Gay Youth | Oklahoma

Gay Teen In Oklahoma Takes His Own Life

Sadly, yet another gay teen has taken his life, this time in Oklahoma. According to the Dallas Voice, 19-year-old Zach Harrington  "endured years of struggles due to his sexual orientation in high school" and took his life a week after he attended a "hate-filled recent City Council meeting" in his conservative small town of Norman.

 The Norman Transcript reports on the reaction from Harrington's family:

ZachNikki Harrington, Zach’s older sister, said her brother likely took all of the negative things said about members of the GLBT community straight to heart.

“When he was sitting there, I’m sure he was internalizing everything and analyzing everything … that’s the kind of person he was,” she said. “I’m sure he took it personally. Everything that was said.”

Harrington’s father, Van, said he wasn’t sure why his son went to the meeting, especially after his experiences in Norman once he revealed that he was gay as a teenager. He said he feels his son may have glimpsed a hard reality at the Sept. 28 council meeting, a place where the same sentiments that quietly tormented him in high school were being shouted out and applauded by adults the same age as his own parents.

“I don’t think it was a place where he would hear something to make him feel more accepted by the community,” he said. “For somebody like Zach, it (the meeting) was probably very hard to sit through.”

“He feared for his safety on many occasions at (Norman North), and other people like him,” Van said. “Even though he was 6-4, he was passive and I’m sure being gay in that environment didn’t help.”

During rush hour on Friday, a flash mob consisting of hundreds of people staged a "Homophobia Kills" die-in inside of New York's Grand Central Station to call further attention to the recent national discussion on gay teen suicide. Watch a video of the demonstration, AFTER THE JUMP.


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  1. Coverage from the local media:

    ...and they even disabled the comments for the article.

    Posted by: Scott | Oct 10, 2010 6:08:49 PM

  2. The original article on the Norman transcript website has more details about what was said at the meeting and some people said that they moved o Norman because they wanted to be somewhere that gays wouldn't be accepted with open arms, but Norman is in the only democratic county in Oklahoma. Norman really isn't a small town compared to some others in Oklahoma, and it's generally more progressive, but it is still Oklahoma, and it's sad that we lost someone from our community that didn't have to die.

    Posted by: Alex | Oct 10, 2010 6:12:08 PM

  3. I'm not going to sugar coat this: Oklahoma and other parts of the Bible Belt sound like horror shows for homosexuals and bisexuals. I despise fundamentalists. There's something seriously fucking wrong in the head with these people. What is it about sex that causes them to freak out so badly? What is it about sex that makes so many people in general totally freak? People will smoke, drink, use drugs, treat others poorly, divorce, but mention homosexuality to them and they start quoting the Old Testament with reverence!

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 10, 2010 6:35:30 PM

  4. here is a link to a page with a vdeo of the council debate, with two bigots first and then a progressive pastor at the end. its a good video.

    Posted by: Alex | Oct 10, 2010 6:48:34 PM

  5. oops haha here is the lnik:

    Posted by: Alex | Oct 10, 2010 6:49:40 PM

  6. Help raise money for THE TREVOR PROJECT by purchasing an IT GETS BETTER t-shirt.

    Posted by: Francesca | Oct 10, 2010 7:02:25 PM

  7. The xtian taliban strikes again! How many more young people have to DIE? xtians do want to turn this country into a theocracy; I refuse to allow that to happen. I will fight them any way I can to keep them from destroying this country the way the islamic taliban has destroyed the middle east.

    Posted by: mad1026 | Oct 10, 2010 7:17:39 PM

  8. The City Banner reads: Building An Inclusive Community.

    The irony.

    Posted by: Bart | Oct 10, 2010 8:09:51 PM

  9. I keep looking for some reason to hope. I read that about three gay young people commit suicide per week, every week, and this has been going on for a long time. But before, kids didn't come out to their parents at such a young age. Now, a significant number of parents knew their kid was gay, and are not only supportive, but refuse to hide the fact that their kids were driven to suicide by bullying (of one sort or another.) Remember, Zach's father is also an Oklahoman, and is standing up to the homophobia. It's a terrible thing for the families, but maybe their voices will help the cause. And Judy Shepherd won't be so alone.

    Posted by: Jim | Oct 10, 2010 8:12:06 PM


    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 10, 2010 8:38:50 PM

  11. Mr. Harrington no doubt got a glimpse of what he thought the future would hold for him - that the hate, ignorance and taunting wouldn't end at High School, but yet continue into his adult life.
    To all the bigots at the City Council meeting - they should charged with murder.

    Posted by: Tre Gibbs | Oct 10, 2010 9:14:55 PM

  12. omfg.... i live in Ponca City Oklahoma and im 20 and openly gay....its so freakin sad that gays keep killing themselves, i feel so fuckin bad that he was about 80 miles away and my life is so different. Norman is a college town and i though it was liberal.This shit is making me cry.

    Posted by: shae | Oct 10, 2010 9:26:10 PM

  13. @shae, it IS a liberal town, but at these kinds of things the crazies come crawling out of the woodwork. But if you watch the video, there are pro gay speakers too.

    Posted by: Alex | Oct 10, 2010 9:38:26 PM

  14. No, no, no, no, no, no, no! What the EFF is going on here people! Dan Savage was right: the product of the hate-filled speech of the religious and political right are being manifested by virtue of the dead children that are filling our headlines. My heart is breaking for these kids.

    Posted by: michael | Oct 10, 2010 10:34:32 PM

  15. It's probably the most liberal city in Oklahoma -- home to the University of Oklahoma -- and population 100,000-plus. It is worth noting that the rancor was over a resolution to declare October GLBT History Month. And despite the rancor, the City Council approved the resolution 7-1. Not sure that this poor kid killed himself just because he lived in a "conservative small town."

    Posted by: Nick | Oct 10, 2010 10:53:10 PM

  16. Thank you Nick, I thought that was kind of funny. Norman isn't a conservatve small town lol that's rediculous.

    Posted by: Alex | Oct 10, 2010 11:32:07 PM

  17. To make a point, I might be tempted to simply write, "that's so gay!" I might be tempted to go all "Tank" (meant as a compliment, Tank) and let the world have my opinion full-force. But just right now, I want to cry.

    Posted by: TJ | Oct 11, 2010 12:01:18 AM

  18. I applaud the Die In participants for their good intentions, but I think the protest would be more effective in Norman (or Tulsa, or Tahlequah, or Muskogee, or....) than in Manhattan.

    Posted by: Gruntled | Oct 11, 2010 2:12:38 AM

  19. Sally Kern is probably having a party at her house!

    Posted by: CB | Oct 11, 2010 2:21:39 AM

  20. 19-year-old is almost a child, whole life in front and to live to. What is going on in US? Why don't these kids have anyone to tell it is ok to be gay? I feel so sad. This has to stop.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Oct 11, 2010 2:43:48 AM

  21. @Gruntled

    Considering what just went down in the Bronx, a die-in at Grand Central is not out of place

    Posted by: Rich | Oct 11, 2010 2:47:17 AM

  22. Not again! This is absolutely heartbreaking.. Can this end already?

    I don't mean this in an anti-American way, but what the fuck is wrong with your country? It's supposed to be the leader of the free world, the land of the free, and yet people are not allowed to live their lives freely. It's pathetic really.

    What comforts me is that if there is a hell, the homophobes that ruin peoples lives will burn in it. I know that the disgusting, hateful bigots at the council meeting probably can't be charged with anything, but they really are murdererers. I wish they at least had a guilty conscience, but the only feeling these dickwads feel is obviously hate.

    Posted by: Chris K | Oct 11, 2010 4:00:23 AM

  23. yeah, Norman is like the 2nd or 3rd biggest city in OK.

    shame. i can't bear any more of this shit.

    Posted by: Larson | Oct 11, 2010 4:37:25 AM

  24. If this is the reason he committed suicide, I have to wonder if he was there for the whole thing.

    It starts off pretty badly, but there were a number of encouraging speakers among the vitriol and the council members pretty much put the haters in their place at the end with their counter-responses (particularly the first two members: Ezzell and Kovach). One of the members even declared a "miracle" and changed his vote from against to for.

    Posted by: Patrick Garies | Oct 11, 2010 7:00:50 AM

  25. I once worked at a company in Houston, Texas. The most bigoted there was a guy from Boston, Massachusetts. He was a loud, obnoxious homophobe who got in my face at every opportunity. As the above video proves, bigots are everywhere, even in "liberal" states like New York. I have heard that even in San Francisco, right next to the Castro district, is an area where gays should not walk at night and should think about it during the day for fear of being mugged.

    I lived in Austin, Texas, while going to school, and the so-called liberal atmosphere was very deceptive. So, just because you live in a non-bible thumper area, don't assume....

    Posted by: rjones | Oct 11, 2010 7:09:13 AM

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