My brother is gay, as I've noted before. He's older than me and was semi-in in high school and semi-out. For his time period and in Atlanta, he was basically out. And he was targeted for it and classmates said nasty things.
On the plus side, it made all of us -- me and my sisters and our parents and our grandparents -- confront something we might have avoided otherwise.
My parents told me. It wasn't a big shock to me. But they sat each of us down individually (the girls) to tell us about our brother, to explain what gay was, and to explain that he was still our brother who we loved and that he needed a lot more love right now because there were some really stupid people in his high school.
And I have really great parents (and great sisters) and so my brother always knew he was wanted and loved and special. Which didn't mean he didn't have bad days from time to time, we all have those bad days.
When I read about 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, I thought about what Sissy Spacek tells Jessica Lange in "Crimes of the Heart" when they're discussing their mother's death and why she committed suicide, that their mother was just having a really bad day.
Being a teenager is hard enough. Your body changes on you, sometimes it feels like it betrays you. (Guys may feel that with their voice breaking. I've seen many sitcom episodes about that. But I've never seen one about us girls where we feel betrayed because BOOM! period! Great, wasn't counting on that today.) You feel like everyone's watching you. School so serious -- more for what happens between classes than during. It's just a really rough time.
And no one needs additional pressure.
That's true of adults, but it's especially true of children.
Oh, my niece.
I was on the phone with my sister because her father-in-law was in the hospital. They were afraid he'd had a stroke. It was a blood clot and they've broken it up. But get this. My sister leaves work and so does her husband and they go to the hospital. Fine. That's what we do, we're adults.
And they're waiting to find out what happened.
When they get some information it's time for school to let out so my sister goes and picks up the kids. My oldest niece is a very smart 14-year-old.
But she's 14.
And she's in a panic.
Because as soon as school's over, she's got her cell phone on and all these texts have come in from ADULTS at our church asking her if her grandfather's okay? Asking her one question after another.
She hadn't been told yet and any adult should have known that.
How dare you text a young teenager with questions about whether their grandfather (or anyone else in their family) has died or not.
That's just disgusting.
My niece is fine now. But I really think those of us who are adults need to check our own behaivors repeatedly to make sure we're not harming some kids intentionally or not.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):