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 11


11/18/99

Hello. I read with a great deal of sorrow the story of your son, Bill. I doubt that the pain will ever go away. I'm glad to have the opportunity to read your web pages. (referred by Youth Resources Page). Thanks for your courage in sharing. Bill's memory will be honored by all who receive encouragement from your pages. His story is the same as Matthew Shephard's. Maybe one day senseless people will wake up.

Thanks again. W. Willard


11/19/99

I read "bill's story" and it is hard to write right now, because my hands are shaky and I am nearly in tears. I am 15 yrs. old, and I feel I have a lot in common with Bill, I myself came VERY close to suicide myself. I was always depressed, and I didn't know why, It was a burning sensation in the pit of my stomach, tying me into knots, I had no idea why, until it dawned on me "homophobia" It got to a point where I couldn't stand it any more. I knew my ENTIRE lifetime would be affected by this terrible presence (that may be spelled wrong, sounds like "presents") The hate that "devours" our world, it takes entire cultures, chews em up, and spits them onto the ground. and i didn't want to experience that, knowing that it would be magnified a 1000 times when i came out. it hurt, and i didn't feel like I could handle it. But I stopped, for whatever reason I put down the pills (and it came THAT close) I am glad I did. Because now there are websites like yours that create awareness, and share such touching stories to eliminate homophobia. I thank you, and my condolences, i am very sorry for such a loss. A large percentage (i cant remember the exact number)of teen suicide is due to homosexuality, simply because of ignorance.

again i thank you for posting such a great site
sincerely
-Joe (GrungeOne99@cs.com)


12/9/99

Dear Mr Clayton

I was very touched to read an initial part of your web site regarding the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of your son Bill.

I live in London and was the subject of homophobic and racist abuse by my neighbours (who have been forced to move). I suffered death threats and was assaulted and was the subject of horrific accusations over a five year period which included those of alleged sexual molestation and rape.

I chose to fight my neighbours through the courts and after a 13 day civil trial and criminal trials I was awarded substantial sums of money.

I was very badly affected by what happened as I am sure youand your family are. However, I admire you for your resolve and like me you have sought to help others.

I am now giving Victim Support and have opened a dialogue with the Police (who incidentally have apologised to me at the highest level for their shocking attitude) to assist others and prevent others suffering like I have.

I am very pleased to see that you have stuck together as a family because I was very badly let down by my closest friend who is a Gay Doctor and will not speak to me (now for 2 years) because of the pressures I exerted on him just before my trial. This more than anything else hurts me so hard because I cared for him and I feel so betrayed.

No one else has rejected and everyone supported me except him.

Have you had similar experiences and how have you dealt with the situation in trying to resolve this sort of difficult situation.

Its ironic that I can deal with other peoples problems so easily but have failed to resolve this problem.

I wish you and your family good luck and long lasting good health and happiness.

Please keep up the good work

Best wishes
Danny Cohen (drash@cwcom.net)


12/10/99

I JUST READ THE STORY ABOUT BILL I CANT EVEN TELL U HOW PAINFUL IT WAS TO ME I AM SO LONLY IN THIS GAY WORLD I HAVE BEEN IN HIS PLACE ABOUT WANTOING TO DIE I THINK I AM OVER THAT PART BECAUSE I HAVE HOPE
HOPE THAT I WILL SOME DAY FIND AND BE WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN REAL LOVE ME
I WISH I COULD OF KNOW BILL
I HAVE A WAY OF MAKING PEOPLE LOL WHEN THINGS ARE NOT GOING TO WELL
THE LOSS U HAVE MUST BE GREAT
THE TEARS IN MY EYES ARE ALSO GREAT
I HOPE HIS DEATH WAS NOT IN VAIN IF A DEATH OF A CHILD CANOT CHANGE HEARTS WHAT ON EARTH WILL

12/20/99

I have just finished reading Bill's story, and I was almost brought to tears. Being a lesbian myself, I can understand what he went through. It is horrible enough realising that you are everything that society has taught you to be "evil & condemned". A gay life is definitely not a bed of roses. Although in South Africa (my home country) things are not as bad as what they appear to be in the U.S.A. I have the support of many friends (I cannot say the same about my family) that have helped me through many rough periods in my life - and I owe them a dept greater than what I could ever hope to repay.

Which brings me to my point - you. You are a wonderful person and I really take my hat of for you!!!!!! If half of the gay population of the world had a mother like you the world would be a better and more loving place. My own mom took the news very hard and for the first year after I told her she treated me worse than the dogs. My girlfriend (who is the most wonderful person I have ever met) had to suffer with me under my mom's fits of fury and disgust.

Support and love are probably THE most important aspects of a young gay person's life. Without the support of my family my years as a teenager were very lonely and depressive. I myself had stood with a gun against my head, taken overdoses (none of which, miraculously, ever worked) and prayed that I would have my mother's love once again.

My heart goes out to your family for losing your son, but I hope that you realise it was not your fault. You did the best (and much more) that any mother could ever do for her child, and it makes my heart glow to hear that people like you actually exist. I am sure that Bill is looking down with a peaceful smile on his face. I will burn a candle for you both, and hope that yours will burn through all the dark hours.

All my love and support
(galilei40@hotmail.com)


12/16/99

I am truely sorry for what happened to your son. I can't believe there are such people in the world who would hate someone for no reason other then their sexual orintation. I'm 15 years old and I think what those people did to your son was an utter disgrace to say the very least. I don't understand why people have to be so full of hate. Your son seemed like a truely wonderful person with a lot of admirable qualities. He stood up and was proud of who he was and I admire that a lot and it is a shame that some people are that narrowminded. If you believe in God (like you mentioned the people who oppose homosexuality on religous grounds) then you believe that he made us all and loves us all, gay, straight, bisexual, black, white, latino, asian and everything else. It is also nice to see parents so supportive of their child. It is a shame that everyone in the world does not have such an open mind.

1/5/00

I stumbled upon this story while surfing the Web. It was so sad, yet so inspiring, that I felt I had to contact you. I am a 17 year old bisexual female living on Long Island. I am lucky enough to have the support of an organization called Pride for Youth. I like to consider my self a gay rights activist, but there are times where I feel that things are hopeless. I am very out in my school. It's hard to walk through the hallways and hear comments like "fag" every day. Some people think that I am TOO out, but I feel as if I want to teach people that I can be a "normal" teenager and be bi. I'm just like anyone else. I feel like crying when I read a story such as Bill's. I remember a time when i was suicidal myself, not only because of my orientation but because of other things going on in my life. Being gay-bashed only added to my stress. Stories like Bill's don't just make me sad, but they also make me angry and determined. I am determined to teach the world. I feel that I am only 17, almost 18, but that I have done more than most people have. I would greatly appreciate if you would mention Pride for Youth somewhere on your page so that other young people can have access to it. This organization, part of Long Island Crisis Center, has helped me so much and others as well. Thanks you for taking the time to read this.

Sincerely, Melissa (Hyperpride17@aol.com) Mel's Place

Pride For Youth, a project of Long Island Crisis Center
2050 Bellmore Avenue
Bellmore, NY 11710
Business #: 679-9000
Hotline #: 679-1111

Services include individual counseling, support groups, peer education, and the weekly Friday night/Saturday night Coffeehouse where gay teens can meet other gay teens on Long Island.


1/7/00

Subject: Organ Donation

Dear Gabi,

I read your story in Friends and Family by Dan Woog. I can imagine it's hard when they refuse your organs just because of sexual orientation. In The Netherlands they have the same dumb rules. I just had to smile when I learned about them, because I think it's ironic that they still have to test for HIV because heterosexauls do have it too!

Stay Happy,
Jurgen Poen (J.Poen@omegam.nl)


1/19/00

Mrs. Clayton,

I was excited to find Bill's story while looking for topics for a group discussion. I am currently the president of a group on campus at the University of Montevallo, in Montevallo, Alabama. The group is called SAFE, Sexual Acceptance for Everyone. It has been inactive for quite some time. I have begun to get this group going again, with help from many students on campus. My faculty advisor has helped me to design a web page stating our purpose, activities, and inspirational writings. I am writing because I am interested in providing a link to yours and Bill's story if that would be acceptable to you. Homophobia is running rampant as you know, and I would really like to make stories like yours accessible to students at Montevallo. I am providing a link as well as the address if you would like to see the site. It would be an honor to allow others to honor Bill as well as educating others about the decency and respect we all deserve, regardless of our sexual orientation.

Thank you for your consideration.
Aviva Shar, SAFE president (Inspyrme@aol.com)
205-665-0893
SAFE Home Page

and then later that same day

Mrs. Clayton,
I am still crying thinking of Bill's horrible ordeal. I try to imagine what it would have been like to experience things he did at such a young age. He showed immense courage in his life, and I assure you, he is NOT forgotten. I never knew him, but reading of his life has only encouraged me more to keep on the path I have begun. Our first meeting of the semester is tonight. I will keep Bill and your family in my thoughts as I move through another attempt to educate those around me. I have a small home base, but you have to start somewhere!!!

Truly,
Aviva Shar, SAFE president (Inspyrme@aol.com)
205-665-0893
SAFE Home Page


2/3/00

Hi,
I am 16 years old...... Just recently my brothers best friend (he's like a brother to me) told my best friend and I, which was then his girlfriend now his ex, that he was bi-sexual. At first it was a BIG shock... and in a sense scary.... Because personally I can say that I have never had a friend that was Bi-sexual... To me it doesn't matter what his sexual preferance is... that's his business.... but i have to admit that i wasn't really happy to know that... and that after hearing it I didn't really want to be friends with him anymore..... but then i got to thinking that, he's still the same person... he's still always going to be the guy that i can go to whenever i need anything.... wheather it be a ride somewhere, for him to tell some guy to leave me a lone, or just when i need a friend to talk too.... After reading "Bill's Story" , I was furious... I think what happened to him was terrible.... NO ONE should feel afraid to be who they are.... Because everyone knows that you can't chose who you are.... some may be able to hide it, but they are just in denial of who they are... you are who God wants you to be.... well what i really wanted to tell you is that from what i read Bill was extremely lucky to have parents like you.... You and your husband supported him all the way and you were there when he needed you the most... If there was an award for the Best Parents, you and your husband would definately deserve it... I also wanted to say that if I had known about the rally i would have without a doubt been there.... to support you, your son, his friend, and all the other hated people in the world.... You made a difference in our world and not many people can say that... but i am very sorry you had to lose you son over something like that... You and your son will always be in mine and many other peoples heart....

Thank You for taking the time to read this...


2/23/00

Dear Mrs. Clayton
I am writing this letter to thank you for sharing the story of Bill with us.

I am a Norwegian boy of 19 who has recently come out as gay. Although I have never been a victim of gay bashing, I know the pressure of living in a society where you by many are looked upon as disgusting and weird.

On January 19 this year I tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills. My parents did not know the reason why I did it. It came as a shook to everyone around me. They had not seen it coming. I had, I had been thinking of ending my life for months.

I came to a point in my life when I felt that I had to make a choice. I had to choose what and how I wanted to live the rest of my life. Short of answers, I chose to end the pain.

Today I see that I should have had more faith in mankind. Today I know that we have made a step forward. The world today looks so different from five years ago. People are becoming more open-minded. I came out to everyone just two days after the suicide attempt. My class mates all have been very supportive, and a month later I have not yet seen, heard or experienced anything negative about me being gay. It makes me feel strong.

Therein lays the reason why I chose to write this to you. I want to thank you. By sharing your story you help raising the issue and show that the hatred and violence do no good. We are human too. We have feelings like anyone else. There is only one thing that make us different, and that is that we are homosexuals. There is nothing disgusting or wrong with that.

I have tremendous respect for you, your husband and both your sons. I know it must have been hard for you to write "Bill's Story". Thank you for doing it. I for sure, will always be grateful.

With regards,
Christoffer Hansen [christoffer.hansen@c2i.net]


2/24/00

My name is Amy Koch. I am a sixteen year old female and I live in Lehighton Pennsylvania. It's a very small town and the people here aren't very open minded. I know this may not be important, since you don't know me but I just want to say that, unlike everyone else in my family, I'm a very open minded person and what happened to Bill is wrong. I am interested in teenage suicide, because of trials that I have had to go through. One of my best friends is bisexual, and it doesn't matter to me. People who can't see past trivial things that mean nothing in the long run, pretty much run the world. That gets me mad. I'm sorry to hear about Bill. No one should have to go through what he did and no one should be driven to the point he was.

I would really like to get in touch with you. I would like if you can email me back. I would like to get to know more about what happened. Not just because it was horrible, but because I hope one day to make a difference. If I would achieve this goal, I would like to say that reading your story and getting to talk to you had something to do with it. It would be an honor to get to know you better. You and your son deserve to recognized for what happened. Even if he can't physically do it anymore, I would like to say he helped me to make a difference in the world somehow.

Many thanks,
Amy Koch (kwxotic@yahoo.com)


3/4/00

Hello,

I was surfing online and came across Bill's Story. I just sat here and cried as I read it, I was never physically attacked as a teen, but was assaulted verbally on a regular basis. I, too, was suicidal back then, I attempted more than once but was never successful. I'm going on 43 now, somehow I made it through those horrible times. Reading Bills story just brought back the memories of all that crap.

I have a hard time remembering those days because of the pain. My 25 year high school reunion is approaching this summer and I have zero desire to spend an evening with people who terrorized 12 years of my life. Of course not all of them terrorized me, but several did. I was horrified to find myself gay in the 70's in a small town, Livingston, Tennessee. People treat us as if we are ax murderers!

I escaped for 15 years and finally accepted myself. I am in therapy for hypo-manic depression. After reading Bill's story, I find feelings I have stuffed from back then, and am going to discuss them with my therapist. I am so sorry that Bill had to die as a result of all of these ignorant people. Homophobia is caused by ignorance and fear because that man who is so homophobic secretly harbors same sex attractions. It makes him look more manly to strike out at gays, or so he thinks.

I don't really feel that we deserve civil rights, I choose to call them "human rights." We can already vote, so it isn't as bad as blacks had it in that respect. We do need some protection from hate crimes! The way it is now, it's as if the homophobes have a license to kill us. Open Season on Gays! What a wicked world we inhabit!

I will get off my soap box now and close.

Again I am so sorry about Bill, it sounds like he was a great guy who had a nice future ahead of him although he couldn't visualize it then. Those hopeless, self loathing feelings are all encompassing. That age group has so much pressure on them without hate & homophobes. Even a heterosexual teen has a lot of pressure to deal with. Everyone wants to be accepted and popular.

Enough of my ramblings.
God Bless you!
Sincerely,
Michael Ogletree (mykee@infoave.net)


3/19/00

Gabi, I started out searching the net for an essay I was writting. I was told to find a controvercial topic on which to write and try to sway my readers. I picked homosexuality. I am a firm believer in choice. I am strait yet see no reason why I should not be with another woman if I wanted to. I have met many gay and lesbian people and have found them to be the most honest and sincere people. I started to read your son's story and imidiately started to tear. I would have loved to meet your son. Thank you for posting his story and continuing his legacy. Heidi Shane Barnholtz

I responded to Heidi, including this note:

You said you believe in choice and I understand what you meant but the word itself is a loaded one for the gay community and their allies because some other people claim gay people choose to be gay and could change if they wanted to. I don't believe that, and I don't think there is a reason for gay people to change. It is the society that I am working to help change so that people like my son Bill will live long and happy lives.

3/28/00

Dear Gabi,

My essay went well and I am awaiting it back now. I agree that there is no reason why gay people should change. Yes you can add my name and email address to response page. Thank you for responding to my email.

Heidi Shane


3/17/00

Dear Mrs. Clayton:

I am Julio, I'm mexican gay guy of 23 years old. I have already read "Bill's Story" and I was shock. the history of your son really moved me, personally I have never face a situation like you tell, but I think it is because I'm still in the closet and I don't want to get out because I know that in countries like mine, many people don't accept homosexuality.

The porpuse of my letter is that I think, why not to make a traslation into others languajes of yor page, to let other people read and understand what you have to tell them. I think it will be very helpful to other parents to get closer with their sons. I would like to take that job. I love to! I can translate your page into Spanish as a something little I could do to help you in your work to stop hate in all the world.

I suppose you are a very busy person, so you won't answer me rigth away, so take yor time, anyway I will start the traslation. Thanks for share yor feelings and help other people.

Sincerily:
Julio Castillo (zacekmex@hotmail.com)

Note from Gabi -- Julio finished the translation and it is posted at http://www.geocities.com/huastecokid/Bill.html


8/14/99

Very touching and moving! I hope that you manage to find inner peace! I've bee very close to suicide in the past, but I have seen what it's done to people, I can't put anyone through that pain,. To be honest, that's been the only thing that has stopped me! Sad I know, but true, nonetheless!

I'm sure that Bill is watching over you & everything that you do.

Just remember, he is at peace now, and is very proud of you and the things that you are doing!

Take care of yourself,
lot of love,
Kelvin (kelvin@scenequeen.freeserve.co.uk)


1/14/99

Gabi,
I just wanted to let you know that I told a friend of mine in school Bill's story and showed her a print out of his notebook entry, the phrase "this is not my choice..." that one. And she loved it. So we decided to give it to some of the students that we know and who are afraid to come out. This way they have some support. They sorta like have an explanation. It gives them words to something they couldn't explain. I know it has helped me explain my lifestyle to numerous people. I am making them a print out of it and I know that everyone will absolutly love it.

I also wanted to let you know that are hearts are with you and your family. Your story is just more ammo for us openly homosexuals in our school to get some support. We wish you love and health.

My heart is with you,
Richard Mesick (rjmesick@yahoo.com)


4/8/00

Dear Gabbi,

Hello and how are you? My name is Travis and I am from Ontario. I am a 17 year old...almost 17!....gay white male whom has only been out of the closet to my family and friends for about four months now. Just after Christmas actually! Well everyone has taken it very very well and I am relieved too! Lord only knows I could have been disowned or turned away by all my friends and family. But I totally wasn't...and I am very much thankful for that.

Now I am currently in grade 11. I am doing a Psychology project on Homosexuality. The reason I have chosen this topic I suppose is because I truly want people to know and get into their heads that there is nothing wrong or to be afraid of. It totally boggles my mind that people can be so homophobic and cruel and not understanding. What is so hard to accept here. I JUST DON'T GET IT!!!

I want to get this message through to some of my class mates.

Well I was searching around on the internet and I happened to come across your page for "Bills' Story." I read through that thing so quick, I just found the whole thing so intriging and fascinating, sad, shocking, words are not available to describe what I was feeling. I even began to cry right in the middle of my class room. I was worried that other classmates would see me...but at the same poing..who cares right! I instantly printed it off.

Well although I KNOW that you have already heard this about a billion times I still have to say it myself...I am so very, very sorry about Bill. About what you and all your family and friends have had to go through, and I"m sure are still going through. The whole incident is just so pathetic and sickening. What would posses people to be so cruel and hateful...then causing such an innocent, young, defensless person to take their own life. This whole thing just really, really steams me and I'm sure does the same for you. Those "people" who beat Bill and his friend didn't receive nearly enough punnisment. But anyhow...I could go on for hours about how angry I am, and how sad I feel. But I won't.

I really just wanted to email you and express myself...you and your family and friends are clearly strong, brave people. I am encouraged to make a difference and prevent other things like this from happening...thanks to you! I am going to start I suppose by showing other people "Bills' Story"...from there..who knows...

I myself have never experienced such "incidents" as Bill had to go though. I'm sure that someday I will, and that is the sad thing too. Other than a bit of name calling...I am very lucky.

Anyhow...write back whenever U get the chance ok...I"m sure that u are very busy.

Bye for now,
Very very Sincerely,
Travis Wilcock :0) (boy_wonder_20@hotmail.com)


4/9/00


Thank you, thank you for sharing Bill's story with us all. I am a 39 year old gay man who is fortunate in many ways - comfortable with myself, possessed of many loving friends - but Bill's story reminds me that it wasn't always that way, and that much of my school life was spent in fear and isolation. There is a frightened gay teenager somewhere inside all of us and we all owe it to *ourselves* to do whatever we can to end oppression, bigotry and hatred.

I would very much like to add a link to your page from my own - I'm sure this is not a problem, but I'll wait for your permission before I do.

With love to you, Alec and Noel,
Phil Reynolds (fluffer@computerweekly.net)


4/22/00

I came across it looking for Professional Resume Writers of all things.

My heart goes out for you - I am a mother of a 19 year old daughter and a 16 year old son - we never know which paths they will walk down - in more ways than one.

Good luck with your message - there is too much hate through prejudice in this world - if we had more compassion for those who are not quite like us - what a wonderful world this would be!!!!!!!! Your son looks very handsome in his picture - I am sure he was - both inside and out.


4/27/00

Hi,
May I say what a great site yours is. Sorry great isn't the right word but it does your son proud to have such a great loving mother and may I say it brings across a strong message.

I have just set up a site in the UK aimed at the gay scene and would like to link and have a page dedicated to your sons story.

If this is OK please reply. You can find the site at http://www.queerupnorth.co.uk the site is aimed at gay links in the north of the UK.

Yours Sincerely
Rick


5/9/00

I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your son's death. As a barely eighteen year old, it is very frightening to me that such things can happen to people my age and even younger. I have been suicidal in the past, and luckily it was never bad enough that I actually attempted it, but in a way, I understand how your son must have felt. Many of my friends are gay or bisexual, and that brings this even closer to home. I wanted to let you know that hope for acceptance is still out there. In my state, I am involved in our branch of GLSEN (gay, lesbian, straight education network), and many of the schools in our area, including mine, have gay-straight alliances. We are working hard to bring GSAs to the schools that do not have them. I know that in the four years I have been in High School, I have seen huge changes come about in the attitudes of my classmates. When I entered High School, several of my friends and I (and I'm straight) were attacked for being "lesbians". Since then, we have worked to bring about more tolerance, and I'm happy to say that it's worked fairly well. We had a speaker come to our Alliance to talk to us, and some kids passed him in the hall. One of them was talking to the other and made the remark "oh, that's so gay." Almost immediately, he saw the speaker, and apparently recognized him, because he apologized and said that he hadn't been thinking. We thought that a good sign that our population is beginning to accept the LGBTQ population. I have been wearing on my backpack several pins lately: a rainbow bar pin from our Alternative Prom, a rainbow ribbon from Silence Day, and a button that says "Straight not Narrow". Although I have gotten a few strange comments from those who didn't read the button, for the most part, I haven't been bothered.

Thank you for having this site. I think it's a very good way to promote tolerance and an awakening of the American population to hate crimes and to truth.

Sincerely,
Bethany Bracken (rosiebeth1884@usa.net)


5/25/00

Gabi:

I just wanted to take a moment to say how wonderful your page was in honor of your son. It is folks like you that work to get the world as a whole to understand that will make things work in the end. I know it is not much but your son will remain in my prayers as well as the great work you are trying to do. I would love to hear about the other work you have been trying to acomplish.

I am sure that Bill smiles down from heaven every day when he looks on what you do. For those who don't say it enough THANK YOU!

God Bless
Jeff Grimmett


6/7/00

Hi Gabi! I was really touched by your son's story. I am a bimale in my 20's and im in the closet for the same reason's you described in the story. My heart goes out to you and your family! I really envy your son for coming out! I am crying tears of joy because there is always something good that comes out of everything! I wish i had time to visit your other sites. It is truly sad that Bill couldnt talk to you and deal with these feelings he had! Especially since you are a counselor! But you know what, i can see why he couldnt! I havent ever told my mom about it! And like you said , being a teenager is bad enough much less going through pure hell! I hope that you and you and your family will find some kind of peace from my email!

I totally understand what Bill went through! It is pure hell being gay! And i think that where i live I would be much worse if i was out of the closet. Again, maam, my heart and love goes out to you and your family! Thanks for sharing your story with me!

In remembrance of Bill,
Kevin


7/30/00

Hello, my name is Dan Morris. I read your story while searching for hate groups.

First of all, I would like to take the time to reach my heart out to you and to tell you how sorry I am to hear about your son's death. He should have never had to go through what he went through.

I am not gay myself, but I am trying to understand what, how, and why people do the things they do. I am trying to understand a little better of why people hate and what people go through being hated because I want to steer well clear of any hate.

I am praying for your son and your family and hope that he is with Jesus. I  am also supporting him by visualizing myself being friends with him.

Again, I am very sorry to hear about your son's death. Thank you for letting me write to you.

Dan Morris
May God be with your family


8/5/00

Ms. Clayton,

I found your site dedicated to your son when doing a search on Yahoo for "Bill Story" - it showed me "Bill's Story." I can not say how glad I am that it made that mistake.

Reading your heartfelt dedication brought tears to eyes that rarely water. I must say that I have never experienced anything close to the pain that you and your husband and son must have felt; however, I feel that perhaps just by reading your writing, I have gained an insight that I might not normally have had.

I realize that my words and thoughts are jumbled; it is late (early?), and I'm tired and kind of emotional. But I wanted to write to you, just to thank you for having the courage to share your son's story with me. I know nothing can bring him back, but perhaps we can learn to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.

Sincerely,
Josh B

*********************************************************************

"Words can not change the past, *

*********************************************************************


9/7/00

HI Gabi,
 
    My name is Diego, I'm french, gay, and I'm 15 year's old. I have ridden the story of your son with a lot of attention and that makes me cry. And yet there's a lot of homosexuals, lesbians or bisexuals killed by hate and fear, but it's reading the story about one of these persons that really turn you upside down. I did wanted sometimes to kill myself and nevertheless nobody knows I'm gay and I never suffered from agressions. It's why I think your son was very brave. Yes you really should be proud of him 'cause coming out at the age of 14 is very courageous too. I know I'm not necessarly of a great comfort but writing this letter makes me good. I know it's a little bit selfish of me but how to help you ? I can promise to fight for tolerance and I know I will, because it concerns me like it should concerns everybody. And not just because I'm gay, but because it should be an instinct to accept everybody doesn't matter who he is. You probably recieve a lot of letter saying that, but I really feel concerned by your story. I hope I could have been of some comfort because you were for me. 
Continue the fight, you're not alone
Diego (vince.ranz@wanadoo.fr)

9/17/00

Hi Gabi:

I just read "Bill's Story".......and even though I am miles away & never met you, I felt a need to send a "hug" to a silent friend who my heart reached out to this morning. I am so touched by the story & want to thank you for sharing a personal part of your family with so many others.

I am someone who was Blessed with beautiful parents & family. I thank my lucky stars every night because being gay is a challenge within itself . . . as a kid who it was ok to call a "tomboy"......to a flustered teenager who society thinks is "finding their way"......to an adult who is honestly "trying to understand life itself" and really doesn't know "where to find it." I found out there's no library filled with maps that point "this way is the right or best way."

Coming from a family of 11 - one thing that I found throughout our growing up was a close bond - a picture of unconditional love.......through some of the hardest times financially - yet never did our love run low. We watched & learned how our parents never met a stranger & a handshake was always there.

Gabi - because of you & Alec, Bill was given some wonderful years on this earth...... each minute of the day/night he "looks down" upon you with a big smile & is Blessed to say "That's my parents!"..........the same way I feel when I "look above" and say "Wished you could've known my parents."

Everyday I realize how far society has come in acceptance/

understanding of lifestyles (gay. bi-sexual, etc) - knowing it's a tiny bit easier because of the resources made available to younger people today........yet, we do have such a long ways to go. I try to remember something one of my teachers told me in high school "We are all humans - we get up each morning, put on our clothes the same way. Some of us have choices to make . . . . some people have their choices made for them the day they were born."

I just wanted to "thank you" for touching my heart this morning!

God Bless and may you always have wind beneath your wings ~

Hugs,
Pam


9/21/00

I came across a link that said bill's story. I didn't know what it was about but checked it out anyway. I was deeply saddened by it just as I was when I heard about Matthew Sheppard. I don't really know what to say because I can't say I know how you feel because I don't but I do want to say that you seem like a extremely great mom. I wish my mom was as accepting as you were towards bill. But just to let you know I think things have changed some. I was openly gay at my school. I was extremely scared when people had found out because I had trusted a friend with my secret but it ended up being spread throughout the school. But that's where things were different. Instead of having people call me names I had people come up to me and ask me questions about it, they were curious about it because they didn't know anyone who was gay or bi sexual. My coming out experience was great, and I only wish that bill could of had a chance to go through school and life without all of the negativity. I hope what I have written makes since because I feel that I am not a very good writer. I just wanted to write you because I feel you have done a great thing by putting this story out there so people could read it and hopefully eventually realize the mistakes and consequence's that hate can have, although I know it will take a lot more than your story, but It's a start.

Sincerely,
Christopher M. Thomas 
CLOUDFINAL319634


9/28/00

Gabi

You have a strong and beautiful heart. Please, for the sake of us all please keep fighting the good fight.

I was deeply touched by many of the facts in your case. The courage you and your family showed for your son not only showed how deeply he was cared for, but also your open-mindedness and disdain for societies judgment of the norm.

I have been a closet case since about 8 years old. It's only within the last two years I have started telling my friends and family. Stories like yours, although shocking and painful, also tell of the joys of being yourself. Speaking from experience your son was a very lucky man. The fact that you not only accepted him for who he was, but openly with your community, rather than a deep dark family secret is enlightening.

When I told my mother my I was gay/bi she showed the same love as you... but I regret she has since regressed into denial.

I now live 3000 miles from her, her calls often ask of grandchildren... (I pressure I now bare that my only sister passed in '98... I regret I never had the courage to tell her) My father will always be in the dark, as will my grandparents, they are all far to old fashioned and I can honestly fear violence from my father.

I wanted to share the basics of my story, just to let you know how lucky your son was to have parents such as you. To hell with the norm, follow your heart.


10/14/00

Hello Gaby,

I was so touched by your story about your son. I'm also gay and I'm 20 years old. When I see how hard life was to your loved son, and how often we are confronted with hate and lacking knowledge about homosexuality, it is so important and great what you did. You confront the public, that closing the eyes don't make vanish the dark side of the world and the personality. We have to show the world that we are not only a minority group satisfied in being underprivileged and discriminated, but that we are proud of being who we are, and fighting for it, not like the other people are fighting, not with guns or hate, but with love, pride, understanding and patience. If everyone would read your homepage, if everyone would read more about homosexuality and not making his image out of prejudices, if everyone would stand up for his consciousness and for the true, hate and violence would disappear. But I think then we would live in Utopia, and that makes me sad. But your homepage is l!

Like a stone for building this Utopia a bit more. Let us all put our stones together and reach for a better world.

Thank you for this wonderful homepage
Dirk


10/7/00

Dear Gabi:

Please use this story at your own disposal. Post it where ever and give it to who ever. If you think it will do any good, Please -- IM 32 yrs. old and this is one of the hardest things I've written to date. I wrote this as a release from the feelings. A couple of my friends got hold of it and encouraged me to share the story. Thank You so very much for all you have done for the world.

Snd. Billy :) 

There are days, weeks, months, even Years that have past by me. I have seen

many thing in my life and I have experienced many things in my life. As the

time passes by me and the people that I meet come and go, I usually don't

find many people that are so ignorant, so small minded, so afraid of

themselves that they have to attack other people that they do not even know.

However, there are those times when an empty human being crosses my path.

Someone that is so afraid of the unknown, so afraid of those unseen things

that go bump in the night, "that only exist in ones own mind" that they feal

the urge to attack without taking the time to look threw the darkness of

their minds.

I realize that so far I may not be making a great deal of sense. I am

obviously leading up to something and that "something" is simply this.

The other day I went over to a lady friends house. A friend that is so dear

too me that I proudly call her my sister. Her brother and I are just as dear

of friends and consider each other brothers. Their children call me Uncle and

have been raised thinking this true all there lives.

(So now you know the setup of where I was when I had my run in with "the

darkness of another persons mind.")

My oldest nephew had been working on ripping a truck apart for his grandpa

(for lack of a better thing to do) and wanted to show me his progress. As we

walked up to his grandpas driveway I could see a fairly large group of people

gathered around the backend of my other nephews pickup. Standing there I

could see my little brother chatting with the group. Mostly all guys but two

or three girls. As I walked past with my nephew I nodded my head to the group

to acknowledge them. I herd "little brother {"innocently"} say to the group-

(That's my big brother Wilma) of course it was said to get a rise out of the

group of guys there. (Wilma ?) says one of the guys: Then all I could hear

from my vantage point was a bit of mumbling for a few moments. And then the

resounding ghastly cry from one of the guys "OH! FUCK!! HE'S WHAT!?! GET ME

THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!" This was followed by a few NO SHIT (s) as in NO SHIT

TAKE ME WITH !!

Now I have dealt with this sort of attitude before in my life. It comes with

the territory, and normally this sort of thing wouldn't get to me. But this

time it did.

I was trapped, this group of people stood between me and my car "parked down

the street." My wonderful nephew herd all of this and could see the obvious

shock on my face. He gave me a look as to say "IM Sorry" but without saying a

word this young man reached out his hand and pulled me around to the far side

of

grandpas chopped-up truck and began trying to explain what he had been

working on. This scrawny 90 #lb. teen ager was going to protect me from these

"bad people." (For a moment I nearly laughed at him) but I was to shocked at

the things being said just 30ft. away from us to react in any way aside from

fear.

After a few moments inspecting my nephews handy work, I set back towards my

car, past the scowling few in the group I felt wished to do me harm. I didn't

look up for a moment, I just kept my feet moving. It wasn't Intel I was back

into my car with door closed that I noticed my "little brother" standing next

to the car.

My window was down and he leaned into the car saying "Don't pay any attention

to them buddy" "OK?" My reply was "Oh, no big deal." The problem was it that

it was a big deal. Today it's an even bigger deal. Today is my "little

brothers" 30th Birthday party, the party is out at the beach, "the group"

will be there. I love my brother very much, but I also know that alcohol and

small minds don't mix.

So I didn't go. I will see my "brother" another day and make up an excuse for

not attending.

I have always considered myself a pretty strong person. I was born with thick

skin. (as the saying goes) But I just found out IM not as tough as I would

like to think I am. I have lived in a vale of fog, all the time thinking that

I am no different from any other person alive "aside from my outer looks." I

have always assumed that it was OK to be who I am and what I am. No body

would really know if I or someone els didn't say anything. I could tell that

"little brother" was sorry he had said anything, but was torn between the two

worlds himself. I don't begrudge him for not wanting to loose face with his

mates. He did after all follow me to the car and talk to me and tried to

smile for me. He loves me and I know that. I just wish he could find smarter

people to hang out with.:)

So! Is there any conclusion to this story? Have I achieved anything by

writing this letter? Will I have achieved anything after I have sent it out

into the world? I don't know. I hope so. Some may say it's just another freak

crying about "being" a freak. Others may say that it's a letter from a person

who was hurt by someone's actions. And others just wont care. So what ever

the outcome, here it is people! Think it over.

 

Sincerely Billy (Aurtherhult@aol.com)


10/19/00

Gabi......I just read Bill's story, and I wanted to respond. From what I saw and read, Bill is/was a beautiful young guy. So much fire inside!! It sounds like he burned bright in his 17 years here. I think a person's greatest gifts are also their greatest vulnerabilities. Bill's sensitivity and depth of feeling were an enormous gift. I am so sorry that his vulnerability was preyed upon again and again. His courage and yours are apparent, and I take some comfort in knowing that there are people like you out there.  Bill's experiences show that sickness/disease/evil are still out there. I am sorry for your loss.

I have been on the receiving end of abuse because of my own sexuality. I was insulted in high school by a teacher (he was also the school's football coach) in front of an entire classroom of peers. He basically used a hand gesture to imply how feminine he thought I was. Brutal! I also endured sexual harrassment by a female worker when I got a job at the University of Minnesota. The woman groped and fondled me, pointed out my sexuality to roomfuls of students (before I was out), offered to buy my "services" for her husband for a Father's Day Gift, and eventually disrobed in front of me because she knew that I was "not interested and wouldn't care." She was a co-supervisor of me, and although I had alerted my other supervisor, nothing was done for quite some time. I pressed charges, and she left the University system. I learned many things through my own experiences. I worked hard to become physically fit and even a bit imposing in order to protect myself. I also found some protection in addressing any comments made. This doesn't stop the barb from reaching me, and it doesn't stop the pain. I guess it doesn't even help the memories and the loss of a fun senior year in high school and the loss of being "just a guy" in high school.

My family has not had the ability to be there for me emotionally. My sexuality (now I am 38 years-old) is a family secret, and I am not allowed to let my neices or nephews know that I am gay. (I came out when I was about 30). I applaud Bill's courage in coming out when he did, and I also applaud your support, and even more so, your EMBRACING of your son. I may not ever experience that. I do hope I can some day, though, embrace a younger guy who is struggling to simply be "just a guy" and not a faggot, queer, sissy, etc. I think I would have liked Bill. I will keep you in my thoughts/prayers. Thank you for your message; I think it is time to be more involved in helping to stop this insanity, so I also thank you for the fire you've rekindled under my butt.

Best Wishes,

Mike Driscoll (drisc005@tc.umn.edu)


11/7/00

My name is Marc.  I am an openly gay male that is 21 years old.  I read the article GayWired.com put on the web about your son and was greatly touched.  I am lucky as I have never experienced any forms of abuse or harassment for being who I am.  I realize that it is all still out there because I have had friends and acquaintances that have experienced these things. 

I wanted to tell you how great it is that you have worked so hard to get the word out that those of us in the GLBT community are no different from everyone else.  Just from reading some of the things you have put on your web site about your son Bill I realize that because of stupidity the world lost a great person who had the potential to go far in life. 

I too work as hard as I can to try to correct the ignorance that we experience from others about gays.  I am not a very political person so I do things that are on a smaller scale.  I am always meeting people and changing their impressions of gays just because of the way that my personality is. 

Continue to be strong and we from the GLTB community appreciate all that you and your family do to change the world and make it safer for everyone.

Sincerely,

Marc Williams (SWTCuteboi21@yahoo.com)
San Marcos, TX


11/19/2000

Dear Mrs Clayton,

About a year ago, I read your article about your son on the net. It took me about a year now to mail you this letter.

A few days after my 14th birthday I came out to my parents and friends that I was gay. Your atricle was a great support to me. U must be verry proud of your son. I think he was verry brave and he has been a rollmodel to me for over the year. I'm 15 now, and I'm fighting for the same things now as your son did back then.

If u want to mail me back, feel free to do so.

All my love and support to you, and keep fighting.

Stijn, Belgum (spraetje@pi.be)


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