Monday, October 11, 2010

For Boys and Girls Standing on Ledges

(Dedicated to my brother Ted. I love you!)

This month we’ve lost too many young people to suicide. They have surrendered their lives over simple acts of cruelty. My stomach is churning over this, not only because of the tragedy itself, but because my brother who I love so much is distraught over it. He too was bullied as a teen, simply for being who he was, a young gay man. I can’t for the life of me understand this form of bigotry, and can only surmise that it’s ignorance at its most elevated form, because if you knew my brother Ted, or my youngest brother Caleb, or my best friends Erin and Beth and their son Ben, or Julie and Mary and their daughter Sarah, or Tobias and Michael whose marriage has lasted longer than most straight couples I know, or Richard and Nico, or Michelle and Cary or Christina and Iliana …I could go on and on, there is no way you could feel that fear or hate. These are some of the most loving, giving, family-oriented people I’ve ever known.

But oh…we lowly humans, it is our caveman nature to fear what we don’t understand, and to hate what we fear. Fear spreads the hate that drives people to ledges.

And it’s not just gays. The bullying spans to anyone who is different from the herd. Too many teenage girls, too many young boys are gone now, victims of bullying. Thankfully there has been a real public outcry over these tragedies as we are all moved by these senseless losses. But some of us are more than moved, we are rocked to our cores, because we were those boys and girls standing on ledges who lived to tell the tale.

I was once one of those girls. More than once, actually. I think for some of us, we grew up with a feeling that we weren’t supposed to be here. When we began to believe, or were told, that something was defective in us, it started a hairline fracture right through the foundation of who we were. We could spend our lives trying to belong but all it takes is one act of cruelty to break us wide open. Those of us with the defective foundations…we’re like the weak gazelle in the herd. Easy prey for hateful people, because we accept the hatred they project onto us. We believe in it, even feel we deserve it. I was lucky. There was always one random person who showed up and lifted me back to my feet with love and kindness. That’s what saved me.

But when you’re young, you don’t yet know that this is only a chapter. You can’t imagine all the beauty that lies ahead, how strong you will be one day. You don’t yet understand that the hate directed at you is only a bully’s own self-hatred projected outward, that it really has nothing to do with you.

This is a crazy time in the world. It feels like the planets are spinning out of control and all we can do is hold on. Bigotry and racism, political rage, road rage and just plain rage are all on the rise. We are losing control, and so we get crazy with fear. Fear is what makes us hateful and cruel and destructive. FEAR is what destroys our souls. We have to rise above this, and teach our young people to do the same.

Where to begin? We can’t change others, but we can change ourselves. Starting with myself, I will be a voice of tolerance. And in my own heart, I vow to replace fear with love.


Like my friend Amy Ferris who gave a beautiful speech about tolerance in her town this weekend, we can all speak up in our own ways. If you can’t stand up and give a speech, then just stand for love in your own home. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that matter. Reach out, make a phone call, offer a smile, do something kind for someone today. You never know - your hand reaching out could be the one that just pulled someone in from a ledge.

I envision a world where we all coexist peacefully, a world where my brothers are safe, a world where there are no boys and girls standing on ledges….

It’s not so far fetched. It could be a reality.

FEAR cannot exist where LOVE resides.

Please. Spread the word.

The word is LOVE.


  1. Love you and hear you. Beautiful works Hollye. It will happen and these haters and bully's will get their karma back in spades.

  2. I have tears in my eyes after reading this. Thank you Hollye.

  3. Wish we could clone you Hollye, Hollye - then there'd be more love in our world.

    I'm sad to say I was a bully one summer at camp and I still feel the dis-ease of the experience. What do bullies feel today? Anything?


  4. Keep spreading the love! It's always one person at a time.
    xo B

  5. You're so welcome Tamara- and thank you for sharing it.
    Dearest Anonymous - just had this conversation with a group of friends, many of them had at least one story they could remember where they bullied someone. But it was when they were young and foolish. Like Maya Angelou says "When you know better, you do better."

    Thanks and kisses to you Madge in Japan, and Amy in San Diego and Barb in Canada....spread the word where you are- LOVE <3

  6. Beautiful blog and heartfelt message my darling Hollye. And yes, you are so right..."FEAR cannot exist where LOVE resides." Absolutely!

    Sending you lots of love,

  7. Hollye! You're so amazing. I love the way you see the world. Isn't it crazy how those who feel ostracized as kids turn out to be the most beautiful swans?
    I never met you on a ledge, but you are a definite swan. I guess we have to go through that to learn our self-worth.
    Most of us trudge through it, but lately suicide has become more of an option when it shouldn't be.
    Hmmm.... you got me thinking. Thank you!

  8. Hey Hollye I found your blog from Troy's Twitter feed. What an awesome essay. Brings back the angst of high school...I remember getting in fights all the time, because I wouldn't put up with their crap. Then we grow up, and the bullies become the corporations that rip us off, the politicians who control our lives...Never stop fighting. love, Bob E

  9. We must all preach tolerance! What makes us different is what makes us beautiful in God's eyes. We can exist in a world of love and peace if we open up and let ourselves.

  10. we are all more a like than we are different. each person lives with fear and judgment, sadness and insecurity. Compassion is the ability to see ourselves in another person, experience what life is like for another. Find compassion, reach out, ask what you can do and then do it and do it with great love...thank you hollye for the voice of compassion that you ceaselessly share

  11. Love your blog, Hollye. Our son committed suicide six years ago. He wasn't gay. It was because he had no hope ... his love tank was empty. If he could have just seen beyond his circumstances, he wouldn't have done it. We'll never get over it, we accept it only because we can't change it. And so on Monday, THE anniversary, we'll celebrate him by taking the day off and doing the things he loved ... a good meal and a movie. What gives US hope is we'll see him again in heaven.


I love hearing your point of view- thank you for taking the time to comment and be part of the conversation!