Gay Teen In Oklahoma Takes His Own Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homophobia_diein 


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Oklahoma: 19-year-old commits suicide after week of ‘toxic’ comments

Yes, again. A young person in Norman, Oklahoma in despair over community’s toxic comments about approving a LGBT History month resolution – which it did pass with only one dissenting vote.

A week after attending a Norman City Council meeting where a heated debate played out in public, 19-year-old Zach Harrington took his own life at his family’s home in Norman.

…Harrington’s family, who described him as a private young man who internalized his feelings and emotions, said it was this “toxic” environment at the Sept. 28 council meeting that may have pushed their gay son and brother over the edge.

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

One can only speculate that Zach was already suffering from depression — seeing adults in the setting of a a city council meeting only affirmed the hate out there. We have to get our youth to see there are other options than giving up — the hate and discrimination will not stop even if equality laws are passed. We can only punish after the fact. Changing the homophobic American culture means getting the message to these young people to seek help that is already out there, that it can get better, and that they can be a part of that cultural change if they stick together. Unfortunately Zach saw bias being piled on.

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

…Despite being a talented musician “who could play any instrument he picked up,” Van Harrington said his son asked to leave school early during his senior year and finish his diploma in a separate program.

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

This is where I find arguments about “toughening up’ get tossed around, as if the wide range of sensitivities and personalities of teenagers are all alike, and that all can bend without breaking, that there’s an expected and acceptable level of backbone required for the predictable bullying in life. What’s acceptable?  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

WATCH: CNN on Sally Kern vs. Brittany Novotny

—  John Wright

In Oklahoma, Rep. Sally Kern’s folks get really hateful

I know I shouldn’t expect anything less from the supporters of Sally Kern, but calling my friend, Brittany Novotny, who happens to be trying to run for office because she is more qualified than Sally a “confused it” is rather uncalled for, don’t ya think? Brittany responds with her usual style and grace:

“If Rep. Kern and her allies spent as much time focusing on Oklahoma’s future as they seem to spend worrying about my past, maybe we could keep teachers in the classroom and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure,” Novotny said. “This type of personal attack is what Oklahomans are tired of, and it shows why Kern and her political allies continue to be out of touch with mainstream Oklahoma values.”

“Certainly there are third parties out there who may not listen to me and may go ahead and personally attack her, just like she may have supporters that don’t take the lead from her and personally attack me,” Novotny said. “It happens. I hope that those voices are kept to a minimum and they don’t overshadow the campaign, because I really do think there are some serious differences in how we see the future of Oklahoma and what we think will be best for our economic development.”

We can all help Brittany unseat a hateful homophobic legislator who infamously proclaimed:

Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell of this country. I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam — which I think is a big threat, okay? Cause what’s happening now is they are going after, in schools, two-year olds…And this stuff is deadly, and it’s spreading, and it will destroy our young people, it will destroy this nation.

Send a message by giving generously to Brittany right here.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Sally Kern's transgender challenger, Brittney Novotny, sets one-day fundraising record

Brittney Novotny
Brittney Novotny

This week, Brittney Novotny filed to run against Fred Phelps-clone Sally Kern for a seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. I reported on the race in this week’s paper.

On her website, Kern calls June “sexual deviants month.”

Novotny is transgender.

Should be a fun race to watch.

The day after filing, Novotny told me that she’d need about $100,000 for her race and that she had already raised almost $20,000. She has no primary challenger, so all money will go directly toward the general election.

This morning she reported that yesterday was her best day of fundraising yet. She collected $5,471.

Most of it was from local donors.

“More than $5,000 was from Oklahoma — not outsiders like our opponent will claim,” she said.

—  David Taffet

OKC councilman again votes against Pride, compares gays to wife-beaters, pedophiles

brian_walters_okc_councilman

Here in Dallas, it’s news when a city councilmember refuses to attend gay Pride. But just up the road in Oklahoma City, one city councilmember is still voting every year not to issue a special-event permit for gay Pride. Not only that, in defending his vote, Councilman Brian Walters is still equating gays with wife-beaters and child molesters. From On Top Magazine:

“The reason I voted no on that is that I’m a born-again Christian and don’t believe in the homosexual lifestyle,” Walters, who represents the city’s Ward 5, told The Journal Record. (subscription only)

The council’s remaining seven representatives voted in favor of the event.

“I don’t want my vote to be construed as support, because I really don’t support that, the same way that I wouldn’t support a group of, say, pedophiles who wanted to assemble. I would not vote yes on that either, [or] men who beat up their wives. Anything like that,” Walters said Wednesday.

Needless to say, OKC Pride will go on with or without Walters’ support June 25-27. And organizers are quietly thanking Walters for the free publicity.

UPDATE: In response to Rickey Wagner’s comment below, here’s contact info for Walters:

Phone: 405 297-2569
E-mail: ward5@okc.gov

—  John Wright

Genitalia on Jesus' abdomen?

medium

Some parishioners at a Catholic church near Oklahoma City are outraged over this crucifix that hangs above the main altar, which they say shows genitalia on Jesus’ abdomen. In fact, the crucifix is meant to show Christ’s “distention,” or abdominal swelling, according to the church’s pastor. You can read all about it in The Oklahoman. In a poll on the newspaper’s Web site, 58 percent say they aren’t offended by the image, while 42 percent say they are. Personally, I would agree with those who say it looks an awful lot like genitalia, but at the same time, I don’t find that the least bit offensive.

—  John Wright

Oklahoma man found dead after alleging police brutality outside gay bar in Tulsa

One of the photos Keith Kimmel had posted on his blog showing injuries he allegedly caused by police.
This is one of the photos Keith Kimmel posted on a blog showing injuries allegedly caused by police.

A gay Oklahoma man was found dead in a Norman apartment on Wednesday, two days after he filed a complaint alleging that police roughed him up outside a gay club in Tulsa.

Keith Kimmel, 28, made headlines a few months ago when he sued the Oklahoma Tax Commission for denying his application for a personalized license plate saying, “IMGAY.”

Authorities say Kimmel’s death is under investigation. The Tulsa World has the full story.

—  John Wright

Oops! Oklahoma Senate opts out of wrong hate crimes law

Back on March 11, John Wright reported here on Instant Tea that the Oklahoma Senate, in an effort led by Sen. Steve Russell, had approved an amendment that would allow the state to opt out of participating in the federal Sheppard/Byrd Hate Crimes Law that includes protections for LGBT people.

The measure prohibits “local and state law enforcement agencies from sharing information about hate crimes with federal authorities if the state of Oklahoma did not recognize the crime as a hate crime by its own statutes.” Oklahoma state law does not recognize “sexual orientation or gender identity” as a special class and fails to provide gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals with hate crimes protections.

But today comes word from the Center for American Progress that Sen. Russell and his pals messed up. Instead of prohibiting Oklahoma state officials from sharing information about anti-LGBT hate crimes, their bill prohibits state officials from sharing with federal authorities information on hate crimes based on religious or racial prejudice. The mix-up happened, apparently, because of a typo in Russell’s bill citing Section 240 of the federal hate crimes law, instead of Section 249.

Read Igor Volsky’s post on the mix-up here.

—  admin