Bullied Gay Michigan Teen Commits Suicide

Josh Pacheco, a high school junior from Fenton, Michigan, committed suicide on November 27. His parents, Lynnette and Michael Capeheart, believe anti-gay bullying is to blame MLive reports:

PachecoHe told his mother he was gay just two months ago, but Capehart said she wasn't surprised and she said it made no difference to her. She loved her son just the same…

…Lynnette and stepfather Michael Capehart said they didn't know until recently that Pacheco was bullied.

Capehart said her first indication that there was a problem came after the homecoming dance on Oct. 6. She was out of town, so she called to see how the dance was. It was the only one he attended this fall.  Pacheco was upset and crying, but wouldn’t tell her why, Capehart said.

After his death, she found out from students that her son had been pushed into lockers and teased at school. It wasn’t surprising that he didn’t tell many people about it, Lynnette Capehart said, because Pacheco never wanted to make anyone else upset.

Pacheco's depression worsened and his parents made an appointment for him to see a counselor, but it was apparently too late:

Around lunch time on Nov. 27, Michael Capehart saw Josh's Facebook status, quoting a line from Bilbo Baggins, a character in the "Lord of the Rings" movies: "I regret to announce that this is the end. I'm going now, I bid you all a very fond farewell. Goodbye."

It immediately worried Michael Capehart. Pacheco was home sick that day, so Capehart called his neighbor to check on Pacheco. He was found unresponsive in his truck, which had been running in the closed-up garage.

He left a note in the truck: "I'm sorry I wasn't able to be strong enough."

Pacheco's parents heard more tales of bullying after his death, but school officials say none was ever reported. School officials have accelerated plans for an anti-bullying hotline.

Comments

  1. Brian says

    I wonder what the actual tipping point in human tragedy will have to be for this to eventually stop and for real progress at local/state/federal levels to stop the senseless deaths of our children.

  2. Fenrox says

    Hmmm, I wonder if there is a better way to reach these kids than it gets better. I wonder if in their addled minds, the message of several older gays “succeeding” later in life just adds to their depression.

    I wonder if the message would be better suited to the parents. It is becoming a legitimate thing to talk to your kids about suicide. These parents got on the ball too late and probably didn’t have the tools to address a suicidal teen.

    Next time I donate to the it gets better project I am going to suggest an earmark for parental resources.

  3. Stephen says

    You can’t tell me school staff did not know this was going on. They know EVERYTHING. Nothing is sacred in schools….gossip gets around quickly. They just chose to DO nothing.

  4. Stephen says

    You can’t tell me school staff did not know this was going on. They know EVERYTHING. Nothing is sacred in schools….gossip gets around quickly. They just chose to DO nothing.

  5. says

    FENROX —
    yes there is and its called Equalize Youth. We’re starting a netroots movement, connecting each of our stories, coping mechanisms, and mere existence… to our schools and communities, on a map interface.

  6. Sam says

    As someone who was bullied throughout school, I feel confident in saying there is no way that school administrators and teachers had no idea the bullying as happening. However, if they were somehow completly unaware of what was gonig on, then that raises the question of where in the hell they are during the day and who is monitoring the students.

  7. says

    michigan. right. the state where republicans gutted the safe-schools anti-bullying policies in order to allow “Christian kids” the freedom to hate on their gay classmates, for religious reasons.

    we hear stories like this all too often – the picked on kid who is ashamed and embarrassed to admit to their family that they’re the target of hatred. and who can blame them? we keep seeing school officials and politicians side with the bullies!

    we’ve lost another brother.

    there are ways, however, to send specific and applicable messages of not just hope, but directions to improve one’s life.
    you need not just say “hey, it gets better”

    you can make a video and show, specifically, how one can make life better NOW not just for themselves, but for their friends and family members.

    i encourage any and all to do just that.

  8. Fenrox says

    @Derek, I like that sit , thanks for the info. I would still like a link at the top that says “Parents” where parents can watch videos of how to have that frank talk with your kid about the pressures of suicide.

  9. OddBet says

    Michigan is not “a hate state and proud of it.” Like most states in the union, it’s a mix of equality minded progressives and bigots. Holding an entire state accountable for the actions of a few is incredibly stupid.

  10. Patriot says

    Guys! Guys! Guys! DO NOT kill yourself! KILL THE BULLY INSTEAD! After a few of those hit the news, people will stop bullying. It’s the old Mafia tactic; it DOES work. If you think you might DIE if you do something, you generally won’t do it. DEAD BULLIES DON’T BULLY!

  11. ATLJason says

    I was reading this story in just a “casually-browsing-Towleroad” manner until I got to the part about him leaving a note that said “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be strong enough.” That literally knocked the wind out of me. If that doesn’t make you choke up a little bit, I’m not sure what will.

  12. Bryan says

    This makes me so sad. My heart breaks for his parents and friends. He looks like such a sweet kid. I look at that picture and see a bright future filled with so much joy…I hate that he couldn’t see that too. I wish I knew the answer to all of this. I don’t want to read one more story like this.

  13. Caliban says

    I’m so tired of reading stories like this and reading that his note read “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be strong enough” makes me want to scream and cry. And go bully-hunting.

    I know it’s wrong, blaming the victim, but these stories also make me want to shake the kid and demand to know why. Why couldn’t they hold on for just a little while longer?

    F*ck!

  14. says

    I don’t want to blame the parents, BUT this is the issue now with gay kids and accepting parents. Accepting is great, but do not assume that just because you accept and support your kids everything will be fine.

    The moment you find your kid is gay (or even well before), educate yourselves about issues affecting gay kids. Actively work with the school to make it a safer place. Do not assume the world is gay-friendly!!!! It isn’t!

  15. says

    I think this, more than anything else, should be galvanizing TEACHERS to Come Out. we all know our straight teachers. with gay teachers it’s almost always speculation.

    confirm it. COME OUT. show your students that they too can live upstanding open and honest lives.

  16. OddBet says

    Disgusted American, I lived in Michigan up until 2006; I do not need to look up anything. The US still has DOMA and has yet to pass ENDA. Does that mean it is a hate country and a plague of bigotry, or that there are competing forces of pro-equality and anti-equality?

    It’s called progress, and it certainly isn’t advanced by ignorant people attempting to turn a tragedy into an insulting indictment against the entire population of a state.

  17. says

    oddbet, yes and no. let’s be real – the michigan GOP have stood in the way of anti-gay bullying ordinances.

    they’re the reason michigan’s anti-bullying policies explicitly allow kids to bully gay classmates as long as they have a religious reason.

    its’ not the entire populatoin, of course. just the entire GOP-voting part.

  18. R says

    “but none was ever reported.”

    Hmmm…. maybe because many of these schools don’t… you know… create an atmosphere conducive to reporting them!

    Back when I went to school, it was the victims who got in trouble or were singled out. I remember being bullied during a study period in the 8th grade by 3 other students, harassing me all period, and suddenly the teacher yelled at me — when i was clearly the one being bullied — to leave class.

    I was outraged, humiliated (the whole class laughed) and unbelievably hurt. I asked the teacher why she took me out of class, instead of the others, and she said it was ‘to get me out of that situation.’ She could have removed the BULLIES to end that situation, instead.

    There are countless examples of situations like that, in districts across the country. It results in “bullies not being reported” every day, and it results in students who are bullied not feeling safe at school.

    At the end of the day, it isn’t just the responsibility of students to report bullying… it’s the responsibility of teachers and administrators to keep an eye out for acts of bullying, to call it out and to create a safe space for school for everyone. Period.

    I simply don’t believe — for a second — that there weren’t at least some teachers or administrators who saw this latest victim at some point and was concerned over bullying. Until those teachers and administrators are forced to do something about even the hint or suspicion of bullying, in every school, students who are victims won’t be safe.

  19. Jellybean says

    I don’t understand all the suicides. The parents almost always know and support them. When I was a kid in school I was bullied (many years ago-because I’m very old), but if I could have told my parents I was gay (different word then) I would have done some bulling of my own. But I was always the nice polite little queer. My parents never did know for sure that I was gay.

  20. Francis says

    I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be strong enough. That single comment encapsulates so much. That comment takes my breath away. It makes me want to cry. That really speaks to the fact LGBTQ teens are being DESTROYED. It’s one thing to be bullied. It’s another thing to be targeted for destruction and have absolutely no outlet you feel comfortable with to speak out against what’s happening to you.

    Essentially all the suicides have been happening in conservative areas. Rural areas. Suburban towns. There is a reason for that. Not only are these areas generally more ignorant in regards to their views on homosexuality, but LGBTQ teens have no voice, no power whatsoever, and no real groundswell of support. There is no community for them to go to. And they’re not comfortable. They stick out like sore thumbs. They aren’t comfortable being out. The toxic society they live in harms their sense of self. Which leads to depression and these teens becoming withdrawn. Which leads to suicide.

    Parents HAVE TO KNOW if their child is becoming more withdrawn in their nature that something is usually wrong, often times very wrong, and to step in immediately. Especially if you’re child is gay. Even if your child doesn’t want to talk about his/her issues, parents have to take action. They have to be aggressive and go the extra mile and more to protect and save their children.

    I honestly don’t expect to see these incidents of suicide and anti-gay bullying end easily or quickly. That’s the reality. Suburban Michigan is NOT going to be gay-friendly just because we want it to. So what needs to happen are LGBT adults in these communities and countrywide are going to have to go to bat for these children. And if that means building queer-centric schools, if that means lawsuits, if that means demanding anti-bullying centers at schools, and if that means demanding Straight-Gay Alliances and Queer studies, then that’s what we have to do.

    That’s what people in these COMMUNITIES who are gay and gay accepting have to do. THEY are the ones who are going to have to come out, be heard and be counted. They’re scared and generally living discreet lives because they know the homophobic mentality around them is so strong, but the only way it’s going to change is if they fight it.

  21. says

    what struck me about his “i’m sorry i wast’ strong enough” was that he was Out. to his family. as a high school junior. there are grown adults reading this right now who are still not out to their own family members.

    this kid was stronger than he thought. i just wish he’d known it.

  22. says

    the other sad fact – parents need to know when their kid is A BULLY.

    and when it comes to anti-gay kids, the parents often don’t care. they’d rather an anti-gay kid than a gay one. sad ugly truth.

  23. Francis says

    Michigan outside of Ann Arbor and Ferndale and a couple other communities within cities is not a gay-friendly state, and it’s laws are not gay-friendly either, so thus, it’s not a surprise there are countless anti-gay stories coming from the state. That’s the reality. The thing is, that there is NO state in the United States that is unconditionally pro-gay. And we are discriminated against on every single level in society. And that has a tremendous affect in how society sees us and why these suicides, why hate crimes, still exist.

    Why not bully us when the US Government basically tells society every single day we’re lesser humans? In select cities that may not be an issue as there is as comprehensive LGBT rights and overall social acceptance, but Fenton, Michigan ain’t New York City.

    Instead of trashing these states and conservative towns and communities and writing them off as flyover states, we need to focus on protecting our LGBTQ youth in these areas and giving them some hope and a face to their struggles, their lives, their love interests. They need us. We need to reach out to them instead of fighting on a message board.

  24. Francis says

    So true on both accounts, Kiwi. In fact, Jordan was stronger than a LARGE portion of adult gays who live in these conservative towns. Heck, he’s stronger than most gays in general since most gay people aren’t fully out. Where are they to support these kids? Where are they to do their part to change the culture? Nowhere to be found.

    The schools need to actually do something about the bullying but they won’t do s**t, as they are more concerned about lawsuits than the lives of their youth—-especially if they’re gay. These problems are way deeper than just bullying. It’s a cultural issue. Jordan’s support from parents doesn’t change the fact that outside of the home, even on the web, teens in his situation are still under duress no-one should have to face solely for who they are.

  25. Yupp says

    Why do cases like this always bring all the “experts” here, posting on how to prevent suicide, without knowing anything about this kid, the family, the situation, their physical and mental health, finances, etc. You all think you’re Martin Buber or something ? What did you survive in life that makes you such sages about ANYTHING ?

  26. Francis says

    Kisses, Kiwi, you’re amazing and you know I adore you. This really pisses me off more than anything else, though, which I am sure you understand. I’m half crying and half angry, because these children are being so obviously failed, the ways to fix these issues are so obvious, and then people want to get on soapboxes and blame the victim or argue pointlessly. Put all that to the side. Put the ego to the side. Kids are dying. We can do something to fix that.

    If you’re not involved with the Trevor Project, a local LGBTQ community group/homeless shelter/etc. then you have nothing to say here. You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. And now it’s clearly time to, as I said, not dismiss these conservative states and towns, and start demanding action, and that would be LGBTQ groups in these communities, in the country, and LGBTQ groups/people in states where gay acceptance/rights are less of a pressing issue.

  27. says

    i hear ya, francis. i’ve taken part in city council meetings and discussion over LGBT-inclusive curriculum, and we always get those failures of parents who show up to say “i dont’ want my children learning about gay people!” and whenever others point out that their kids are not only likely to become anti-gay bullies but could very well be GAY THEMSELVES, they stare at us blankly like they don’t understand such a concept.

    they don’t want kids to learn about LGBT equality. inclusivity. understanding. and are utterly unaware that no matter how bigoted they are, and how bigoted they try to raise their kids to be, it will not prevent their own children from being gay.

    they fight and fight and fight to make life harder for young people. it’s galling.

    what michigan republicans did to the anti-gay bullying school policies is an affront to human rights and dignity.

  28. says

    When I read this I cried for another young soul who could not make it.
    All of us have made this ‘coming out’, this rite of passage in some way; many are damaged beyond repair, some are thrown into the depths of self doubt; others seek affirmation in religion; and then there are those of us ( of whom I am one )incandescent with rage at being treated unequally.

    But I think and believe that none of us have grown up with the respect and regard of our fellow citizens to which we are entitled. Whether by way of bullying, denigration in public or in employment, we have been regarded as a target, fair game, for harassment in the Scouts, in Football, we have been singled out by religious leaders and by extreme right wing fascists…..
    The truth is that bullying is another manifestation of the State and Religion sponsored malice that has followed us, whether in the $hit hole of Uganda or the pretentious Nazi- Vatican. Bullying does not stand alone; it stands with the small terrified little weasels of the Family Association and like minded bigots.

    My God, we have such a mountain of an iceberg to climb !!!……and we are no where near conquering this malevolent sickness, whether called bullying or malice or bigotry or discrimination.

    My whole sympathy to the parents and friends of this boy…..we are all diminished .
    (Too many tears to even re-read this.)

  29. Francis says

    Michigan has an anti-gay adoption bill in circulation, potentially to be passed.

    Michigan gutted gay protections from the anti-bullying bull and included a clause protecting religious bigotry against homosexuality.

    Michigan is the state where they have been SEVERAL anti-gay incidents regarding teachers the past 12-18 months alone. Including an incident just last week.

    Michigan has virtually no state protections for LGBTQ citizens.

    This is the reality. Michigan is an anti-gay state. It’s not the only one. Outside of the West and East coasts and Iowa, basically the entire rest of the country is homophobic on every level to a major extent. Michigan isn’t any different.

    Yupp, Kiwi has bright ideas and is someone who is actually doing something to change hearts and minds. He’s someone doing something productive. Instead of attacking him, start asking yourself are you doing what you need to do, and if not, start doing more.

  30. Yupp says

    Francis : B.S. Kiwi is a trust-fund baby living a coddled life in Canada who changes nobody’s mind on anything. He is bored, boring, and abusive. And he’s jealous of guys who actually move to NYC or L.A. to try to make it without their parents (and parents’ $). Werk !

  31. Yupp says

    Betty : I LOVE Canada. And Canadians. I’m just saying there’s a large percentage of Canadians that have it so good (deservedly) that they shouldn’t be overcommenting on American issues, because they don’t really understand a lot of American factors involved. (Like when people from Vermont try to comment on crime in Atlanta, Georgia).

  32. Francis says

    That was really a profound comment, Jack. Really touching and real.

    No, we aren’t close to ending this battle, but we’re getting closer. As tragic as it sounds, every time something like this occurs, it brings light to the issue of bullying, of suicide, of homophobia. And a discussion of these issues is one of the ways to create change.

    Kiwi, you’re 100% right about the fact that anti-gay parents/school administrators/religious leaders/whatever, they are DETERMINED to ruin our community. As you encountered personally, they are too stupid to realize that kids are gay, that they are born gay, and that their constant attempts to demonize gay sexuality harms their well-being. They are too bigoted to comprehend the fact their extreme homophobia will not turn their children straight if they are born gay. Then you have the Arthur Goldberg’s and Anita Bryant’s who DO have an LGBT child, and they can’t handle it, and become even more hateful. They think we’re corrupted, they think we corrupt children.

    And you’re SO right too Kiwi about how adults care more about “free speech” and misapplying that term, and are more concerned about society being too “PC” and keeping their boys will be boys social abstract intact, then actually protecting children. Which comes down to privilege. It also is arrogance. We should stop trying to change society, because it’s not societies fault you’re a freak. Bullying is a ritual, it makes kids stronger, if your kid can’t handle it, too bad.

    And you know what………..why would they want to see society evolve when the current ignorant society they exist in PROFITS them? They want to keep the little people down, they want to keep anyone “different” down, they want to continue to see people victimized, and they don’t care if kids are involved. These adults are bullies themselves. They don’t care one bit. It’s all about power and it’s all about hate and a complete lack of basic human regard, for human beings.

  33. Yupp says

    Betty : People can comment from wherever they want to, I guess (It’s not my blog). But be prepared to be corrected by those who have hands-on knowledge of certain places. I think that’s fair.

  34. Tarc says

    I’ll also point out that Michigan is NOT a hate state – I’ve lived here as a gay man with my partner of 22 years for all my life. Is the current red government hositle? Yup – ALL republicans are hostile. But we certainly and unequivocally went blue in the federal elections. And we have multiple schools like the University of Michigan and cities like Ann Arbor that are on the cutting edge of gay rights. We are in the midwest, but things are evolving significantly here.

  35. Yupp says

    Betty : I certainly don’t mean ALL Canadians. Many have rough lives, too. Some are in the military, overseas, etc. Anyway.. Kiwi is awful, yes. But so are Americans from Vermont.

  36. Yupp says

    Tarc : I know a long term very happy gay male couple in Michigan too. A HUGE circle of gay friends. Very happy to live there, they are. (They’re in the Detroit suburbs, though, which is way more gay-cool than the Detroit ghetto).

  37. Francis says

    Michigan is an overall anti-gay state. Kiwi put it out there, and it’s true. The government is anti-gay, the laws are anti-gay, the majority of the state is not gay accepting, and the legislative agenda is anti-gay. Michigan is a Democratic state but not a liberal one. Ann-Arbor, Lansing and Ferndale are accepting. Ann-Arbor is one of the most gay cities in the US but that alone doesn’t make Michigan an accepting state. Michigan has severe problems, and honestly it’s offensive to gloss that over or sugar coat the issues, or attack Kiwi for being Canadian because he put it out there. The rest of the country has improving to do as well, and things are worsening in some states, and getting better in others. Things have to get better in Michigan and everywhere. Do what you need to do to save lives.

  38. Yupp says

    Francis : Well, Detroit always makes the yearly top 5 in the FBI’s City Murder rates so it’s not like the state doesn’t have all kinds of problems. But I CAN tell you, for the guys I know there at least, it’s pretty good. But that’s just re. them, I know. It’s a big and varied state.

  39. Yupp says

    And Kiwi shouldn’t be commenting on suicide cases at all since he used to be all over Queerty encouraging those he disagreed with politically to kill themselves because “daddy hates you.” It was a regular thing with him.

  40. Francis says

    Detroit was named the worst city in terms of travel for anyone gay/trans and is one of the worst “notable” cities for LGBT people to live in the United States in terms of culture, laws and general acceptance. I am glad your friends are doing fine though, Yupp. Do they live in Ferndale? Ferndale is a very high-gay populated community, and thus, very gay accepting with a low hate crime rate and crime rate in general. So I’m assuming that’s where they live, because Detroit suburbs are better than the city, but still touch-and-go.

  41. Kit says

    Everybody knows that the anti-gay Christians are behind the hate and harassment of LGBT children in our schools. I hold the anti-gay Christians responsible for the deaths of LGBT children be they kill the children with their ex gay therapy or their teaching their children how to hate LGBT people to the point of killing them. They are to blame and need to be held accountable for the deaths of gay children who are bullied to death for being gay.

  42. andrew says

    @Yupp: Good luck. You are taking on Kiwi and his loyal followers Francis and Betty. Those demagogues don’t like people to disagree with them. Like Benedict XVI and The Donald they THINK they know it all. They are typical authoritarian types.

  43. BETTY says

    @Andrew: are you freaking kidding me?! I couldn’t give a rats butt about Kiwi! But I WILL challenge Yupp’s statement that people cannot comment on a story based on where they live. Following that logic, the only people that should be allowed to comment on this story are those who live in Michigan. I was questioning Yupp’s veiled hostility at Canada, not his obvious beef with Kiwi, most other people on this board and probably all those around him. So give your head a shake.

    As for Kiwi, I mostly skip over his postings. A loyal follower? Yeah, thanks for the biggest laugh I have had all day!

  44. michguy says

    As a Michigan resident, it’s tough to be saddled with such a conservative government. But it is getting better – albeit slowly. First off, the homophobic tea-party mayor of Troy (a neighboring town) was recalled last month, and it was her anti-gay comments that helped secure her fate. Last month the Dems took six seats in the state House from the GOP. The bit about the lame-duck GOP legislature trying to pass a bill so that gays can’t even adopt foster kids… yep, it’s disgusting. So we’re trying to make sure that the clock runs out on the legislature until the new, more moderate group comes in on Jan. 1st. Cautiously optimistic.

  45. andrew says

    The most important thing you can do for a kid that you think is being bullied is to get them into a good Martial Arts school that teaches self defense and physical fitness. All bullies have one thing in common: they want to hurt other people without being hurt themselves. If they know that they may get their a$$ kicked if they bully, they wont. Also the classes will give the young boy or girl more self confidence which they usually lack. Don’t wait for legislative bodies to enact anti bullying laws, empower your kid now!

  46. Mary says

    What else can be said that hasn’t already been said? A suicidal kid apologizing for “not being able to be strong enough?” This makes it extra sad. One thing that puzzles me though, is why with supportive parents he felt unable to go on? He could have transfered to another school if that school refused to deal with the bullying. Not trying to condemn the poor kid, I’m just genuinely puzzled. There was a time in my life that I was so devastated by workplace bullying that I actually picked up the phone to call a suicide hotline. But I had the kind of family where if you ever told anyone you thought you might be suicidal they’d get angry at you for trying to look for sympathy – you’d do better talking to a stranger. It’s hard to know what makes or prevents a person from reaching the breaking point.

    My sympathies for this poor kid’s parents, who will probably always think there was more they could have done.

  47. Spike says

    If you need support, please call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 to speak with a trained volunteer counselor. Each year over 30,000 teens and young adults call the Trevor Lifeline when they need someone to talk to. The Trevor Project is there for you 24/7.

  48. Derek says

    I think that the friends and families of these bullycide victims need to step up and identify the bullies. I am sick of reading these news stories that report that the dead gay kid “was bullied.” The passive voice is used because the identities of these fiends are being concealed. The story passes from the front page and the bullies go on with their lives secure in the knowledge that no one will ever link them with their crimes.

    There are real people who bullied him. They have names. Name them or consider yourself complicit.

  49. Francis says

    Mary, parental support usually isn’t enough. It’s huge, but there needs to be hope in the outside world. And for these kids in conservative areas, they see no hope. All the know in their individual lives is hate. They may have a few friends who support them but they see adults railing against homosexuality or voting for anti-gay ordinances. When the world around you is so disgustingly hateful it makes one feel very vulnerable, insecure, lonely, and depressed. I know because I felt that way when I was younger, so have most of us, I sometimes do still.

    It takes both family and community. Josh’s community failed him completely. Tragedy is the end result.

  50. Francis says

    Actually, I shouldn’t say “usually isn’t”, but often it isn’t enough to have parental support and nothing else, as we have seen many times. Plus the parents are usually straight. The lack of anyone gay to turn to and relate to is another huge reason why these kids feel alone.

    And Derek, you’re very right…………release the names of the kids who caused this and charge them with as severe a legal punishment as possible. That’s one of the most viable deterrents there is at stopping these incidents of terrorism.

  51. andrew says

    Empower these usually shy or timid kids to stand up for themselves. Teach them self defense. Teach them MMA skills. It will increase their self confidence and let the would be bullies know that they just might get hurt if they try anything.

  52. will b says

    Random story from 1988, take out of it what you will. I was brutally bullied exactly once in junior high school, by some high school boys twice my size. My mother pulled up to the coach’s office and demanded to see the boys. She asked the coach why he was allowing this to go on. He said, “Boys will be boys” and that’s when she dragged me, the two boys, and the coach to the principal’s office. She was absolutely unhinged that this was going on and never backed down (or lowered her voice) once. Never had a problem after that, became captain of the tennis team, etc. etc. Parents? TAKE CHARGE. Be PRO-ACTIVE and DEMAND FAIRNESS! To a child, that’s what love is. And it taught me to speak up, to strike first and hit hard if I felt I was being bullied. It pays off every day of my life.

  53. Caliban says

    Someone earlier in the thread had a good idea. We needs to reach out to the PARENTS.

    Based on this article, the Capeharts were good parents. The mother kinda figured her son was gay and when he came out she said “I love you.” Great. Really.

    The problem is after their son came out and they accepted him, they thought they were done. They didn’t think to look deeper into what might be happening in his life, at school, ask if he was “out” at school, if he had friends, if was subject to bullying. *Maybe* if they’d been a little more involved and proactive this could have been avoided. I’m not *blaming* them, because parents don’t really know what they should do, but that there were things they could have done after “accepting” their son was gay.

    These days especially a lot of parents have an idea their kid by be gay. Many parents like the Capeharts have come to peace with it so they’re NOT going to have the TV Movie horrible reaction. But just that isn’t enough. We have to give the parents of gay kids, particularly NEWLY out gay kids, information and resources about what to do AFTER the “we love you” talk.

    Some resources are already out there, but maybe parents don’t think to seek them out or know that they should. There has been a massive effort to promote the Trevor Project for Gay Teens. Why can’t the same thing be done for mykidjustcameout.com or whatever, a central clearing house of info and resources, so that parents KNOW they should seek it out? Promote it until it’s REFLEXIVE for a parents of a gay child to at least check it out, see what they have to offer.

    The gay community can only do so much for individual kids because it’s hard to reach them until they self-identify. Parents are on the front lines so we have to give them the tools they need to help these kids make it.

    Sorry to go on, but this story has haunted me all day.

  54. will b says

    Beautifully put, Caliban. We do need more resources for parents of gay children. I have a theory that we’re at the end of the “backlash” phase of the haters realizing that successful, happy gay people exist. It freaks them out. But I do believe the pendulum is swinging our way. Hopefully?

  55. Klien says

    Michigan is NOT a gay friendly state. I live here. Don’t let the blind patriotism of some from here fool you. This state IS filled with bigotry and it needs to change. Calling people “ignorant” for pointing out FACTUAL observations based on michigan’s lack of pro LGBT legislations is basically aiding MORE anti gay legislations. Time to demand these states living in the 1950s take us and our rights seriously. Let’s start with Michigan.

  56. says

    Mary,

    You have some nerve writing that crap and not mentioning the root of these incidents as if it’s just magically happening out of the blue. It’s HOMOPHOBIA. Vile homophobia from heterosexuals much like yourself. Own up to your bigotry. And your personal stories about things you went through in your life? I honestly couldn’t give two craps. What the heck have you done for LGBT for us to care anything about your past issues? On second though, why are you even on here? Really now.

  57. says

    Here’s the deal:

    gay kids get thrown in an institution where mob mentality reigns supreme. They are in this institution from 8 AM to 3 PM every day. This institution comprised of children is all about gangs and mobs and numbers. In many of these towns, you have one lonesome, scared, emotionally drained gay child against….50? 100? sometimes the entire student body. Very rarely at that age do you have friends of your stick their neck out to ALSO be bullied just so they can defend you. So in a nutshell, in this institution you walk into, it’s a lions den of daily berating. You against many. That’s what it feels like for these gay kids, and I don’t think their experience from their perspective is talked about enough. Some of these proposed “take a kickboxing class” cliche answers are completely missing the daily reality of the gay teenage experience. It really is.

  58. Dynex says

    Amir,

    I fully agree. Some people are either ignorant to what brutality many gay kids face in their schools, or had a very different experience. I lived it as well. This idea of taking self defense classes and using it at your bully are somewhat laughable. Which bully? you think there’s one? You think there’s a dozen? You don’t think those dozen bullies would eagerly love to work together and attack you at the same time if you attempted to fight even one of them. They’d do it in a heart beat. And no martial arts class can save a 13 year old from beating twelve guys at the same time.

    That’s not the answer. Being defenseless is not a solution either. Most definetely empower yourself, be it physically or mentallly, the whole goal is to punish the bullies first. That requires involvement of parents, school officials and teachers. Not one gay teenage child vs. thirty bullies.

  59. Greg Cali says

    Amir: Amen! someone said it. Whenever these tragic suicide stories come up, we get a sea of scenarios the victim should have done in order to avoid it. Without much rational thought as to how incredibly lonely and defenseless you feel walking into a huge school where you are ridiculed by many a peers. Not a few. It’s demoralizing to everyone, but tackling each bully requires your entire undivided attention go to mapping out what you’ll do each day to survive, or fight, or win. No child should have to go through that. No human ADULT could survive that every day. Much less get good grades, much less get any education.
    It’s not the full or even partial responsibility of the gay bullied victim to change the entire matters. It’s the adults and school who have that responsibility. We send our children to school to learn, not be punished and harassed.

  60. millerbeach says

    I only wish I could have been there for him. I think that each time I read one of these stories…if only I could have been there for them. I’m not sure what I could have done, but just maybe the presence of a well-adjusted adult gay male could have given this young man the hope that it really does get better.

  61. Betty Treacle says

    What I would like to see is a hotline – a bit like the Batphone. Any bullied kid can phone it, and as long as they can demonstrate proof that they are being bullied, then this will trigger a phalanx of furious, sassy, spiteful queens to descend on the dull little small town where the bullying took place. They’ll lie in wait for the bullies – and then enact a terrifying and spectacular punishment – involving glitter waterboarding, enforced dragqueen makeover, and a thorough dishing of the bully’s fashion, body and personality. Not only will they trash the bullies, but they will destroy the teachers, politicians and parents who stood by and let this happen.

    It will all be videoed and put on youtube where it will go viral.

    People will go to jail. Some people might even be required to take medication or spend their lives in therapy. But in six months – bullies will know better than to mess with us. Because nobody wants a bunch of relentless angry queens to camp outside your house and harrass you until you scream for them to stop.

  62. snightsp says

    I just want to say that I am so sorry to Josh and to his family. We as a community have let him and his family down. I also want to let every GLBTQ person out there wherever you may be, if you see this …. I love you. I know you don’t know me from adam, but trust that there is one person in his world that doesn’t care about anything other than you are a human life. I care, and you do matter! I know it doesn’t help much but i’m sending out a big ol’ mental and heart felt hug to everyone <3.

  63. Diogenes Arktos says

    One of the reasons Dan Savage created “It Gets Better” was because of an older gay foster child he and his husband had care of. His gay foster child didn’t feel comfortable discussing the anti-gay behaviour he experienced with THEM.

    The reality is that open LGBT people exist and there are people both LGBT and straight who have no problems with it. What is needed is a clear, scientifically based discussion of LGBT people, especially how one “becomes” gay. This is no different from a discussion of world religions: you learn what you need to in order to pass the test. You don’t have to believe it, but you’ve been exposed to the material and the fact that there are people who do. I’m back on my “values are taught in the home” soapbox.

  64. Diogenes Arktos says

    One of the reasons Dan Savage created “It Gets Better” was because of an older gay foster child he and his husband had care of. His gay foster child didn’t feel comfortable discussing the anti-gay behaviour he experienced with THEM.

    The reality is that open LGBT people exist and there are people both LGBT and straight who have no problems with it. What is needed is a clear, scientifically based discussion of LGBT people, especially how one “becomes” gay. This is no different from a discussion of world religions: you learn what you need to in order to pass the test. You don’t have to believe it, but you’ve been exposed to the material and the fact that there are people who do. I’m back on my “values are taught in the home” soapbox.

  65. PapaBear says

    The area where this person went to school is rural and mostly farms. I grew up in an area not far from here. It is all about God, guns and gays. Parents believe boys will be boys and bullying is a rite of passage for our youth. There needs to be a culture shift starting at the most basic level. Until you get the parents willing to step up and protect our children.

  66. Mary says

    “Mary,

    You have some nerve writing that crap ”

    Trojan, I don’t know where you’ve been since last May, but I’ve posted several times that I am now marriage equality supporter, that I signed the Freedom to Marry pledge, and that I donated to several gay rights organizations. As for the fact that homophobia was at the root of why this young man was bullied, I thought that was too obvious to need repeating. I posted about my own near-suicidal situation to show that I understand how a person can be stressed enough to want to pack it all in but that I was surprised he’d reach this point if he had a sympathetic family.

    Are you bothered because you can’t resent me anymore? I gave up my “hate.” Why don’t you give up yours?

  67. andrew says

    @Mary: Tell that moron USC Trojans Fan who may be just another alias of Little Kiwi to shove his opinions where they belong, up his a$$. Don’t take so much s*it from the professional homosexual bullies who frequently post on this site. They see moderation and reason as weakness, so once and a while fight their fire with fire. Stop being their doormat. They are the homo bullies who constantly cry about hetero bullies.

  68. jamal49 says

    @FENROX You bring up a very good point. While “It Gets Better” surely has its advantages with its positive message to LGBT youth of “hanging in there”, it comes across to me as a panacea and really doesn’t address the urgency to the young LGBT person who needs the bullying to stop NOW.

    You are absolutely right: there has to be parental involvement if the problem of bullying and its negative effects are to ever be resolved. Parents need to be given the resources to understand their LGBT child and learn to support them and love them unconditionally. Many times, for younger people, some of the worst bullying comes from within their own family.

  69. Francis says

    Amir put it PERFECTLY. A lot of people really, really do not understand the true level of abuse these teens are facing in these conservative towns. And not *only* are they in a situation where each day of going to school means a day of Hell every day, but when they get out of school, it’s still complete hell. There is never a point these teens can simply let their hair down and be themselves.

    This isn’t even bullying. What LGBTQ/kids perceived as gay face is completely different than virtually any other teens. This is criminal harassment, and this is terrorism. Unfortunately we live in a society where making such statements is seen as being agenda-driven. A lot of us underestimate just how hateful MOST of America really is. Don’t ever get it twisted. Being openly gay in most of this country is unbelievably hard. Being openly gay as a teen often/usually is 10 times harder.

  70. ratbastard says

    It’s amusing to hear some on here lecture on ‘bullying’ when they themselves are obnoxious bullies [or attempt to be at any rate]. ARE YOU LISTENING LIL’ CANADIAN?

  71. says

    well said, Amir!!!

    the mob mentality thing is very very true. i know many other gay people like me experienced a very specific phenomenon in schools – generally speaking, on a one on one level, we were well-liked. it was only when “groups” were around that the bullying kicked in.

    i’ve talked to so many other people who had friends during summer vacation, but when the schoolyear began it was back to being a pariah.

    and no, the solution is not to teach kids martial arts. the solution is for LGBT-inclusive education in the curriculum starting in the elementary school age.

    diversity in families. some of those kids in every class are gonna be gay. have a gay parent or two. have a gay sibling. an aunt. an uncle. a cousin. a grandparent. a beloved neighbour.

    this is the reality. hatred is learned. we need to stop with the band-aids and get to the root – children need to learn to embrace diversity.

    kids don’t just naturally hate gay people. they’re taught to.

    and we need our TEACHERS to Come Out.

    it’s very hard to empower youth to find pride in themselves when the adults around them lead by example.

    help the next generations. live Out.

  72. Athena says

    I grew up and the town right next to Linden and this really hit home for me I read this today and broke down in tears … I hear the bullies have no remorse and the school did know about this ! I heard just a few days after his death the bullies were going around school saying the word glad he was dead! I think the bullies and the parents should be prosecuted!! justice needs to be done !! I put this up on my Facebook today I was so distraught ! gay straight bi sexual transgender it does not matter you are a human being !! these bullies are nothing but coward disrespectful pork use of the youth today !! the parents of these bullies should be ashamed! I heard some of the football team urinated on his locker !! this tragic situation should not be ignored !! my heart goes out to Josh and his family they deserve justice ! even after they got what they wanted Josh passing away they still run his name down to the ground… I feel so horrible and I never even met this poor kid.. and of course the school going to stick up for the brats cuz some of them are on a football team !! this is murder to me and they deserve to be prosecuted along with our parents !! it shows what kind of parents they have !! I hear the school just gave them 5 days off of school .. I pray and hope the justice system does not fail Josh and his family !! my heart port about for Josh and his family nobody deserves this !!

  73. Onnyjay says

    There have to be witnesses who can identify the bullies and school officials with the cojones to charge them with homicide. Nothing less will stop the heterothugs. Castrate them!

  74. Jimmy Palmieri says

    How many of our beautiful children must die before people who do not recognize this is for real, will stop preaching hate? Must it hit their own families? Wake up. Even the God that the evangelicals say they believe in, surely must have compassion for all. This is just sad, and so so unnecessary.

  75. says

    Jimmy, it’s gonna be a long-time coming. Bill O’Reilly and his fellow bigots have just told their Fox News-worshipping viewers that gays are indeed the enemy of Christianity and America.

    Fox News viewers, of course, are not “immune” from having gay children.

    Know this – there will indeed be more LGBT youth suicides. Especially this holiday season. And the American right-wing is utterly responsible.

  76. Heather says

    Hello

    Josh was my cousin. My absolute favorite. We always assumed he’d be internationally known, but for his talents and intellect — not for his sorrow. The outpouring of support on all of these websites and blogs are humbling, and very much appreciated. He only had one year of high school left. If he only realized how big the world is, and how many wonderful people are in it. Thank you. And, to quote Josh, “Stay Classy”
    Josh wanted to become a psychologist to better understand human behaviors and thought processes. I think he wanted to know why people were so fearful of anyone differing from themselves; He was quite insightful. He truly loved and accepted everyone, as he knew what it was like to be different. He would have been an exceptional psychologist.

    We would like to welcome you all to his Facebook group page.
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/357969097632557/

  77. Lauren Phillips says

    “The weekend before his death, he spoke to his sisters about his future, making comments that worried his parents.”

    The comments josh made to his parents were telling them that he tried to jump in front of a train but the train got there before him… He had goodbyes in his phone to all his friends and family. The parents killed him by not taking him to the hospital to get help because he was asking for help. Maybe if his parents cared a little more Josh would still be alive…

  78. Bernie says

    this is so sad, I can barely contain my emotions; there is NO excuse for a school to deny this type of bullying that leads to a teen to commit suicide…the topic of bullying has been front page news for too many years for a school to bury its head in the sand and say “we didn’t know” the only hope I have is that this poor kid’s death can lead to improved anti-bullying programs in the school…my heart goes out to his parents, family and friends

  79. Clayton says

    I read the article and it both sickened and saddened me. In fact, I didn’t think I would have the misfortune of coming across anything more sickening, more depressing or more incredulous – until, I misguidedly looked for some solace and solidarity in the comments section. I was wrong to assume that there would be words to comfort our community, words that spoke of the very tangible loss we as human beings have suffered with Josh Pacheco’ death. I was wrong to assume that we who have been given an opportunity to read his story and understand what it feels like when you believe you are completely alone; when no option can be identified through the pain that might stop the despair from settling in. I remember accepting hopelessness at a time in my life, and it would surprise me to no end if many of you have not felt the hopelessness I’m speaking of – it would surprise me because there comes a time in every GLBTQ person’s life where the present feels comparably and progressively worse than the past. When we are faced with that perception the future becomes bleak and untrustworthy. At these times when we Know despair, it brings a certain sense of relief – a melancholy peace – that while erroneous and completely irrational to those of us not walking his path – never-the-less to Josh and far too many others in our community, the choice to commit suicide is the only option that guarantees the end of the pain, the abuse, and the despair…unfortunately the self made decision to end your life immediately returns a certain appearance of control and power over what will happen,what is tolerable, what is endurable and for how long. There is a very, very short window of time when the diagnostic symptoms that indicate that a suicide is imminent are unmistakeable even by trained professionals. People who decide to take their own lives from a place of utter despair often seem happier to the casual observer and rarely speak a single word that might, just might give their decision (power and control)away, instead choosing to leave a note/a message of some kind just before ending their lives.
    I realize that most of what I’ve written is redundant to those of us who have felt despair, hopelessness and suicidal at some point in our lives; and it was not my intent to write a thesis on the obvious, which clearly was unnecessary as many of you have pointed out that gay suicides have become outrageously commonplace. So, I apologize for my rantings.
    Regardless of your opinion, I wrote what I needed to remember from my own experience so I could speak with heartfelt conviction and say to all of you who posted comments before I(specifically the ones I managed to read thoroughly before I began to write these words)that your sympathy is not enough, it never has been, and it never will be – change requires action, organized action not anonymous condolences posted to a blog with limited influence and that the family, friends, teachers, officials and bullies will likely never see. The condolences, the directionless outrage posted in the comments I read were to assuage your own pain and anger – you gave yourself a voice instead of lending yours to the young man who has none. You judged and blamed the parents, the teachers, the bullies, even the It Gets Better program. Those people, all of those people you so readily blamed are actually experiencing what you are so vocally opining and posting about from the detached safety of provided by your computer screen. The truth is much harder to deal with. We, ALL of US who have posted a sympathy comment on a random blog, updated our facebook status to include words, phrases and quotes of memorial to inform the people on our friend lists of another gay tragedy, ALL of US who have done these things – talked and texted our friends speaking in quiet whispers of a recent gay suicide – WE are to blame. Not the parents who have lost a child, not the friends and loved ones left to go on without the presence of someone special to them, not the school officials, teachers, state representatives, or the other students who either ignored the bullying or encouraged it. Not even the bullies who made any GLBTQ person feel worthless and powerless enough to even consider taking their own lives, not even the bullies are to blame. WE are the ones WE have to blame, it is our negligence to take meaningful action that allows bullying to continue undeterred. We hide our words, our voices in the ether of cyperspace, feeling proud and secure in the notion that we have done our part. Then, invariably, due in no small part to our silent tolerance and inferred permissiveness, another member of our community is bullied and commits suicide. So we post more routine comments, and lambast the straight people (assumed straight) people for not doing more to prevent gay kids from being bullied. What hypocrites we have become when we disparage the coordinated actions of a group of mostly straight allies (The It Gets Better program). Hypocrites in word and deed, because while straight parents, teachers students and community leaders are taking action, we are busy consoling ourselves with meaningless platitudes and unproductive blaming games.
    Isn’t it time we used the words, the sorrow, and the responsibility that we have at our disposal and is legitimately ours to effect change by actually making a difference?
    If all of us who bothered to post comments concerning Josh’s suicide today, had used that time and all our social media skills to get as many people as we could to each send a post card to Josh’s Michigan High School that simply says Josh Pacheco one one side and STOP BULLING on the other, for less than a dollar each we could literally flood that high school with a very direct, very coordinated and very public statement that would get even more mainstream coverage than the It Gets Better program, and it would give Josh a voice and empower our community.
    And I for one no longer wish to wear the label of a hypocrite. Do you?

  80. Kim Ball says

    My son was bullied by 3 18 year olds last week at Linden High School. He is 16, and was physically pushed around outside in parking lot, they teased then touched his chest laughing how scared they made him. Police didn’t want to file a report, school still hasn’t done anything, and my son hasn’t went back to school. These kids are supposively same group who taunted Josh Pacheco, who took his life a few months back. 2 of the 3, just signed college scholarships. One parent works at a Linden Elementary school. We want something done! Thanks!

  81. Jennifer says

    As a born again believer in Jesus Christ I am thoroughly disgusted by the behaviour and attitudes of some fellow Christians towards gays and lesbians. (Westboro Baptist Church)My heart goes out to all bullied teenagers, be they gay, black, disabled or whatever. Hatred towards homosexuals is not condoned in anyway by Jesus and Christians should be protecting and standing up for gays against Muslims/ other Christians/ whoever else in homophobic instead of persecuting them. It is a disgrace and an injustice to both humanity and to Jesus to do anything less.

  82. rose says

    this is terriable. this guy took his own life because he was bullied. shame on then bllys. i dont know who you are, and i dont know who he was.. but noone should have to go through that. shame on all of you.

    I dont mean to be rude…. but all you bullies can just shut up. Seriousally. like it isnt funny even is you were just “joking aroud” like others might not be and, they might take it a different wasy then it was said, or they might take what you said to eart… like if you said… “drnk bleach” they might take your advise and then you would be responsable for someones death. and you have to live with it. so… next time think before you say anything, and try to stop bullying in school. it is really messed up.

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