Ben, 21-year-old gay man lost to suicide, remembered by his mom & 10-year-old sister

On Monday, June 2, 2014, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer bloggers, their family members, and allies from across the U.S. and around the world will celebrate the ninth annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day. The event, developed and run by the award-winning LGBTQ-parenting site Mombian, and sponsored by Family Equality Council, aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ families, their diverse natures, and how current prejudices and laws have a negative impact on their lives and children.

By Julie Wood

My son Ben just happened to be gay. He was passionate about social justice for all humans. He honored the commonality shared by humankind as well as each member’s uniqueness.  From an early age, Ben was extraordinarily kind. At the age of seven, he chose to stop eating meat. He said, “I just don't think that it's right, mom.”  He never ate another bite. He knew how to make each person feel elevated and cared for in his presence. Each felt as though he was their best friend. He listened attentively, had amazing insight, and completely focused on the person he was with. He was honest. He held his friends up, when they could not gather and force the energy to hold themselves.  He made us all laugh.  He had an amazing wit and his laugh was like none other.

I cherish the memories of him as a child, sitting on my lap with his head on my chest. In my arms he was safe and loved. I have painful memories of him as an elementary student, as he stood by himself on the outer edges of the playground. He did not fit in with the rough and tough boys and didn't quite fit in with the games of the girls. In addition to being a gentle and small-framed fellow, he had Mild Cerebral Palsy. While one couldn't look at him and know that his body didn't fully cooperate, many did notice when he had difficulty pronouncing words, catching a ball or jumping a rope. Tough guy talk and laughter often followed.

My heart aches with the memory of his middle school experience; he would not drink in the morning because he was afraid of being harmed in the unsupervised bathrooms. Transfers were made from public to private schools and back again. He was teased less by his peers in the Christian schools, yet experienced equally traumatizing chapel time lessons on homosexuality. I thought that by talking it out and letting him know that God is love and that He made each of us unique, that we could counteract the impact. Memories of high school years bring scars from one person, within an otherwise loving church congregation, who told my son that he "was unworthy; going to hell," and rejected Ben from his youth group.” I hold the memory of the youth leader's voice who shouted at me during the resulting confrontation, "being gay is an abomination!" We left our faith community.

Ben died by suicide on May 8, 2013.

I celebrate the light of my beautiful son.  What a honor it has been to be his mother. I celebrate my sister, Susan and her wonderful partner of 27 years, Linda. They are wonderful role models and Aunts. I celebrate my cousins, Aunt and all of my LGTBQ friends. I celebrate that my family has fully accepted each member. I celebrate everyone who spreads the seeds of kindness.

***

By Sophie Wood, age 10

My brother was a great boy. Well, man. He lived to be 21, sadly. I am proud to call him my brother even though he is not there. A piece of my heart is not gone. Sure he is not here, hugging and spending time with me, but it dose not mean he is out of my heart. I know because when he was alive, he was so good to me, and would never leave my side when i needed someone just to be there for me. Well, I guess my point is that he was a wonderful man. And i just wish he was still hanging out with me.

Some memories I have of him is that we made up a game. We never named it but it would probably be named "fake hide in go seek," because well........I'll just tell you how it goes. So my brother would get his phone and get all the stuffed animals around the house, and then me and my sister Lacy would watch TV or something like that while he hid all of the stuffed animals and take pictures of were he hid them. Then he would show us all of the pictures and we would have to guess where they were. It was so much fun. And i will never forget his laugh. When he was  laughing i felt like everybody was happy.

His name is William Benjamin wood, gone by Ben. My brother loved animals, and things that a regular person would not see or do every day. He also loved going on walks and we could just set at a restaurant for hours, talking about different things. Ben loved history. He always talked about how some teachers would teach about how the people from the first Thanksgiving did not just meet and get along. And stuff like that. We would go to a creek and  we would walk through them and my sister got scared of the water bugs, so Ben carried her all the way through the water. We would go under the bridges. He spent the hole summer with us. We would go to the park and talk, and then we would go get frozen yogurt. He lived in Asheville and there downtown was awesome. They had some many cool shops and cool eating places. The people there were interesting. The best memory about were he lived is that it was very unique.

 

               Even though i only got to be with him for 10 years, they where still some of the best years of my life!

                           In memory of Ben Wood

               my brother!!!

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