Bullying | Michigan | News

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.

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  1. 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.

    Posted by: will b | Dec 5, 2012 11:38:59 PM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: Caliban | Dec 5, 2012 11:54:56 PM

  3. 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?

    Posted by: will b | Dec 6, 2012 12:00:38 AM

  4. 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.

    Posted by: Klien | Dec 6, 2012 12:50:18 AM

  5. 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.

    Posted by: USC Trojans Fan | Dec 6, 2012 1:00:20 AM

  6. 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.

    Posted by: Amir | Dec 6, 2012 1:55:15 AM

  7. @ Amir:

    You nailed it! Every last word.

    Posted by: LipstickDiva | Dec 6, 2012 1:55:43 AM

  8. 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.

    Posted by: Dynex | Dec 6, 2012 1:59:37 AM

  9. 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.

    Posted by: Greg Cali | Dec 6, 2012 2:03:18 AM

  10. If you believe that "It get's better" works, you are in SERIOUS denial.

    Posted by: Alan Arthur Chiras | Dec 6, 2012 5:19:46 AM

  11. 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.

    Posted by: millerbeach | Dec 6, 2012 5:41:46 AM

  12. Stories like this sicken me...I know exactly where he's coming from but was able to make it throurgh. It does get better!!!

    Posted by: MDC | Dec 6, 2012 6:15:13 AM

  13. 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.

    Posted by: Betty Treacle | Dec 6, 2012 7:54:06 AM

  14. 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.

    Posted by: snightsp | Dec 6, 2012 8:04:22 AM

  15. 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.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 6, 2012 8:54:35 AM

  16. 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.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 6, 2012 8:54:36 AM

  17. 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.

    Posted by: PapaBear | Dec 6, 2012 9:48:44 AM

  18. "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?

    Posted by: Mary | Dec 6, 2012 10:01:50 AM

  19. People talk about the South being full of gay hate, but Michigan seems to be a source of all kinds of hate. What is in the water up there?

    Posted by: Troy | Dec 6, 2012 10:13:47 AM

  20. @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.

    Posted by: andrew | Dec 6, 2012 10:18:26 AM

  21. @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.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Dec 6, 2012 10:39:26 AM

  22. :`(

    Posted by: Lucas H | Dec 6, 2012 10:46:47 AM

  23. I definitely think the issue is the administration ... they need to learn to recognize and stop this nonsense, but they just let it happen.

    Posted by: tommyboy | Dec 6, 2012 10:53:24 AM

  24. 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.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 6, 2012 11:40:26 AM

  25. 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?

    Posted by: ratbastard | Dec 6, 2012 12:12:06 PM

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