Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tyler Clementi's Tormenter Opts for Trial

Dharun Ravi, the young man who, last year, thought it would be cute to secretly videotape 18-year-old Tyler Clementi as he had sex with another young man then post it to the Internet Friday rejected a plea deal that would've kept him out of prison AND help prevent his deportation back to his native India.  Really?  He'd rather go to trial in February, where he won't get any deals from the State.  And, I think that's appropriate.  His foolish actions cost the life of an 18-year-old just starting to find his way in life.  Tyler Clementi had just started his college career at Rutgers, as had Ravi.  Ravi's decision to expose Tyler, shame him, instead costed his life.  If we're to send the message that we will have zero-tolerance for bullying, I don't think he SHOULD get anything but the stiffest penalties allowable by law.  Make no mistake:  many of these young people who bully understand that the worst that will happen to them is a slap on the wrist.  Big deal.  "Three days detention"!?  Not a problem.  Complete expulsion and jail time?  They'd think twice before bullying these young, vulnerable people.

Dharun Ravi deserves to pay for his actions.  Tyler Clementi paid because of them.

My Own Suicide Attempt(s)

I was talking with a friend last night when he confided that he'd attempted suicide back when he was a younger man.  That prompted me to confide in him, as well, that I had also attempted suicide...several times.  He was quite surprised to learn that.  Until that revelation, he thought that I was "...just an observer."  No, Scott, I'm not just an observer.  I've got a personal stake in this battle.  Two, actually.  I was brutally beaten in a gay bashing at age 12, too.  So, I know where I'm coming from with these writings.  I've been there, done that.  And, I've lived to tell about try and help others who are struggling.  See, according to my doctors at the time, I shouldn't even be here right now.  I was, according to them, only supposed to leave that hospital one a slab with a toe tag.  I'm so glad, now, that they gave my family bad information.

The 80s were a tumultuous time for me, to put it mildly.  I should've known that it was going to be a long decade when my closest friend, at that time, was violently snatched away from me on a cold February night.  Got out of my car at 6; gone forever by 7.  It took me until just within the past year to be able to put that in its proper place and move on.  A part of me died that day, as well.

The middle 80s were not so pretty, either.  I lost my mother in 1984.  From there, things just spiraled straight downward.  The summer of '85, well let's just say that I wouldn't wish that on anyone!  So, I'd reached my breaking point.  The only way I could see to end the decade-long pain and hurt was to check out. I saw no reason whatsoever for me to stay on this planet.  However, I've always been a pretty smart guy, I guess.  I knew that I didn't want to make some half-ass attempt and end up in ICU at a local hospital.  That would only make things ten times worse.  No.  I had to make sure that the attempt was thorough enough to not be an attempt, but a success.

I called the local Poison Control Center.  Feigning distress over "my friend" who had just taken a whole bottle of pills and was passed out, I was able to learn from the person on the other end that my "friend", who just happened to be the exact same size as myself, hadn't taken enough to kill "him".  "However, you should get him to a hospital as soon as possible so they can pump his stomach."  I also was able to find out that, for a person "his" size, it would take TWICE the amount that "he'd" taken.  Bingo!  So, I hung up, went to the store and bought the second bottle of pills.  ICU was NOT an option.  Two days later, I woke up, indeed in ICU.  My family told me that there was " way [I'd] make it through this...", that I "had enough poison in [me] to kill a horse."  God had other plans.

The second attempt was just a couple weeks later.  I bought even more pills to go along with the amount that was supposed to be lethal in the first place!  Same result.

Now very determined, I made my third attempt.  I took a tie, made a noose, went to the closet to die.  The tie broke.  I regained consciousness on the closet floor.

Drowning myself didn't work, either.  Attempting to fill ones lungs with water is quite painful, indeed.  I aborted that one very quickly.

My fifth and final attempt was something I'd seen on television and in movies that was guaranteed to work.  I found myself a syringe and shot an air ball into my veins.  Nothing.  I shot again.  Same results.  And, a third time.  All that came from that was a badly bruised and painful arm.  And, that's when it dawned on me:  God's in control.  I accepted that it just wasn't my time to leave here, that there was something(s) left for me to do.  So, I surrendered.  I didn't know WHAT it was that I was supposed to do, or learn, or whatever.  I only knew, without a doubt, that I should've been dead several times over.  But, I wasn't.  And, I'm not.

I worked my way through all of the troubles that were mounted before me a little bit at a time.  Not very long after my final suicide attempt, I saw someone who inspired me to pick up a guitar and learn to play it.  That evolved into me eventually releasing my first CD, "Better Late Than Never", which is now being listened to around the world.  I'm currently working on a second CD, with a third one to be recorded with my band shortly thereafter.

But, that wasn't enough.  That was something that was part of the bigger picture, the book that would be my life, but it wasn't enough.  There was something more I was supposed to be doing.

I've always been a writer.  Poems and short stories from an early age; lyrics as I grew older.  And, my writing has always gotten attention.

I've always been greatly concerned about the issue of gay teen suicide.  It's nothing new to me.  I'd seen it as a younger man.  Of course, it was never listed as a "gay teen suicide".  Wrong era for that.  But, I could tell.  I could read between the carefully crafted lines of the news article and be able to see that our community had lost yet another one.  I started writing about it in some of the songs I would write.  No one outside of my fan base really paid attention to them.

In October of this year, something happened that changed my life forever.  I found my true voice!  I found out why He didn't take me away when I so desperately wanted and tried to 26 years ago.  Sadly, it took the suicide of Jamie Hubley, a gay youth whom I never knew, to awaken me to my true purpose here:  to use my voice, through my writing, to try and save some lives.  To be on the frontline in this army to bring about change.

I've learned a lot through this journey.  I've learned that I'm not going to reach everybody.  For all of my efforts, somewhere in the world we've lost another one since I started writing this entry.  I've learned that the buzzword for today's gay youth really is true:  It DOES Get Better.  We just have to allow ourselves time to live it.  I've learned that life isn't always fair.  It can be awful brutal at time.  But, it's a spectacular ride.