One small warning: Some of the responses to "Bill's Story" may contain words which are considered offensive to some people. The strong language comes from strong feelings, and in the context of what the writers are saying, I believe it is important. --- Gabi Clayton

Responses to "Bill's Story" - page 4

March 9, 1997

i came across your web site... usually i wouldnt take the time to read any stories....but when i learned of terrible hatred crime i had only 15 ...i read the story about your son, i then went on but had to return to write this..i guess i have no real reason to....but i know if i dont, i feel an emptyness about me...i think it is terrible what bill went through but what he did about it i cannot say is wrong...yes, i know suicide is not a way to go about anything but, i too feel the way he my heart i feel a hatred against almost everyone i know...why is everyone so cruel i hated it too...i also took in consideration the option of suicide while standing at 60 foot cliff near where i live...i guess all i wrote to say is that i am terribly sorry for what has happened to bill, but strangely enough i dont think suicide is a bad way of going about it...if i went through that i would also, almost anyone would .......


March 17, 1997


I might as well start this off like all of the other responses you've gotten - I just read Bill's story. I am 17 years old and I am gay. Reading your story and all its responses caused a lot of memories to resurface for me. Coming out to my mom, later to my friends, depression, suicide. You brought the world Bill's life in a very unique way, and after reading it, I can say it has had an impact on me as well as countless others I'm sure.

But mostly it invoked strong emotions of eternal sadness, anger, and hope. I have been coping with my severe desire to "come out to the world" lately, and found Bill's story very enlightening and I know it will help me with whatever decision I make. I am currently only out to my mom and a few of my friends at school.

This comes at a strange time in my school days, too. I just finished writing an opinion article for my school newspaper about sexuality and fighting for equal treatment and equal representation and education in schools. Nobody I haven't told knows I'm gay, but it's likely the article will stir some controversy and questioning. I am hoping it will be a sort of "prelude" to when I really do come out - test the waters, so to speak. I have strong friends, and I wish them no harm in the hard times to follow, but that is one of my major negative points for coming out: I know (think?) I could handle emotional/physical abuse, but I would just die if my friends got any of it.

I am practically wordless after reading and then re-reading Bill's story. Your dedication is to be admired, and even though I don't believe in any god or afterlife, I think I would really like to meet Bill somewhere sometime to tell him how much he is loved and missed. You can count on me to join in the fight against hate and bigotry. I am planning on doing a lot of "self-defense" after I come out anyway.

Thank you for sharing your life and your son's life with me. I know it has made a difference in the way I will finish mine, and just think of all the people who have read the story and didn't have the time or courage to reply - I know there's a lot of them out there. Wish me luck on the beginning of my journey, and maybe I'll be able to share something that has this much power and importance later in my life.

Jeff Guillaume (

March 20, 1997

Hello Gabi,

I hope this letter finds you and you family well.

I wanted to write and tell you about the speaking engagement that I had today. I was talking to a human sexuality class. It was 65 students and I recruit three other speakers. I had a lesbian couple and a bi-sexual woman speaking with me today. We talked for about two hours and covered everything from the teenage years to adult intimacy. I handed out "Bill's Story" to the class. While telling about my back ground with Thad and the divorce of my parents and my father eventually coming out to me, I saw some students not paying attention to me but crying while reading "Bill's Story"

After I finished some of the students started talking about "Bill's Story" and Thad. That let to some very interesting comments and discussion. One student even went as far as to say in front of everyone that up to this point he always saw gay's as perverted and not capable of loving and being loved. He then pointed out that he never realized the we (gays and lesbians) love the same and maybe more intensely than the heterosexual community. And he felt very sorry for you and you family and the loss of Bill. He then said that everyone is deserving of love and friendship.

I was very glad for this class. We ask the students to fill out surveys on the speakers. Everyone of these students had only good things to say. In most classes I get one or more persons telling me that it is a sin and that we are perverted and we are going to hell. Out of 65 students not one bad comment. I loved it. I think that we made some people open their eyes and take a look at their hate and maybe change their mind about it.

I have another speaking engagement on April 1st. And I hope this one goes as well. I have spoken to this class before and got some really bad comments. I hope that this is not the case again.

Well I have to go. I just wanted to tell you what happened today. I will update you on the next speaking engagement.

I hope everything is good with you.

Jody (

March 29, 1997

Dear miss Clayton,

My best friend and one of the people i love most in my life is a bisexual. She told us about it one day at a band meeting and we all supported her with open arms. Since then she has told other people with mixed results. Most good but others not so. She goes to school everyday and has to put up with the word "fag" written on everyone of her desks in every classroom. She often is depressed and sometimes won't talk about it. I love her so much, maybe more than anyone else, and i wish i could stop the people who mistreat her. I will fight for the cause. I have already begun by placing 2 pink triangles on our band's web page at one on the opening page and one on her bio page. Another way is that i'm going to participate in the day of silence for Gay,lesbian and bisexuals on april 9 1997.

Robert C.Kalajian Jr. []

April 1, 1997

Dear Gabi,

Bill's Story broke my heart. I actually cried (reading something on the internet)! I would like to link your pages to mine. Before you decide whether I might place a link to your site, please read mine. Then let me know, ok?

My homepage is at .

Thank you for the gift your site represents.

Kindly yours,


***** MEAN PEOPLE SUCK *****

April 2, 1997

Dear Gabi..

I write this email with a tear running down my cheek, after reading of your loss of your son, Bill.

I send you move love and comfort, knowing what it is like to be a parent through a crisis like that.

I too, at 15 was raped by a 43 year old man... along with my best friend and other friends... I contemplated suicide several times, never doing it (obviously) - I loved my family too much.

But from your point of view, I read my mothers shrink reports and found exactly how she felt.

Thats why I am wrting. To congratulate you on your guts and strength to tell us about Bill. He was a great kid.. And you are great parents for accepting him. Thats something my parents cant.

With Kind Regards and warth / support

Brad (


"Id rather be hated for something I am
than loved for something I'm not"


April 2, 1997

Dear Gabi,

I just read your story and just had to write. I'm truly sorry about your lose. I belong to one of the most homophobic organisation in our country. The U.S. Army but me myself am here to fight for everones rights.

I wish I had half the guts you son had. I can't understand why people can't let people live the way they want. This is a country that's suppose to be a free one. Sometimes I fell that I'm not fighting for the right to be free but for what they want us to think being free is.

I just wanted to tell you how much your story touched me and to let you know that at least one of us is here fighting for the rights of all not just the rights of some.


March 22, 1997

Dear Mrs. Clayton,

I am working on a Jewish German network in Frankfurt, Germany. Though I came across your story by "chance", I was moved by it. Though never assaulted, I have come from a country (Israel) were Gays were unknown. Many years of my life have passed till I've managed to come to terms with my bisexuality. A time I could have lived differently. I have a section in my network titled "MINORITIES". I wanted to put in it links to sites and individuals who may help people in distress. I wonder if you would allow me to add a hyperlink to your site and possibly offer an open ear, should there be somebody who would feel like contacting you.

German Jewish communities are small and homosexuality is still a taboo.

I wish you have a nice weekend,
Motti Pasternak
My network may be found under:

April 4, 1997

Dear Gabi,

I was searching for information on suicide when I came across your son's story. I am seventeen years old, and I am heterosexual. This does not mean that I do not approve of bi-sexuality--I sympathize with those who are homosexual, even though it is not something I understand. I have a very good friend who is gay, and he struggles constantly with people who refuse to accept him. I don't think that he chose to be gay--I think that he simply could not help it. It is so wrong for society to dictate what is right and what is wrong! Why can't we just accept everyone for what they are? Isn't that what God stands for, unconditional love? I refuse to believe that God does not accept those who are different. When I read your son's story and saw his picture, I felt so angry about his unjustified death. He sounds like he was a wonderful, caring person with wonderful, caring parents. I wish that I had parents so willing to accept everyone and love those who are unique. I was taught to hate, and that makes me so sad. I admire you and your husband so much--you have so much courage! I'm not sure if I have expressed exactly what I wanted to say, but know that I am thinking of you and the cause that you fight for.

Love always,
Amy Worthy

April 6, 1997

Dear Mrs. Clayton,

I happened to run across your Website this afternoon, following the link from Steve's AIDS Diary Website. I wish that I could express in words the depth of the emotion that I felt when reading your description of your son's suicide. I was extremely touched and extremely saddened by what happened to your son.

I am heterosexual, but I am an actor. As a result, I have encountered some homophobic prejudice from those who are ignorant enough to believe a male actor must automatically be homosexual. I also have friends who are homosexual or bisexual, and have seen the hatred and discrimination directed towards them. Thankfully, I have not encountered much homophobia directed towards me, but I fight against homophobia because of my friends and because it is right to fight against such prejudice.

I know that not many words can alleviate the pain you must feel about what happened to your son. The only contribution that I can possibly make to you is that you are doing much good in your son's memory, perhaps more than you realize. The personal tone of your narrative draws people first-hand into what it is like to have hatred and violence directed right at you. And by seeing what your son endured before his death, you also give inspiration to those who might be going through their own difficult times and who may have contemplated that route, which is truly not a route at all.

I thank you for sharing so deeply of yourself.


Mike Harris

April 6, 1997

Mrs. Clayton,

I don't know where to begin except to tell you i read Bill's story. I am a coming out Bisexual male. I came upon Bill's story while searching the internet for pages on support groups of coming out bisexuals. I am 25 years old and I am just now coming to terms w/ my sexuality. Now that i look back after reading Bill's story i realize I have been Bi all along, but have had to hide it. When i went to school there was no such thing as a Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual support group. Sexual topics other than Herterosexual ones were never disscussed and when ever something came up about gays the subject would be hushed up quite ubruptly. It took my older brother telling my Mother that he is gay to give me the courage to look in that direction. I am not just saying this to get on your good side or out of sympathy, but because Bill truly reminds me of myself. I really wish i had known why i had liked looking at my male classmates and my female classmates equally, but i did not have a clue about bisexuality. I think schools should have something like that in their curriculum so that these children can realize who they are early and nutured. They should also have high school support groups for them as well. I am in the U.S. Navy and can not come out of the "closet". I fear for my career. I only have 4 more years left in the military. I am almost at the point where i am considering letting the military know that i am Bisexual and if they try and discharge me because of it and by doing so force me to take legal action and also to shed more light onto the gay rights movement. Even being a legal adult of 25, I am finding it hard to find support. I commend you on your standing by your son. I wish alot more parents did the same. If they did we would be alot better off. I would love to see you write a book. Well, i will leave you with a solemn promise that Bill will not be forgotten, and he gave me strength to press on. Thank you very much for sharing Bill's life w/ me and thank you for reading this e-mail ( i have been told i gab too much).

April 9, 1997

Subject: A speech i made the other day

The other day in my ROTC class in school we had to do speeches for a grade. I figured what a great chance to get out my message about the fight against homophobia. I did the speech, it was quite good. There was only one problem, the audience (my classmates) were dead silent. They didn't have any questions, I heard two girls in back making rude remarks and no one wrote the responses I asked for. I was so depressed. Finally my Sergeant pulled me aside from class and told me not worry, he said it was a difficult subject for my age group to grasp as easily as I did. I got an "A" on that speech, and later on during the day some of my classmates came up and apoligized for the way they acted. One went as far as to admit to me that his cousin was gay. I found out my friend was affraid to say he was supportive of the rights of gays,lesbians and bisexuals because he thought people would think he was gay as I used to think. Today me and him were he only people I know that participated in the day of silence for gays,lesbians and bisexuals. I've also got teachers now telling me about how to go about gettin places to speak and how to get the message out clearer. Today I got home and felt so good because now I have more information and people in my arsenal to fight homophobia. And all in all I have to give special thanks to Kelly Chandra, the girl I told you about in my last letter, for opening my eyes to this cause. And I have to thank you for your wonderful webpage which helped me understand a lot more how it feels to be at the back end of hate. I have to say I am not Gay. But if i was i'd be god damn proud to be.

Robert C.Kalajian Jr. []

March 30, 1997


Let me begin by saying, "I am with you..."
Although I have not endured the hate experienced by your son, Bill, I am joined with you in your family's resolve to put an end to hate.

Reading "Bill's Story" has quite literally got me in tears... I am certain that Bill's memory will live on in the legacy you have created here.

I, myself, have recently started a mentoring website for G/L/B/T youth at

I just started "advertising" its existence in February through a post to the newsgroup and it has been spreading by word of mouth ever since. One thing I am hoping to do is to include non-gay adults as mentors as well, to demonstrate to teens the support that exists outside of the G/L/B/T community - in their towns, neighborhoods, churches, etc - so that may know unconditional acceptance and freedom from hate.

One of the newest additions to my site is a chat forum which I hope to kick off in April. One of the topics I have on my schedule is, "When Hate Hurts: Dealing with Homo/Biphobia". Most of the teens who have requested mentoring so far have been bisexual. I will be holding these chat forums on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and am hoping to have guest moderators to help lead the online discussions. After viewing your page, I feel compelled to inquire as to whether or not you'd be interested in moderating the discussion on this topic. I think you can bring a rare and unique perspective to this issue. Also, if you are agreeable, I'd like to add a link from my site to your page. Finally, I have a page on my site entitled, "Our Stories, Our Lives" - a place for people to share their personal stories with those that visit my site. I think "Bill's Story" is extremely powerful and worth sharing. If you are agreeable, I'd like to reprint it on my page as next month's submission.

My site is still VERY much in its infancy, but I am hopeful it can be yet one more resource for G/L/B/T teens and young adults... I hope that through this site, and in conjunction with you and others everywhere, we can put an end to the hatred to led to Bill's suicide and create a legacy to young people, like Bill, who have chosen to end their life rather than face the hate.

I look forward to hearing back from you and to having the opportunity to explore this and other issues with you further.

~RÅnd¥~ (

April 6, 1997

Dear Mrs. Clayton;

First, let me thank you, as I am sure so many others have, for your devotion, commitment and perseverence. I hope that your family and friends respect and support all of what you have done. By what I've seen, that is the case.

I stumbled on Bill's story quite by accident. I was discouraged to see my search had pulled up the wrong page. I frowned, but I decided to look it over to find out WHY this was found in place of what I had sought. Soon after I began reading, it didn't matter anymore why. I was just grateful that it had.

As I sat reading the desperation which Bill must have felt, through all he endured in his young life, I could not help but be over whelmed with emotion. I was deeply pained and equally disturbed by the assualt which your community callously tolerated. A tolerance which cannot be allowed to prevail.

The more I read, the more painful your son's life struck me. The more I felt a need for something positive to come from this. The more I began to relate and empathize. All of which, intensified the experience as I careful read through it.

Once I looked thoroughly over ever thing you had left. I set back for a moment, wiped away the tears and took in a deep breath. Then I read it again with an attempt at more solid composure. But, there was little chance of it.

My heart goes out to you and Alec and the rest of your family. Your words have shown me Just what we all lost when Bill chose to end his life. I cannot imagine losing such a precious child myself. I pray for the day, when no other parent will have to endure that which you have due to prejudice, fear and blatant ignorance.

I am as touched by the kindness and the love with which Bill's English teacher fondly speaks of, as I am the festering hatred which you described.

I found that Bill and I had so much in common. So much so, that I felt I had to do something. I felt so outraged, and helpless. Therefore I have written this letter. If only to share a moment of encouragement. To let you know, you are not alone, you are appreciated. Though I am sure, all of this has been said to you at least a hundred times before. I doubt you'll find anything herein a revelation.

I am transexual, and Pagan as well. I can empathize with Bill's pain and sadness. I only wished that his story had, had a happier ending as mine has had thus far. I found so much of him within me, that he will always be remembered here as well.

I wish I were able to see the pictures you have available for viewing. But, unfortunately I can't. Which is a long story. But, I could read the descriptions.

Have you ever considered writing his story into a book? If you ever do, please let me know. I would love to have it. I can easily see the story becoming a movie. I know that it might be difficult to think of capitalizing on your son's brief life. But, I encourage you not for the financial gains but for the social gains. If his story could change one persons view, it would be worth it. I think it could have a very positive reaction. I hope you will consider it.

Well, I have taken up a great deal of your time. I thank for sharing Bill's story with me. I will keep you and your beautiful family in my prayers. I leave you with all of the love and warm hugs I can. Bless you....


April 10, 1997

Subject: your voice moves us

Dear Ms. Clayton,

My name is Jennica Born, I am a sophmore at Purchase college in New York. I am presently co-teaching an independent study on queer activism. I was deeply moved by your son's story and brought it into discussion earlier this week in class. We are presently designing actions and campaigns dealing with different forms of homophobia. We are planning a 48 hour vigil in which we will be constructing a large memorial and handing out flyers and information on bashing, violence and suicide within and against the lesbian gay bisexual and transgendered community. I would be honored if you would allow us to use your son's story and the photograghs from your page. I feel that this event will create a point of great awareness for the members of this community (the general campus). I think that your family's story is one which demonstrates great courage and hope. We all can learn something from your struggle. If you would like more information or would just like to talk about whatever, please feel free to email me.

thank you for your words

Jennica Born (

April 14, 1997

Dear Gabi:

It's so very cool to find myself listed "officially" as a member of Steve's Fan Club. :-)

I wanted to let you know that i would like to make copies of Bill's Story to hand out in the class i'm teaching tomorrow. This is the HIV, Transmission, and Social Behavior class at the Harvard School of Public Health which Steve spoke in a few weeks ago. Tomorrow's class is on Adolescents and Sexuality, and one of the issues we definitely pay a lot of attention to is that of bisexual, gay, and lesbian youth.

I guess i never wrote you the first time i found your page (it's taken Steve S. and Don Kirkpatrick to make me a bit more outgoing on the net), but now, i guess, is a good time to tell you how profoundly affected i was by Bill's Story. I've been out in the gay and lesbian community since i was 18, and sometimes i think we in the community forget what it was like to be young, struggling with identity, and/or struggling with public acceptance. Your story reminds me how lucky i am to be alive, and reminds me why i became interested in public health in the first place. :-)

Students were really affected by some of the other readings i have already given them on gay and lesbian youth, youth suicide, and HIV+ youth. One foreign student in my class wrote in a reflection paper:

"I was so moved and really got a little emotional when I read this story. It is probably one of the saddest stories that can heppen in a family. What can we do to help these young people?"

Another of my students told me the story of her cousin, who told his parents he was gay when he was 16 and moved to San Francisco. She didn't know whether he was forced to leave home or left voluntarily. When he came home to die of AIDS six years ago, he told his mother that he had been living with a series of older men in San Francisco, and that he wasn't sure who had infected him with HIV. When he died, the family was told that he had died of cancer - my student did not find out the truth until this past year.

What continues to amaze me, i think, is how few public health people see gay and lesbian youth psychosocial health and youth suicide as public health issues. But, again, it is stories like Bill's (and also reading Linda George's page) that have reminded me why i went into public health in the first place.

Anyway, Gabi, just a short note to give you my thanks...

jarvis (

April 17, 1997

My name is Rachael and I am 17 years old. 'Bill's Story' moved me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and a small part of your son's life/personality. Bill sounds like he was a very special person with incredible courage.
Best wishes,

April 18, 1997

Dear Mr & Ms. Clayton,

I just finished reading "Bill's Story" and I had to write to you to tell you how moved and angered I was at reading it.

Moved, because a bright, energetic, young man was systematically driven over the edge by hate.

And angered because of the fools who use their "religion" to do nothing more than hurt others.

I can't begin to understand the pain you have suffered with the loss of your son, it is a loss I hope to never experience.

As a gay man, I know the hate...I have been called those names MANY times..

I am so sorry for what Bill and your family was put through. And, hopefull, his story will let people see the consequences of their actions. "Bible thumping" causes hate and pain...and words hurt as much, if not more, than physical blows.

Again, I am very sorry for you and your family's loss...because of this, the world has lost yet another child...

Yours truly

Paul Folkes (

April 21, 1997

Mrs. Clayton,

The very tragic and moving story of your son brought me to tears. I am heart-sick that such hatred befell such a lovely person. I would like to offer my deepest condolences, and to let you know you have inspired me to do more about such problems. For the past 3 years I have been a member of the "Drug-Free Teens Organization of New Jersey." I always believed I was serving my, and other comunities, in a way that benefited them most. I see now, that there is another area that needs just as much attention. I will see to it that the memory of your son will not be forgoten.

Nathan (

May 1, 1997

Dear Gabi,

I hope you don't mind my being so informal in addressing you as Gabi instead of Mrs Clayton.

A friend saw your web page about your son Bill and mentioned it to me and I checked it out.

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your son.

From what I read, you and your husband seem like the kind of loving and nurturing parents that I wish my parents were. As it stands now, I have no contact with them. This is my choice and it is difficult to explain to people who did not grow up in a similar situation. They know that I'm gay, but that has little to do with our estrangement. I'm sure they're not happy about it. I won't go on talking about them because that's not what I want to share with you.

I wanted to tell you about some amusing things that have happened as a result of people's homophobia. I have been very fortunate that friends that I have come out to have been very understanding.

I once had a boyfriend named Ken. Ken was very political. He was (perhaps still is) the East Coast Organizer for the Socialist Party. I loved him very much. So much that we would do things that heterosexual couples took for granted.

Just before Ken left for New York, we went out to a restaurant for a mid-afternoon meal together with some friends (Bill and Joel). I arrived with Bill and Joel, Ken arrived in the van with his possessions. The meal was nice and relaxed. I can't recall the details of the conversation. I just remember thinking that I probably woudn't be seeing Ken for a while or very often. It was still light outside. When we returned to the parking lot, we kissed and embraced for a very long time. He got in his van and I got into the car with my friends. Joel, who was sitting in the back seat, said, "I can't believe your guys did that!" "Did what?" I asked, genuinly unaware that anything unusual had transpired. "Kissed like that." He said. "The whole restaurant saw you." Bill, my other friend who was in the driver's seat, said. It was at that point that I realized that something important had happened. I loved Ken so much that I wasn't self-concious about being gay and being affectionate in public.

There was another time prior to this that we walked down the street in State College, PA where he lived holding hands. It felt so good to do that. I heard someone say as we passed, "Faggots." It wasn't very loud, but I heard it. I stopped and turned and looked at the person who said it and gave him a dirty look. Then we went on about our business.

At around this time I was living with two roommates Bill and Ed. Ed had just come out at work. He was fortunate that his mother was supervisor there. She was accepting of him and she shielded him from problems. I started work there about a week after he had come out. So I was sort of out by default. The only really homophobic attitude that I got from anyone was from one man. Once he walked past my office door and said, "Faggot" under his breath. If I'd been thinking I would have said, "If your going to say it, be a man about it and say it proudly." The most I could manage in those days was dirty looks which I gave him.

The other incident with this guy was really amusing and showed me how much power I really had. The building where I worked had mensrooms on either side of a long hallway. One was closer than the other. The other, a long walk. One day we both came out of our repective work areas into the hallway and we both started out towards the mensroom. He was ahead of me. When he realized that I was going to the mensroom too, he quickly turned around and went to the restroom at the other end of the hallway. How silly I thought. I didn't think he was attractive, and I don't believe I ever gave him the slightest cause to believe that I did. I can't imagine what he thought I would do to him.

I had a very understanding supervisor. She always inquired about my boyfriend. She was really jealous the one time I came in with a hickey on my neck. This was the first times I'd ever had a hickey, just one of those things I had to experience once. A couple of weeks later she came in with a very high collar on. And when I inquired about it, she proudly showed me her new hickey. I congratulated her.

It is much nicer to be able to be out in the workplace and to have understanding co-workers.

I have other amusing stories to tell, and this could end up being a long email.

I think that a societal change can be effected with the aid of television, movies, and books. With the integration of gay characters in the stories. Not just the stereotypical gay characters. I loved Too Wong Foo, Birdcage, and Pricilla, Queen of the Desert, but they perpetuate that image that gay men somehow just want to be women.

Sorry if this came out a bit disjointed.

Thank you for reading,

Keith (

May 6, 1997

Dear Gabi Clayton,

I read your story about your son, Bill, and I wanted you to know how it moved me.

You don't know me, and we'll probably never meet. I want to thank you for giving me (and countless others, through the Internet) the opportunity to learn about and "meet" Bill. He truly was a unique individual and I would have loved to have known him. I read his story with tears in my eyes. I have 2 children, one of whom is seriously mentally ill; I can empathize with you and your family in terms of what that's like. I also have bouts with mental illness myself, specifically depression, have been suicidal, and so can relate, in perhaps a small way, to what Bill went through. I'm so sorry that he say no other way out. However, through you he has left a powerful and important legacy.

I hope that many others will read your page and "meet" Bill.

How fortunate you were to have a son like him and he, a mother like you.

Best wishes,
Carol H. Jewell (

May 7, 1997

Dear Mrs Clayton,

I came across your page on your son and you have stolen my heart with his story. I am 23 years old this year and just about the time when Bill realised and came to terms with his sexuality, I did too. The strange thing is that the society where I come from also frowns upon being gay or bisexual. I am bisexual, and being someone from Singapore; where rules and laws are bountiful, I have never come out to most. Even my parents. My best of friends know but Thank God that they never ran away from me.

There was a time that I was suicidal myself and it took 3 attempts before I realised that life isn't easy and the best wat that I can get through it is to realise that life is hard and I should take it in my stride.

Now and then I come across someone who says things like "life sucks" and "I want to die..." and I always feel that I have a duty to do, and that would be to make sure this person remains alive. I'm really sorry about your son and I admire your strength and courage. Asians tend to shy away from such things, and I myself am no different. I admire Bill's ability and courage to tell people about who he was. He has more strength than I ever will.

God Bless and Warmest Regards J

May 9, 1997

Dear Gabi,

I wanted to let you know I just read your story for the first time. Since my son Brian is 17, it really is hurtful to read of all of your pain and suffering. I am so sorry for your loss. Words do no justice here.

Brian came out in February. Unbeknownst to us, he had been struggling with his orientation for over two years, but was not ready to share with us. We had also been dealing with a mental health crisis (you know all about that, don't you!) with our daughter, (now nearly 20,) which we thought at the time was simply mother/daughter teen angst/struggle. (Turns out she has separation anxiety disorder and arrested emotional development. She's doing really well now - therapy and falling in love and working in Special Education as an aid....)

Anyway, Brian didn't feel he could add to our burden so kept his struggles to himself. When we look back, we simply thought he was going through puberty and adjusting to high school. We knew he had oodles of girl friends, but no girlfriends, and wondered from time to time. But life was hell dealing with his sister, so we didn't invite any more struggle by approaching him.

This winter things evened out really nicely at home, and we accidentally discovered that Brian felt he was gay. (He left his poetry book sitting out on the couch - he swears it was not intentional!) I approached him and he was SO relieved to be out at last. I realize that this will probably sound naive to you, but while I am concerned about discrimination and hate crime, I am not concerned about depression and suicide where Brian is concerned. I have never met a more centered and stable person than my son. My mom likes to tell people how self-assured (but not arrogant!) he is - when he was in 3rd grade, he was assigned a paper on who he would be if he could be anyone on earth (the teacher was aiming, I am sure, for kids to pick heros or presidents...) Brian's short essay said he would want to be himself, because he likes who he is and can't imagine wanting to be anyone else. He thinks he's okay. We, of course, agree.

We have spoken to Brian at great length about our concerns for his safety. His whole experience with coming out has been extraordinarily positive. His friends have not only supported him, but sworn to defend him totally. We have been utterly supportive. He hopes to start a support group at school in the fall and has plans to talk with the principal and some gay teachers at school for assistance. We know of a school board member who has a family member who is gay (it may be him - he spoke of his 7 siblings and himself at Brian's National Honor Society induction ceremony and said one of them is gay - wouldn't it be great if it was him!) Brian KNOWS that it's been smooth and that he WILL encounter opposition and bigotry. He also knows he has a huge support group behind him when it happens.

One of the student speakers at the NHS induction gave a speech on leadership. Brian commented on it when we got home. The speaker said that when you stand to lead, you expose your back. Brian said he was really struck by that comment (no pun intended) and that he realized that he was READY to take that chance by taking a leadership role in the gay community at his school. We are just so proud of him. He amazes us daily.

I apologize for this lengthy tome. Your story inspired me. I'm sorry I didn't read it until now. I honestly hadn't known about it. I will recommend it to everyone I know on-line. Everyone needs to know. I'm thinking of you, and thank you for sharing your life so freely with us all.

By the way, you are welcome to share Brian with us. He's a wonderful kid and there's lots of him to go around (figuratively - he's only 5 ft. 7 in. and about 130 pounds!) (But he's really cute!)

Thanks again.
Joanne (

Small planet -- an internet story

Back in mid-April, I wrote to Dirk Goes ( who had signed my guestbook. He answered:

Thank you for your message, an unexpected surprise. I want you to know that your guestbook and the responses to 'Bill's Story' have become my favorite pages on the Internet. Each morning I switch on the Internet they are the first I look for, to see if there are anymore responses. I have printed all the pages to read them over and over again and I must have been shedding gallons of tears, even as I write these words. You should be proud of yourself for creating such a tower of love and there is no way I can tell you how much I appreciate your effort to fight hate. Don't ever stop, you are a saint, an angel in a world of darkness. Maybe it sounds exaggerated, but I really believe that if anyone deserves to win the Nobel prize for peace it is you.



P.S.: The other day I found a nice poem on the Internet. Maybe you know it already, but in case you don't here it is. Hope you like it.

In the name of God that is love,
They hate.
In the name of God that is love,
They discriminate.
In the name of God that is love,
They exclude us from their spiritual worship.
In the name of God that is love,
They suddenly expel us from loving family relationships.
In the name of God that is love,
They insist our commitments mean nothing.
In the name of God that is love,
They prevent us from legally marrying.
In the name of God that is love,
They deny the multitude of gifts of creativity we have freely given the world in so many areas.
In the name of God that is love,
They attempt to legislate discrimination against us.
In the name of God that is love,
They reject us in every way while many of us experience depression and substance abuse.
In the name of God that is love,
They steal our children and say we are unfit parents.
In the name of God that is love,
They decide we are unfit to defend our country, and even after we have proven them wrong they expel us with our medals and decorations.
In the name of God that is love,
They laugh as the suicide rate among our youth soars.
In the name of God that is love,
They keep us from reaching out to our youth to protect them.
In the name of God that is love,
They attack us physically - wounding, maiming and killing us.
In the name of God that is love,
They lose all sense of compassion and love and turn into vicious beasts.
In the name of God that is love,
They judge, 'It is God's punishment', as the horror of AIDS devastates us.
In the name of God that is love,
They say 'Let AIDS kill all the faggots'.

And I become introspective,
And I think on these things,
And I wonder - WHERE IS THE LOVE?

I asked him if he knew who wrote the poem, and he wrote back:

As for the poem I sent you the other day I have found the author's name and address! It is as follows: Richard K. Smith, San Diego, CA His E-mail address is

Well, I recognized the e-mail address as a friend, Laura, from the pflag-talk list. So I wrote to her:

Well, I would recognize that e-mail address anywhere... :-) But I don't think I had seen this before - and who is Richard? The poem is wonderful - very powerful!

And this planet gets smaller day by day...

Laura wrote me:

Richard was a dear friend of mine who died of AIDS a year and a half ago. This poem has circulated far and wide and was even published in an Episcopal newsletter as a proverb(?) ( I'm not good with religious terms). Richard really got a chuckle out of that because he felt himself pretty seperated from religion. Thanks for sharing this with me Gabi. I love the idea that Rick's poem is still being circulated. I'll forward your post to his lover as well.

I asked her to see if I could post the poem on the response pages, and she answered:

I have permission to say yes to anyone who wants to post Rick's poem anyplace. If Edwin likes, he can give you more biographical information. And edited version of Rick's poem was also published in USA Today twice - the second time at the end of the year in their year-end highlights section. I've already sent Edwin your web page address, but it is fine to post Rick's poem. It is okay to use my name and email address unless Edwin tells you to use his. Rick's full name is Richard Klee Smith, May 6, 1959-Dec. 3, 1995.

And when I told Dirk, he said:

Thanks for your message. It is a small planet indeed, isn't it? ...I was moved to read that Rick has died of AIDS (will we ever find a cure for this horrible disease?) but I really like the idea that he lives on around the world in his beautiful poem.

May 20, 1997

I was deeply touched by your son's story.

Though I love my mother dearly, I wish she could be more like you concerning gay issues. I forgive her for the way she reacted to my attempts to share my life with her, but it's something I can unfortunately never forget.

Thank you for being a voice of compassion and understanding.


"Freedom is the freedom to say:
two plus two equals four.
If that is granted, all else follows."

May 21, 1997

Gabi, First off, I wanted to commend you on such a beautiful and heart-felt story. I immediately made copies for my mom and Helen; my "second" mom. I'm a 29 year old gay male and I've been out to my family for about 6 years now and know my family and friends would appreciate your story and website.

I often feel I've lived in a bubble because I, fortunately, haven't been involved in such abuse growing up - but I know such hate crimes DO exist. Well, I've been involved in the usual name-calling, but nothing past that.

Thank you for YOUR story, Bill's story and continuing the fight. I'm always thinking of those that are the victims of such hate crimes while I'm either volunteering for Hyacinth Foundation (NJ foundation helping those with AIDS), marching in NY's Gay Pride March or viewing the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Washington DC - or just existing with life!

Thanks, again, for sharing and enlightening those who are in need. Your page will be passed onto my friends.


May 24, 1997

Sat here for about five minutes determining if I should drop you a line about your Internet site. Was cruising this magazine site and came across your page from the opening statement.

Was completely blown away by your life, your agony, your dedication, and your love.

What is it people say, you have made a difference in someone's life today?
Well, it is true.

Kevin (

May 27, 1997

I write to you, Gabi, without knowing quite what I'm going to say... I read your son's story with very mixed emotions. I feel very deeply for your loss, for I too have lost people very close to me as a result of their sexual orientation and the pressures incurred with the revalation of that fact to the public, but I also want to commend you for turning a tragedy into a triumph. Your courage in speaking out and creating a memorial to your son is inspiring and incredible. I have dealt with some of the same issues in Tacoma as your son, and I barely made it through; I regret that he did not. I wish I had some words of wisdom or sage advice to give you, but I don't.. You are an amazing woman.

I read your son's story with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, but I am so pleased that I was able to share it. God bless.



June 2, 1997


I have just finished reading Bill's story and the other related "stories" that you have posted.

I can't begin to understand your loss...

I can unfortunately, understand Bill's pain and his reasons for deciding to end his life. I am 31, have been out for about for 10 years and still there are times when suicide crosses my mind. There are many times when I wonder if it wouldn't have been the "easier" choice when I was younger.

The work that you are doing is so important - how much easier things would have been for me and so many other gay/bi/lesbian youth if just one person had told them they were OK and not alone. Please don't ever feel that you're not making a difference.

I didn't know Bill but from your "stories" the world is certainly missing out. I'm not much of a believer in God and heaven but I do believe that Bill has gone somewhere where his sexuality does not make a difference and where he is free to be who he wants to be - hopefully one day that place will be Earth - our Earth.

... know that Bill and Bill's story continue to touch and reach people - and most importantly, to make a difference.

Take care.

Colin Longman (
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Please feel free to post this if you want.

June 6, 1997

Hi Gabi,

I don't really know why I am writing. I know you receive a lot of mail regarding your loss of Bill. I ran across your story in a "coming out" stories I found and was really moved. I was so glad to read that your family was so supportive of him. Too many kids come out to their parents and are rejected. I am so very glad that when he passed on, he knew his family loved him and was not ashamed of him. I only wish I had never heard of Bill, because that would have meant he was still be with you today. Your story helped me to feel as if I knew him. And then to see the pictures.... well, my eyes watered a bit. I am not really known to tear up so easily. It is not that I don't have compassion, but I tend not be down. I always try to be upbeat about life.

I too am bisexual. But unlike Bill, I have never been open about it to anyone, with the exception of some friends I have met on the net. I dealt with similar hate bashing in Junior High. I was never popular with the girls and kept to myself. That made me a popular target for the school bullies. I went through hell for two years. Although I was not open, I was still called "queer", "fag" and every other name there was.

Things were not good. My High School years were better. Only a couple of the "bullies" came to the same high school I did. We never had the same classes and they eventually grew up. I am actually friends with one of them. I have'nt seen him in years, but ran into him at my high school 10 yr reunion. I grew up also in high school which also helped. But I look back on my junior high school years with a lot of sadness, shame and anger.

I have never considered it a possibility to come out for many reasons. The biggest is my parents. I know they would NEVER disown me, but I would always feel that I would dissappoint them. Secondly, I joined the military right after hight school. Third, I belong to an organization that I have been a member of since I was 14, and I now work with cadets ages 13 to 18. I am sure you know the kind of controversy that could have. The last reason I would never consider being open is that I am currently being processed for the position of a Law Enforcement Officer (Police Officer). It is tough enough to get hired, but add the fact that I am bi-sexual and you know what could do.

Today, I am 32, and have been lucky enough to have made this far in life without any more jr. high experiences. That was the only two years in my life I had to deal with that, but it was my most impressionable years. I believe it did help me become a more caring person who wants to help everyone. It is probably one of the big reasons I enjoy working with kids and want to become a cop. I live a normal life and I prefer women, but I a small part of that side of me will always be there. It was worse during those years and I can fully understand what Bill was going through. Again, I am glad he did not have to go throught it alone.

I commend all the work you have done. I KNOW Bill would be, or should I say IS, proud of you. I hope that I will be able to help other kids out there who feel the way Bill, and sometimes myself, did. I am new to the internet and would be grateful if you could tell me where I could be of some help. All some kids need is just someone to listen and talk with. Someone who has shared the same pain and is doing fine today. I would like to work here locally, but with my not being open, it makes it impossible. I hope I am making sense. I am basically just writing what come to mind. I have not really talked about the experiences I had at 14 before. I do know that if I can be of some help to anyone, I would like to know where I could go.

So in conclusion, I wish to say I feel deeply for your loss. I hope I may hear from you with any information about a place on the net that I could be of some help. I read somewhere in these pages that a book of some type may have or may be made about Bill's story, and if so, would you please tell me when and where I could obtain one at? I would be grateful. I have rambled on long enough and will end here. Just remember, "Keep The Faith".

Yours Truly,


June 8, 1997


I have just finished reading your wonderful story and many replies. I have also left my name in your guestbook. I was going to write a few words there, but decided that it would be better to email separately.

I am a 28yo gay male. For many years I was bi-sexual and very happy in that fact. My close personal friends knew although it wasn't something we really talked about. I could not think of coming out to my family as a bi-sexual as that label just didn't seem to mean that much. For about the past year I have been slowly orientating myself as gay and am now fully comfortable with that fact. So much so that I want to come out at home and at work. Your story is one more rung (inspiration) in the ladder. This may not seem much to you, but it is a lot to me.

I thank you for being the person that you (and your husband) are, and for having the privilige of "meeting" you. You are truly a wonderful person. Although Bill's story is tragic, much good will come out of it.

I know this is no consilation, and I am sure that you accept this fact anyway. There is so much on my mind that I could say, I could write for hours (oddly, I feel as if I am writing to an old friend) so I will cut this short here.

Best wishes and support to you and your family and to all the people who have to deal with the discrimination (of many varied sorts) everyday. I will never forget Bill's symbol and "motto": "This is not my choice. This is not forced upon me. This just is."

Kindest regards
Daryl (

June 10, 1997

Hey Gab,
my name is Mike and after reading your sons story it brought a tear to my eye. It makes you wonder what this world is coming to. I , like you son am bisexual, but I am not open.

Well let me start of by briefing you on me. I am heading into my senior year @ xxxx School of the Arts, and it's very common @ our school for teenagers to come out and be in a comfortable atmosphere. There's something about the Arts, and Arts schools where it's more excepted.

I did look for that book "Changing Bodies, Changing Minds" and was unable in finding it. (note from Gabi: it is "Changing Bodies, Changing Lives")

I know you must feel pain every time you receive a letter or something so I apologize for any grief i may cause you but I hope that you write me back and we continue to communicate. 'Till next time. . .

Mike (

June 18, 1997

Dear Gabi,

My heart and tears go out to you, I am a gay suicide survivor. I was molested for over 5 years and would sit on the curb, hiding behind parked cars and wait for the perfect car to drive by. I was going to jump in front and be killed - the pain would be over. In 1983 I sat down and put a gun to my head. I was crying so hard that I couldn't pull the trigger and called a psychology professor at college who was also a counselor. This was the first time I had ever told anyone of the pain I had. Today I am a happy gay man with wonderful children from a failed marriage.

I have dedicated my life to trying to help others and our youth so that those like myself and Bill will not have to suffer as we did.

Thank you for the hard work it took for you to tell Bill's story. Your love for Bill and your work is doing more for people to "see" than the donation of Bill's eyes to the Lions program could have ever done.

God Bless, Mark (

June 19, 1997


I just wanted to say thank you for putting Bill's story on the web. I have just recently had to admit to myself that I'm gay (at age 28, after already being married - no kids) in a community where tolerance is non-existant. I can certainly understand the pain that Bill went through as I've only recently started coming out to a few good friends. I also have been through a period where I was suicidal (I think I'm over that now) and without the love and support of two of my friends I wouldn't be here now writing this message to you.

Your words are truly inspired and as I grow more comfortable with myself and my sexuality I would certainly like to assist your efforts in gaining support for our GLBT youth. I admit that I'm going to be stuck in the closet for a while yet (the company I work for is *extremely* homophobic and makes it a policy to fire any non-straight employees) but I'm slowly making plans to change that (including the possibility of moving to a more gay-friendly town).

I've spent 15+ years working with young people and know well the pain and suffering that they are subjected to today. I know deep in my heart that this is wrong and really wish that there was a way to explain to others how it feels to be mistreated because of who we are.

One final note before I must go. When I was reading Bill's story, you mentioned the quote you found in his notebook after his death. I have never before found words to explain exactly how I feel about myself and they have found a place in my heart.

"This is not my choice. This is not forced upon me.
This just is."

Thanks for caring enough to have published Bill's story.


© 1997 by Gabi Clayton and the amazing people who contributed to this page.

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