Caleb Banks of Rutherford County contacted us about sharing his story of why he opposes HB1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill, which is up for consideration in the House Health Subcommittee on Tuesday.
Here are his words, unchanged by Tennessee Equality Project:
First I’d like to start off by saying, Tennessee is my home state. It’s something I always come back to no matter what. It’s where I was raised, where my family resides and where my husband & I have settled down. I also would like for you to know, I’m also a Gay married 23 yr old college student. I struggle day in and day out to make ends meet. I work hard for what I have accomplished and I am determined to be the best I can be. Like so many LGBT citizens in Tennessee I have struggles. Those struggles go left unheard because those around me choose not to listen or care. I also was a mental health patient for many years during my youth. At age 5 diagnosed with ADHD and depression at age 6.
Over the years I became more secluded from my peers, distancing myself afraid of not being normal. At the age of 6 I knew I was different. Taking a liking to boys more so over girls in class. I would think about how odd I was to not be like the “normal” kids. How I would be treated by the other kids on the playground if I had ever openly said I liked a boy in my class.
As my youth is coming mid-way I notice a lot more changes as most teens do in these early stages of puberty, mine somehow, felt different. I didn’t feel normal. I didn’t think I could be accepted. Hearing hurtful words like “fag, fudge packer” and a bunch of other hurtful words. As a kid, it does more than punches. It leaves a mark on you that you can never heal from, an open wound for decades to come.
That was all too real when I turned 15. I didn’t feel that I could turn to anyone, no one could help. I sealed my fate and let it just be. I took a belt tied it around the metal in my closet and wrapped it around my neck then sat as the belt tightened. I felt this way was the best for everyone around me. Little did I know this was no way to handle your emotions as a child. My mother found me still conscience but just barely.
My mother took me to a therapist who specializes in adolescents. They advised me to go to the mental health hospital in Nashville to seek therapy and then to continue to see her after my treatment was done. My therapist and I spoke, and spoke often. We discussed how I felt as a Gay child and how others in school would bully me, how I thought my distant family felt of me since they no longer spoke to me. The pain I was suffering as a child I felt this was all my fault, when in fact it was not.
A child can think exceptionally dark thoughts. Thoughts that can overwhelm them quickly without the treatment they need. I thankfully was seen twice a month and each month got better, eventually conquering my depression. Without that help, I would NOT be here today. Without that help my immediate family would have suffered their entire lives without a son, brother, cousin, grandson, and nephew. I would have never met my husband of 4 years which of whom suffers from depression himself as well.
HB1840 is not only a tool to promote bigotry in the state of TN it’s also a death sentence to those who are LGBT and suicidal. “Referring” someone to meet with them can be extremely difficult and almost impossible for some. Having limited transportation, or not being able to meet for months at a time with someone who specializes in the needs that they are so desperate to treat.
I’ve spoken to many parents who lost their children to suicide because they didn’t seek treatment in time, most of them… Yes you guessed it right.. LGBT. Any child death is tragic, but a preventable one can hit your stomach even harder to make you not even want to go on.
Our community is bruised and battered, we cry and bleed the same. The only difference? It’s that we aren’t pushing a hateful agenda that tells a community we don’t care that you die.
This not only affects the LGBT community, but this also affects Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, and even Christians themselves actually turning the tables on them by anyone opposed to religion. This is life and death these politicians are playing with here. Bullying those who are a minorities seems to be the status quo in Tennessee and enough is enough. The buck stops here. Whether this discrimination bill is passed or not remains to be seen. But even having this as an option on the table is absolutely disgusting in itself. Let’s stop the bullying in Tennessee and show the country we are a progressive state that wants to move forward and not backward.
I’ve been bullied enough. Now it’s time to stop it, before it’s too late for others.