Openly-gay, Miltona, Minnesota eighteen-year old Lance Lundsten, who friends say was bullied for years, died of a previously-undiagnosed heart problem on Saturday. His funeral was tonight.
The Jefferson High School senior, who wrote on his Facebook page that he was gay, left this as one of his final messages: "Love knows no gender, color, or religion."
Earlier today it was reported by The Advocate and other gay outlets that Lance had committed suicide because of being bullied at school. He didn't commit suicide; he died of heart disease. He apparently knew how to deal with the bullies, or at least he knew how to live in spite of them. It's so sad to think of his parents tonight, and of his friends and classmates. It seems to me, though, that Lance lived well. He died too soon, but he died an apparently happy young gay man of the verge of a wonderful life.
I admit to struggling every day to make myself be honest about who I am. I am 64 years old, and not many people can hurt me, and if someone does hurt me, I generally know how to deal with the hurt. Lance was 18 years old and was much more vulnerable in the viper pit of high school than I am living in the luxury of acceptance. He was out. He was honest about who he was. He learned at such an early age to be the kind of man I'm still trying to be. I admire him for his honesty and for his apparent bravery in the face of bullying. I know his Mom and Dad must be very proud of him.
It isn’t easy to live any life, gay or straight, male or female, young or old. It takes a lot of energy to get through this. Beni, the girls, my wider family, and my friends, especially my gay friends, give me that energy every day. I hope the many gay kids who struggle in middle and high schools everywhere will start to find one another. There really is strength in numbers.
Tonight I remember Lance, his friends, and his family. I'm thankful for the life of this young gay man. I think also of the gay kids who are struggling with bullies and my wish for all of them, all of us, is peace.