I’m writing this as a memorial to Raymond Chase, a young man who took his life this past week. It’s unfortunate and by going to this link you can read his story.
I’m saying goodbye even though I never knew Raymond Chase. Never met him and if we passed on the street wouldn’t be able to make his face. But I know Raymond Chase in that I understand unfortunately why a young man would take his life. He didn’t take it because he lost money in stocks or was behind in bills. He didn’t take it because while in college he didn’t get a good grade on an exam, he took his life because in today’s society people still deny each other to live an individual life and place perimeters on them simply because of their sexuality. People still condemn and throw out bible quotes the same quotes used by pastor and Bishops who are having sex with young men themselves. Yes that line was directed to you Bishop Eddie Long. He died because we sit in glass homes and especially for people of color who call for equality, we don’t want to give the same equality to someone who’s gay. I guess it’s true when they say ‘Hurt people, hurt people.’
The sad thing is that he’s going to become another number in a long list of young gay youth who take their lives as society has deemed them unworthy. I didn’t know Raymond Chase but I know Raymond Chase as his story echoes my own. I didn’t take my life but growing up trying to figure out my identity and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to see what I look like and knowing that one of the puzzle pieces had the word gay on it which equaled rejection and condemnation from not only my family but my community and my peers. It’s hard. The greatest fear I had besides my mother knowing about me was my high school peers knowing. They didn’tknow how much power they had or rather how much power that I gave them.
Yet Raymond was different in that he was openly gay, which made him a bigger target. I can see the shaking of the heads while he was in public spaces and the dismissal of his words. I can see men feeling insecure with their own manhood and to prove that their a man find comfort in making someone gay feel less than. Young gays are sometimes accepted in the classroom because their entertainment for others, but outside of making someone else laugh, they are nothing.
For young men and women who are right now living the story of Raymond Chase know that you are not alone and that ending your life is not the solution. Know that there are others who are going through the same thing you’re going through but you don’t feel it or see it as they are remaining quiet as well. Know that you don’t have to prove your existence to anyone but yourself and if no one accepts you for who you are then let them go until they grow up.Maybe they never will. Know that you have rights and laws that protect you even when adults such as your parents, school teaching staff and other older adults try to make it seem like you deserve to be treated the way you are because you’re gay.
And if you’re reading this and you’re not gay please share the story of Raymond and follow it up with support and the knowing that no matter what, you got their back. Push away the assumption that if I show concern about someone gay then people will think that I’m gay.Or the idea that gays are predators and by showing concern they want to have sex with me. It’s a myth. A lie. An overgrown ego. Let people think what they want to think as we can’t control others, only ourselves.
Raymond didn’t have to die and the feelings of sadness is overwhelming because there will be more Raymond’s before the end of this year and many more next year.
Pass along Raymond’s story so that we can end this destructive cycle and give hope. We don’t need more candles light in honor, but we need the light and life of our youth on this earth with us instead.
Thank you Raymond for living your life openly. It took courage.
You will not be forgotten and you will not just be another number.
Corrine Cochrane on Hurt/Hate/Heal Anonymous on Life’s Lesson with … gerard riveron on Christmas Wish Anonymous on Happy World AIDS Day Anonymous on Happy World AIDS Day