Phillip Parker, 14, Has Killed Himself

Picture 31Another one. From

A Gordonsville boy's parents say bullying caused their son to take his own life.  Phillip Parker, 14, died this week. His parents said he was constantly bullied for being gay.

… "He was fun, he was energetic, he was happy," said Gena Parker, Phillip's mother.

To his many friends, Phillip was known as the boy who told everyone they're beautiful.

"He kept telling me he had a rock on his chest," said Ruby Harris, Phillip's grandmother. "He just wanted to take the rock off where he could breathe."

Phillip's family said they reported their concerns over their son's bullying to Gordonsville High School on multiple occasions, but the bullying by a group of students just got worse.

I don't know what to say, other than this: If your local schools' counselors don't distribute info on The Trevor Project, why not drop off some flyers?


  1. James N says

    Another sad story of a young life lost. Society continues to let hate fill the airwaves through politicians and intolerant, ignorant and hypocritical morons. I blame them. I also think the media needs to manage these stories better. The message young people in the US is being heard and this is how they are responding. The US is a sick society, the media presents it as “normal” and lives are being lost as a result. Just sad!

  2. adam says

    this is so sad. yet another report of a horrible outcome from bullying.

    i keep wondering – why does this keep happening!? i realize suicides from bullying must have occurred frequently before, but now it seems every other day I am reading an article about a young boy or girl who decides to end the tremendous pain by resulting to suicide.

    I’m beginning to think the media and the amount of coverage has something to do with it. Kids will do as other kids do, right? Even if there are tons of intelligent and wise campaigns PLEADING kids to realize that it gets better..

    I’m wondering if it’s because of the amount of media coverage that this keeps happening! It’s a little bit of a catch 22. Report it and have the world see this ongoing epidemic, but which can possibly lead to many more suicides due to the fact that a young teenage mind may think it’s “ok” to result to this option of suicide. Or dont report it, but then we would be acting as if we were blind to such a loss of beautiful souls…

    I pray confidence is taught throughout families and in schools. I pray for those families who have lost. And I pray for those families who are about to lose..

  3. tinhouston says

    I agree. and how many more useless tragedies before the politicians, school boards, religious organizations and parents wake up and enact and monitor/enforce laws against bullying.

  4. George M says

    If they can prove they told the school and that nothing happened, the schools screwed
    Parents need to document and have it signed every time they complain or bring a concern to the school. It helps in court
    Rest in peace little one

  5. john patrick says

    I used to have a job in which I heard parents tell stories of school districts which did not address the bullying of their children, despite their attempts to get the schools to do so. I used to tell them about school districts which had to pay multi-million dollar settlements for not protecting students, and advised them to tell the districts about that and pursue legal options if needed. I would tell them that the districts had an obligation to provide a safe environment for their children. I also spoke with them about getting their children out of the schools that were doing nothing about the bullying.

    The reasons kids commit suicide are multiple and sometimes unknowable. But they have a right to be safe in their schools, and parents need to know about their options as they try to protect their children. And if schools and school districts will not respond to reports of bullying, they need to be held legally responsible.

  6. Leo says

    Absolutely tragic. Anyways, just figured I’d get the two usual comments in these kinds of posts on this blog on the table.

    1) To the “Werther Effect” people…yes, it’s been proven, yes it’s a valid point, but sometimes the way some of you approach that argument is as if these suicides shouldn’t be reported on at all, which you know will never happen.

    2) To the “he was a spineless coward” crowd that occasionally shows up…I truly pity all of you and hope you find something resembling a soul in this lifetime.

    Well there…I think that’s about it.

  7. Kenneth says

    No Adam, it isn’t new. The difference now is that with information so much more far reaching and seemingly constant, it’s not just localized. Studies have shown that LGBT youth are more than twice as likely to commit or attempt to commit suicide as non LGBT youth for decades. To be certain, bullying is not the only reason for these suicides, but it more often than not is the catalyst. We cannot and must not stop shedding light on this tragedy. However, we as adults have a responsibility to do something to affect real change. Whether it is getting involved in our communities, churches, LGBT Youth programs, or not supporting candidates that set our progress back. “It gets better” only works when we do our part. It sadly will not be enough to reach some, too late to reach others, but it can and will get better with our contributions to our future, the youth. I’m committed, will you commit too?

  8. says

    It is very hard to think about this. I can’t fathom what the parents must be going through. They will go through the rest of their lives without him.

    I read about such a loss and insist that I pay closer attention to my own child. I admire my father-in-law because he loves his son and daughter the way we all should love our children. He dotes on them and treats our son and myself the very same way. When Greg and I married he was overjoyed because he now had a second son. He lives to make us happy and that’s what parents should do. I am heartbroken when I hear a child has said good-bye.

    Yes, life is hard – not just for gay people but for many people – but giving up on it is not the answer. Life has so much more to give to all of us, including unabashed happiness.

  9. David C. Jones says

    Well then Leo – how many dead teenagers will take before we stop promoting them? We seem to averaging two a week if not more.
    We are part of the problem – As you say The Werther Effect has been proven.

    If we dig further we see that main stream news agencies don’t report suicides unless (sadly) it cause a traffic delay. In in those cases they say a ‘suicide’ they don’t “write Mrs. Ida Johnson jumped of a bridge because her husband left her, She had a lot of bills to pay and she felt the pressure was too great. Her neighbors said she was a nice old lady and here are some pictures of her in happier times”.

    They don’t report that because they know it will cause copy-cat suicides by other people who are feeling similar pressures and depressions. By glorifying and bringing attnetion to Mrs. Johnson they might prompt Mrs. Smith to decide to kill her self to get the same kind of love and recognition. Heck, Lady Gaga might even flash her picture on the jumbotron at a concert.

    As a teacher and an adviser I work with tean-age kids all the time. When they are despondent or depressed and come to me for help I never show them pictures of smile kids just like them who killed themselves.

    Sadly many young people don’t seek out help from adult. They go to sites like this one.

    I am sorry if my posting about The Werther Effect irks anyone. But as you mentioned – yes it has been proven. It is not a theory. (Heck, watch the funny black comedy Heathers – remember the chubby girl who throws herself in front of the bus because she sees all the love the other suicides are getting).

    I will keep posting on sites like this about The Werther Effect because as a teacher I do not want another sad or lonely kid to be inspired by our grief. I want to prevent suicide not promote it. Part of the tragedy is how we are fueling this tragic phenomenon.

    Yes – it has been proven. So if we willfully do it away way – what are we actually doing?

  10. Caliban says

    Leo, I do think it’s important not to romanticize or heap posthumous accolades on those who have taken their lives- you don’t want to give other gay (or straight) teens the idea that the way to finally be seen, heard, and appreciated is to follow their example.

    But at the same time it’s also important to publicize these deaths since they’re concrete examples of the real-world effect of homophobia. In Tennessee, where this death occurred, there is a bill before the state legislature to protect bullying if the bully claims it’s based in religious belief!

    Here’s a link to the petition to TN lawmakers opposing this measure. They have to know that bullying, no matter the cause, is unacceptable, that hate in the name of religion is still hate.

  11. says

    So sad… My thoughts are with Phillip’s parents, family and friends.

    Stories like Phillip’s make me think of how I survived school. I had many dark moments when I felt alone because bullying. I was lucky because at my darkest moments I always had at least one person who was there for me.

    Middle school was the worst, I avoided group activities and hated lunch. To the teachers who allowed me to eat lunch in their classroom and help with prep work thank you! Not having to face the humiliation at lunch was nice but the satisfaction of helping you and feeling appreciated gave me purpose during this time of my life.

    High school was better than I thought it would be. I made new friends and focused on my new found love of TV Productions. Also I was beginning to understand my own feelings and emotions.

    Yet things got better after coming out. It gave me the confidence to accept myself and say “so what” to those who referred to me as a fag or girl. Friends respected me for opening up and joked that I blew the doors off the closet. Things weren’t perfect and the road was still rough, but it got better.

    To the kid who might be reading this, please don’t think it won’t get better. Life isn’t easy and there are always challenges to over come. Stay strong, find something that you’re good at (and enjoy) and immerse yourself in it. Like my partner of the last 12 years I didn’t go to college. We both have successful careers and live out and proud in Washington, DC. It does get better!

    To the schools and parents please teach acceptance and tolerance. If you see a kid getting bullied help them and please speak to the bully about tolerance.

  12. says

    I was extremely lucky. I went to the High School of Music and Art in New York City (aka. “Communist Martyrs High”) Class of 1964. You may not believe this but there were a number of OPENLY GAY kids at that school at that time. I remember two senior boys who at school assembly would sit apart from their classes in the back of the auditorium in order to make out — in full view of everyone else. As you can imagine in such an atmospehre coming out was no problem for me. But again I was EXTREMELY lucky.

    Times have changed and the closet is collapsing in this culture — but the hatred persists. We must find more ways to support these kids.

  13. Francis says

    I said this regarding to the story involving the tragic suicides of the two teens in California and the same applies here.

    The OVERWHELMING majority of these suicides are happening in the same areas—-rural, conservative, religious, etc. The problem isn’t the IGB project or Trevor project not working, or being available to these kids. The problem is not even a copycat effect.

    No. The problem is that the communities that these children are coming out in are incredibly hostile towards the idea of homosexuality, let alone someone being openly gay. More and more teens are coming out, which is a good thing, but they’re not well-adjusted enough to handle the potential downfalls of coming out and don’t have the support system to keep them strong and positive. That is the problem, along with the fact that the schools in these communities are doing LITTLE TO NOTHING to prevent the abuse that these LGBTQ teens are facing within the hallways and classrooms. Often times the school boards/faculty are abusive towards gay kids themselves. The parents/friends in these situations, albeit their minds are in the right place, generally don’t know what to do nor how to understand the struggles of being openly gay in a hostile environment and what they can do to help their gay loved ones.

    It’s just an extremely destructive cycle, and these children feel hopeless and in despair. That is why they commit suicide. They feel alone in a dark world where their entire lives are under a microscope and are condemned solely for who they are.

    How do we change this? We as a community have to do our part to make sure kids in ALL communities and ESPECIALLY kids in vulnerable situations hear our voice and understand they do have people out there who know what they’re going through, support them, and will be there for them. More than anything that means the gay people in these communities have to come out of the closet and do their part to protect these youth from the abuse they receive in school. These kids need some sort of safe place where they can let loose and be themselves. A gay community center of some sort, or an afterschool program for LGBTQ teens, and of course there needs to be gay-straight alliances in these schools.

    At the end of the day, these suicides NEED to be discussed because they are obviously a symptom of an extensive problem that will be swept under the rug and ignored otherwise.

  14. TJ says

    What is the proof that this kid was aware of all of these other kids who committed suicide? Absolutely, knowing about suicides increases the likelihood of committing suicide. The copycat effect does happen. If this kid was aware of the other kids like him who gave up, this could have been a contributing factor. But it could be that he was unaware of the “epidemic” – or just what may be the current, more frequent reporting of these suicides. Being a kid, he may not have been into reading Towlroad, or Huffpost Gay Voices or whatever.

    I have a vague memory of the title of a book or article from decades ago, something like, “I thought people like that killed themselves.” I believe ithe title referred to the ignorant, hateful attitude of straight people towards gay people. In less sophisticated areas of this country (and world), that attitude is alive and well. The thought-children of Anita Bryant are all around us, spewing their ignorance and intolerance. Those of us who give ourselves credit for being more sophisticated and civilized are very aware of this, even if we live in tolerant, enlightened, and accepting environments. Imagine living in a place with this attitude as common, with no power to change things, no experience that things get better, and thus no hope.

    Social conservatives are battling to preserve and defend the right to their ignorance and bigotry. They are vocal and active. We may comfort ourselves by saying that they are ultimately on the losing side of the battle. In the meantime, the tragic collateral damage of our young people killing themselves continues. While this may be nothing new, and may seem more common just because it is finally getting national attention, each death is a tragedy and a travesty. We need our leaders to step up, and speak out, with words and actions. Imagine if the government defended anti-discrimination, bullying, and hate crime laws with the same efforts seen towards racial injustice in the 60’s. Attitude follows behavior. Bigots haven’t gone away, but our attitudes have changed enormously since the 60’s because we insisted on a change in behavior. A loud, unequivocating NO to those who claim that discriminating against gay people is a religious right might be a start.

  15. BobN says

    What Francis said.

    We can wring our hands about The Werther Effect or we can try to get this country to realize that HUNDREDS of children commit suicide every year just because they can’t stand the homophobia around them, in their schools, in their churches, in their families.

    There is no “epidemic” of suicide among gay kids, there’s just some light being shown on something that is usually hidden.

  16. Ricco says

    What I do not understand in all these suicides where parents talk about the incessant bullying is WHY they do not pull their kids out of school and teach them at home?

  17. James says

    And once again there is a conscious effort to avoid naming the bullies. As with all of the many cases of bullycide, the family and friends of the deceased fail to name the killers and the press makes no effort to identify them. Instead we have the use of the passive voice and a vague reference to other “students” who drove this kid to suicide. Just as happened with Billy Lucas, Asher Brown and all the others. Thus, these unnamed “students” can go about their lives without a care in the world.

    I’ve had it. As far as I am concerned, if you don’t name the killers, you are an accomplice.

    Towleroad, since you make money off of posting these stories, why don’t you make an effort to pick up the phone and see if you can’t find out who did this. It is called reporting.

  18. stranded says

    It’s an unfortunate loss. I don’t know what happens, but only gay boys seem to get picked on by bullies these days. Surely, girls might get picked on because of their weight or looks, but I still haven’t heard of some girl taking her own life because she was bullied. Thank goodness.

  19. TJ says

    STRANDED – thanks for supporting my point (above) about awareness, or lack thereof re: suicides.. There have been several highly-publicized reports in the past few years of teenage girls committing suicide because of bullying. But despite wide exposure in the mainstream media, you were still unaware. Not every gay kid can be presumed to be aware of the “epidemic” of gay teen suicides.

  20. William says

    I’m getting really tired of reading about gay teenagers who feel the need to kill themselves. By that, I don’t mean to say I don’t empathize with the gay teens — I do. I’m just so tired we’re still living in a social environment where gay teens feel pushed to that point.

  21. kyle Michel Sullivan says

    He killed himself because, while his parents may have cared, no one else did and, in fact, some of the scum who brutalized him probably gave each other high-fives for achievement, like what happened here in a suburb of Buffalo. And those brats were not disciplined until they also verbally attacked the dead boy’s sister at a dance and the school administration was shamed into doing something about it. This is in NY State’s second largest city, one that has a decent-sized gay population!

    It’s not that kids like Philip don’t have access to information on the web to show they aren’t alone in what they’re going through. They ARE alone when it comes to actual human beings supporting them. Parents don’t count anywhere near as much to a teenager as friends do, peers who will stand up for them and back them up. It doesn’t sound like this boy had anything like that, despite his efforts. Small wonder the despair overwhelmed him.

    There have always been bullies and there always will be. You can’t stop that; it’s part of our animal nature to attack those we perceive as weak or different, and some less-evolved “humans” will not respond to anything short of a punch in the nose. I found that out in junior high in Texas, where I was bullied until I lost it, hit the lead bully in the face with a rock and wound up getting pummeled by his friends. I went to the hospital, overnight; he got a couple dozen stitches. He was suspended for two days; I was suspended for a week (because I used a weapon). But the little bastard left me alone after that. And word carried over into high school, where I was left pretty much alone, too. If they know you will hurt them, they’ll leave you alone.

    Bullying will stop when the gay community starts emphasizing self-defense instead of just sending out nice little messages about how It Will Get Better. That’s all great and fine, but what makes it so is if we also tell kids, And Learn Aikido or Boxing or Karate or something. And be prepared to use it.

    Same goes for the churches and right wing nuts who preach hate of gays and fight against us having the same rights as them. Don’t just say they aren’t nice, that they aren’t acting like Jesus or God would want them to. Start fighting to take away their tax-exempt status, because they are not religious-based, and shine a non-stop light on their hypocritical behavior. Make politicians embarrassed to be seen in their company, let alone ask for their support. After all, like cockroaches, politicians hate having the light shined on their diseased actions.

    Don’t talk back; fight back.

  22. jason says

    I know this might sound harsh but wouldn’t it be better to report bullying to the police? Schools can be very non-caring when it comes to bullying. The only way to counter bullying is to stand up to it. If this means getting the police involved, so be it.

  23. chuck says

    Maybe a nice little lawsuit of about twice the annual budget of the school district.
    If this had been a Corporation, they could be sued for allowing a hostile workplace. But of course, children are nothing but their parent’s chattel and have no rights.

  24. Mark says

    As a fully fledged gay boy of America, I take issue with the parents blaming the school for the bullying. THe parents are just as much too blame. If they knew about it why didn’t they do more to protect their son? They should be holding their heads in shame.

  25. jaragon says

    What is really wrong with these kids? I was bullied as kid and I never thought about killing myself. Now I’m sorry this happened but isn’t it about time that we start looking at ALL the reasons these poor children believe the only way to solve their problems is death. Is our culture now glamorizing gay teen suicide is some sort of must do act?

  26. kodiak says

    I was bullied as a pre-teen and it was terrible and so confusing to me. It started because my best friend was being bullied, and I stood with him on the playground, I remember walking with my arm around his shoulder. We ignored the words, dodged the rocks thrown at us. When we went back to class, we were separated and that was when I was attacked and fought back. We went before the principal, parents were called in and the whole thing died and went away thank god. But I remember how I felt as if I was at fault, that I couldn’t explain why we/I were being attacked, or what the problem’s source was. My parents asked me questions but I was embarrassed by the whole situation and couldn’t explain it anyway. They were just bullies, and they were mean, and we became victims uselessly trying to find a reason for their attacks on us. There was no reason. This we could not explain to the authorities, and because of this inability to explain, became implicated in our own victimization. But, me and my friend had each other, a peer. Who did this kid have? And it went on for years! My situation was a couple weeks. I can’t imagine how this poor kid put up with it so long! Terrible!

  27. just_a_guy says

    KMS is correct. I’m for funding lgbt high school and middle school kids’ martial arts programs. A scholarship kinda thing.

    Am I the only run of the mill lgbta-er who’d quickly get behind regular checks to a program like that? I suspect not.

    It doesn’t get better. And Trever Project is only a band-aid. We need to teach our kids to be TOUGH, TRULY, PHYSICALLY TOUGH. Martial arts programs, baby.

    And, yes we should ALSO…
    –sue baby, sue. There should be attorneys finding a cause of action in this case, or new ones if there’s any doubt on existing ones.

    –I’m thinkin Jason’s correct, that going to the police is in order sooner. It’s not harsh.

    This is real life, folks. We’ve GOT to have our kids fighting back.

    No more sitting by the sidelines and LYING that it just gets better.

  28. TJ says

    An eye for an eye leaves the whole word blind. Pragmatically, the best defense is a good right hook. But where is the civility, the morality, in saying that kids should fight fire with fire? What happens to the little, scrawny kid who can’t fight off one, let alone a group of bullies?

    Trust me. I fought back at the group of boys who overpowered me and sexually assaulted me when I was a scrawny little 13 year old. It may have stopped them from doing more than they did, but what they got away with was more than enough. And that would be my point. Unless the person bullied evens the score, the bullies get away with it, and live to bully another day. Might makes right. And that is just plain wrong.

    Someone, something, more powerful than the bullies needs to put them in their place. Maybe a huge, successful lawsuit would prompt the powers that be to no longer tolerate the disgusting “right of passage” or “right of religion” (or whatever lame excuse such bullying gets justified as) that has lead so many to feel so hopeless. Maybe reporting it to police (yeah, that works; ask anyone in a domestic violence situation who has had an order of protection violated how helpful the police can be, or not be). I don’t have a ready answer. But as a society that claims to be civilized, we owe our children a lot more than ” tough it out” as a solution.

  29. Divo21 says

    Well you have to use your head. If it means fighting a whole gang of bullies then yeah skip it. But if it’s just some a hole with a bug mouth , then take all that built up anger and do something with it. We do not live in an ideal world. And in the world of rural social conservatism defending yourself acheives the same effect as lawyers but a lit cheaper. And ultimately longer lasting.

  30. jomicur says

    The only suggestion Towleroad can think of is to drop off some flyers? Really? I’d be the last one to gainsay the Trevor Project, but honestly, now, that’s hardly the only resource we have. How about suggesting that parents get in touch with the ACLU or Lambda Legal? Would it be so much of a stretch to recommend that? School administrators are cowards–time-serving bureaucrats whose primary interest is covering their won asses. The threat of a lawsuit will get them to move in a way Trevor Project literature never could.

  31. says

    Whenever I read something like this I get so frustrated and angry, I also feel totally helpless to do anything. I mean – yeah you can support LGBT groups in your neighborhood (and I have) but it just doesn’t seem like it’s doing enough – or at least not doing enough quickly enough.

  32. George M says

    Just A Guy
    It never got better for you? Even today?
    I’m sure the hell not going to tell kids that.
    I’m all for fighting back but the school won’t change until you drive them to their knees. Exposé their failures, use names and sue the town. Nothing gets people’s attention like raising taxes to cover a schools unwillingness to protect everyone

  33. greg says

    Why are we even bothering to talk to teachers and principals?


    What takes place in a classroom in these instances would be an ARRESTABLE MISDEMEANOR if it happened in a supermarket, movie theater, or restaurant to anyone else.

    Get a police report number, and a court date, and PURSUE THE CHARGES.

  34. Divo21 says

    TJ: Not true. Anyway the point is not “to win” but rather to slow your peers that you Will do something about it. Kids these days have grown up in a culture that fetishizes victimization . 12 years i
    Of boo hooing about 911 taught them that. Ask someone from the War generations or further back , the Dustbowl and ask them if they ever expected the same sympathy. We must teach young people that they have an obligation to be active members in society. If we continue to baby teenagers they will grow up with unrealistic expectations of life.

  35. david says

    Why are so many gay teens today so weak? They have life much easier than than the older gay generations. Gay teens today don’t have to worry about dying from HIV, they have all the information of the internet at their fingertips, and have equal rights in many jurisdictions. I feel too many of them have unreasonable expectations.

  36. David C. Jones says

    Gay teens don’t need to hear about gay suicide on news site.

    Lady Gaga tells them about it – the schools post pictures – two different rock bands recently did songs that featured pictures and names of gay suicides. And facebook regularly lights up when another kid murders himself.

    Just so you know. I work with gay youth – they hear about it constantly.

  37. Brandon K. Thorp says


    Thanks for reading. My suggestion wasn’t addressed to Mr. Parker’s parents. I’m not sure what good The Trevor Project might do for them at this point.

    – BKT

  38. TJ says

    DIVO 12 – “Babying teenagers?” Really? Culture that “fetishizes” victimization? Seriously? What kind of world do you want to live in? A dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest one? Or one where reason, compassion, and justice are more valued and important than who carries the biggest stick? Having power does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with deserving it, or having the moral integrity to use it wisely. That is why civilizied societies are based on rules, and the best rules are those that are fair and reasonable. We live in a country that is based on the premise that all people are created equal – no one is better than another, or more or less deserving of justice. Realistically, we fall way short of the ideal. But it doesn’t mean we have to accept the way things are.

    Like many people, you blame the victim for not fighting hard enough, for accepting “poor me” as an excuse. Besides the judgment and lack of empathy, you show ignorance about the factors that contribute to not fighting back that are visceral and real and in the moment, but also are learned behavior. It would be great if all our gay youth were Karate Kids. But that just solves the conflict at hand. Imagine if people of color had been encouraged to fight lynchings with lynchings. Imagine if disagreeing about which is the right religion gets settled by warfare – oops, you don’t have to imagine that.

  39. just_a_guy says

    @George M.: What is better? Better is changing the world. We haven’t done enough to do that. We need to FIGHT to get THAT.

    Yeah, ok, I have some personal space to be myself that I didn’t feel I had when I was a closeted or gay-confused-but-not-exploring kid in high school. But it’s not like things are home-free and the world I live in as an lgbt adult is a cake-walk in which I don’t see CONSTANT anti-lgbt bias controlling TOO MUCH of the world around me.

    I think getting these kids ready to TRULY protect themselves is underrated by y’all bc you never learned or gained much from self-defense yourself. There’s a lot of personal strength and self-knowledge you can learn in martial arts classes.

    YES, I’m fully behind taking this to the courts. But at a cultural level, why the h*** shouldn’t we consider EMPOWERING our kids PERSONALLY, one-by-one, through self-defense and preparation IN CASE hand-to-hand combat is needed to protect themselves; obvi, IMPLICIT in good martial arts training is that you don’t go around attacking and you don’t try to trigger fights.

    Imagine a 14 yo kid like this coming out, facing challenges, and then in response signing up for a martial arts program in his home town, funded by lgbta adults who want to give him an actual REAL tool to empower himself, physically, mentally, AND spiritually.

    Trevor project DOES NOT DO THAT. Trevor project in my mind says, hey, kids, wait until you are ENTIRELY hopeless, and then we’ll have someone LISTEN to you a little bit, even though we won’t actually be able to change your situation. That’s TOO LITTLE and TOO LATE. Sorry, but am I wrong?

    “It’s get better” says the world is fine as it is. Shut your trap and deal with it, that’s what we did. That’s bullsh** in part bc I truly believe anti-gay bullying is WORSE than it was when most of us were in middle and high school. “That’s so gay” as a CONSTANT insult wasn’t around when I was that age, was it when YOU were, y’all? What’s more, the strides we as a community HAVE made have simply set the stage for these kids to COME OUT and FACE THE HATERS sooner. But WHAT have we done to TRULY empower them when they do that?? We need to get our kids TOUGHER. Thousands of Out and PREPARED martial-arts-equipped-and-responsible lgbt middle schoolers and high-schoolers would change that!! Do you really think I’m wrong?!

    Further, just as these kids are coming out early, some of them are entering their teen years arguably more alienated from their straight surroundings than ever, right? So rather than have them seek un-helpful solace in, say, the drug scene or promiscous contact…why not ACTIVELY encourage them to look within themselves, SEE THEIR OWN STRENGTH, and understand and take pride in the physical ability they DO have.

    If a kid, say, is openly gay and thinks of himself as scrawny or weak, living in physical fear of bullies, that only reinforces my point, no? If we empower him, get him into a martial arts program, he learns to value and respect the body, strengths, and skills he DOES have. As he improves through self-patience, there’s a self-acceptance and self-value that creeps in. He doesn’t NEED so much approval from his parents, his peers, etc. He has more internal strength, and values himself SIMPLY for being a human, developing his physical skill set at the same time. IT’S PERFECT. And perfect PRECISELY because developing such physical prowess as a newly openly-gay kid is EXACTLY what the bullies around him are likely to assert he is incapable of. HE CAN DO IT. Give him a chance; TELL him he can and give him a little boost.

    Plus, most martial arts programs that I know about — even in small nowhere towns– ALREADY HAVE A SKILL SET in taking kids who are maybe disadvantaged, building them up from wherever they are at, finding their own spiritual wholeness through practice, persistence, self-respect, and self-protection.

    BONUS: These kids enroll and develop this strength BEFORE they are hopeless enough that they might call the “Trevor Project.” THERE WOULD BE LESS OF A NEED FOR THE TREVOR PROJECT, thank God.

    Double BONUS: These empowered kids would be more ready to take on their parents, peers, and others and ask for and get respect, through their performance, even out-performance in ANY endeavor, whether in the classroom, the playing field, or otherwise.

    Martial arts for lgbt kids across America. Brilliant, KMS. Thank you KMS. LOVE it. Now how do we make it happen??

    P.S. WHy no coverage of the 49ers loss tonight? So f***ing close. And against an NYC team. Surely there is some relevance to such things with all the NYC & SF men who follow this blog.

  40. Rich says

    I’m old enough to remember the Vietnamese monks and nuns who set themselves on fire to protest a horrendous war that was tearing their country apart. No one accused them of cowardice or victimhood: they made a powerful statement that carried altruism to its extreme.

    Perhaps we are misguided in treating these young suicides as defective and victims and instead honor them as heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war against bigotry. And it is for us, the living, to see that their sacrifice was not in vain.

  41. TJ says

    RICH – I don’t want monks to set themselves on fire, or kids to off themselves, for us to pay attention. That romanticizes, makes martyrs, out of dead human beings. And as long as it is “one of them,” not “one of us,” I don’t know that he bullies will ever get it. One death is too many. It’s past time for the true barbarians to become civilized on their timeline and by ther moral code. Laws, leadership, and consequences are needed.

  42. TJ says

    JUST A GUY – I appreciate your passion as well as your premise. Building real esteem through efficacy is powerful, and important. Absolutely, learning how to defend oneself, and he confidence and calm that instills, is priceless and empowering. And it is imminently practical. So is informing young women to not walk home from the bars alone, or leave one’s drink unattended, or leave the doors unlocked. But ultimately, the blame and responsibility lies with the rapist as well as the bully. A culture and society that respects and enforces that “no means no” has more power than one person fighting Samson on his own. By all means, fight back, if you can, in the moment. But our power as a group, one that says that the discrimination and hate against individuals must stop, can change the future. Not just for individuals, but for everyone.

  43. Jamie says

    I am Phillip’s Aunt and feel the need to make a couple points. Someone asked why didn’t my brother and sister-in-law take Phillip out of school and home school him. Easy answer: not everyone is equipped mentally to handle teaching. You can’t teach what you don’t know to put it nicely.

    You think every instance of bullying is the same? No, it’s not. There are levels. I am a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white girl and where I grew up I was the minority. In elementary and middle school I was bullied so bad I went home crying almost everyday. I was pushed off my bike and broke my hand in elementary. Luckily I had a principal who cared and made it his mission to make it stop. The same could not be said for middle school. If not for seeing a therapist weekly after a failed suicide attempt in 5th grade, I would not be here. That was over 20 years ago before kids killing themselves was commonplace. So to those of you who say Phillip did it because others did, I call bull. You have to have been the victim badly enough to have been in that place.

    My side of the family came into Phillip’s life late, too late it seems. My mom and daughter just got the chance to know him this summer. We told him from the get-go we accepted him no matter what. We loved him unconditionally. When we first met him he denied being gay and it was only after us assuring him it made no difference he finally admitted it. We are devastated, my 12 year old daughter more than anyone. She had a special kinship with him. They bonded faster than anyone I had ever seen. Unfortunately my husband is in the military and we are in Washington and unable to make his funeral. I think that is what hurts her the most.

    People need to wake up and realize, as tired as the saying is: live and let live. Phillip did nothing to hurt anyone by being who he was: a gay teenage boy. Why did anyone feel this was such a threat?

  44. jamal49 says

    Sigh. So very, very sad. Violence against bullies, their parents, their enablers et al is the only solution. Send a literal, hard-hitting message: mess with our kids and you are going to get your ass kicked and/or your face smashed. Seems to be the only thing they will ever understand.

  45. Chaq says

    This is so unbearably sad.
    Being at the stage of contemplating and/or planning suicide (I believe the term is “suicide ideation”), is the most horrific, frightening, and confusing mental state, and *emotional state*, a person can be in. This has been my own experience, anyway.
    When you are ready to go, “Living”, as a concept, seems totally removed as an option for oneself – “life” holds no joy, love or potential.
    “Dying” is guaranteed to remove one’s pain – in entirety.
    THAT is how it feels when you are ready to take your own life.
    And that’s where the biggest challenge lies, a challenge that doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors, policy makers, communities, and the friends, families and partners of suicidal people are facing. Because with all the strength a human can attain, it can be all too fragile when our spirit (or heart) is broken. That is why people from every single walk of life, anywhere on the scale of “weak” to “strong”, can succumb to suicide.
    And it is this mental, emotional and spiritual suffering that is the very crux of the “suicide problem”. NOTHING can change rates of suicide, and the reasons for it, until we truly understand, and can completely modify (in a positive way), the “crux” I have just mentioned.

    Anyway, it is right now that I am trying to reassure myself that Phillip Parker is safe and loved, beyond our greatest imaginations and hopes, in the arms of our God. Bless you, beautiful boy ✞

  46. George M says

    Just A Guy
    I never said don’t learn self defense, I think we all should know some, hell as an adult I have a gun. Not recommending to kids or all adults

    My point was and you can disagree all you want it’s better now then it was years ago for gay people in this county. We have Some much more to do I agree but I’d rather be gay in 2012 then 1960.

    My other point was the only way to change the school / administration (most of the time) is through the court. States and towns in conservitive area don’t want to change. We need to stop asking people and towns to accept us, we need to force them and let them deal with it. No more mister nice gay. So I get your point and I agree but even with self defense we need the courts.

  47. TJ says

    JAMIE: My heart breaks for you and your family. I’m sure that your daughter is getting all the extra love and attention she needs from you, because you understand pain and sorrow all too well. Live and let live is absolutely the point. Those that don’t deserve the harshest punishment possible, which is why, as a society, we must insist that bullying no longer be tolerated. It is not a rite of passage or kids being kids or a right of religion. It is an assault. And it is wrong.

  48. CARLOS says

    This is in honor of Phillip Parker. What a world we live in. I KNOW my video is long… But its HONEST. Though I speak a lot, its hardly ever this broadly public, but we all must speak up somehow. I hope at least 1 person changes they way they see things. This has broken my heart.

  49. Kyle Michel Sullivan says

    I say offer classes taught by Martial Arts volunteers who’re willing to help gay kids learn how to defend themselves. And broadcast it in such a way as to point out we’re doing this because the so-called adults running the schools and our system of justice won’t. Embarrass those who’d ignore the problem or blow it off. The self-confidence that comes from knowing you can protect yourself will go a hell of a lot farther towards ending gay teen suicides than messages by Hallmark. AND…it will give these kids proof positive that someone does care enough to help make it get better.

    And much as I’d like to take credit for the idea, this is just another version of what women were learning back in the 80s and 90s — self defense against jerks who would attack them.

  50. says

    i am tearing up over this because i was this kid when i was his age 30 years ago – i always felt as he told his grandmother that i had a rock on my chest and needed it taken off so i could breathe – constant terrifying anxiety and fear over the bullying and nothing was ever done – it affected my whole life and still does to this day – i am so sorry this poor kid had to take his life and I hope the kids who bullied him are affected by this to the point they change and now live their lives for Phillip in making change in others.

  51. Jerry6 says

    When are School Officials who ignore Bullying going to be held Legally Complicient to a Suicide and go to Jail for not doing anything to stop the Bullies. And how about holding the Bullies responsible for the deaths with a life sentence.

  52. Elizabeth Barnum says

    You know, people really need to stop being so cruel, I was in his class this year and most of years, he was my best freind, I loved him, I miss him, I wish he was here. People don’t understand what bullies are doing… if they did, I wonder if they would stop… would they? Probably not.

  53. Rin says

    I have a kid thing… so it takes me awhile to pull my thoughts together.

    Children should be protected until they can fend for themselves. That means that parents have to step up and be prepared to be hated by their child if that’s what it takes to protect them.

    No Facebook.
    No Twitter.
    Time doing physical, outdoor things.
    Hugs even if they shove you away.
    And (this will sound ghetto) going to jail because you just beat the ass of a group of underage punks.

    This crap breaks my heart. :( I came on this site, I support gay and lesbian issues not only because of the number of gay and lesbian friends that I have, but also…because I have a suspicion (not confirmed) that my oldest daughter may grow up to be a friend of Ellens.

    While I may be idealistically liberal in some ways, I am pragmatically conservative in many aspects.

    Part of the problem of modern children and teens is that they are given adult problems and adult decisions way too early. We don’t let them play, we don’t let them be silly…they are pounded with homework until they are so stressed that they are already at the breaking point, handing every electronic gizmo in the world so they never quite escape the school environment, put in schools where values like integrity, ethics, kindness, and compassion are not taught, and they burdened with expectations of how to look, talk, dress, etc.

    Kids today are far more stressed than we were at their age. Bullies have always existed and they have always been cruel. Only now there is no escape from them and their taunts are already sitting on so much scholastic and societal pressure that its no wonder they blow.

    Where is the escape? On Glee? What high school is that “nice”? With Lady Gaga? You can’t even understand her half the time so getting mixed messages about being a little monster…well, there’s no release in that, either.

    Kids need to be allowed to be kids…and they aren’t. They have to be girls, boys, rich, poor, gay, straight, smart, stupid, pretty, ugly…they are thrust into a world of stupid, idiotic labels.

    Okay…I have no idea where I’m going with any of this. I’m just upset.

  54. Elizabeth Barnum says

    Why do you guys keep saying, gay teen? Why don’t you say Phillip, because that is him that is Phillip end of story… And also, sue the school? What for? We don’t need to say anything about the school. We need to say someting about the bullies…

  55. jack says

    People should get the message out to any would be gay teen suicides that a month after you are dead nobody will remember your name. If you want to give up your life for a short story on the evening news thats your decision. The rest of us will go on living our lives.

  56. noah harris says

    you know i will always miss my cousin . I always will remember him as one of the nicest kids that I or anyone for that matter had the privilege to meet in his way to short life. I believe that if he had told me i would have tried to stop it. R.I.P Phillip Parker January 20th, 2012 way to soon. I will always love and miss you,
    Love always,

  57. noah harris says

    I am so sorry i am late to tell yall about this I just started thinking about him because i am about to be the same age as him and my birthday and the anniversary of his death are in a couple of months and they are only ten days apart.
    Phillip I wish it could be me instead of you I just want to see that beautiful smile and give you one last hug I also blame myself for all the times i wasn’t there because either i was too young or because i didnt go to your school yet.
    I will always think of him as the little kid that me and my brother played pokemon with, watched movies, and jumped on that trampoline that grampa paul always had.
    Grampa paul has had the hardest time adjusting since you left. he took down the swing set one day last year because he said it always reminded him of you and made him sad. Our whole family misses you especially grampa paul i think your death has had a big impact on his life.

    f if i ever think about you i will come to thiswebsite and write to you.

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