A nine year old boy came out to his mother.

She loved him anyway.

A nine year old boy comes out at school.

They tease him brutally.

For four days.

Horribly hurt and frightened, he kills himself.

This just happened.

***
We went to see a play, a musical, wherein in an opening scene the male cast members come on stage shirtless wearing only a towel.

(a little boy is dead)

We are in a very small theater watching a shoestring production. Most, but not all, of the audience are gay men. A group of four handsome, fit, well dressed gay men took the very front seats. We, preferring to sit a bit further back, had selected seats about three rows in.

(a little boy is dead)

There was a bar at the back of the room where people could buy drinks before the show or during intermission. Joe had bought a beer from a bartender who was, clearly, a very kind man. He was one of those people who seem to bring grace and calm and peace with them where ever they go. I had asked him if he’d seen the show and he said that he had only seen it in rehearsals. I remembered, then, that this was actually opening night.

(a little boy is dead)

The first of the men entered the stage, shirtless, wearing a towel. The interval between entry and starting was only seconds, so in that interval, just before he sings the first note which will bring the others out onto the stage, a laugh bursts out from two of the men in the front of the room. They are seated next to each other and they are pointing to the man on stage, the one just entered, the one just about to perform, and they laughed again.

(a little boy is dead)

The man on stage, shirtless, had a fairly typical male body. He was not fat, he was not thin. But he was also not lean, not cut. The two men obviously felt that his body, displayed on stage, was a thing to be mocked. So they did.

(a little boy is dead)

The performers face goes bright red. He knows what’s happened. It’s opening night, the first time facing an audience, and he has a long road ahead of him to get through the show. He opens his mouth to sing and for a few seconds I didn’t think he was going to make it. But his voice found itself, he found his footing and then he started the song and was then joined on stage by the others and the show went on.

(a little boy is dead)

I notice though that he never looked at the audience again. His eyes were on the guy in the bar at the back of the room.  The man who’s kindness was obvious. He found a safe place for his eyes to rest. He made it through the show brilliantly.

(a little boy is dead)

***
There is outcry.

About a 9 year old boy who kills himself.

A 9 year old boy who identified as gay.

There is outcry.

About bullying.

About purposeful hurt.

There is outcry.

***

People feel moved to tell their stories. Stories about the complex entanglement that exists between difference and pain, between vulnerability and social violence, between speaking the truth and being killed for it.

***

We all longed for safety as children.

Safety from cruelty.

***

Why do we, then, so easily, hurt others?

Why do we, who should know better, do worse?

***

A little boy is dead.

***

And we want change from others.

***

But are not moved to change ourselves.

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