Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Growing up Then and Now........

I recently saw the movie Milk. I am hoping that you and everyone you know will see this movie - it will inform you about, or remind you about the struggle for civil liberties for gay men and women in the 1970's. I was driven crazy in those days by the appearance of Anita Bryant in the anti-gay movement. Her outpouring of homophobic opinions seemed hateful and misguided - and I still remember wishing and hoping that someday one of her children or close family members would inform her that he or she was gay - how would she then feel? Up until I was in my mid-twenties I didn't know anyone who was openly gay. Imagine that....... Of course I had friends who hadn't come out of the closet or hadn't come to terms with being gay - but that didn't happen until they were in their 20's. Imagine that..... These friends had no role models for what it was to be gay, no one they could confide in, and often no one they could trust with knowing their inner feelings.

My children had a different experience. Friends who realized they were gay, were able to tell their friends, family and school mates while in their teens or while away at university. I like to hope that having role models and seeing a greater public acceptance of being gay made it easier for them.

I started to think of another thing that I had never encountered growing up, but that my children encountered in their teens - and that is the terribly sad act of suicide. I never knew of anyone or heard of anyone committing suicide when I was growing up. But my children had to deal with this from the age of 15. My daughter's friend Josh Platzer committed suicide at the beginning of 11th grade. His death changed the lives of all the young teens who had known him. But Josh wasn't the last teen or young adult we knew that took their life - a friend of my son took his life at the age of 19 and there have been others......last night I heard of another young man in his mid-20's who committed suicide. As a parent, it is hard to imagine losing a child of any age - through accident, illness or suicide. It is heartbreaking.........

I didn't lead a sheltered life - but times were different - for the good and for the not so good. By the way - Josh's parents, devastated by their only son's death, became proactive in trying to educate parents, teens and teachers about teen suicide. If you ever want any information on teen suicide, be sure to check out this website.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We lived in a very different time and as you suggest there were some good aspects to it but at the same time some of our friends had no support and had to struggle on their own.
As a teacher, I have attended funerals for very young people some whose lives ended too early tragically due to carelessness in some cases and some who could no longer cope with the world they were in.
We must all learn to support others.