Dear Sisters and Brothers ALL:
A LOT is going on in my heart and mind, tied in with my just-posted Memory Board of Matt Shepard and our prayer vigil here last night. I want to try to tie some of this together for myself and share it with you. . .with anyone who may read this in the next few days. . . .
Our prayer vigil last evening for Peace and Reconciliation remembering Tyler Clementi and all the other gay students who recently were so bullied and violated that they were driven to suicide, was a big event here on campus. I am so proud of the students in my Intro Psych classes who originated, planned and carried out the Vigil.
It was well attended on a Friday evening . . . I am not good with numbers. . by at least 200 hundred students, maybe more. One of the surprises came when the entire football team and their coaches walked in. . ."to show solidarity"..!
There was music, a couple readings, prayer of course, times of silence, and sacred space for sharing personal thoughts. My students wanted me to speak, so I did at the end, summing things up, thanking my students and all who participated, and I ended with the challenge that our being there last night was "beautiful, just, important. . .but only a beginning. If we do not carry on with what we are doing here tonight, if we do not change our thinking, our hearts, our space in which we live and breathe and hope and love and work, we've really missed it. . . .We are our sisters' and brothers' keepers by what we do and say. . .and fail to do. . . The violence cannot go on. . . .and the change must begin in me. I invite you, tonight, to make it happen. . .to make a vow to yourself, to God as you understand God, and to Tyler and the other kids who died because of the fear, bullying, ignorance. . . that we will no longer remain silent and will confront the fear, the ignorance, the bullying so that all can live free from fear. . . ."
Later I called my parents and told them how the vigil was. . . and then I asked them about memories which all of this has stirred up in me. . . and by comments which J and Gary made about Matt Shepard. . .and the whole maelstrom of feelings I was having. . . . . .
I asked them if they remembered the night twelve years ago. . .I was 10 years old. . .and the news was on as I came into the den. . .they were watching special reports about the beating of Matt on October 6, 1998 outside the town of Laramie, Wyoming. . .and then Matt's death a few days later. . . .How I had asked them what all of this was really about, what it meant "to be GAY". . .and the like.
I remember I was deeply moved by all of this, it touched off something deep within me. Of course, they remembered. . .very well, Mom and Dad both said.
They told me that during those days and after they talked about this, about me, quite seriously, seeing how deeply I was affected. Then they reminded me about when I was 15 and told them I was gay. . .how they had said "We know, honey, we know. We've been wondering if and when you'd tell us!"
All of this has fallen more into place. . . .it's all connected. . ..Matthew's beating and death, our conversations, their loving concern and acceptance and continued support of me, their gay son. . . . ., then these horrendous events emerging this past week about Tyler at Rutgers, and the four [or more?] similar suicides of gay kids around the country in recent months. . .
In the remembering them we re-member, , ,put back together again various parts of our lives, ourselves.
I just wanted to tell you about this. . . from me. . . .with love. . .Justin