(I apologize for the title of the video.)
Students of South O’Brien Community School,
I’ve seen a lot of anger directed at you recently. Commentators are saying that you are monsters, that you deserve to be prosecuted, that you are awful people. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’ve never talked to you, seen you, or been exposed to you in any way. All I know is that I understand you.
Please note: I don’t agree with what you did. But I understand what it is that drove you to become homophobic. You see, I grew up in a town 30 miles from yours, and the attitude toward gay people was the same. Families raise their children to believe that gays are to be feared, that they want to destroy the traditional definition of families. When these kids become teenagers, when ridicule becomes a part of everyday life, what better group of people to ridicule than those whom you have been raised to hate and distrust? So in a weird way, I understand why you focused your attention on Kenneth.
But I also understand how Kenneth felt. In grade school, I too was bullied. Not extensively, more casually. Every once in a while, the bullies in my grade would circle back around to me, picking on the scrawny kid with the big glasses and long hair. It only ever lasted for a few days, but during that time, I never wanted to go to school. I was too scared. I dreaded every hour that I spent with them, because I knew as soon as the teacher turned her back, the bullying would start up again.
But I don’t understand Kenneth in another way, because I never got hate mail. I never received horrible voicemails on my cell phone. I never had Facebook hate groups made about me. I was never the sole target. All I know is that even being casually picked on made me hate school, my classmates, and most relevant, it made me hate myself. How much worse did you make Kenneth’s life? How ostracized, frightened and hopeless must he have felt? Apparently, hopeless enough to kill himself.
On a dark level, I’m curious how you are feeling now. Do you feel any remorse? Do you care? Do you (God forbid) believe somehow that you have accomplished God’s tasks, a crusade of sorts? Do you understand the weight of what has occurred? I hope for your sake you do.
Please understand that I’m not arguing the case for homosexuals and Christianity. That’s an entirely different can of worms that I will leave for much smarter, much more well-read people, of whom there are many.
But I’ll get into it a little, since you did. According to the media, several of you used the “God hates fags” logic as you were ridiculing Kenneth. There is one thing that Jesus was extremely, undeniably, untouchably clear about: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus never taught us to hate anyone. Which brings us to the saddest thing of all: you guys have everything dead wrong. Whether or not homosexuality is a sin, Jesus loves every gay person as deeply and as truly as He loves you.
Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. killed himself. He didn’t hear about God’s grace, forgiveness and love. He didn’t hear about the hope that we all share in Jesus Christ. He ended his own life hearing from his so-called Christian classmates that God hated him, Kenneth, just a teenage kid. And that, to me, is the saddest thing about this entire sad story.
I don’t know if you are monsters, or just misled kids who honestly didn’t know any better. I wouldn’t really be surprised by either. But I know this: whoever taught you the Bible missed the point entirely.