Tag Archives: Current Events

Let’s Make Room

January 19, 2015

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I’ve been seeing all these op-ed pieces lately on how it’s okay for boys to wear tutus. How no one is going to tell my son what he can and can’t wear. How girls can play with tractors so who cares if my son is breastfeeding his cabbage patch doll? EVERYBODY BE COOL.

Of course these articles are fine and good; I’m all for celebrating our three-year-old boys acting like drunk fairies. But there’s also a part of me who thinks: It’s 2015. Why are we still talking about this?

Here’s why.

Last month in Folsom, California, 12-year-old Ronin Shimizu took his own life after being relentlessly bullied by his classmates for joining the cheerleading team. Not only did they shout gay slurs and physically assault him, he was called “disgusting” and told he was “going straight to hell.”

After years of this anti-gay assault, Ronin’s parents found their son dead in their home.

The police immediately ruled it suicide. No note was found.

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It is so easy to live inside my safe bubble with my young, innocent babies and mugs of hot tea and think this world is safe. That we’ve come far enough. That we’ve made room for everyone.

Then when I hear stories of children being tormented over the idea that they might be gay, I am shocked and enraged. How could this happen? Why would anyone say such hateful things? What world is this?

There is still so much work to be done.

We need to make room. Room for our little boys with bright orange tutus and little girls with overalls and dump trucks. Room for change, safe places, and open arms. Room for the idea that we are not in control of our children’s sexuality any more than we’re in control of our own.

Recently a pair of identical twin teenage boys came out to their dad in a taped conversation that went viral on YouTube. What struck me the most about their story was not so much their father’s response, but the proof that who we are as sexual beings is in our DNA. That these identical pairs of genes led to the same sexuality. That who you love is, of course, not a choice.

Wearing tutus does not make you gay. Joining the cheerleading squad does not make you gay. Dressing up like a fairy or taking ballet or wearing bright pink does not make you gay. Being gay makes you gay. A difference in genetics, just like the color of your skin.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A day we have set aside to celebrate a man who made room for a lot of people. Last month a 12-year-old boy took his life because there was no room for him. We remember his life today. We weep for his mother and all the other mothers who have lost their sons and daughters to hopelessness.

Let’s make room.

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Ronin

Ronin Shimizu
2002-2014

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – MLK

Remembering Newtown

December 14, 2014

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Last week I lost my three-year-old son in the library for 60 seconds. If you are a parent, you know that when your child is lost, seconds are minutes and minutes are hours. A slow motion nightmare.

When I found him, his face was covered with tears, a panic on his face I’d never seen. “There’s your mom!” exclaimed the librarian, shaming me.

In my arms, his hysteria only heightened. I thought I lost you. I thought I lost you. I couldn’t find you anywhere! he repeated over and over again, tears streaming down his face.

“You can never lose me,” I lied. “I am always with you, I will never leave you. Nothing bad will ever happen to you.”

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Two years ago today, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and 6 adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School while the rest of us Christmas shopped and fought with our mothers. It knocked us over as a nation, as parents, as people who try to convince ourselves that schools are safe and people are mostly kind.

To be perfectly blunt, the sickness of it was almost too much to bear. Some of us turned off our TVs, changed the subject, kept Christmas shopping. Others of us were paralyzed with fear and grief. We couldn’t turn off the news or keep from repeating their names.

We wept for days.

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This past fall, my friend Suzie passed a mother putting her young son on the schoolbus for the first time. His frame was small, his backpack too big for his body. She watched as the mother said goodbye, holding back her tears.

She said, “It was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.”

Today we remember Charlotte and Daniel. Rachel and Olivia. We remember Josephine, Ana, Dylan, and Dawn. Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, and Jesse. James, Grace, Anne, and Emilie. We remember Jack and Noah. Caroline and Jessica. Avielle, Lauren, Mary, and Victoria. We remember Benjamin. We remember Allison.

We remember their lives, whisper their names.

In sorrow, may we find peace. In grief, some small joys.

We hold their families in the light today.

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