Comments

  1. Joe says

    Pretty crazy.

    However, did he leave a note explaining why he killed himself. Was it for other reasons, or was it because he was gay and felt unaccepted?

  2. homo genius says

    yes… this bully meme has been pissing me off. There is a long list of sociatal pressures making these kids suicidal. I think this bully campaign detracts from the real issues.

  3. Tone says

    Whatever caused this young man to do something so desperate, he was helped along by the likes of Andrew Shervill.

  4. Leo says

    So he “wasn’t bullied”?

    Maybe people can finally realize/stop avoiding the elephant in the room – its NOT just the individual situations encouraging this kind of desperate action but our LAWS and CULTURE that condones treating gay people as second class citizens.

    i.e…”Yes, we should punish the bullies but, sorry, I still think you don’t have the right to marry”

  5. ratbastard says

    It’s a personal tragedy first and foremost, for this young man and his family and friends. It’s also a tragedy for society as a whole when these things occur.

    None of us know WHY Cory Jackson killed himself. Absolutely, homosexuals and bisexuals have a lot of additional pressure to deal with, but we’re all human beings and have most of the same issues and problems all people have regardless of sexual orientation. His suicide could for all we know have been simply the result of a broken relationship, financial / job problems, clinical depression, side effects of substance abuse, etc., Sad, but not unusual for gays, straights, or in betweens.

  6. TANK says

    Attaboy, RB…whatever…always quick with the “it’s complicated!” and, “homophobic bullying doesn’t cause suicide! It’s no worse than heterosexuals who are bullied, and they don’t do it!” You’re troubled…and flawed.

  7. Steve says

    This has gone beyond rediculous. What has cause this recent rash of suicides? Are we even sure they WERE suicides, and that police didn’t just label them as such to get them off the books?

    We as a community need to look at these post teen, college age people who are committing suicide and realizing that something more is going on here than “bullying.”

    When I was a freshman in college (I was 17 at the time) I almost killed myself. I had planned to, but I decided to take a walk, get a coffee, and do it when it got back to my room. That walk saved my life because I ran into one of the out lesbians in the dorm while in line for coffee. She realized something was up with me and asked me if I needed to talk. About 2 hours of talking later I came out to her, the first person I had ever told. Over the next few weeks, she and I became good friends and I slowly became friends with her friends. That year went from the pit of despair to one of the fondest memories of my life.

    My point with that story was, it wasn’t bullying that pushed me to that point. I had been bullied in elementary, middle, and high school. The dreaded “F” word was used, but not because anyone knew my orientation. It was a generic insult. What pushed me to that place was fear. Fear of how my parents would react, fear of loosing friends, fear of being alone, and fear of how people would react on my small college campus where eventually every secret got out.

    Since coming out, the worst reactions to me have been from the gay community itself. Catty, bitchy, jealous queens trying to ruin other people’s lives because they’re unhappy. I’ve even been accused of murder because this one guy was jealous that I ended up with my boyfriend at the time.

    We need to provide these people, these young adults, with a warm supportive community that in my experience doesn’t currently exist. They should feel free to ask for help and get support without having to watch for a knife in their back. Once we fix our problems within our own community, THEN we can start changing society as a whole. I just pray the statistics don’t keep stacking up as we do.

  8. GOD says

    This attention to the problem by the media over the last several weeks has revealed something quite obvious – it is this rancid rhetoric that comes from religious organizations, this faith-based conviction that there is something shameful wrong and immoral with homosexuality and the constant expression on TV, radio and print primarily by pious faith-heads that is causing young people to take their lives.

  9. ratbastard says

    ‘Since coming out, the worst reactions to me have been from the gay community itself’

    –Steve

    ********************************

    I don’t know you, and I’m not try to involve you when for all I know you don’t like me or want anything to do with me, but I do relate and agree with most of what you wrote. And there are very few who’ll come out and say it like you wrote it, especially on boards like this, for fear of being stigmatized by the so-called gay community-sub-culture. Or just being plain weary of dealing with predictable bitchy backlash for speaking a few hard truths.

  10. TJ says

    So Steve, is it at least plausible that bullying was a contributing factor in your situation? I mean, did bullying have no impact on your esteem or expectation of rejection? If you hadn’t been bullied, if there was no such epithet such as Faggot (and FYI, it is never generic because one is alway aware and sensitive to the darker, nastier meaning), how might fear have been affected? If the BIG bully – religious and therefore presumably moral judgment did not exist and provide justification to the little bullies, how might fear have been affected?

  11. ratbastard says

    Carl, I clicked on the link, and it looks like Cory wasn’t being as respected as he wanted or expected by his friends or former friends, maybe some family also. I feel really bad for the dude. It doesn’t say or imply that the school environment as a whole was a major issue. This is a very sad story. Nice looking dude too. He was just starting the real fun part of life.

  12. TJ says

    Also, is the concept of bullying necessarily limited to kids interacting with kids? Do adults and societal institutions get a “pass” regarding the effects of verbal, physical, and emotional intimidation? Or do we just call it something else?

  13. JM says

    Terribly sad… tragic even.

    But I’m getting a terrible feeling in my stomach that these are copycat suicides.

    The boys of September were terribly young kids… 13-16 year-olds. They felt trapped… it was a failure of those guardians around those boys.

    It’s not the same as an 18+ year-old killing themselves.

    We need to make it clear, as a community, that suicide is not a noble act. We need to make it clear that giving up on yourself is giving up on your family and friends and community. It’s unacceptable… we shouldn’t glorify those who kill themselves simply because they were gay or had it rough.

    Suicide is a terribly selfish and hurtful action.

    We sympathize and we mourn their loss… but we must not “allow” anyone to get the impression that being gay is a reason for killing yourself. Even if you are being bullied or looked down upon or what have you. There are other options.

    The best revenge is to live well and live long.

  14. ratbastard says

    TJ:

    For most people, regardless of sexual orientation, life can be a real bitch interspersed with pockets of contentment and happiness. Part of growing up is learning to deal with life’s stresses (that you have little control over) in a healthy fashion. Perhaps stressing life coping skills would be more productive than continuously contemplating and complaining about stuff none of us can really ever control. There is never going to be a utopia, humans are too flawed for that.

  15. Steve says

    @Ratbastard: Thanks for the support.

    @TJ: I was going to write another very long response with a story about my school years, but I realize that’s just overkill. To make a long story short(er), if the bullying from my peers hadn’t happened I would have never developed many of the skills I have today. I very much believe that without the bullying I would be a spineless coward who wouldn’t have the strength to deal with many issues in daily live. One reason I was able to make it through was I had support in the form of loving parents who made sure to look after my mental health. I can honestly say that if I had to relive those years, I’d endure it again because it gave me tremendous strength. In the end, it was loosing everything that made me who I was in High School, my academic awards, my state championships in various science events, my pseudo-academic celebrity in my small town that caused me to lapse into my depression. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and that opened the door for the fear.

    As for the BIG bully as you put it, religion played a part in the fear. I was raised Southern Baptist, how could it not? However, that sort of persecution is not what I consider bullying for this particular conversation because bullies generally don’t have any power but the power you give them over yourself. Historically, religion WAS the power. The Church trumped all, it was the law and was above the law. It’s only in the last 100 years or so (conservative estimate) that this has begun to change. Religion isn’t a bully, it’s an oppressive social entity that needs to be put in it’s place. That place being inside the minds and hearts of the believers, to be shared to willing receivers not to be forced on others.

  16. Brian says

    This is incredibly sad. Everyone in life, regardless of sexual orientation has struggles, but I think some people underestimate the alienation and desperation a homophobic society can create for youth that are still learning, and just trying to grow up like everyone else.

    Whether it’s individual bullying or a sense of hopelessness created by the community at large, I just hope there continues to be increasing acceptance and resources for people who need it.

  17. TANK says

    “To make a long story short(er), if the bullying from my peers hadn’t happened I would have never developed many of the skills I have today”

    By all means, let’s continue the cycle of abuse and bullying in the current paradigm–so much so that the rate of lgbt teen suicide and homelessness is much higher than that of heterosexual teens–so that we give them the opportunity to develop “survival skills” in a dystopian social darwinian experiment. After all, what’s a few broken eggs to…what exactly? What would be the purpose? Creating more chemically dependent and psychologically imbalanced gay men who “survived”–or other such damaged individuals who plague the gay scene? Oh yes…tough ’em up–and if many continue to commit suicide…it’s okay, because this model’s producing the very best of the best! Oh my goodness…this lunacy is right up there with the “it DOESN’T GET BETTER! So STRAP IN AND GET SMASHED!” crowd…

    are you people for real? I question your eligibility for personhood.

  18. TJ says

    @rat bastard I get what you are saying; I also get a bit of victim-blaming in what you write. Absolutely, one gains coping skills when coping with adversity. It’s the positive side of negative experience (aka a reframe). Without going into boring detail, let’s just say I gained a graduate degree by studying how the experience of those not in power is adversely affected by prejudice and discrimination. We all have stress (allostatic load); minorities get an extra layer. It has measurable effects in terms of depression, anxiety, substance use, etc. I don’t think it is a stretch to consider bullying as overt discrimination.

    I don’t post here often, but I often advocate considering pragmatics. But if I didn’t believe that life might be more or better some day than it is today, life might be pretty pointless. I make a living helping people cope with today; it doesn’t mean I forget about tomorrow. Clearly, prejudice and injustice will likely always be a factor. However, negative consequences can affect expression (tea party types a seeming exception). Coping is great for today. Calling out an injustice might help tomorrow.

  19. TJ says

    @steve I’m glad you gained skills. I did, too. I am strong because I coped effectively, and had strength I never acknowledged until many years later. But my (or your) experience is not all experience. For some, rejection by peers, family, society, and religious organizations (regardless of denomination or faith) is, cumulatively, too much. And I would have to disagree with your somewhat naive dismissal that bullies only have the power you give them. I assure you, the group of bigger bullies that, many years ago, held me down and, despite my struggle, sexually molested me, had a great deal of power over a very scrawny, pre-growth spurt adolescent. I survived. It did get better. But not everyone has my strength.

  20. TJ says

    To those who label suicide a”selfish” (and therefore despicable) act: have you ever sat with and listened to the indescribable pain of someone seriously contemplating suicide? If you had, you might have some perspective on how forgetting that others exist because of that pain is understandable. Again, let’s blame the victim.

  21. ratbastard says

    To those who label suicide a”selfish” (and therefore despicable) act: have you ever sat with and listened to the indescribable pain of someone seriously contemplating suicide? If you had, you might have some perspective on how forgetting that others exist because of that pain is understandable. Again, let’s blame the victim.

    POSTED BY: TJ | OCT 20, 2010 11:53:30 PM

    **********************************

    –You’re right, it’s the darkest pit of despair, emptiness, and acute aloneness. I know what it’s like.

  22. TJ says

    @rat bastard if you know this personally, then I congratulate you for crawling out of the pit, and am glad you are here to spar with me. For those who aren’t as strong, I hope we can use our fingers as part of a sure and therefore reassuring hand up rather than pointing down.

  23. Steve says

    @TJ: I believe we are coming at this situation from two very different ways yet arriving at the same conclusion. What is important, regardless of situation, is a support structure of some sort to allow bullied kids and young adults to turn the pain into strength. I believe that in our community, this support structure is seriously lacking. Part of this is society, but a decent chunk is that our community is rife with infighting. That needs to end so that these troubled people can turn to the community without fear of rejection, humiliation, objectification, or betrayal.

    As for the bulling issue… We have very different ideas of bullying. The moment those people decided to hold you down and violate you they became rapists. Knocking people down in a school hallway, calling them names, wedgies, fist fights, posting stuff on the internet (within reason, anything that was done in public is fair game), etc. are bullying. Attacking someone with a weapon, following them and continuing the harassment at their home, and rape, just to name a few, are not.

    Maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time feeling sympathy for the young adults committing suicide over “bullying.” It just doesn’t have that negative a connotation to me. Since most of these accounts don’t give details on what type of bullying, I can’t make a determination of what I would call their experiences.

  24. JM says

    No one is blaming anyone. You can glorify and romanticize suicide all you want, but the fact remains that it’s a terribly hurtful weapon.

    One can ‘understand’ and sympathize with those struggling with thoughts of suicide. Many of us have thought about it at some point, even if not seriously.

    Let’s not pretend that suicide is anything other than a emotional and personal ‘weapon of mass destruction’… it inflicts harm on those all around that person. Not to mention the life it cuts down.

    Suicide is never the solution. There are other options. Even when full of irrational despair and lonlieness and depression.

    (PS: God forbid anyone be considered selfish – I know it’s not PC, but good people can be selfish people. We are colorful human beings with flaws and warts and beauty. Why can’t one be a person worthy of continued life AND be selfish enough to end their life?)

  25. TJ says

    @steve what you see as categories I would argue are degrees on a spectrum. I assure you, the bullies that assaulted me would be more likely to accept that label than the one of rapist. And would minimize the importance because they were just bullies, just as you seem to be doing here (and feel free to correct me if you disagree). To some, getting angry and throwing an object is just blowing off steam. To others, the message received is that they might be next. Intimidation is not always overt. And I would argue that it is ultimately degrees and levels of bullying.

  26. GregV says

    I always take phrases like “he wasn’t bullied” with a grain of salt.
    Every gay person in the United States at the very least has to live with second-class citizen status and the majority of gay teens hear ugly anti-gay messages at school on a daily basis and in society (and some in church and even at home).
    “Persecution” vs. “bullying” = Tomayto, tomahto.
    I’ve had acquaintances or friends of friends who were gay and committed suicide when I was in school.
    In one case when a kid killed himself just before Christmas, the media refered to it as a freak accident and said that he was a well-adjusted boy who had no major problems (he wasn’t known by the media to be gay either, so, like many other cases, it gets counted not only among the “non-suicides” but among the “not gay” numbers.

    Those of us who knew were aware that he was gay and had nowhere to go for Christmas because his parents had told him he wasn’t welcome with the family anymore. His friend had just told me about his situation one night, said he was “freaking out” and we even heard the door slam. We didn’t realize how much he was “freaking out” until the police showed up the next day.

    I could recount several other cases too, just as tragic, but I think everyone already gets my point.

    There is bullying toward individuals that news reporters and often even families don’t know about, there is widespread prejudice in society experienced by all gay teens which hurts even when it is directed at the group instead of the individual (and tends to hurt most when it comes from within the family). And when a “non-gay” story comes up saying that “s/he had everything to live for and nobody knows why s/he did it,” we can’t just assume he/she wasn’t gay.

  27. TJ says

    @jm Having several problems with your latest post. “Glorify and romanticize” suicide – exactly how is this being done, and by whom? One can understand and empathize without advocating the act. It is, indeed, a weapon of mass destruction, but it is also (and more often) a deeply personal act in its intent. Copycats do exist, and it is a legitimate concern when suicides are publicized. But the reasons for committing suicide weigh more heavily on the side of the pain it will end rather than the pain it will cause. In other words, it’s not about you. Some people stop themselves because they realize the pain they will cause others. Others literally cannot see that far beyond themselves. For some, never seeing beyond themselves might indicate a personality disorder. For others, it might be the result of a series of truly unfortunate events. I’d like to be an advocate for eliminating unfortunate events, like bullying. What would you like to do?

  28. ratbastard says

    GERGV:

    Suicides in general for all people are very under reported. A mortician I’m acquainted with tells me suicides are much more common than reported and frequently covered up. No doubt police and insurance companies could back this up.

  29. mad1026 says

    You people are now doing the work of the oppressors by sniping at each other. The problem of suicide committed by young gay people is what we should all be working to end instead of rationalizing it away. Every young gay or lesbian will hurt in a way specific to them and we should try to offer them options to improve their outlook instead of ignoring them.

  30. BobN says

    JM: “We need to make it clear, as a community, that suicide is not a noble act. We need to make it clear that giving up on yourself is giving up on your family and friends and community. It’s unacceptable… we shouldn’t glorify those who kill themselves simply because they were gay or had it rough.”

    Yeah, all the major mental health organizations say we should make those considering suicide feel even worse about themselves!

    Seriously, dude, keep your “campaign against selfishness” to yourself until you find some evidence it would do anything but hurt people.

  31. JM says

    TJ – I think you’re on the wrong post. There seems be nothing to indicate this 19 year-old young man was bullied to death. Unless you have information I’m not privy to.

    When we post notices of gay suicides – regardless of the facts or the circumstances and without context – amidst a series of bully-inspired deaths, we do a disservice to those who are harmed by anti-gay bigotry.

    When we jump and grab and martyr every gay suicide victim and try to fashion it to our cause – however noble – it’s exploitive and could backfire. Not every gay man or women who commits suicide does so exclusively because he or she is gay or was bullied.

    For all we know, this young man could’ve been clinically depressed and upset about a breakup or pressures from school or just a gentle soul unable to cope.

    I want to make sure we don’t project our own feelings and replace the message his death may truthfully send… it may have nothing to do with being gay or lesbian.

  32. Luke says

    @BOBN

    I agree with JM’s point, I just don’t agree with the light in which his argument is presented. I think that reminding yourself of your family/friends/other relationships is key in suicide prevention – who’ll be impacted by your loss. As a former suicidal gay teenager, I can say that selfishness doesn’t play a role as much as the tunnel vision of your own misery does. It gets better. Now I’m a college freshman with people who love and accept me for who I am and I couldn’t be any happier. Far from the kid who thought his life was over just two years ago.

    I am a testament to the idea that hope has a remarkable intrinsic value in the life of an individual but especially those who have been persecuted/bullied because of their sexual orientation in an ultra-conservative portion of the Bible belt.

    My ultimate point being that there is hope and this string of unfortunate and regrettable and heartbreaking suicides needs to end as soon as is humanly possible.

  33. JM says

    Bobn,

    I didn’t realize I was on a mental health forum or support group. I guess we all should only post comments that sugarcoat hard truths. We wouldn’t want anyone to get the right idea about suicide.

  34. TJ says

    @JM some other comments reference evidence of possible bullying. I would argue that society acts as a bully in multiple way because of how gay people are intimidated into accepting heterosexuality as the only acceptable option. Whatever the reason, it is likely that factors outside of this poor guy affected his belief in his ability to cope. The research shows that being gay does not in itself equate with dysfunction. But stressors from outside because of this orientation can affect function. Please read the post about Maggie Gallagher of NOM and her use of statistics – she totally ignores the reasons for dysfunction, such as discrimination and prejudice, which are expressed in hate speech and actions (overt as well as covert), which is about intimidation, which is about bullying. People commit suicide for many reasons, and yes, automatically assuming one reason or another is wrong. But factors can compound. I am for eliminating, to whatever degree, factors outside of inherent resilience.

    As for being on the wrong post, I might question the sensitivity and empathy of those who post about “glorifying” because a post makes note of a fallen brother, or have the gall to intimate that they have the “right” idea about suicide when they have yet to show any true understanding or empathy. Suicide IS a matter of mental health, which isn’t always or only about the selfish individual not considering how they impact others.

  35. X says

    Leo is so right. “Bullying”? Geez, talk about missing the forest for the trees.

    Suicides of gay teens and people in general have been high for decades, and it’s not just teen bullying that causes it. It’s the culture and institutionalized prejudice in America that does it. We have to fight this battle on all fronts, including in schools, but also in laws, in churches, in all our own families and communities. Kids won’t or can’t always speak up and act to defend themselves, so those of us lucky enough to have some semblance of freedom, limited as it may be, to speak up for them and to defend them when they cannot.

  36. justiceontherocks says

    JM,slow down with the rhetoric. No one is making a martyr of anyone. It’s a fact that gay teens are more likely to commmit suicide than “straight” teens. It’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed. It’s dangerous ever to assume anything, but it makes sense that the overt social stigma against being gay is a factor in many if not all these suicides, and therefore that “but for” that stigma many of these kids might still be alive.

    Bullying is not just physical. When Andy posts notices of gay teen suicides, he does not “do a disservice to those who have been harmed by anti-gay bigotry.” he pays to tribute to one more victim.

  37. DR says

    So wait, he comes out to folks he’s probably known for only a month or two, comments to his family that he feels like people are treating him differently and don’t know how to act around him (which is a natural part of coming out), and everyone is so quick to label that “bullying”?!?

    Sounds like the kid had no one to talk to, not that he was the victim of harassment or bullying.

  38. Chitown Kev says

    This really seems like a GREAT discussion the likes of which I wish was here at towleroad more often (as opposed to excessive bitchery…a LITTLE bitchery is fine, even wonderful actually but…I digress).

    I want to read all of these what seems at first glance to be illuminating response than come back and comment.

  39. Chuck C. says

    I had the misfortune of trudging through Detroit Public Schools during the late 60’s into the 70’s . I was. Skinny boy who threw like a girl. Was the only white boy in a class of 35+ kids. To say I got bullied is an understatement. I found out that a good hunk of pipe or big rock placed right between the eyes of the bully made him stop. What did I have to lose? The church already brainwashed me into hating myself for what I felt inside. Sissy boys gather up your pipes,rocks,whatever is at hand and take it too the bully. It gets better.

  40. gregv says

    @Ila Lwara:
    Your question is off-topic, but since you’re curious, I’ll answer it.

    “Gay” and “homosexual” mean exactly the same thing. The latter is an old clinical term and the former is usually considered the preferred term to use.

    A gay person is someone whose natural romantic and/or sexual attractions are wired exclusively or primarily toward members of the same sex.

    Whether a person actually has any sexual experience with anyone makes no difference to his/her sexual orientation.

  41. Robert says

    I hold the likes of Obama resposible for these suicides. It seems Obama is frequently doing things to make us feel unaccepted…i.e. continually stopping the courts from giving us equalty and striking down DADT. Thanks for nothing Obama, the liar, and give me back my money and more importantly give me back my vote.

  42. anon says

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

    The US ranks 40th in the world in suicide rates, which suggests general contentment. Some countries count suicide differently. For example, binge drinking might count as accidental in one country and suicide in another (its self-reported by govts.) France is 18th! Some countries in Europe have doctor assisted suicide for the elderly or very ill.

    Now, clinical depression does not respond well to publicity. Stories about suicide encourage, rather than discourage, the CD’ed to commit suicide. Why? Because the victim thinks: if they can do it, so can I. It’s not the normal way of thinking, which is why CD is a mental illness. What also doesn’t help is all the support the family of the victim gets in the media, which also encourages others to commit suicide, thinking: my family will get help and be better off.

    Also, suicides are generally under reported, so what seems like an increase is actually more likely and increase in reporting. However, the media coverage will increase the number of “showy” suicides, as victims will change their plans. Also, suicide rates increase in the fall as it gets darker.

  43. TJ says

    @anon Talking about suicide doesn’t put the idea of suicide into someone’s head. Someone who is already depressed and suicidal, however, may see the option as achievable when they have examples. It’s why having a family member or friend who has committed suicide is an additional risk factor. It’s sticky situation, isn’t it? It’s why we are on the alert and assess more carefully after publicity about a suicide. But NOT talking about it means ignoring risk factors as well as people at risk. And that can have tragic consequences as well.

  44. SCVMalcolm says

    Leo, U R right! We do not have the right to marry in all States…yet… We’re getting there and we’re making great strides in Europe! And as long as NOM, Focus On The Family, the Pope, and other so-called “christian” hate and bigot mongers are permitted to be “Politically Correct” bullies, the individual bullies will be empowered to continue!

  45. Dale says

    Lets face it. If you are an American GLBT citizen, you are being bullied every day of your life. You are being bullied when you are told that your love is invalid and thus don’t have the right to marry, that you freak people out too much that you can not serve in the military, your blood must be tainted, so you can not donate it, and you make people uncomfortable so please do not show any sign of affection to your boyfriend/girlfriend in public. The bullies are not just in schools, they are everywhere.

  46. JM says

    This is getting crazy. Another suicide reported on today on Queerty – this time a 17 year-old boy.

    I’m not entirely sure all this publicity is what was needed. There’s always a “I’ll show them!” element to most suicides. Knowing your death will be published in newspapers and splashed over gay websites – you may even get someone famous to write a song or poem about you – could be a possible encouraging factor. It could be that last needed push to cross the line.

    How do we respond? I don’t know. I know these messages and videos of support are helping a lot of people – but is it mostly helping those of us who are making the videos and statements? Those of us who aren’t suicidal but enjoy the extra validation? Again, I’m a firm believer it’s better to try and fail than fail to try. I don’t have any idea how to respond… so I won’t shit on the current project/cause.

    Either way, we’re all learning how to deal with these issues in this new age of extreme communication.

  47. TANK says

    And yet, anon, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the united states…hmmmm. Don’t know what your point is, but it doesn’t address how homophobic bullying leads to suicide.

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