young woman of color in California, where people don't really care
what U are and what U do. People, [of all races, nationalities, sexual
preferences/orientation, hang-ups, baggage, etc.,] are just living together
and just focusing on their own lives. I like that. Many people simply need
to find something to do, get a life, do something with THEIR own lives other
than focusing on Hating another individual, and trying to figure out how to
harm them. It is such a Waste of Time, and it proves their little lives are
so unfulfilling and boring that it makes me feel sorry for them!
I have and have had many gay friends, and I don't understand why people fear
Homosexuality. If U're not into it,
YOU don't have to participate in it. No one's gonna' Force U to try to
People are people--they eat, drink, breathe, laugh, love and need love like
all the rest of us. So, don't miss out on getting to know a truly great
person, simply because U hate who he or she Sleeps with. True, I guess
certain things are in the bible regarding all of that, but so are a lot of
other things that MANY of us do on a REGULAR basis. [We lie, we cheat, we
gossip, some rape, some murder, some abuse, we argue with and hate family
members, we curse our parents, we "Fornicate", and all that stuff.] So, we
all have to face judgement one of these days, so I say, STOP worrying about
what EVERYBODY else is doing and concentrate on self. We're always soooo
concerned with somebody else's business that we don't take care of our own.
Look in the mirror and figure out what U may need to change in your life and
stop trying to change somebody elses. Geeze! It's sad and sickening!!!
Homosexuals are people just like all the rest of us. I don't care what a
person does in his bedroom, as long as he/she has a great personality, is
fun to be around, trustworthy, and just a Neat individual, I could care less
who he/she sleeps with. So, I feel SAD for those who discriminate. They are
truly missing out on great people. It is beyond IGNORANT to judge a book by
it's cover. Get inside and get to know what's going on in there, THEN decide
if U don't like the person, but ONLY then!
Bill's family: I hope U will be strong, and use this as an opportunity to
continue to speak out and help others. I think your son would really really
be proud of U and appreciate all that U are doing in his name. Truly best
wishes for U and once again I am sorry, Bill was a beautiful, beautiful
Hi. I just read Bill´s story, and it really touched me. im a
16 y.o. bisexual, but i am not out yet... i think i wouldnt be so insecure
if this homophobic atmosphere in Mexico didnt exist. Even my close relatives
refer to homosexual people with a despective term, and ive always considered
them as open minded. I just wanted to drop a line and say im sorry. -is something ever gonna change?
A. M. (email@example.com)
© 1999 by Gabi Clayton and the amazing people who contributed to this page.