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 7
First of all, I'd like to say that i can't commend you enough for putting this page out (but I'm sure you get that kind of praise all the time, so i'll cut to the chase.) My name is Jonas and I'm 17 years old. i'm a male, bisexual and Pagan/polytheist/new ager etc..........reading Bill's story
brought tears to my eyes. it made me angry and extremely sad all at once. it his vary close to home. I've been assaulted, harrased and belittled not only for my sexuality, but also by my extremely catholic family for my religious choice. And here you are celebrating this wonderful person that was your son.
There needs to be many more adults as supportive as you. And this may sound wierd or even futile, but I wish some how I'd've been there for Bill. I have a friend Danny in Canada whom I also met online and he fits the same exact profile; male.teenager, bisexual, Pagan. it hits vary close to home. Thank you for your pride and courage!
I am a college student who has read you moving tribute to your son--as the friend of a bisexual, I feel as if one of my dearest friends was involved. Thank you for speaking truthfuly about the horrors that result from the "Sounds Of Silence" (I also used the song title for a freshman english paper that I did about my friend's brutal beating and my subsqent conversion to gay rights.As a result of that event, I am currently working to show other heterosexuals that gay rights are not special rights, and why it's their fight too!!
While the above mentioned individual had a very supportive family, I also know other people in my high school clique who did not have such fortune.My hometown is very socialy conservative, and the schools just added more feelings of despair to the abusive sittuations at home. As I am writting this letter to you, I have just learned that one of my friends has quit school---after being harrassed for being a transgendered individual. Although he has gotten his GED (he dropped out durring the last semester of his senior year) and has been accepted at a state university, it doesn't dimish the fact that he was a victim of an intolerant society.
Thank you very much for sharing very personal memories
Robin Orlowski (U_ORLOWSKI@venus.twu.edu)
Last week at school I was poking around on the Net and came to your pages. I was greatly moved by your & your sons story. More and more I realize at 34 I've been very lucky as a gay man. Going to a magnet High School and then a college degree in music have made my path much easier than some. Don't worry......I will always remember your son.
Peace and Love from Northern New Mexico,
Saint James (email@example.com)
I can't even begin to imagine all the mail you recieve in one day, so I will attempt to make this as brief as possible.
What an inspirational, wonderful and giving guy Bill must have been, and continues to be. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes and put fire in my heart to help change all the hate in this world. Please know that if you EVER EVER need ANYTHING... I will ALWAYS be willing to help. I really would like you to call on my help. You have started something
big, and it's only going to get bigger. Thank you for allowing me to read your heart-breaking, yet hopeful story.
Very Truly Yours,
Sol Davis (SDAVIS@nw80.cip.fak14.uni-muenchen.de)
Dear Ms. Clayton
I just wanted to thank you for the memorial that you've posted in the memory of your son, Bill. I'm impressed with the strength that your son showed in the face of so much adversity. The community of humanity has suffered a great loss, and the bisexual community (such as it is) has lost someone who could have been a powerful voice. As a parent, I was also impressed by your (and your family's) strength in not allowing your loss to embitter you toward your fellow humans. I hope that I can raise my daughter to be the kind of loving, concerned person that you did your sons.
I remember coming out to myself as bisexual in the mid-80's, not feeling like I had anyone to turn to, fighting my own depression and trying to decide if it was just a phase. At the time there was precious little information on bisexuality and most of the physiological texts that I could find, if they discussed it at all, treated it as a phase that adolescents went through on the way to their adult sexuality.
Reading your pages I was struck by how lucky your son was to have parents who embraced his sexuality as a healthy facet of his personality. I wish I could have met your son and told him that it does get better, that there is more to GLB life than fear of sexual predators and bashing. That concerned people like him are our best hope for gaining our civil rights and combating the lies that the homobobes tell about our people. That the world would morn his loss...
Thank you for listening and sharing your son's story. It reminds me what we all have to loose by letting our fear keep the closet door closed. It some strange ways, it reminds me of how far we've come. I couldn't imagine someone of my generation (barely a decade before Bill's) being able to come out as bisexual at such an early age. It also reminds me that the fight for GLB rights isn't over yet, and what I have to loose if I give up.
Spencer Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bisexual, Chemist, Troublemaker
My name is Brian and I'm an 18 y/o from Cincinnati. I'm gay (and in the proverbial closet) and of late have become rather uncomfortable with my situation (being in the closet etc.
etc.) Basically, I decided that for the time being, the best way for me to feel better about myself was to find some way to "come out" to the whole world without actually coming out to those around me, so I set up a web page. Given, it's not a lot, but it's located at
NOW what I'm trying to do is not only make it a way for me to be "out," but to also something helpful for other guys in my situation. One part of this is to gather links which I think help people to become comfortable where they are, and to help them get through tough to deal
with situation such as fear, abuse, discrimination, and general and nonspecific hatred. This has been a rather long process as there are so many good sites out there, and I can't seem to choose between some, but yours is certainly at the top of the list!
I won't make a link to anyone's web page without first asking, so if it's alright with you, I'd like to add you to my link page. :)
Ok, now just a LITTLE bit of hero worship :)...I just finished reading a number of your various pages and my gut is officially wrenched. wow... I'm so incredibly.. (in all honesty I don't know what word can fit here.. I'm moved, I feel sick to my stomach, I'm on the verge of crying,
and yet I'm so inspired by the work YOU'VE done... talk about mixed emotions).. Basically.. wow :)
Please write back if it's ok for me to link :):)...
Later, Brian :) (email@example.com)
I just wanted to thank you for putting up that wonderful web page, and for sharing with me and everyone else Bill's story. I know now that later I will be having an epidc crying session. I want you to know that your strength is amazing to me, I have a 3 year old son, I am in the
military and I am gay. If I knew it was ok to be gay when I went through school, my whole life would have been different. I was so scared to come out, I was so depressed, I was ashamed. I ran like hell to get away from who I was, and now I realize it is not I that should have been ashamed. I would like to say I wish I had a family like yours, but I think that could be a little selfish. I do wish I had the courage that Bill had. I am so sincerely sorry for your loss, and I am so completely upset that in this day and age people can be so close minded. I pray that we all can just accept eachother for who we are. I have told very few people in my family about myself, I am getting to the point where my rage is beginning to overcome my fear of rejection. I would have truely loved to have known Bill.
You have probably been told this a thousand times before, but I found Bill's story extremely inspirational and I think he is a monument to the peole who fight for what they believe in. I am extremely grateful to you for having shared Bill's story with the world, and I hope that all the people who have the priveledge of viewing his story will stand up and fight against hate. Please let me know how I may be of assistance to you in your fight or should I say, our fight against hate. Again, thankyou for sharing Bill's story, he will be missed by all who read his life.
I have just accessed the website with the story of your son Bill on it and I wanted to email you to send my wishes.
I'm frank and I live in the British Isles, and I hope that my love travels across the Atlantic to your and your loved ones heart's.
I truly think Bill was an exceptional person, from what I've read on the website, his life made a big impact on the area where you all are from, and with family and friends and the website, he truly does live forever. =c)
I am gay and I'm 21 years old, and I am out with all of my family and friends and so far I've not come up against hatred, although at school I had names called at me a lot, and the usual nastiness.
Now I am a lot more mature and I'm taking my views into my own hands and like bill, im going to stand up for what i believe in, In the next week or so Im going to be giving a talk on sexuality and coming out and I wanted to use some, if not all of the webpage dedicated to bill as a kind of hand out, so that people can read, that this is something which is big and is
something which needs to be addressed now.
I never know what to say to those who have lost, I lost my mom when I was 10, and I dont think i ever got over, i guess we learn to live with it, and use our lives to enrich the memories of those past.
I'm including a poem which my sisters posted in our local newspaper which i think is beautiful.....
You left a beautiful memory,
And a sorrow too great to be told,
But to those who loved you and lost you,
Your memory will never grow old.
And I wrote this poem ....
I look out of my window,
The night is still and calm,
I smell the smells of the country,
And also that of the farm,
I see the little church from here,
I know my family is near,
They may not still be with us,
But in heaven they still remain clear.
We think of friends who have come and gone,
But there are special ones who stay,
For they may not be here in body,
Their spirits never fade away,
When ever you think of the good times each had,
A smile will always come through,
For this life is just a test for some,
As heaven is a dream come true!
I hope ya like them =c)
Well, I couldn't read the story without emailing you to send my love, and I wish the best for your family in the future.
All my love
I just wanted to say thank you for sharing Bill's story. It meant several things for me. First it reminded me of the importance of being an ally. Second is mad me empathize for you and your family. Finanly, it made me smile to get a small chance to know Bill through this story. Thanks!
Jim M. Flader (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I've linked your page "Bill's Story" from our website. It's in the youth links section.
Timothy Brown (Timothy_Brown@ceo.cudenver.edu)
Youth & Young Adult Program Coordinator
United Church of Christ Coalition for
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns
Re: "Everyday Out" Gay Teen suicide column on GayPlace Online
thank you for sharing your thoughts on Gay Teen suicide. I am going to add your site to our site (the Gay and Lesbian Alternative Ministry): http://www.cwn.com/~fcclostr/glam.htm
(its a pro-gay ministry!)
would you consider adding ours to yours?
John M. (email@example.com)
Rev. John A. Mills
First Congregational Church(UCC) of Closter, NJ
Allelulia! Christ the Lord Is Risen!
To whom it May Concern:
Wow!!! This was such a powerful story to read. I have not always been the openminded, all-accepting person I now am, it has only been 2-4 years since I have become "enlightened." I used to think love had to come in the form of a man and a woman, but I now realize that any love that is love is good-whether it be man-woman, man-man, or woman-woman. There is so much hate in the world today that love is about the only thing that keeps me going. I have many friends who are bi-sexual and some who are gay and I love them all dearly and stand-up to prejudice whenever I see, especially if it's blatantly directed at the people I love! I had a friend named Mike who was bi-sexual and would sometimes wear a skirt to school in place of the traditional "pants." He would get ridiculed beyond belief for this and I would often find myself in the middle of it yelling at the people who were tormenting him. He dropped out of high school in his junior-11th grade year and the abuse he suffered at the hands of these "people was no doubt a factor in that decision.
Reading Bill's Story brought me to tears on more than one occasion and left me on the verge of tears, it was very touching and I am sorry that such a fine young man had to die for being human.
With Love and Compassion,
Erica Nordenson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I just read Bill's story, seems like I am not the first one to feel like reacting to it and send you comments, hope you are not tired of these messages.
My eyes are filled with tears, I just want to thank you for being the person that you are, for all you did for your son and for people who feel somehow "close" to Bill's story.
I am 23 and my parents have no idea about me being bisexual. I don't know when they will know or if they will ever know one day. I love them and I think they love me, but if only they could be as helpful and supportive as you have been and still are. Besides hate, there something else potentially very harmful, it is loneliness. It is so important to have someone to turn to, to have at least one person who knows who you are and shows you you can still live, by simply accepting you as you are.
I often wonder if I am alone in such situation, I am not out to any of my friends or relatives and it is very painful not to know what they would really think of me if they knew. It makes me give very little value to everything I do and life in general.
Fortunately, when I read of people like you and stories like Bill's, I realize that there are some understanding and tolerant people out there and that life is possible. Just a little more challenging.
Thank you so much
All my love
Dear Ms. Clayton,
My name is Doug Whitinger. I'm 18 years old and openly gay. I live in Fishers, Indiana, a suburb just north of Indianapolis. While doing last minute research for a speech I'm giving this evening at our school board meeting, I came across your page. I have to say... you must be one of the greatest people that exists on this earth. I sobbed while reading Bill's Story, seeing as his experiences were so close to my own.
I am speaking tonight at the school board, wanting to start a Gay/Straight Alliance, and also asking to integrate sexual orientation into my school's anti-discrimination policy. I'm trying to do something... anything I can do help. Sadly, many teens have to endure the same pain that your son and I share. I wanted to thank you for making this page and making his story known.
You are truly an angel... and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If it's not too much trouble, I would greatly appreciate a response, and I'm incluing some quotes from your story about Bill. I hope that you don't mind.
Thank you so much.
Doug Whitinger (Roger225@aol.com)
I read your son's story and I decided to add a personal stories section to my page. I only found a couple but his is at the top. I come from a family of suicidals and I have yearned to die and abused myself. I am pretty much better now and I want to help. If I can help in anyway just ask me and please come to my web-page. I would appreciate it if you could sign my guestbook and mailing list. Thank you and good health.
~Branden Mikal (email@example.com )
A friend e-mailed me last night and told me to get the tissues and to look up your web page. She and I are both mothers of young gay sons. My son is 20 and hers is 22. We have both known for about 2 years that our sons are gay. They have been friends since they were in junior high school.
I have been involved in our local PFLAG chapter for almost two years. For the last few days I have had a constant nagging at my heart to become more vocal for gay rights. After reading your story of Bill, I am more determined than ever to do so.
I live in constant fear of my son's safety. He is a college student in a fairly "red-neck" town in west Texas. I continually warn him to be careful. My son also considered suicide during his early teen years, when he first realized for sure that he was gay. He says that the main thing that kept him from it was the fact that I was divorced, and he was worried that I would have to live alone.
It is so hard for me to read stories like yours, Gabi, and not feel that I could just as easily have been in your shoes. I feel for you and think that you are so courageous and wonderful for sharing your story with others. What a beautiful tribute to Bill. I'm sure he is proud of you!!
God bless you and your family as you continue your fight for justice!
I felt I had to write you about Bill's story on the Web--which I stumbled into quite accidentally.
It is very rare for me to be so moved by a story that I find myself reaching for the Kleenex, but this one managed it. It's hard to believe that, in a high-tech, information-saturated world like the one we live in that narrow-minded bigotry could still hold such sway. It is also very disgruntling.
What Bill had to go through is unspeakable, but I think we must speak about it to keep it from happening to anyone else!
Eric (morpheus at early dot com)
I admire you so much!
I believe that I have never seen so much love,"véritée"(truth)and respect in anyone, sorry for my french , I have a couple problems still with my English but I wish I could have had you for parents, or parents that understand like you, personally my mother was on my side and I always new I was gay and I was about 8 yrs old when I told my parents, that is where for me the gay bashing was from my dad and his friends, I was raped by his friend in Florida, and when they found out, his friend said he wanted to Help me going back to girls" my father did not move and just said he hope it would work, and after he was telling me when I was in his way "I am going to send you at my friend house for a month, I decided to kill my dad when I was 15 but realised that killing him would put me as low as he is, I got up and walk away one morning, and didn't see my dad for 4-5 years during those years, he stop drinking and got therapy, my mother got out of the hospital was cure rehabilitate from a coma in a car accident his friend (the rapist) shot himself, and I have forgotten my dad, because hate dosent do anything and he is the one to stand their for me now! anyway I don't talk about this to anyone I don't like to be "faible" nothing is wrong or at least it looks like nothing's wrong, I think its the firs time that I tell it in so much details, I would not go tru it again, i hope nowone will ever go tru that again! i let you go you must be busy, but, take good care of yourself, and i love you all!
Let's me introduce myself : I'm a 25 years old french, student in last (but not least!) year of PhD thesis in chemistry. I want to apologize first for my english which, as it is not my mother tongue, doesn't permit me to explain correctly my feelings. I was very sad when reading your homepage and some tears came in my eyes. You know, I'm gay for as far as I can remember me (5 years old). I was in love for one of my school friend when I was 17' and that was terrifying for me. How can I say it to him, how hide it to my parents, I am really gay? I'm very masculine, I'm not like what I see on TV, maybe I'm abnormal..... I revealed my love to my friend once during hollidays and I never saw him again... I tried to suicide... Sorry to stop here my text but for the moment I can't write more. I'm getting to much trouble.
Hoping to read you soon
Someone who think about you....
I just wanted to let you know that we have dedicated our web site to the memory of your son Bill.
I hope this is OK.
With kind regards,
Subject: He sounded like a special guy.
I don't often write to websites, I just like to read and learn about other people. Your writing on Bill choked me up. I have heard this story so often, different people and different places but always the same it seems and when I read it this time it really affected me.
What bothers me is that as people we have a thousand ways to inflict pain, misery, and even death on other people and that is accepted. However, we are told there is only one way to love. I think it should be the other way around, I really do because love is special and good.
I don't know if this is right but I don't think a person like Bill can ever really die since they continue to live on in our hearts long after they are gone because someone as special as you lets us know how wonderful they really were and the joy they bought to the world around them.
Devon Kruggel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bill's story is both heart-breaking and inspirational. I am glad to know that although his life ended so sadly, he will be remembered and also that he had such understanding people who loved him.
It brought a tear to my eye. I added your site to my best site of the week list. Thank you for speaking out.
I only write to applaude you for your strength, and to apologize for the horrors that people have subjected your page to. The hate mail you received absolutely shocks me. How can so called Christians believe that they will not themselves get the fate the desire for your son throught their hate? I can only believe that our loving God will care for your son who did nothing against God, so much as the hate these people have shown you. Their judgements will be their condemnation, and I hope you can find strength in that.
May God's love be with you always.
Bryn Matisse Martin (Selene127@hotmail.com)
I always keep looking for things related to gay youth suicides on the internet. I found some very touching stories, like that of your son.
It's terrible what happened, but unless we change the society, it'll keep happening. My name is Tom and I'm gay. I keep hiding this from everyone that I know, and nobody suspects it until now, but I don't know if I can keep doing this... it hurts too much. I think that there should be more supporting people like you. Keep doing this wonderful job and, please, don't give up... I really would like to see, maybe someday, people like me living a life and not thinking of suicide as a way of healing the strong pain... at least if it (our sexual preference) was a choice we could make as many other preach, I could maybe understand, because we could say: "OK... no more pain, I'm tired of being gay... I'll become 'normal' now". I wish it was that easy.
Discovered your story yesterday and read it cover to cover. There is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said, I checked. I live in West Seattle and and am a Young Life leader at a small high school there, I love working with kids. It is a conservative Lutheran school, no gay kids in sight. However, we both know there are hurting kids there. I have just begun my
involvement with this school and, after reading your story, will be especially committed to watching out for kids like Bill and making sure that everyone is treated justly and that no one falls through the cracks.
I have a new understanding of the pain of being a young gay person due to your education (thank you) and plan on trying to learn more.
I also know a kid (boy) who came out about a year ago, he tried suicide once. After reading about Bill, I feel compelled to try to get involved in his life by giving him love and support.
About me: I'm 36, male, Christian (Brethren denomination), member of FOR, love hanging out with kids, am an airline pilot, and own a few small planes. I like to take kids for airplane rides, would be happy to come down to Olympia if you know of any. Oh yeah, I'm single and straight, but very gay friendly (how do you say that without sounding like a dork).
I would like to get involved with a group like Stonewall Youth in the Seattle area, I was hoping you could steer me in the right direction. Basically, I want to get involved with helping kids who are feeling the loneliness and isolation of being an adolescent gay person by being a friend and advocate for them.
Don Eikenberry (DE727UPS@aol.com)
(Yes, I'm related to Ken Eikenberry (2nd cousins) but only by last name, don't draw any conclusions about me based on him, I don't even know him)
While I read the story about Bill, my mind recalled the death of Airman Third Class Joshua Woody, USAF. Josh was one of the 19 young men killed by the explosion at the dormitory in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
His mother married a long-time friend of mine. Bernie lost a son; George a stepson whom he loved as his own. I was with the family throughout the entire time from when they first heard Josh was missing to the confirmation of his death. I even handled arrangements with the military to get them to Florida for the memorial service with the President, and for Josh's funeral.
Josh was just 20 years old and married about three months when he gave his life for his country. After his family returned from Florida the community held a memorial service at his former high school. It was then that so many persons spoke on how Josh affected their lives.
Josh and your Bill share something. Both left wonderful memories with a lot of people. In my way of thinking that makes both a success in life even though they left the world at a young age.
Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. I'm sure your efforts are making this a better world.
Mike Flaherty [email@example.com]
Forgot to mention how much I like the picture Bill did titled "Hold Back The Dawn". I suffer from manic-depression atypical and can appreciate the insight the art provides.
It was wonderful meeting you today. It never ceases to amaze me the quality of people I wind up meeting on-line.
I went in search for your "fan club" and came to your story of your son, Bill. I can't tell you how moved I was. As I said in our chat, "I've probably heard it all," but that doesn't mean I'm not affected each time I hear stories such as this.
As a mental health professional, you'll probably understand even more that, while others search for causes and cures of homosexuality, if I have a life goal, it's to discover the causes and cures of homophobia. Again, as a mental health professional, you'll understand even more what I've discovered so far:
Silence leads to ignorance.
I know it sounds simplistic, but I'll be hanged if I can figure out anything else. Everything leads back to education. I think there, there's a big problem in distinguishing between education and training. People tend to confuse the latter for the former.
Ignorance leads to fear.
Fear leads to hatred.
Hatred leads to violence.
And, violence leads to death.
You have my admiration for what you've chosen to do and how you've gained the strength to do it.
Best personal regards,
As I sit in the computer lab at New Mexico State University, doing research for a term paper about how the nation's public schools are handling gay issues, I came across the page that you wrote regarding your sons suicide. I must admit, that it is only the second page (out of 40) that I have read before I printed (the other is Jacob Orozco). I read it, with tears running down my cheek, and wonder why why why, do we have to live in such a hating society. I wish you the best of luck on your quest to stop homophobia. I sit here, wondering what is wrong with this country, I grew up in a family that had no problem with me being gay, but I didn't come out in school, so I don't know how my school would have handled it, I think it would have been mixed.
Matt Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hi--I've been meaning to email you re: your homepage for quite a while but didn't have the words to say what I need to. First off, I should probably say that I'm SaraS from the bonusround chats so I actually ran across your page through Steve's page. Like I said, I've
been meaning to drop you a line for a while now but just couldn't find the words.
I read through Bill's Story and was just blown away. You have more strength and courage than most people I know. It is amazing what we human beings do to one another--and on the basis of what? We persecute each other for silly things like race, religion, and sexuality instead of looking at the person behind the image. When will we learn? I've seen what close friends of mine have had to go through just for admitting who they are and it breaks my heart that it happened to anyone. I hope no one else will have to go through what you all did. I
admire your work and your strength. Hopefully through us all, this insanity will come to an end. Thanks for having the courage to post Bill's story so that we might all learn from it.
I was surfing through the Wildcat Press web site (www.wildcatcom.com) when I saw a link to your site, more specifically, to the page with Bill's Story. I have started reading this story, but at the moment, I have HAD to stop - I can feel myself starting to cry, and at the office, that would not be a good thing.
I am a 26-year old gay guy from South Africa, my name is Brendan, and, well, I suppose there is a lot that I could say. The most important thing for me at the moment is to congratulate you for your courage - writing the site must have been exceptionally difficult for you. I'm really struggling to get my thoughts on screen at the moment, there are so many of them floating around in my head.
One of the things that I do want to say to you is that I have just started a website about my coming out to my parents, which happened about a year ago - I am going to include a link to your site, because what you have written speaks so much more than what I could ever write. One of my major concerns is the number of gay/bisexual people, especially teenagers, who commit suicide, and I am trying to find a way to let them know that it is not necessary, and what it does to the survivors.
I have printed out a copy of Bill's story, and am going to take it home with me tonight, where I can sit and cry in peace, because I know that I am going to. I wish with all my heart that you had never had to go through what you did, but all the wishes in the world won't change anything. Thank you for having the courage to stand up for what you believe, and for making the world that little bit safer for me, and all the other parents' children who are going to come after me.
Mrs. Clayton (Gabi)
First off, I'm 17, and bisexual, but I'm not, however, out of the closet or ready to be.
I just finished reading Bill's Story, and I cried over it. I couldn't believe it, that any one human being should ever have endure so much, for so long, and almost all at once. It really hit home with me I guess, because I'm dealing with trying to come out, but I'm not sure, and I'm really confused. My parents would never accept it; I only wish that they were as open minded as you and your husband. The tragedy that Bill endured was horrendus, and the boys who assaulted him, I almost fell out of my chair when I read their sentencing!! I just couldn't believe it!
The way you wrote Bill's Story, I felt as if I had known Bill all of my life. You wrote excellently, and I only wish that I could have known him, he seemed as if he was an awesome person.
On that note, I guess I'll cut off. I would like to hear from you, but if you don't have the time, I understand.
P.S. --> (not meaning to offend you, as I'm unaware of your religious belifs), But as far as the people you spoke of who object to homosexuality on religious grounds, well, I'm bisexual, but very religious. I realize that it is yes, a sin, but my "comeback" (if you will) for people who say that is when in the Bible, Jesus told the the people who wanted to stone the adulteress to death, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," and, is adultery not listed as one
of the Ten Commandments? Some of the people shut-up, but then there's always the ones who are closed minded to everything, and can't just accept everyone for who they are, and love them for that.
We've never met. I am simply another one of the many people who found your web page and have read your sons story.
I could tell you about my tears, about how I am shaking with so much anger that it is difficult to type, but I know many people have already told you these things. Instead, if you don't mind, I would like to tell you a little of my story.
My name is Paul G. Miller. I am 17 years old and live in Corvallis Oregon. I am a homosexual.
I came out to my grandmother when I was 14, hid for a while, and came out to my friends at age 16. I began learning about assault cases that had been occuring to teens of all sexualities in our town who had commited the horrible offense of "looking gay." Before I even knew what I was, kids were stalking me through the hallways of my middle school and
high school for commiting this "crime." When I learned how many others this was happening to and how it was all swept under the rug I knew I had to fight it.
I decided to become the person I'd always wished I could talk to when I was in the closet. I began talking openly about "gay issues" in my debate class. I told my teachers, friends, and the school administration that I was gay, that I had hurt no one, and that no one had the right to hurt me.
My grandmother accepted me, but worried for my safety. I felt I had never been safe and that I had to come out before I could begin to defend myself.
I began meeting the towns "gay community." I met some teachers in my school who were lesbian. I attended support groups at the college and church. I began to learn more and more about what "gay pride" meant. As I learned of people I had studied in school who were not straight I felt the school had cheated me. I began to draw attention to facts in class that
were relevant to what we were studying.
Finally I started the schools first Gay/Straight Alliance. Everyone was welcome and no one had to identify themselves. There was some resistance but as the school allowed other non-sponsored student run clubs to meet, including bible study, they were legally obligated to allow us. This was only the begining.
I'm 17 now and about to graduate from highschool. Now both of the schools in our district have Gay/Straight Alliances, and I have many more friends.
On February 2 of this year, Three boys age 15-16 followed me home from school and attacked me a block from my house. I lost my two front teeth. I took them to court and told my story to practically every paper (and several TV stations) in the state. The boys were sentenced with some detention time, some community service, & "diversity training."
Thanks to the miracles of modern dentistry I have my teeth back. I have been telling my story to everyone who will listen, and people have. The towns response covered both ranges of the spectrem. Some students held a diversity assembly at the school. There was a huge town rally in front of the court house.
The boys lawyers tried to say I had a "confrontational personality" and "provoked" them. The boys tried to say they had "no idea I was gay." Their stories did not match up. The judge believed me.
People keep asking me to tell "my story." They expect me to talk about the assault. Instead I talk about the youth I have contacted through my efforts with the gay/straight alliance. I talk about the 80 youth from all over Oregon I hold email conversations with who are succesfully
starting Gay Straight Alliances in all their highschools.
For a while some had thought (and in some cases hoped) that the Gay Straight Alliance would die as soon as I graduated. People now know that this is not the case.
I look now at all I have typed and feel I had better start winding down. I hope you will take the time to read my letter. I thank you as many others have for sharing your sons story. I just wanted you to know that there are people who care and are fighting to improve the future.
Your friend -
i know you probably get letters like this everyday, but i want to thank you for the eloquence with which you told you and your son's story. i am a 15 year old girl. i have known i am bisexual for about 2 years, and many of my friends are lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans... i don't have to put up with the same level of hate that your son did, as i go to a very small private school with very "alternative" values, and my mother is openly bisexual and my father very supportive... but some of my friends have suffered through heartrending incidents, and i just want to give you a long *hug* and a thank you to your son, you, your family and all those who supported your family. your bravery is deeply touching. it has been more than a year since the last time i cried (don't ask me why, i just never do), and today i cried in the middle of the library in front of the computer as i read your son's story.
Mother's Day, May, 1998
Thank you for so having enriched my life; thank you for being the blessing you are to your family and so many others. But oh, me boy-o...the anniversaries...the dates...can be so hard.
Thank you for visiting your wonderful Mother, perchance in dreams, visions, and the many memories of your smile and laughter, and reminding her, and the rest of us through her website, that we should not to be too sad in January that you are not with us in person to share your birthday...nor should we be too sad in April that we cannot hold you on the anniversary of your assault...indeed, thank you most of all for reminding us not to be too sad in May when you left us physically.
Thank you for reminding us to remember, as your Mother's webpage does so brilliantly, to celebrate all the many wonderful things you were in life, and remain now, for so many others. You and your Mother are angels who walk among us.
Thank you for telling us, "I came here to teach you the lesson you most need to learn," and, in teaching us the special lesson, personal and unique to each of us, the one we most need to learn, thank you most of all for the light you share, even with the pain, for there are so many places in which light is needed in our world, so many wounds for which salve is needed to assauge the pain. Thank you for shining and thank you for healing....
All my love,
'Sean' James Kennedy (email@example.com)
I just read (almost all of) "Bill's Story". I have still not completely recovered after about 10 minutes after. I felt compelled to send my sincere sympathy to you. But, more importantly, I want you to know that there is progress being made where I am. At our high school, in Fremont, California (near San Fransisco) we have started a club called the "Gay - Straight
Alliance." Although it is still very controversial, and very much in its infancy, I think the fact that we even have a club of this nature is truly progress. We discuss issues in a friendly, non-threatening environment, in an effort to bring two ides of an argument together. I am personally straight, but feel obligated to make any effort I can to bring the gay and straight communities to a new understanding of one another. I think your webpage and story does this so well, it truly shows that all humans are humans, regardless. I am the webmaster of the beforementioned club, at http://members.xoom.com/gsa/ and will definitely be linking your story right from our homepage under links.
I just cannot stammer out how much I value this contribution to our cause, and thank you for being such a strong individual and putting forth such a tremendous effort to further gay rights. It is just so sad that only pain can bring understanding. Please accept my condolances and support.
Michael, webmaster of the Gay Straight Alliance Homepage(firstname.lastname@example.org)
© 1997 & 1998 by Gabi Clayton and the amazing people who contributed to this page.