In my blogpost of a couple of days ago, I touched on some of the things that lift me and those that, well, shoot me down. However, I have not been able to get one thing out of my mind since I received the news on Sunday evening. Let me explain.
At last week's Gay Christian Network (GCN) Conference in Chicago, I met Betsy, a fellow Canadian. She attended as an ally and we had a long chat about an old friend from her high school, who like me, transitioned from male to female in her fifties, Amanda. She shared how Amanda had friends who supported her but these relationships had slowly cooled and Betsy was concerned for her friend. She thanked me for my work and was looking forward to being a more informed friend of Amanda.
The note I received from Betsy on Sunday night was short; Amanda had ended her life.
This my friends, is a very low low. It is a sad commentary that life is made to be so impossible for some that they cannot envision living another day. That impossibility is often a combination of many small factors, none of which may seem damaging or threatening on their own, but when accumulated through time can break the camel's back. Getting the sideways looks, hearing the whispers behind one's back, being addressed with wrong pronouns or name, feeling like the elephant in the room or feeling invisible; all these may not seem like much in isolation from each other, but when you cannot go anywhere in your community where you can be free of these life sapping scenarios, it is easy to slip into a quiet despair and hopelessness. It doesn't always have to be a hostile, judgmental comment; those seem to roll off one's back much easier. It's all those seemingly benign non-verbal barbs that stick like velcro to one's heart, until it is pierced as if with a spear.
Dear Amanda, I am sorry your light was slowly snuffed out. I'm sorry you were not allowed to imagine a better life for yourself, where you could be you and all your talents and all the things that made you special could be celebrated by all.
Dear Betsy, I'm sorry you have lost a friend. I'm sorry that you will mourn instead of cheer for her. Thank you for what you did for Amanda.