When people hear we have seven kids in our family, they assume we are Catholic. Actually my father is a Quaker.
If you know anything about Quakers, you know that they are accepting of everyone. I am very grateful that Jimmy was born into such an open-minded and loving family. I believe that is one of the factors which kept him alive to see 19.
Even as a child, we knew Jimmy was different. He was always extremely sensitive. He played extensively with dolls. He had no male friends. His mannerisms were strongly effeminate.
For the most part, he was a happy kid. It wasn't until he became a teenager that things started to change. He didn't admit to us that he was gay until he was 18.
None of us were surprised. We had kind of guessed it all along. My mom told him she loved him, but it would be a hard road ahead. My sister, Kendra, said "Big deal, it doesn't change my feelings for you." And I said something dumb like "Who wants to be like everyone else. Different is refreshing."
So Jimmy tried to pretend that he was completely comfortable with who he was. He tried to pretend that it didn't bother him when the kids called him names like 'Faggot' or 'Queer' or that it didn't totally humiliate him when they pulled him out of the gym class shower and peed on him.
He tried to pretend these things didn't affect him, but they did. In fact, he used these incidents as ammunition for an arsenal of angst ridden poetry and paintings. He found solace in the music of Tori Amos, Courtney Love and Fleetwood Mac.
He never looked for reasons to live, only for reasons to die. He considered everything he did to be a failure. Towards the end, he talked extensively of suicide. We thought he was simply being dramatic. After all, Jimmy and I were the two biggest overreactors of the family.
Our flippancy toward his pain must have been very hurtful. But none of us could relate to his depression. We couldn't understand the self-hatred and the hopelessness that centered around his being gay. He attempted to slit his wrists at least two times.
My parents put him into therapy. His therapist said that Jimmy was a cutter, and, not to worry, cutters never take their own lives. He wasn't in therapy for very long before he killed himself. My mother and I found him in his apartment. He was about three feet from the door. He had hanged himself.