Ask your nearest transgender woman how her father treated her when she was young. Ask your closest gay or lesbian friend if they've ever considered suicide. Ask yourself how you would feel if Leelah Alcorn was you, or if she was your child.
You may or may not care, but if you have a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender child; if you are a parent, or are planning to have children one day, imagine this:
You are burying your child who spent a lifetime being bullied by his friends, or was asked to change by his own family. You are in the funeral procession for your son who was murdered because he was gay. You are in the front row at the wake for your daughter, who jumped off a building or hung herself because you told her that there is no way you or God will accept who she is or who she loves.
You stare at her lifeless body through the glass, wearing a dress you chose but one she'll never appreciate. You've placed a necklace on your son's neck (or a bracelet on your daughter's wrist) that he or she will never see. It is the last time you'd be able to touch your child, now cold and stiff inside a box.
When your child was living and breathing, it was so difficult for you to accept him as he was. You could not approve of the callings of his heart. You promised you would never accept her. You commanded him to pray it all away because it was just too hard to let him be who he was about to become. You called your opposition to his wishes parental love and concern. You called it "wanting the best for your child."
Your son left home and ran off with a bad crowd. Your daughter starting cutting herself at night to numb herself from the self-hate you instilled in her. Your son decided that the acceptance of strangers or the high given by drugs was better than the rejection from his own parents or their unhappiness about his life. Or they just quietly accepted your disapproval, seething in their own sadness behind your back.
Eventually, they just gave up. Their lives were taken too soon – either by their own hands or by someone else's – when you know very well you could have protected them. You know very well that as a parent, saving your child's life was your only job.
A simple choice
Let me ask you then, which seems harder now? Accepting your own child as he or she is, or throwing the first handful of dirt onto a coffin containing the corpse of your baby being lowered to the ground?
It might be time to give your child a hug and be thankful for whatever life he or she has, regardless of your own ideas of the person you want him or her to become. Even if you don't know what steps to take or where to proceed or what to say, at least let them know you do not ever want to lose them, and that you are the one person they can turn to if they need help.
Before gaining society's approval, before abiding by someone else's teachings about your God of love, your greatest obligation has always been to love and accept your child. Start doing your job.
"I want my death to mean something," were Leelah Alcorn's last words before she signed off and took the last walk of her 17-year short life.
The number of LGBT deaths due to suicide or hate crimes may just be a number to you until one of them is your friend, colleague, or child. Just like with Leelah's parents, you'll never know that any moment could be the last chance you get to say you love and accept your own brother, sister, daughter or son. Make every moment with them one you won't regret – in case it's the last time. – Rappler.com