I have always opted on the side of coming out for gay folks because I truly believe that the more of us that are out and open and just living our lives, the less the bigots and homophobes will have to fear. But every so often, something happens that makes me realize that coming out is not only painful and hurtful, it can often be deadly.
Six weeks ago, Centennial High School senior Ryan Eichenauer, told the world, or at least his social media friends on Facebook, that he was gay, and he felt good about it, saying, "I'm really proud to be out and be myself. I get to do what I want without having to hide anymore."
Then, last week he walked into his English class and found an anonymous threatening letter that has spurred a police investigation. The letter reads, in part,
I see there are many others who also want you dead. Good. And it's not just the two of us who have decided to speak up. It's everyone. […] like you don't deserve to live in this world. Innocent people die every day, but the scum of the earth like you gets to live? […] that. That is about to change. No one likes the fact that you are alive. No one likes the way you show your sexuality. You are a […] sinner. Someone should do something about it…I will. I am not a coward. I protect the house of god from […] like you."
Lovely; for the act of saying the words I’m gay this anonymous asshat thinks Ryan Eichenauer should die. Luckily Ryan says the threats won't change who he is.
"I know there are going to be people in life who don't agree with it. But that's who I am."
He had no idea the hate and venom that would spew forth once he posted his coming out video to Facebook, but he is quick to point out that he isn’t really “coming out” he’s just “letting the world in;” I kinda like how that sounds But within weeks of letting people in, he found two anonymous threatening letters placed on his desk in two separate classrooms.
Not only did the notes attack his sexuality, but one says "I can't wait for the day that I get to walk over your grave and if you don't put yourself there, I will be glad to. Just do us all a favor and do it soon. Kill yourself already."
Eichenauer reported the note to authorities and both the school and local police are investigating. But sometimes it’s hard to find these scared little people who hide behind the “Anonymous” label; who send death threats to a high school kid because that kid is gay, and at peace with himself. I kind of imagine that “Anonymous” is also gay, and scared, and afraid of being who he or she is, and afraid of what people might think; that people might want him, or her, dead.
But kudos to Ryan for standing tall and proud and out and unafraid.