All day Tuesday, phones were ringing in the homes of a great group of my friends. From household to household, the bad news spread that one of us was gone. Our friend Bruce had died. On purpose.
I wasn't superclose to Bruce, but the fellow I knew was a total sweetheart, a great "studio guy", excellent in times of stress, a music lover, a cat lover, a dry wit, and everybody liked him a whole lot. Everybody.
We're all trying to figure out why Bruce chose to end his life. But I don't know what he, personally, was going through. All I know is that it had to be pretty bad.
I found out some of his thoughts when I spent several hours later that night reading his blog, Canuck Attitude. This post, in particular, was so full of pain, sadness, rage and disappointment it made me weep for him and every person who's gone through anything like what he describes.
Here's just a bit:
There was a time when I couldn't see myself living beyond sixteen because I couldn't believe that a life so full of hurt, actually it wasn't just the hurt, it was the hatred that was directed toward me that made me feel that maybe being born wasn't such a great thing after all.
Imagine that, eh. You're you. And you're making your way through your childhood and youth, learning that a significant proportion of the world hates you. You've done nothing to deserve it. Nothing!
He also says,
As much as I'm impressed and heartened by Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project and the incredible response it has generated, I can't shake the feeling that all we are doing is patting kids on the head and sending them back to the dungeons while telling them to be patient. I'm sorry, but that's still a kind of tacit approval of bullying.
In memory of Bruce, I'm taking the pledge from the It Gets Better folks - which really means we have to do more as a society than just say it'll get better: "Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that 'It Gets Better.'"
Bruce designed this flag, put it on his blog, and encouraged people to copy it. In his words, "This flag has no meaning beyond declaring self-purpose about one’s individuality. It’s a testament to the fact that no matter what, we all have to get up every morning and live in and share this place no matter who we are."