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Admittedly when I received this sad news I had many questions. However, I soon realized that “would haves” and “could haves” will not bring him back to life and “what if’s” will not turn back the clock. Many people say that suicide is a cowardly act, but I think until you have been to the edge of despair and imprisoned in the dark cloud of hopelessness none of us can judge. Yes, I admit that I blame his parents. Their reaction and/or intolerance could have been the final catalyst that pushed him over the edge. However, none of us know the true course of events preceding his death and the pain his parents and family must be experiencing none of us can begin to fathom. This wound will scar his family for many years to come, but let’s hope something positive will emerge from this, even if it’s just a lesson or a wakeup call for other families.
Sadly, suicides amongst gay teens aren’t uncommon. Gay youths are 2-4 times more likely to take their own lives than their heterosexual counterparts. There are many reasons for this but the top ranking reason is Family Rejection: Being still dependent on their families for both emotional and physical support, being rejected by their primary support structure could be devastating. The actual or imagined threat of being disowned, left homeless or being physically harmed by a family member could further discourage gay youths to reveal their sexual orientation; when they then do Come Out and any of these fears materializes the result could be fatal. Furthermore, the added stress of living in a society that is homophobic also place further stress on both the gay teen and their family and discrimination and ignorance underlies many instances where gay youths committed suicide.
On a social level gay teens also face several other challenges that could seem insurmountable. Apart from running the risk of being ostracised by their friends, becoming victims of bullying and/or hate crimes, even in their own religious community they may face discrimination that legitimizes homophobia. All these factors make the Coming Out process more treacherous and unappealing, forcing these teens to hide their sexual orientation from people around them. For those gay teens that have traits stereotypically associated with homosexuality hiding their sexual orientation becomes even more difficult and they are most at risk to fall pray to homophobic attacks and more likely to attempt suicide and succeed.
Luckily, many Gay Community Centres have been established to support gay people of all ages dealing with issues ranging from Coming Out to Mental Health Issues. In several countries there are also hotlines that can be phoned that provides free counselling and support not only for troubled gay teen but also for their families. However, like I have experienced this week for some help comes too late and who is to blame for this?
With my friend’s suicide I can’t help but wonder why a young man at the age of 18, about to enter the prime of his life would end it so abruptly. Yes, he may have faced some, maybe all or even more of the challenges I mentioned here. But having had access to Gay Community Centres and friends why did he not reach out and cried for help? Some would argue the poem he wrote was just that – a cry for help! Many people did see it as such and appealed for assistance which they received, yet none of it saved him. He slipped through all the proverbial cracks in what I now believe to be the flawed GLBT support structures. Maybe we have become to reliant on Community Centres to do all the work in our communities for us, maybe we have become too self-involved that a simple kind gesture of reaching out to our fellow human beings (gay and straight) have become too much of an effort, maybe we have lost our sense of empathy and humanity, just maybe all of us are to blame…
The world has lost a gentle soul. His death is a tragic one and leaves us with many unanswered questions. Questions that may never be answered, but on their reflection might just improve each and every one of us, enlighten others, help save lives and guarantee that one person’s untimely departure may leave a positive and lasting change.
For some bizarre reason I decided to be a Good Samaritan last week and help the old lady move out of our newly purchased home. You see she’s old and only had her daughter to help her with the mammoth task of clearing out the house that ended up filling 2 truckloads to the rim with over 400 boxes and furniture that could fill a museum. Luckily, the movers were efficient and my role was only a supervisory one but it took 9 hours that I will never get back. Once only the skeleton remained it was time for her to say farewell. We had to arm the alarm and leave. Sounds simple, but it wasn’t. We had to go through the motion 4 times, as we only had 60 seconds to get out. The 1st attempt we made it to the lounge where she broke down in tears, with the alarm screaming I consoled her, disarmed the alarm and tried again. The 2nd attempt we made to the kitchen, the 3rd attempt we almost cleared the pool area. Only on the 4th attempt did we succeed. After just over 20 years living in that house she had a deep emotional investment in every brick, stone and plant which made parting with 2 decade’s worth of memories understandably difficult and for this I did had empathy for her.
The next day hubby and I went to inspect our new property. It’s amazing how furniture can disguise ugly flaws. With the home now bare and the naked truth revealed, hubby and I were standing in the lounge trying not to hyperventilate and with the pink room spinning the realization sank in – the house is going to need a lot of work and it wasn’t going be cheap! I didn’t know whether to cry or throw up, I think I did a little of both. After the initial shock wore off we devised a plan of action. We needed to paint and get new light fixtures. Pink would be replaced with a tranquil and pale grayish blue and the beams from hell would be painted white, hopefully this would make them less obtrusive to my now very frail psyche. The same day we interviewed a contractor to do the painting. He smelled of alcohol and had a very smooth mouth but the selling point was he was cheap and thorough when he’s sober. So he was hired.
Early the following morning I received a call from my father-in-law saying that we were going shopping for paint and equipment. Arriving at the DIY store, hubby gave me the code for the paint we decided on over the phone. We searched every paint sample in the whole store but could not find a match. Later, after a short fight over the phone, I realized I wrote down the wrong code and the paint was found. Father-in-law was extremely patient and helpful and the fact that I was highly strung and behaving like hot-wired bitch did not faze him. All the equipment and paint was selected and hubby and I went back later that afternoon to purchase everything. By this time we already had about 3 miniature fall outs over stupid things.
The contractors started painting and as the pink started disappearing and the ugly beams became camouflaged the house was slowly transforming into something livable. Shopping for light fixtures was next on the list. We decided on brushed steel as the theme. Going from shop to shop and short momentarily fits of madness and some bickering we thought we would end up living with candles – we could not find anything we both liked. Had we been on a reality show the ratings would have shot through the roof as some of our public squabbles, insisting staff brings us step ladders in order to measure things and two blond gay guys inspecting lights as if it was the most important historical artifact in the history of mankind must have been hilarious. Eventually, to the great relief of many shop assistants I am sure, we came to a compromise on 6 out of the 7 items, not bad considering both hubby and I are stubborn and customers from hell.
With our bank balances taking strain and our bank manager happily rubbing his little greedy hands together while smiling we are not even close to what we want to have done. Being quite responsible, I do realize that only truly rich people can do a full renovation of a property all at once. For us normal folk we have to settle with doing what you can when you can afford it. Our big move is scheduled for next week, which is a whole other nightmare as no moving company has provided us with a quote yet and the clock is ticking! Worst case scenario – we will have to do it ourselves. Oh the horror of carrying heavy appliances down a flight of stairs… From my experience thus far I have reached an epiphany regarding relationships and real estate: A couple that can renovate together and still stay together in all probability will remain together forever.
Till next time.
Lady Gaga - Bad Romance
On arrival at Nosy Be we were transferred by taxi to the pickup spot where the boat would take us to Sakatia Island. We arrived there with a young newlywed couple, a mom and her son and a group of 13 people. While waiting for our luggage to get loaded onto one of the boats the woman asked me and my hubby whether we were there on our Honeymoon, I just giggled and told her no we have been married now for 3 years and this was just a normal holiday. I could tell some of our group was taken aback by her frank nature and we were in for some interesting times. Eventually everything was packed and we boarded our boats and set off to the Island. We were welcomed there by the couple that runs the lodge and a much needed rum cocktails. We were briefed on the workings of the lodge, then finished a delicious dinner and fell into bed to be roused the next morning by the awakening forest and the gentle sounds of waves licking the shore - we woke up in paradise!
Our 1st day was spent lounging around, swimming and snorkeling - a perfectly relaxing start. Then it was suggested we go scuba diving, something I have never done before. The dive was appropriately called “baptême de qc” French for baptism. The 2 dive masters would do practically everything for us; the only thing we had to do was breath and swim, sound simple enough. However, once I hit the water and got strapped into my scuba gear the 1st thing that went through my mind was “O God, am I really going to do this?” Descending to the 2 meter drop was hysterical to watch. I was bopping around, first on my back almost hitting my head on the bottom of a boat then on my stomach and keeping vertical seemed impossible. Eventually the one dive master took over and I successfully made it to the bottom. Once there I was relaxed and completely enthralled with the wonderland below the surface that so few people get to appreciate. After an hour of diving I returned to the surface hooked on the sport, and we had a second dive later. The only drawback of the 2 dives was that my left year got blocked and I was practically deaf in that ear. So every now and again I had to remind hubby and other people to speak into my “good ear” if they wanted any chance of coherent conversation.
On our 2nd night a British woman and her friend arrived at the lodge that had a striking resemblance to Meryl Streep and she was aptly nicknamed “Meryl”. The next day we were scheduled to visit Nosy Komba (Lemur Island) and go snorkeling on Nosy Tanikely (a Marine Reserve) to swim with wild sea turtles. It would be a short drive to the harbor and then 3 boat trips. On our way to the harbor we made a stop in Hellville in order for some folk to change currency. I was under the impression we would visit a bureau de change and we did, it just was not what I expected. We visited a human ATM who climbed into our taxi with her purse, it was odd and I later heard it was also illegal. While the human ATM was doing her thing I took a short walk through Hellville and counted up to 6 chickens being slaughter right on the sidewalk. I guess they don’t call it Helville for nothing and chickens, ducks and zebus can attest to this!
While waiting for our boat to Lemur Island, hubby said he needed to pee, after enquiring from both our guide (Kiki) and the police I had to inform hubby there were no toilets and he would have to hold it. The 45 minute boat ride was pure torture for him and seconds after the boat hit the shore he sped off and returned to the group much more relieved. Lemur Island was fascinating, we got to feed the Lemurs, saw their indigenous chameleons and I even faced my fear and held a snake. The only bad thing was the heat. I was sweating like a fat chicken in Hellville, and was dumbfounded by some of the other tourist who was walking around with long sleeve shirts and jeans. After some shopping we left for the 2nd Island. An hour later we arrived and were amazed to discover the most beautiful and unspoiled beach. We could not wait to get our snorkeling gear on and find those turtles. I didn’t have to search far before I spotted my 1st wild sea turtle. They are amazing and graceful creatures and I was completely mesmerized and spent the next few hours swimming with them. We had a short but delicious picnic on the beach that included some uninvited guests and these lizards really seemed to enjoy the rice. We then headed back to Hellville where we were returned to our Island by boat and spoiled with the most breathtaking sunset.
On New Year’s Eve the theme at our lodge was black and white. The lodge was nicely decorated and everyone was in the mood for a party, and needless to say the champagne was flowing. After a feast that included crayfish, huge langoustines and much more we were ready for the countdown to 2010. As 2009 ended and well wishes for 2010 was concluded the natural thing to do was go skinny dipping, which the majority of the lodge did, this is also how I lost my pants. Whether I misplaced it or it was hidden still remains a mystery. As they say, what happens on Sakatia stays on Sakatia.
The next morning, being slightly hangover hubby and I found some relieve with Bloody Marys and the rest of the day was lazed away in the warm and calm water. This would be our last day there and we were sad to leave. That evening, while packing our bags, we reminisced on all our great experiences and vowed to return. As our final flight departed and I looked out of the window watching the island I have now become so fond off become smaller in the distance I knew that the experience has left me relaxed, gave me a new energy and a positive outlook for the year to come. Sakatia Island (Cat Island) and Sakatia Lodge was just what the doctor ordered and I hope to be back there soon.
Till next time.
The Obligation to Happiness - by Timothy Guerreschi