Monday, May 13, 2013

A mother’s hateful letter, a lesbian’s suicide attempt

A twenty three year old Jamaican lesbian residing in New York is still recovering in a medical facility in the United States following an attempted suicide at the end of February 2013 after a series of hateful written correspondences over a four year period after she left Jamaica to take up studies between the aggrieved lesbian and her mother. The letters according to a well respected source close to the matter who asked that I share this and who was willing to have certain aspects of the ordeal known were quite fine during the first few exchanges but as time progressed the young woman who had been contemplating coming out way before her departure from Jamaica was worried about the reaction from her mother and other sister at that time. She has been having some difficulty swallowing and so her time in the hospital has been extended as news spread of this case many including myself are still in shock after learning of this as she is personally known to me.

Born and raised as a church going sibling she did all the expected activities that well behaved and obedient child should do but felt something apparently gnawing at her inner core, the source continued. It was not until in her teens that she soon realised that her same sex attractions grew far stronger than she could ever imagine and even went as far as praying to seek remedy and a healing cure for this scourge as it were. I can remember my own attempt literally hours on my knees in my bedroom praying to God to be rid of this desire for men and my feeling of shame and guilt as well. I went as far as subscribing to the early ex gay notions of homosexuality being caused by an absentee father (even physically present in the home) and so it was also with this young lady, she at one point bought into the idea in her search for reasons that it was because she did not have a strong father figure hence her desire for women.

Finally the struggle was too much to bear and as most do come to the realization that this is me and I cannot change who I am. Her mother’s hounding of why she did not have a boyfriend soon cropped up and the other predictable condemnations including the use of passages to instruct her that it was her job to reproduce or to procreate (excluding the lesbian knowledge bit) her mother even went as far as to suggest pastoral intervention to supposedly preselect a man for her in the church as she was to remain in the church as her mother’s insistence even in adult life. It was a relationship however with a female music teacher that became rather close in her nineteenth year that caught the attention of some who in term somehow got word to her mother where the descent began. While she resided with her she eventually moved out to attend a tertiary institution and soon found herself receiving late night phone calls with an angry mother on the line demanding to know if she was a lesbian and the whole nine yards. Time passed and the relationship between the mother and the young woman grew tense but they kept contact non the less though becoming more infrequent.

Her departure to the states was eminent and her mother made it known that she knew she was about to go overseas and live her so called “dirty” life which was where the source claimed the real hurt began. Instead of encouraging her daughter to be successful a mother decides to instil shame and hurt on a daughter who was carving out her life and career goals. The letter exchanges commenced along with emails and phone calls and without fail the young lady would be reminded of the Sodom and Gomorrah story, the abominations and so on.

Reparative therapy at one point was also hinted to and that was where the estrangement and withdrawal begin with the young woman who felt she could no longer carry this burden of trying to please her mother. The damning written piece however came in Christmas of 2011 where her mother in a lengthy hand written piece which suggested motive and time to gather her thoughts on what she wanted to express made it clear that she did not support her lesbian lifestyle and that God was going to punish her and other damaging condemnations. Judging by the outcome here the road to the young lady’s decision to end her own life had been paved but what came through also from the source is that she hardly sought any assistance on the face of it from anyone, not even her close circle of friends who are reeling from the shock of the news that she would take such a route of finality. Her return letter just before the suicide attempt was typed, printed and mailed to her mother a copy of which was seen by the source who paraphrased that the young woman said she was hurt by her mother’s shaming words and she wanted nothing more to do with her as she was only her mother by blood, nothing more.

She attempted to use a leather belt she had in her closet tied to a ceiling fan and a chair as support for deliberately kicking the chair from under her however the attempt failed as she had a visitor some ten minutes after the fact who entered her flat and made the shocking discovery and called for help to take her down where she was rushed to the hospital. Her mother upon hearing the news sounded a bit indifferent according to my source but has been keeping in touch non the less. Question is how many other LGBT people, Jamaican and otherwise who are going through this kind of rejection and have gone as far as self mutilation or suicide as a solution? To think also presently we have no serious permanent systems in place of psycho social interventions within the advocacy structures to address the specific LGBT rejection fallout similar to this case. It in November 2012 that a case was brought to my attention of an attempted wrist slitting by a young man who had reported became fed up with his own issues as well.

With signs of trouble hard to detect the experts however tell us that we can still see them if we pay very close attention to ones behaviour but who has time to be scrutinizing every move another makes? Ironically the son of American self help guru Rick Warren the man who influenced the world with his book and speeches took his own life earlier this year Matthew Warren ended his life by the gun yet Mr Warren Sr. did not see it coming. Words do can hurt as this case points to especially when it comes from relative as a mother who we seek validation in who we are even as adults. I am wondering if her mother is now considering more improper words by now condemning her that she committed another sin especially one that is deemed unpardonable in scripture. Samson’s suicide as it were where he destroyed the temple is not a sin in my eyes that’s a more a case of martyrdom or a form of heroism to me, after all he was protecting his nation on the face of it. Also in a mental sense or diminished responsibility ones state can also be a determinant factor one cannot be held responsible for an act such as that given the state they may have been at the time of the attempt. The other family members seem not to have factored post the attempt, at no point was her sister mentioned in any detail which suggest there could be possible estrangement between them as well. The woman’s father had passed away some years ago.

Hope is what is needed overall as I asked it is just worrisome as to how many others out there are suffering in silence and that is preventable or at least some intervention be brought to the fore. We have had no serious forumatic activity in this regard to help community members get over this hurdle, the expectations that many of us had of a matured LGBT positive social activities and interventions after some thirty plus years in total of agitation we would have seen systems put in place to respond to immediate service needs for cases such as this. No suicidal hotline for things like this locally either which makes me ask where does one go for answers and help?

Fingers crossed, prayers going up and high hopes abound and we hope she pulls through and reach some resolve, reconciliation and reunification with her mother on this matter, I hope her mother evolves at least on her thinking towards rejection of homosexuality and realises her words have power. Thanks to her friend who shared aspects of this story and hence the approved post you now see. There are so many stories out there to tell by so many of us to bring some reality to bear.

Hope remains while company is true.

Peace and tolerance



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