Thursday, October 07, 2010

It Gets Better

(NOTE: I'm sorry that there won't be much today about knitting. I don't often veer off topic these days, but this is something I feel like I ought to write. I'll return to the usual yarn-based tomfoolery in my next entry.)

My last post, in which I suggested via t-shirt that persons unspecified should do something anatomically impossible to themselves and repeat from asterisk, has been up rather longer than intended. The plan was to follow up with something considerably chirpier, since bad moods are just that–moods. They pass.

The chirp has been pre-empted, however, due to a recent spate of suicides by young gay people.

This is not a new problem. Nor, sadly, is it uncommon. Suicide is the third-highest cause of death among Americans aged 15-24; and studies published in the past 15 years by the Federal government and the American Journal of Public Health suggest that youth who identify as gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender are two to three times more likely still to attempt to kill themselves.

It’s probably the lurid nature of the events leading up to the death of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, that have pushed the problem out of the pages of specialty publications like our own, dear Windy City Times and into the mainstream media. Tyler Clementi’s private life was surreptitiously streamed onto the Internet by his roommate, who also Twittered to let the world know what he was doing. Tyler, distraught at his abrupt outing and the subsequent torment by his peers, jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

Tyler was one of at least nine young gay men known to have taken their own lives in the past few weeks due to anti-gay bullying.

As a result there have been, and continue to be, statements made by high-profile types–Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Gunn, the cast of “Modern Family,” etc.–under the theme I’ve used as the title of this post: It Gets Better. The message is simple, short, and (one hopes) effective: it may seem like life isn’t worth living, but don’t give up just yet. As you grow older, it gets better.

I’m certainly no celebrity, but I’m adding my squeaky voice to the chorus on the off chance that it might, in a small way, help somebody somewhere sometime. Who knows? Maybe there’s a gay kid out there who’s suffering at the hands of his classmates because he’d rather knit than kick soccer balls. And maybe he wandered in here after Googling “garter stitch” or “toy elephant.”

If you’re reading this, kid, it’s for you.

I know what you’re going through. That’s not an empty statement. I mean I know exactly what you’re going through, because I walked a mile and then some in those leaden sneakers when I was your age.

Thinking about suicide? So did I. In fact, I did more than think about it. I tried it.

It wasn’t my idea.

I was egged on by quite a few authority figures, the ones who seemed at the time to run the world. They weren’t my parents, I hasten to add. I got lucky in the parental department; they didn’t always understand me, but they always loved me.

They–my bullies–were mostly teachers and school administrators. You see, I went to this really, really awful little private high school devoted less to academics than to promoting the veins-in-your-teeth cult of virility. It was no place for sissies, and if they suspected you might be a sissy they did their best to beat it out of you.

I was only there for two years, but the life lessons they taught on a daily basis have always stuck with me. Here’s a small sampler, verbatim, including the language they felt was appropriate to use in front of schoolboys:

“We have to believe gay men choose to be gay. Otherwise we would have to admit that God makes mistakes, because there is no sorrier mistake than a bunch of faggots.”

“If my son turned out to be gay, he’d have two choices. He could shape up, or he could get the hell out of my house before I shot him through the head.”

“God created you to be a man, and to fuck women. If you don’t fuck women, you’re not a man. If you’re not a man or a woman, you don’t fit into creation and the sooner you leave it the better.”

“Frankly, if I was a gay man I’d shoot myself. I mean, I’d be going to Hell anyway and I might as well get on with it and skip over dying from AIDS.”

(Isn't it funny, Mr. Roberts? I don’t remember anything you taught about biology–you were a lousy teacher, so that’s no surprise. Yet I remember so much of what you said with shocking clarity.)

Day in, day out for two long, painful years, I drank it in. I remember being flabbergasted at how often our teachers could work jabs at homosexuality into topics you’d think were completely unrelated. I was 13 and hitting puberty hard, yet I swear I was less obsessed with dick than they were.

Usually these barbs were volleyed at all of us, a general exhortation against the evils of buggery. But on especially bad days, they were aimed pointedly at me, the designated class pansy–while the other boys listened and smirked.

That led directly to problems with a classmate who decided after one such lecture that he was going to prune me, the mutant bud, from the Tree of Life with his own hands–since that’s what God, the saints, and the faculty wanted. I appealed for help to a couple of teachers and to the dean, all of whom told me I was on my own.

If you’re going to act like that, they said, you deserve what you get.

Sound familiar?

Now, I was brought up to be a good kid and respect authority. And authority was telling me I was a horror in God’s eyes, and ought to bump myself off.

So I tried it. Not successfully, obviously. And not right then. I have a strong constitution; it took years for their poison to reach my vital organs. But it was probably bound to happen sooner or later.

It might not have if somebody, anybody, had been there tell me what I’m going to tell you.

People–teachers, parents, classmates, pastors, whoever–who call you a mistake are wrong. Totally wrong. Completely wrong. Wrongeddy-wrong-wrong.

You’re no more messed up than the straight kid in the next chair.

When they say that your nature is unnatural, they do not speak from wisdom. They are either misguided themselves, or they know better and are deliberately lying to you. Either way–you don’t have to listen. In fact, you shouldn’t. In fact, don’t.

I know. They appear to hold all the cards. They can force you to run laps, sit in detention, do punishment homework. But you have my solemn promise that this is temporary. One of these days you’ll be out of there, and such petty power as they possess can no longer touch you.

Hang on. Don’t let them keep you from pushing forward, because what’s waiting for you beyond is quite wonderful. It’s not all couleur de rose, but it’s so much better than what you’re going through right now.

There are ways to get help. The Trevor Project is a good place to start. You don't have to be desperate, either. Better, in fact, to seek a little support before you are desperate.

(And in the meantime, if you don’t know how to knit, please consider learning. It’s a marvelous way to keep calm, knitters are wonderful people to gather ’round you, and nothing says “piss off” to the bigots like a really amazing hand-knitted scarf.)

351 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 351 of 351
Shelda said...

Oh, yes, yes, yes. Maybe this is a time when more of these stories can be spoken aloud, when people can finally *see* something they've not seen before. A 100th monkey moment. We can't afford to lose all these young gay lives. Thank you, and bless you, as many others have said.

I'm so glad your attempt was unsuccessful and you lived on to get to the better part.

Anonymous said...

Franklin - Please put your post on "It Get's Better". You make the world a better place.

pencraftco said...

Outstanding post. Thank you. Should be required reading in all high schools.

lorrwill said...

First off major props and massive kudos for speaking out and doing it for others who need to hear that they ARE okay just as they are and that it DOES get better.

While nature did not wire me gay (hello you don't get an effing choice!), I am mixed race. Guess what? Replace all the homosexual slurs with racial ones and the story is the exact same.

Except I'm small and female so I got beat up a lot.

Again my unreserved gratitude for this post. Hugs to ya, man.

Dragons Knitting Lace said...

It's a shame people feel the need to judge. Thank you for speaking out to the kids, and adults, that need to know they are ok.

Love you Franklin.

Anonymous said...

It's been said 205 times here so far, but I have to say it as well: Thank you. And I am glad your voice is so much bigger than you realize as the link to this post is flying through email lists. I'm off to send it to my list as well. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you. You make such a difference in the world.

Sally at Rivendale Farms

Suzanne said...

I can only add my thanks for your words. You are my hero.

mary jane said...

Right on Franklin!

Morgen S. Daily said...

Bravo Franklin. We are all so lucky to have you.

katie D said...

YES!!!!!

Thank yo very much - sanity and reason must prevail!

Mollie said...

Franklin, I couldn't read your post today without crying sincere tears for the pain you and other gay and lesbian kids have felt. I can't pretend to know how that felt. I do know that no one should be treated that way, for sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. I know that what has been in the media lately about these poor boys isn't anything new. I just hope that it is being covered means that people are starting to pay attention to the tragedies. Maybe that is the first step to something changing. Maybe we will finally see changes in our society, like equal marriage rights and the end to DADT. I just hope that I have done my little part by teaching my kids, that love can come in many forms. It shouldn't ever be something to be ashamed of, but should be celebrated where ever it is found.

Peace.

Karen said...

Oh Dear Dear Franklin. I am so sorry that you suffered. Especially for something as wonderful as our human sexuality. (I subscribe to the religion of the poison berry--God made poison berries taste bad so we won't eat them; he (or she or whatever) made sex feel good so we would do it.

Honestly, I don't believe in the entire theory of gayness. I believe that we are all sexual beings who have preferences that are merely a matter of taste. The same way that we all eat food although many of us (not me) don't like lima beans.

I believe that the first person to call someone gay (or bi, or a dyke) was a coward. They were mad at someone because they were bigger, or stronger, or smarter and they did not have the courage to actually fight about what the real problem was because there was a hearty chance that they would lose. Imagine--"Why yes, I am bigger or stronger or smarter than you. What are you going to do about it?" Rather, the coward said, I hate you because you are attracted to something different than I am.

All that said, by today's standards I am straight. In general, I am fascinated by people and things that are different than I am; therefore, I prefer to play with parts that I don't have. It's more fun for me. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't go to second base with k.d. lang because, really, what's the difference.

And please be assured. There are wonderful teenagers and children out there. My 16 year old niece has a male friend who is attracted to other boys. When her crowd all started dating at about 14, they brought the whole idea of group dating to new, wonderful heights. When she met her boyfriend and went on her first day, there was a crowd along with them to make it easier. When Ben met his boyfriend and went on his first date, the whole crowd went along with them as well. And when she told me about it, she couldn't understand why I shed some tears because she all she really cared about was her friend's happiness. Who he dated was irrelevant. That may have been the proudest day of my life.

I would love to see a world where someone get's bullied for being a bigot, a racist or just an a**hole.

Bonnita said...

Franklin, I love you. You make me smile every time I read your blog. Your humor is wonderful, and I hope one day to meet you and give you a big hug.

thepaperbackfortress said...

<3 Thank you for sharing this

Lynn said...

Amen.

DodgeCreations said...

Thank you for posting this.

Susan said...

I am a retired middle school counselor and this is my 3rd school year to not be in the business. Franklin, I thank you for your words of encouragement to young people who are discovering themselves and have learned or are learning about their sexuality. You're a gift. The world is full of people who firmly believe that they know best for the rest of us. It's just hard to understand that when you're young and others tell you that you're wrong. Keep speaking out and . . . oh, yes . . . keep knitting. Susan from Carmel Indiana

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Franklin. So sorry that you had to go through that school, and it is wonderful that you share your experiences with us. I hope it helps other kids regardless of what it is that makes them different.

CatBookMom

Catherine Myers said...

Just another voice saying thank you, and you're a great writer, a great knitter, and a fine human being.

Cindy G said...

God/The Goddess bless you.

Heidi said...

Mwah! Smooches to you for this powerful post.

anne marie in philly said...

gah, no wonder you hated that f-ing school! I had no idea...

some of my friends have posted "it gets better" videos on their blogs.

and your parents support you, unlike so many other gay kids.

F the haters! thank you for posting this and I hope some young person is inspired by your thoughts.

smooches, dear friend!

Sharon Rose said...

*hugs* Glad you survived that bullshit.

Diane said...

Thank you, and thank you, and thank you. This is beautiful.

Liberty's Yarn said...

(typing thru tears) Thank you! We love you just the way you are!

kris said...

Franklin, it has been nearly 15 years since I lost a good friend to aids , when it was found out in the store where we worked that he had aids, some of the uninformed co-workers wanted to have him fired, they acted like it was his fault and he had the black plague. Shortly after he gave a class, unfortunately another co-worker committed suicide , when he found out he had aids. Too much stress and condemnation. I miss Tom and Mark. They closed the store soon after.

not supergirl said...

Franklin, I am so, so sorry that you were treated like that. I'm proud of you for living and proving them wrong.

Northmoon said...

Good for you for posting this. I hope someone who needs to hear it reads it and finds strenght to carry on to a better place.

God loves diversity. It's so sad that some people are too narrow minded to appreciate all of God's children.

Riin said...

Thank you, Franklin. Thanks for writing this, thanks for being you, and thanks for surviving.

I was suicidal when I was 14. The bullies were so horrible, I sometimes felt that everyone in my entire school hated me. I don't even know why they picked on me. I'm not gay. I've always been "different" though, and I guess that was a good enough excuse for them to torment me.

It really does get better. I'm happy to be different, and while I've gone through numerous depressions since that horrible time, I never felt suicidal again, since it actually did get better. I know that no matter how bad it gets, in time it will get better.

Right now? Life is pretty sweet.

Crafty Andy said...

It does get Better and we are prove of that. What better friend to have than Franklin Habit, we have come through a lot, but we are here to stay, you are never alone kids, the world is full of good peole also. Live long And Prosper.

smalltownknitguy said...

Franklin, Having met you at the MFKR in Seattle I read your blog every chance I get. This one is right on the money. As a southern man who knits, I get a lot of looks when I knit in public. I am a straight man with a wife who knits, and 2 kids. Jesus preached about LOVE. Most of what he said can go back to that one idea. If we could all follow his example, show people LOVE, no matter if they are gay, straight, knitter, jock, white, black and my list could go on. Thanks again Franklin for voicing your feelings on this. Love, plain and simple. Show it.

Destiknit said...

As others before me have expressed, thank you for sharing. This really is a marvelous post, but I wouldn't expect any less from you.

Regarding linking to the school you attended... a thousand thank yous. My children will be in HS when we move back to HI and I am combing through the private schools... *that* one is struck from the list!

xoxo

Cathy said...

thank you Franklin. you rock.

Anonymous said...

Right on.

Julie said...

Franklin, this was fantastic. I want to do something unspeakable to all of your former teachers (how do people like this get put in charge of kids and teens? Childhood and teenhood is rough enough without it being overseen by adult bullies!), but the your post is wonderful. Thank you.

Melissa (meliabella) Sibley said...

So sorry for what you went through, but so very happy that you decided to stick around. <3 I was bullied, but not for my preferences, though everything else. So wonderful of you to step up and support the movement! (And to enable future knitters)

Tikabelle said...

You are beautiful.

Steven A. said...

as someone who has walked in the same shoes you have, i have to say that, while i understand the spirit of this "it gets better" campaign, i find it infuriating.

instead of telling these kids to hang on, we need to be saying, "we are going to do something right now to make this better for you. now!"

we need to assure queer youth that we who have survived, we who have privilege and power, will no longer tolerate this.

no one should endure the torture we did.

no more waiting.

because "it gets better" can be a cruel lie.
because it doesn't get better for everyone.

Diane said...

Your essay should be mandatory reading for every administrator, teacher, coach and student in every school. Your words apply to everyone and are not specific to any particular group.

Mary Ellen said...

Franklin, you are a blessing.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Thank you, Franklin. Your post was beautiful, heart-breaking, and eloquent. Seeing these beautiful children in the news just brings me to tears. Somehow the message needs to get to them that they are okay (nay, better than okay), regardless of what they may be hearing and experiencing from the stupid, cowardly, abhorrent a**holes around them. Thank you for posting.

(ps first comment attempt due to typo :-D )

anne said...

Bravo! No one should have to endure any kind of bullying. It does get better. We need more brave people to help mentor the young and the vulnerable. Keep on keeping on-you are the best!

Diane said...

Amen, Franklin. Amen.

Knitkitty said...

Franklin, I have tears from reading your post. Thank you so, so much, for sharing that terribly painful part of your life with all of us. I'm glad you survived to bring your light into this world. I am immensely grateful that so many people in these comments are speaking out in support of young gay people everywhere. It gives me hope.

Mom said...

I'm sorry that you had to go through all that way back then. We are so proud of you and want you to know that we are behind you always. I know that your life is so much better now and you turned out to be a wonderful person. I want to thank all the people that have commented on this post. I know that it came from the heart. Much love Mom...

Laurie in Mpls. said...

*gives Franklin an awkward, Midwestern hug*

Thank you for posting this. I am appalled that your teachers were so horrible -- not just to you, but to how many other kids over the years? I'm glad you got through it, but like another poster said, just want to give 13 - 15 year old Franklin a big hug. And then get all up in the faces of the rotten teachers who are making him feel awful.

twinsetellen said...

Your post brought thanks to my heart; the comments brought tears to my eyes.

Tactless Wonder said...

My friend @ gay.com is hosting a series of letters to your younger self. Some are super sad and some are super funny, but all are super.

And to think, I almost became a teacher at that school...thank god the sails ripped to shreds and we never made it to Oahu and had to cancel interview...

Oh and as a former teacher? Dear god (and man was it hard to take his name in vain in a PUBLIC school in Hilo), but I did know quite well how much my kids looked to me for guidance and an example. Your teachers make make me feel ashamed to call myself even a former teacher. But maybe we'll be lucky and there will be a special place in hell for them.

essjay said...

Amazing words spoken with such honesty. Thank you for sharing & for proving that there are great people in this world.

Brooke said...

Dear Franklin, thanks so much for posting this message. I just found you via a friend on facebook and look forward to visiting you blog again for knitting as I'm sure you are as valiant a knitter as you are a human being! Keep up the good fight <3

DutchJan said...

Yea, that sounds very familiar to me...sounded even like a part of my youth here in the Netherlands... Guess that's why I think it is important for me -being a teacher to students aged 16-22- to be open about my life and to tell them that my life is great and that being gay is no problem at all...I have been bullied a lot when I was young and later in my life (round 10 years ago) I got a burn out and in therapy I did find out that that also had to do with this bullying in my teens.
Let's all be brave - either you are gay , straight or whatever!!) and stand up for those kids who are in such a difficult period in their life's and who really need support from us all!!!

Melissa B said...

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Liz said...

Very well written. I've taken the liberty of sharing it with friends. Bravo.

Tanya said...

I'm saddened and appalled at what your teachers said. I'm so glad that you weren't successful in your attempt. Your humor has helped me get through many a tough day. Knit on and thank you for the many gifts you give us Knittahs :)

Kathy said...

Thank you!

Jen said...

Thank you for writing this post. I'm not homosexual (I'm a middle-aged married woman), but I can tell you that what you experienced as a child was WRONG. Your teachers and school administrators were WRONG. And the bullying that is happening still today - for homosexuality, or sexuality of any kind, religion, handicap, physical size or looks, clothes a person wears, etc. - and authority figures that condone such actions, is still WRONG. Bless you for standing up for what is right.

Emily said...

Thank you for this. I, too, had tears in my eyes. Nobody, anywhere, ever, should suffer as you did.

Kimberly said...

After reading this I realized that I was crying - not sobbing but with tears just coursing down my face. I realized that You wrote exactly what I want the world to hear, learn and apply!
Reading about your youth brought back all my memories about that point in my life. Although I am married and a grandmother, I still feel the sting of the bully's from my youth.
I'm so glad you are here and I get to read about what you're knitting, about your Abby (I have one too!) and meeting you at Common Cod.
Please continue on with what makes you happy and what pisses you off.
Kimberly
PS - I have this dream that (insert bigoted group of choice) has a parade and all the spectators turn their backs and cover their ears as the group matches down the street. And it happens again and again and again until they give up!

K said...

hugs. Big hugs.

JudithRcns said...

I do so wish that statements like this weren't necessary. But I am sure that someone, somewhere is taking courage from what you have said.

Thank you Franklin!

Leslie said...

Very well said, Franklin. Thank you.

Tweedle Needle Designs said...

Franklin, your words though painful to read are a tribute to the fact that we must always have hope. Though your belief in yourself faultered at times, I for one am very thankful that you persevere. the joy you bring to others both by your words and your work are much appreciated.

Aimee said...

You have such a beautiful soul, thank you for being you and for using your words in such powerful, wonderful ways. I clicked on the link for the Trevor Project and have made a donation. I decided that the items I was wanting from KnitPicks can wait until next month.

Pamela said...

Bravo.

Mady said...

Amen -- beautifully said. I am heartbroken over Tyler and the other young men. If only it hadn't happened. . . . If only they could have found someone to reach out to . . . . If only . . . .

Anonymous said...

jeez. quote:
"suicide is the third highest cause of death among americans aged 15-24."
this is unacceptable.
this hits me hard.
my oldest may or may not be gay. he is diagnosed as schizo-affective, though, somewhere in that sliding scale between bi-polar manic and schizophrenia.
so, being gay would actually be nice. he could get support from lots of groups, BUT, BUT,
being "actually" mentally ill, nobody stands up for him.
"OMG, he'll blow up the world trade center" is what i get when i try to talk about him.
Let's all try to address that high rate of suicide among our brightest and best, our young people, our future.
whatever the cause, this is an unacceptable health risk.
we can treat cancer even though it has multiple causes.
let's figure out how to treat this, even though it has multiple causes.
a sharon k

kate-the-enabler said...

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your blog - all your writing - humourous, passionate, poignant. You have such a gift.
I've sent a link to this post to my sister who is an educator at the university of prince edward island (canada ;) ) in the hopes that she or some of her colleagues may be able to help it find its way into the hands of some who might need it desperately. Thanks for all your writings, Franklin.

Kathryn said...

I'm saddened that you had to go through all of what you described. I hope and pray that soon our country and our world will be tolerant enough that no one will have to experience what you did.

AlisonH said...

Thank you for still being here. Thank you for posting this. I am fighting tears at the unspeakable--! that those people did to you--what on earth were they so afraid of?

I have a cousin who thought we would all throw him out the moment we knew. I was in town around the time he came out and took him aside and told him I had named my youngest son after him: that he was one of the kindest, most empathetic men I knew, and that I would do so again now that I knew, and darn proud of it.

He was pretty stunned. Which made me sad at what he must have gone through before that. But I got to watch him glow after that conversation: you were right. It got better.

Anonymous said...

mahalo nui loa (thank you.)

Plum Texan said...

Bless you, in whatever way may mean the most to you. I'm so grateful that this project is spreading the word.

Brandy said...

I just wanted to thank you for posting this, and to share a hug with anyone who needs it.

While the reasons for it were different, I was a teen who was bullied and teased myself. I carved into my arms and legs with razors and often thought of suicide myself. I hid it so well from my parents, they still don't have a clue. I will second the "It gets better". I'm so glad I hung around because life is wonderful now.

aunty-del said...

Thank you.

For what it's worth, this http://www.twenty10.org.au/ is an organisation in Sydney, Australia, who support queer youth.

aunty-del said...

Thank you.

For what it's worth, this http://www.twenty10.org.au/ is an organisation in Sydney, Australia, who support queer youth.

Kaessa said...

Thank you, Franklin.

aunty-del said...

I can't believe that people are allowed to say stuff like that! Australia is along way from the gay rights capital of the world - gay marriage is still a long way off - but vilification of gay people has been against the law in NSW since 1993, and legal cases have been won on the basis of it.
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/aa1977204/s49zt.html

dale-harriet said...

Franklin, my dearling - I'll go back and read the eleventy-jillion comments but MUST make my own first. You ARE proof that it gets better, and that your success is the best revenge. It breaks my heart that you were subjected to that; breaks my heart that my cherished friends who are gay or black or Jewish - or Muslim - are being subjected to any negative vibes. YOU, my dear one, are a living, breathing MITZVAH.

Anonymous said...

Well done! Nicely phrased! God has blessed you.

georg said...

I love you.

mamagotcha said...

Franklin, as much as I've enjoyed celebrating your many finished objects, I must say I am extremely pleased to hear that you failed to complete that one particular task. My world is brighter for having you in it. Thank you for sharing your story.

melissa said...

You are so wonderful! Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. Its this kind of openness that lets in all the light and love we need to support our children on their path to becoming adults, and that opens the eyes of adults that clearly missed out.

MaryLou said...

Bravely and well said, Franklin. We all need to be reminded that we can't ignore cruelty and intolerance, particularly when the targets are kids.

Maryanne & Duke said...

Very well said, Franklin!!

It sucks that anyone who doesn't follow society's norm has to live through torture before s/he finds the strength to get the hell out of there. I know you're speaking specifically about gays in this post, but anyone that's different can easily become a target for the general, idiotic, public. Just because you may be in the majority doesn't make it OK to persecute those who aren't. Hatred does no good!

Anne O'Nymous said...

Congratulations on living beyond the hell and the hatred that was handed to you. Thank you for fighting so hard to keep yourself alive. Thank you for allowing your soul to flourish so beautifully that even here you have asked commenters to act with kindness toward the unkind and to educate the ignorant. Thank you for reminding us that it is difficult, worthwhile work to keep one's heart open.

The recent suicides of young men who were bullied to death are horrifying. I've found myself wondering a good deal about Tyler Clementi's partner (or date or however he identifies their relationship). If I prayed, I would pray for him, in addition to those we have lost to bigotry.

Please know that there are LGBTQ teachers and their allies who are being very vocal about stopping bullying. We are teaching our students that cruelty of the sort that Tyler Clementi (and Billy Lucas and Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and others) had been subjected to is not merely impolite---it has a body count.

May there be healing for you in the midst of grief and anger.

Anonymous said...

Such a waste. What could any of these young people (another on my local news tonight) have contributed if they had only been treated with the decency that any other child of God deserves. Why such hate? What is wrong with people who think it's ok to abuse others like that?

Thanks, sir, for being there for others.

LindaB said...

Thank God for the man you are, Franklin. You know what real love is & you practice what you know every day. Some days you express yourself exceptionally well as you did in "It Gets Better." I'm saving your words to share with anyone who feels he or she doesn't have a place to fit in this world and believes they should take the proverbial permanent solution to a temporary problem. Thank you, Franklin, so much. One of your many readers, Linda B, class of '68 in NJ

AnneMG said...

My heart aches for those who have taken their lives, for those who have wished to take their lives and those who suffer/suffered at the hands of others - i.e. bullying. Franklin, you are bright spot in an often dark and dismal world, thank you for being that light! We can pray that one day soon all intolerance will be a thing of the past -

Pam said...

Wonderful. Brilliant. You have touched someone with your words, I'm sure.

revl said...

I am an Ordained Lutheran Pastor wholeheartedly endorsing Franklin's message. There was only ONE thing in all creation that God did NOT proclaim good: "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen 2:18) You are not alone. and anyone who tries to isolate or bully you is (to quote a wise man :) Wrongeddy-wrong-wrong-wrong. You are not alone. You are precious and beloved and stronger than you can imagine. yes, you. and I promise, whether you're suffering in adolescence or from unexpected slams much later in life, it does get so much better.

Seanna Lea said...

This is important for the non-LGBTQ kids out there as well.

I would have been a suicide case (I was asked if I was a lesbian when I was 14 by my dad, when I didn't want to know anything about anyone in my age bracket regardless of gender), but somewhere along the line I decided that it would be better revenge to live life well and enjoy myself. It is feels ballsy as a teen to do this, but if you can it will take you surprisingly far.

Linda said...

That is so very true.

kj said...

Thanks. Glad that you can honestly say it gets better!

Laura said...

I love you, Franklin! I'm so glad you posted this.

I don't want to believe that a teacher could say such terrible things, but one does have to wonder about a school that doesn't even bother to proofread their website. Because according to the school, they are associated with the "Romac" Catholic Church. That makes me think twice about their ability to educate.

http://www.damien.edu/?q=node/31

Anonymous said...

Go Franklin!!!
Thanks from another one educated in Catholic Schools. Being "different", whatever flavor one is born, can often be very painful.

Blessings on you and all of your endeavors! You were indeed created in the image of God and are LOVED!!

Recovering Catholic

Anonymous said...

Your post was great. I've heard it before from former students in religious schools - not just Catholic. Your experience could be echoed by humans living in countries throughout the world. Unfortunately, where there is religion there is also hatred of those that are different.

Judith said...

This makes me cry.

I hate that people are so judgmental and uncaring. My sister went through so much in high school, and because of it she picked up so many destructive behaviors to "escape" what she felt was wrong with her according to people at school and I'm sorry to say at home.

I was so happy when she came out to me and she started living her true life. There are still nasty people in her life (our mother included) who are vocal in their hatred of anything they don't understand.

But now that she's come to peace with herself and has realized that those who truly love her will always love her no matter what she does or says, she deals with everything much better.

And not with a crack pipe.

I'm so proud of her that she is living her life on her own terms. And I hope that anyone going through a difficult time who reads this will realize that there are many people in this world, in their lives that will love them no matter what gender they prefer.

sylvia said...

This is wonderful. I want to personally hand it to every teenager I know.

Ann said...

God bless you, Franklin. Every school guidance counselor worth his/her salt needs to print this post & hang it in the guidance office.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Amy McWeasel said...

I'm crying for the young Franklin who endured such heinous & unforgivable treatment. Thank you for adding your story & your voice to this important topic.

Eileen said...

You made my Hero list for this post, Franklin. Bravo!! You are very brave. To all gay teens out there: HANG IN THERE, please! The world needs you. And to ALL teens out there: HANG IN THERE and be kind to each other! The world needs all of you...Eileen S.

Cindy said...

You brought tears to my eyes. You are a special angel to many people. Thank you and keep up your wonderful work and smiling style.

Rooie said...

With over 300 posts, I can't imagine that another one will add anything...but thank you for this. And I'm sorry...sorry you ever had to put up with such ignorance and go through such pain. Sorry that people still are...

The world, these days, seems short on tolerance and love. I am heartened that at least 300 people here seem to be long on those same attributes.

Off now to wipe the tears up a little.

birdwoman said...

I just happened upon your blog (although I've seen you around on the Ravelry Archers board!!). This is an amazing, powerful post. As a teacher (and a queer woman, hell, as a *human being*) it sickens me that any teacher would encourage a child to believe such horrible things. Thank you for sharing this story.

Gina said...

Thank you for your compassion and your beautiful expression of hope. Your transparency makes me love you even more. I am sending a link to your post to a friend's son who is constantly putting himself in danger with random street encounters... it does get better, we don't have to kill ourselves slowly either.

If I could I would knit a beautiful shawl to wrap your teenager self in and call it "Father Hug." From God who created you so beautiful and unique because he couldn't help himself cuz' he had to have you here to love you. Blessings

t said...

i know it's too late for you, but even your old high school can change. a friend of mine taught there for a year, and while he never officially announced his sexual orientation, all of his students knew. he also took the opportunity to get his point across, so much so, that after awhile, his students would say, "yes, we get it, it's okay to be gay"

stash haus said...

Thank you.

Hugs, hugs, hugs.

DW2 said...

((((((((hugs)))))))))

Spiminarian said...

Franklin, thank you so much for posting this. I have been waiting for you to make a post or a video since this project started - I consider you to be a celebrity of equal importance to Tim Gunn! But what you've said is wonderful and powerful. I have been reading these news stories about suicides for the past few weeks and they are so terrible and so depressing. I'm currently attending divinity school (one which is wonderfully open and out, with many GLBT students) and we are all flaberghasted by it, especially those of us who have youth groups. We all need to try to reach out to those in our own circles...from the Gleeks to knitters and Project Runway fans(which I suppose could easily be the same group...). So thanks for speaking out for the knitters and lovers of fiberarts. It means a lot, especially to someone who can't speak out herself.

Kristen said...

I love you.

I watched friends struggle with their sexuality in high school. Fortunately they all made it through. May the suicides stop now.

Dawn said...

Not to mention that knitting is a 'take all comers' thing. Fiber and needles don't care about gender.

Franklin, you're the best. I love you. It's a truly wise person who's comfortable in their own skin.

Raveller said...

Go Franklin!

Becky said...

Well done for adding your voice.

Jenn said...

Thank you!! I will be passing this on(okay I normally pass your posts on anyway, but still...) I am sorry for all you went through. I know of someone who hid the truth well while we were in jr high and high school and it wasn't until later that he stood up and told the world to 'f*** off, this is who I am.' Funny thing is he's now a DJ and letting his musical talents shine even more than our little music department spotlighted.

Stellasmydog said...

Right on!!

Suzie said...

Franklin: Thank you sooooo much for saying this. Your experience will, I hope, help lots of young people. I am saving it in case I need it for a near and very dear relative.

la takahashi said...

Thank you for sharing and posting.

Kerrie Anne Simpson said...

You truly are an inspiration.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Amen. A good message for everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual persuasion, but especially high school kids...of which we've all been. Hang in there. It does get better.

BlueLoom said...

Thank you, from an elderly (age: 73), married, straight woman with a dear, beloved gay nephew.

JoAnn said...

Dear Franklin,
I'm looking for a way to contact you regarding the purchase of one of your photos from London 11/26/08. I can't seem to find a way to email you (I'm not very good with a computer) so I'm leaving this here. Thanks for your help, and thanks for this blog.

Lucia said...

I'm getting to this late, so I can't add anything new, but still I thank you with all I've got for writing this for all the gay kids and all the oddballs out there.

Liz said...

Oh, Franklin. I echo the others here in saying that I love you. Your words, your art, and your personality have made me laugh, cry, feel inspired, and filled me with joy more times than I can count. You are indeed a gift to the world and I am so very grateful that you're in it. Thank you for adding your voice to It Gets Better.

Sarah said...

There is much bullying that happens in life and during our school years. I'd like to think we have come a long way from when you and I (we are in the same age bracket) were in school and homosexuality was something many thought was wrong.

Being one who has always danced to a version of my own tune in other areas of my life and was mocked/teased for it, I can understand a little of what you have written about from your teen years. It does get better and as adults are able to find a wonderful group of people who love us for just the way we are!

Thank you for writing about this difficult part of your life.

M&M said...

Thank you, Franklin, for your very eloquent post. As a child, I had parents who taught acceptance (even though one of them found it impossible in-practice) so I simply accepted differences, without question.

I never really gave it much thought either way, as I did not feel threatened by those differences. But it was brought home to me in a very gut-wrenching way, when I found myself in love with a gay man, who was so deeply in the closet, he would not even allow me to say the words. Then I tried very hard to understand - only to learn that simple acceptance & love were the only answers available to me.

It saddens me that to this day, he shuts our child out of his life because he still cannot handle his own truth. But I was resolved upon our son recognizing his own self-worth, no matter what life had in store for him. I am thankful for my many GLBT friends (new & old) that he spent time around, especially while he was going through his own gender-identity crisis (in the wake of learning about his own father) because he came out the other side, comfortable in his own skin, and accepting of those around him, regardless of whether they were different, or the same as him.

This was confirmed to me when he cast his ballot in favor of legalizing domestic unions, and expressed sympathy to those whose lives were affected by its failure. I pray that he shares that joy of diversity with his own children some day. That the world is a better place for it.

pamade said...

I'm so sorry for the pain you suffered. Man's inhumanity to man is something I will never fully understand. I'm not sure I want to.

Kimber said...

I thank you. My daughter and her beautiful lady love fiancé thank you. Here's to celebrating the day when the most our young people have to worry about are pimples. :)

Jenny said...

I had a dream about you last week--as a grandmother of soon to be 9 little ones, let me assure you I have no designs on you (other then possibly your talent!). In my dream we were sitting outside-possibly in a park--knitting. You were explaining to me that you were knitting a heart. It was a beating heart and you had me lean in close and listen to the heartbeat. You said that the heartbeat was weak and irregular right now but would get stronger in time.
Wasn't that an odd thing to dream? I had been wondering why on earth I would have a dream about you until I read this posting. Then I thought - of course, he is trying to knit up the broken hearts--

Grace said...

Thank you Franklin.

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kingshearte said...

I don't normally bother to comment when there are already as many as this post has, especially a week or so after the fact, but I wanted to thank you for joining this growing movement, and I dearly hope it helps. Your story is truly horrifying, and it blows my mind to think that there are kids who have to endure stuff like that.

I'm glad you made it through, and I hope your words help some other kids get through, too.

Carrie#K said...

I know what it's like to be shunned, insulted and tormented for being "wrong". It gets better. As horrifying as it is to be attacked for something so fundamentally a part of yourself, please don't let the bullies and the morons win. They don't hold all the cards. You can and will have a rewarding life. (Well, it'll probably suck at times but that's life.)

Seriously, Franklin, your teachers said that to you? That is just horrifying.

M said...

I heart Franklin.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for the pain you had to endure. I've learned that just because someone is different than us, in a way that we may fear,they are still a human being with feelings and deserve to be treated with dignity. I pray that I will never hurt anyone, especially the way you were hurt by people who should have been helping you. God bless you and I love your knitting blog!

Rosi G. said...

Te quiero mucho, mucho, mucho!!

Julie said...

Thank you, Franklin, for allowing yourself to use the blog for a serious post from time to time; this one resonates perhaps the most of all. It makes me so sad to read how the awful Mr. Roberts abused his position of authority at your school.

After suffering at the hands of a cruel high school math teacher (hi, Mr. Gill) whose greatest thrill was to reduce every girl in class to tears at least once (and in my case many MANY times), I found him on Classmates.com more than 30 years later. I told him what a bully he was, and that he should be ashamed to his dying day for the misery he caused his students. Cathartic, indeed!

lambikins said...

Can I offer some hope? My 13 year old daughter told me I had to wear purple today. I asked why. She would not answer, but insisted I wear purple. I had, coincidentally, already ironed a purple shirt. Daughter is happy.

I forget about this completely until I am in the elevator on the way up to my office. The elevator in my office broadcasts news mcnuggets. I see one telling me that hundreds of thousands of young people are wearing purple today to mourn/honor the gay youths who killed themselves and to bring hope to any of their peers who might be suffering in silence.

I text my daughter that I love her and I am proud of her. My kids' generation is so much cooler than mine was.

Anonymous said...

I want to leave my little squeak too! It does get better. As a straight person, I can tell you being gay is not the only thing that kids will bully you about...being black, hispanic, asian...the list goes on. talk to an Arab Muslim. As I once told an Afghani man "welcome to my world...you are the new nigger." but the good news is not only that it gets better but God didn't make any mistakes. He made you and He made you for a reason and He made you in His image and He loves you....I KNOW! God loves you and so do I! Hang in there. Life has so much to offer and I wouldn't want you to miss a moment.

PainterWoman said...

Bravo.
And, for once I was proud of Texas (even though it was from Ft. Worth) when Mr. Cook used his city council time to testify about HIS struggles.
Let's just be good to everyone.
(PS, my straight-but-not-narrow hubby got a similar dose of cr*p from HIS highschool).

Tenacious said...

My life wouldn't be the same, and it has been enriched so much by reading your blog and knowing someone like you is out there.

For you (and anyone else reading this and wondering) - I'm so glad, Franklin, that you're still around to make your handprint on my life. I'd be a poorer person without you.

cosmicknitter said...

Perfection

cosmicknitter said...

Your post is utter perfection. Thank you!

DonnaC said...

Thank you Franklin. You moved me deeply.

Liisa Wennervirta said...

Franklin, your post didn't make me cry as those 344 commenters, it made me go livid because I still remember my teens too well. I'm the 'none of the above' type, that's it. Well, I didn't get such evil shit as you did but I had my fair share, too. I survived it all although I'm not sure how positive it is. I lost self-esteem somewhere in the process, too. snerk
I just hope that humankind changes for better.

Anonymous said...

What a moving post - I've been a fan of yours for some time, and although I'm a straight great- grandma, my best "girlfriends" are gay men whom I've loved for decades. And people can change their attitudes - after getting to know several gay couples through my sisters' off-the-beaten-path church, my formerly VERY conservative mother was planning to ride her mobility scooter in the Salt Lake City gay pride parade as a show of solidarity - but died the week before.
I'll continue to visualize a world where each person can be himself/herself without having to deal with the closed minds of the uneducated and stupid. Bless you for sharing this.

Margie said...

Thank you, Franklin, for those words. I hope you do a video on the YouTube site. My daughter is a lesbian and recently married her partner of almost 5 years. She is everything I could ask for in a daughter and everything the world needs in terms of her compassion for others, loyalty, and overall kindness and highly intelligent into the bargain. She is an amazing woman.

I'm saying all this, because my S***H**d father (her only living grandfather) didn't attend her wedding, because he "doesn't approve" of gays, despite his tireless work for civil rights for women and people of color back in the late 1950's and onward. He cut her to the core with that decision.

Please do a video (and add the knitting plug too, because male or female, in their adult lives, knitting beautiful things for themselves and others is an all-around "feel-good" experience.

lisatastrophies. said...

As a Christian, I want to apologize for the IDIOT who ever told you that being Gay was a mistake by God & He doesn't make mistakes. First, God made all of us and LOVES all of us EXACTLY how He made us. Man doesn't get to judge; only God gets to do that and we will only know that judgement when we are gone.

My God tells me to love him, love my neighbor and nothing about being the judge. Religion has done more to screw up Christianity and I am so sorry that people told you those things.

I was lucky enough to meet you almost two years ago at The Knitting Nest (austin) and I can tell you, that you are LOVED & adored by us (the knitters of the world) and by God.

P.s. I am printing your story for a couple of my students. I don't think they believe me when I tell them it gets better. I hope your words will reach them.

Lisa Kay said...

I just found your blog through a commenter on a cartoon entry in my knitting blog. I took a look and am awed in many respects. I suppose this comment is late and will be read very few times (after 348 already published), but I imagine *you* will read it, and I simply wish to say, "Bravo."

Courtney said...

God, Franklin. We need more people like you. I'm so sorry what they put you through. Thank you for sharing.

Mintie said...

This was beautiful. You are beautiful.
Thanks.

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