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Let me start by saying that we are surrounded with a loving group of family and friends who love and accept us.
I had a call just after Jeremy finished school today, he finishes at lunch on Monday. He said he didn’t want to go home. This isn’t a completely unusual call, but also not an everyday one. I said come on into work, I’ll shout you some gelato.
So Jeremy arrived after 3.30 and sat quietly, using his laptop. Jeremy made himself a cup of tea. Cake was being served for my bosses birthday. In front of my colleagues he said “So X tried to set my hair on fire”. I asked why? was it a joke? Jeremy responded “No, he’s just a douche, it’s ok, I reported him”. A bit more of the story came out on the walk to the car, it sounds like the kid may have been on the small side in which case J would outweigh and outreach him. But still, not cool.
It could have been different, so I am grateful for the smallest blessings. No harm, no singed hair. One frightened and angry mum and one child hiding the pain.
Jeremy has always drawn comments, he was a beautiful child, exquisite looks and because he was an early talker he would surprise people with the clarity of his communication. Now the comments are mixed. With a shock of bright aqua green hair and lip piercings he certainly stands out in a crowd. Recently in Mansfield a woman, maybe late 50’s early 60’s, stopped Jeremy in the IGA and said that her cows would find Jeremy’s hair delicious. Jeremy shone his million watt smile on the local, we shared the gentle joke.
I would love to say that is our usual experience. However we have found that wherever we go there is someone who has forgotten their inside voice in a cafe and a rude remark is overheard, or an adult shies away from what they see as a potential hoodlum.
At school Jeremy believes that he is the only openly out gay person, although he is aware of many who identify somewhere on the LGBTI spectrum. This has led to bullying, and the school can only protect him so much. There are still narrow minded youth who want to isolate and humiliate those who are different. I can see his tolerance for this behaviour waning, making it harder and harder to keep him at school.
A couple of months ago Jeremy sent me an e-mail, a cry for help from the heart about school and the difficulties that he was having. If he came to me as a friend, acquaintance, stranger and said that his occupation made him feel sick every morning, that he had trouble sleeping because of the anxiety that he experienced when he thought about it I would say you need to get out of there, life is too short. So I have made a promise to Jeremy that we will look for ways for him to finish his education.
I could mount a crusade, start a campaign. Instead I have made a promise to Jeremy and to myself that every day we will walk in light, greet suspicious looks with smiles and lend our energies to causes that promote tolerance of all kinds.