Why I have PTSD

While speaking with my therapist yesterday morning, I confided in her that, out of all of the traumatic events I experienced throughout my childhood, I believe one of them did the most damage. Of course, there’s always an accumulative affect when it comes to trauma—a stacking effect that, once it reaches its peak, eventually causes the overall structure to come crumbling down. Most of these events I refuse to speak about in an open forum, as I feel they’ll contribute to nothing but heartbreak and conflict. I will, however, detail the one event that I feel affected me the most adversely.

So, without further ado, I present to you:

Why I have PTSD.

I grew up in a small town in the middle of Southeastern Idaho, where any difference could either ostracize or make you an easy target. Be it your religion (or lack thereof,) your weight, your appearance, your disabilities (as minor as they may be,) anything could be used against you to make you feel as though you were small. The kids were mean, as some would be fit to say, and once settled upon you like a pack of angry wolves, they wouldn’t often let you get away.

I’ll forego the meatier details of the bullying I experienced throughout my early childhood for the sake of brevity. What I will say, however, was that I was picked on mercilessly—be it for my weight, the fact that I wasn’t Mormon, the fact that I had acne, glasses, an odd group of friends and, at the time, was struggling to figure out whether or not I was gay. I went through this from about the second grade (when I was seven) all the way up until I was eventually driven out of school when I was fifteen.

Yes. I said driven.

The event that would ultimately change my life for the worst began on an early evening in April—when, while walking outside to accompany my father and younger brother to the local fast food establishment to get ice cream cones, I was confronted by the sight of a police cruiser in our driveway. Lights on, officers standing, we approached with confusion only for one of them to ask, “Is Kody Boye here?”

“I’m here,” I replied.

“Is something wrong?” my father then asked.

“We’re here to investigate reports that you posted a death threat against [REDCACTED] High School on MySpace.”

I froze. LITERALLY froze. My heart seemed to stop beating, the blood in my veins chilled. I could do nothing more than stare.

The officer then said the one thing I never wanted to hear:

“We have proof that you posted a death threat against [REDACTED] High School on MySpace.”

I couldn’t believe it—could not, absolutely, one-hundred-percent believe it. I’d never done any such thing—would never in my life ever conceive of threatening someone in such a way—but there they were, two officers, standing there, declaring something I could not even imagine.

That was when they continued by saying, “Let’s go inside.”

My mother—who had been drawn by the attention from flashing lights outside in the descending darkness—could only watch and stare as my father, my little brother, and myself led the two police officers up to our front porch, then nod as they explained the situation and let themselves inside. At the time, we were too shellshocked to ask about a warrant, too scared to refuse access when we could’ve been able to, too intimidated to even begin to think to call a lawyer. The situation, as grim as it happened to be, skewed all sense of thought. So we let them in.

And thus the interrogation began.

Most of those first two hours are a blur to me. I remember simply sitting on the living room couch while the two officers drilled me on the aspects of my high school life. Having already accessed my MySpace account, they were privy to all sorts of information—including whom I talked to online, whom I interacted with, what groups I had been invited to. They kept claiming that they had proof that I had posted this death threat even though they would not produce it, and though I tried to access my computer at the time, it was slow as hell (and in hindsight, likely infected with a virus to make it that slow.) Thus: there was no way to produce my MySpace page for them to comb through.

At one point, an officer pulled me aside—away from the eyes of my parents—and said, “Just admit it. It’ll make things easier.”

“But I didn’t do it,” I replied.

That was when it only got worse.

No less than ten minutes later, an agent from the FBI walked through the door.

Thus began the next two hours of torture.

I was, at another point during the interrogation, pulled away from my parents by the FBI agent and asked whether or not I had anything I would like to tell him. Completely isolated from my parents, I could do little more than stammer out that there was nothing I could tell him, no leads I could give. He confided in me that this report had come from a school bus filled with kids on the way back from an after-hours field trip, and that was the moment I immediately knew that this was a practical joke—an anonymous ‘tip’ from someone who wished to destroy my life. Shortly thereafter, we returned to where my parents and the other police officers were and my interrogation continued. They worked to dismantle my family computer, seized the jump drive which held all of my life’s writing, then departed the home.

By the time it was all over, four hours had passed from the police officers’ initial arrival to the time they and the FBI agent had left.

Thus began their investigation into the matter, and the hell of not knowing what they might find that would come soon after.

During this time, which stretched over the course of two weeks, I was subjected to extreme anxiety—first because I irrationally feared that they would somehow find something to show that I had done it (even though I hadn’t,) then because I feared they would lose everything I had ever written. At one point they called my mother and tried to claim that one of the stories I’d written—which featured a CARRIE-esque destruction of a fictional high school—was proof enough that I hated school and had an agenda against the local high school. My mother, in response, claimed that it was simply a story and nothing more, and as such left it at that.

I wasn’t allowed to go back to school during this time—and was encouraged not to do so by the principal himself, whose thinking was that: if someone was willing to go this far to pull a prank, who was to say that they wouldn’t resort to physical violence?

I was still allowed to attend driver’s education, however (which was sponsored by the high school.) It was here I learned, from a fellow classmate, that a ‘rumor about me posting a death threat to the entire school’ was floating around campus—which, according to the officers who interrogated me, was ‘not supposed to be happening.’ A friend was even threatened to be charged with ‘impeding a police investigation’ when she tried to get to the bottom of the rumor to try and find out who spread it.

After those two horrible weeks were over—and after I was cleared of any wrongdoing—I finished out the last of my coursework for the year at home. Teachers offered condolences over the act that had occurred, offering me support in folded and stapled messages in schoolwork they sent home or by giving me passing grades simply for my prior attendance, and life continued on as it normally would—but not for me.

No.

The damage had already been done, the act already perpetrated, the person whom reported the case never found. I was told—in no uncertain details—that they could ‘probably, possibly’ find the person who anonymously reported the call, but by that point was so emotionally and mentally exhausted by the ordeal that I just wanted it all over.

So it ended—then and there, without resolution.

Come time the next school year came around, I tried to attend a high school the next city over. As I mentioned, however, the damage had already been done. I lasted all of three days before extreme paranoia that a similar event would happen eventually caused me to call home, crying my eyes out and faking sick, and never go back again.

I was homeschooled until sixteen, then dropped out when I couldn’t take the back and forth struggle of online schooling when teachers would not respond to queries and my grades began to fail. It would be two years—when, finally away from that area and down in Texas—that I would apply to take and then receive my GED.

It’s been around ten years to the date since this occurred, and I still sometimes have nightmares over what occurred. The fact that I never allowed it to be resolved (or attempt to be resolved) still bothers me at times, as that person should have been punished for doing what they did to me, but there’s little I can do about it now.

So… there you have it.

Though many events throughout my childhood (some spoken of previously, others not) contributed to my multiple mental illnesses, this was likely, and probably undoubtedly, the one that affected me the most.

Two new books released this February!

Hello everyone!

I try to update this blog as I come out with new releases/other interesting things to talk about, but I’ve been slacking off in that department. Because of that, I have not one book to announce, but two!

The first is the omnibus for The Kaldr Chronicles.

The Kaldr Chronicles

The Kaldr Chronicles

The Complete Omnibus

My life sucks. Literally. I live in a run-down apartment, am poor as could possibly be, and I also recently got kicked out of college due to false claims of plagiarism. Things seem to be going nowhere but downhill—that is, until I meet Guy Winters. He’s hot. Charming. Great in bed. He’s everything I could want in a man. 

There’s only one problem: 

Guy’s past is shrouded in mystery. Though his touch renders me breathless, his body is always cold, and every time we have sex I’m drained—and not in the usual way. 

It takes a break-in, and a murder in self-defense, to realize the truth: 

Guy is more than he appears to be. And now, I’m on the run for my life. 

Purchase (or read on Kindle Unlimited) on Amazon now by clicking or tapping here

The second book is the next installment in the Adventures of Carmen Delarosa series, The King’s Watch.

The King's Watch (The Adventures of Carmen Delarosa, #2)

The King’s Watch

Book 2 in The Adventures of Carmen Delarosa

After successfully hunting and slaying the Drake of Ehknac, Carmen returns home to the fanfare of thousands. Declared a hero by the mayor of Ehknac, word of her exploits quickly spreads, but it isn’t until a letter arrives from the king that Carmen realizes the extent of her fame. In this correspondence, he offers her the chance to join the King’s Watch: an elite organization of soldiers that not only protects him, but also his lands. The offer, while tempting, seems too good to be true; and not only will she have to journey to the capital of Dorenborough to audition, but survive on the way there.

Purchase The King’s Watch now by clicking or tapping here!

The Ultimate List of Books by My Friends

p style=”text-align: justify;”>I have a lot of friends. A lot. And many of them happen to be writers with books available on Amazon.com. If you fancy checking out some of their work, you can do by clicking on any of the various covers below. (Please be sure to disable any Adblocker so you’ll be able to see the links, which come direct from Amazon.)

READ THESE BOOKS BY MY FRIENDS ON AMAZON.COM NOW!

Click or tap the covers below to view descriptions and purchase links

DOWNLOAD THESE FREE BOOKS

 
     

BUY THESE BOOKS

 
     
 

HIS WORDS OF WRATH is now available

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to let you all know that my newest Kaldr Chronicles novel, His Words of Wrath, is now available for purchase on Amazon.com!

His Words of Wrath (Kaldr Chronicles, #3)

His Words of Wrath

Book 3 in the Kaldr Chronicles

Jason DePella has done what was previously thought impossible. By killing the leader of the Hill Country Howlers, he has potentially enabled two clans who have been at war for generations to unite under the same banner. Unfortunately, his new rule is not met without suspicion. As Howlers clash over the fact that a Kaldr now commands their pack, the Central Texas Sanguine are preparing an attack of their own—one that will ultimately shift the dynamics of the supernatural underworld.

You can purchase His Words of Wrath or read it for free on Kindle Unlimited by clicking on the image below:

exclusive kindle

REBEL, book 4 in the Brotherhood Saga, now available!

Hello everyone!

I wanted to first thank all of you who were so patient with me while I posted and sent emails about my birthday bash this past April. I had such an incredible and overwhelming response from not only fans, but new readers of my work, and I can’t thank you enough.

In the mix of it all, I had another book come out, but I didn’t want to report on it then (less I overshadow the event that was transpiring at the time.) Now, though, I am happy to report that Rebel, the fourth book in the Brotherhood Saga, is now available to purchase on Amazon.com. You can find out more information (and see the absolutely brilliant cover) below.

Rebel (The Brotherhood, #4)

 

In Blood, Odin vied to become a knight.

In Sword, he became a champion.

In Death, he lost everything.

In Rebel, the fourth novel in the Brotherhood Saga, Odin is arrested and charged for deserting his kingdom and using illegal magics. Believing that his ties to the court will spare him the death penalty, he appears before the highest magical court in the land expecting none other than life in prison. But when he is sentenced to serve time in the Cadarack Prison for High-Maintenance Criminals—a place fabled for forcing their prisoners to fight to the death in armed combat—his options for escape appear even more hopeless.

exclusive kindle

The Horror of 2015

2015 was, in a nutshell, horrible.

After being diagnosed with HIV only a few months prior, I began the year as a bundle of nerves and continued to progress with them in the following months. Having lost my confidence in writing, I ambled through my daily routine without purpose and tried to work on rationalizing my feelings around my diagnosis. During this time, I was subjected to multiple meetings with government employees, social workers, infectious disease specialists and advocates within HIV/AIDs community in Austin — which not only triggered my PTSD, but left me overwhelmed and emotionally drained.

April began another chapter of my life. On the 7th I turned 23. The day after, I started antiretroviral therapy. I vowed, on that day, that I was going to get myself back on track and continue writing. I restarted, and eventually completed, my fantasy novella THE DRAKE OF EHKNAC. The mere act of writing the final sentence was enough to restore my confidence in myself as a writer.

But alas, the bad times I’d just come out of in 2014 were about to return. In late May, it became obvious that my roommates and I could no longer continue to live in the house in Austin — the home I’d spent the first five years of my adult life in. Finances had plummeted on every side. At one point it didn’t even seem like we would be able to make the final month’s rent. Thanks to the city of Austin and their AIDs services, however, we managed to survive our final month.

After a brief and utterly-terrifying stint that occurred in a hotel (during which time I had planned on staying to wait for my disability hearing before rejoining my roommates,) I relocated to stay with them and their family in Fort Worth. It took five trips between there and Austin in order to move what few belongings we could not store.

In September, my roommates drove me to Austin for my disability hearing (during which I massively disassociated, nearly succumbed to a massive panic attack, and became incoherent at least twice.) I did not receive a decision that day and still have not.

Which segues into the next part: in which, after my anxiety built to its breaking point, I admitted myself into a psychiatric hospital. While I only remained for six hours, I was diagnosed with adjustment order (caused by the move and the anxiety surrounding it.) I was then referred to, and participated in, a partial hospitalization program for two weeks. It was during this program that I began to come to terms with something I’d blocked out during my childhood. While it’s yet to completely surface, and though I am not willing to discuss it publicly as of now, its implications are astounding — and, in some ways, explain some of my past behaviors. I was also rediagnosed with Bipolar 1 (the more dangerous of the 2) and will start their three-hour program this next week. I have been referred to a therapist specializing in cognitive therapy and to address the self-harm issues that have recently begun as a result of my stress.

I’m still waiting on my disability decision. Last I heard, the judge was editing the letter that outlines her decision. It has, undoubtedly, been the focal point of my mental illness.
Much of 2015 was spent in misery, and though I managed to release three new projects during the latter part of it, the suffering I endured was abominable, and something I would never wish on anyone. I am hoping, in this new year, that my life will even out — and that, as a result, my anxiety will drop.

As hard as it was to experience these things, it was at least cathartic to write about them. I can only hope that this year is better.

On This Day Last Year

o-HIV-facebook

On this day last year — between 4 and 5:30 PM — I submitted to, and then received, two preliminary-positive HIV test results. Though it would be days before I would undergo bloodwork to determine the specifics of my disease, it took mere moments to realize that my life would be changed forever.

My first thoughts were of the people I’d recently been in contact with — of the six individuals with whom I’d physically engaged with throughout the entire year.. Who? What? When? Where? Why? Doing what? How? Could it have been prevented? Was it something I had done? Was it something they did? Was it something that could have been prevented? Or was it, by mere happenstance, simply meant to happen? These thoughts, and more, went through my head–when, in but one drop of blood, my future. and potentially the future of several others, was revealed.

I went through the steps to contact each individual. Some were shocked. Others were sympathetic. One was downright volatile. My meeting with the Disease Intervention Specialist from the Health and Human Services Department was invasive, embarrassing, humiliating and completely and utterly depressing. It’d be months before I would be admitted to treatment. Hours of paperwork would need to be filled out. And, most horribly, was the aspect that I had exposed several people to a violent, incurable, and incredibly-stigmatizing disease.

A year to the day, my life is, in a word: normal (or as normal as it could be.) I get up, grab my phone, check Facebook, drink a soda, eat breakfast, shower, and go about my day normally. I suffer chronic pain as a result of the infection (which I will deal with for the rest of my life,) and I navigate hurdles related to my serostatus (mainly dating,) but beyond that, my life has changed very little.

I, in layman’s terms, survived.

My life did not end when I contracted the Human-immunodeficiency Virus. My future did not crumble around me. My aspirations did not dwindle, nor did friendships fade away. None of the people I exposed became positive as a result. If anything, I learned that the majority of people are undoubtedly good — and, if asked, are more than willing to help.

I may have a slightly shorter lifespan than most people (though not by much.) I will always deal with random bouts of chronic pain. I will be at a higher risk for certain illnesses due to my compromised immune system. I’ll suffer stigma due to the lack of education surrounding the disease. I’ll also face discrimination from potential partners. But regardless of those things, I am healthy. My viral load is undetectable. My T-Cell counts are incredibly high. My spirits, though sometimes daunted, are generally in good standings.

A year ago — while lying in bed, crying at the thought that my world was going to end — I never thought I’d be able to say this:

I’m HIV-Positive

I’m happy.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Trigger Warnings” are for Trauma Victims, not Copouts

According to Dr. John M. Grohol of PsychCentral.com, a trigger is, “something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her or his original trauma.” A trigger is caused by one of the five senses — including sight, sound and smell — and can be activated by something as simple as a cough, an unexpected sound, or an image displayed in the media.

In other words, a ‘trigger’ is a psychological response to trauma.

As a victim of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder,) I am prone to and suffer from anxiety attacks due to events I’ve experienced in my past. As a result, I am triggered by certain things — including, but not limited to: authority figures (such as police,) loud noises, and conflict that involves yelling or physical altercations. 

The media has been populated with stories about students on college campuses who claim they cannot participate in classes because the subject matter is ‘triggering’ to them. A simple search of college campus trigger on Google yields dozens of articles on the subject. Most of the headlines include words such as ‘coddling’ or question whether or not ‘they [trigger warnings] can be stopped.’ Trigger warnings, in other words, are no longer being seen as a preventative actions for the mentally ill and are instead being viewed as annoyances.

Someone on Facebook once said the content in a book was ‘triggering.’ I asked them if they suffered from PTSD or had experienced any sort of psychological trauma. When they replied no, I inquired why they had used the word ‘triggering.’ They replied, I just don’t want to deal with it.

The trigger warning — which was initially designed to alert those who’d survived severe psychological trauma of specific content — has now become a way to disregard something when you don’t want to deal with it.

I understand that certain subject matter is difficult to discuss. Rape is horrible. Murder is abominable. Abuse against animals or children is downright evil. But unless you’ve actually experienced those things — and as a result, experience intense, uncontrollable emotional and physical reactions at the thought or even mention of it — you can’t claim to be ‘triggered’ by them. By saying ‘you’re triggered’ by something when, in fact, you have experienced no trauma at all, you are not only minimizing and diminishing the experiences of those who have survived such events, but giving the mentally ill a bad name.

I used to be able to say if I was triggered by something without bringing about immediate speculation (because 95% of the time, people would ask why I was triggered by it and what it did to me.) Now, people automatically assume I just don’t want to deal with it (and am therefor ‘copping out’ of serious discussion matter.)

It’s sad that, in this day and age, the mentally ill are ridiculed when they express that something is upsetting to them. It’s bad enough to have gone through such traumatic events. It’s even worse when people discount your experiences.

Why Representation is Important — an Article by Kody Boye for the 2015 Zombie Crawl

Hello everyone!

For those of you who know me—welcome! For those of you who don’t: My name is Kody Boye. I’m the author of a zombie novel called Sunrise, which features a young gay man and centers around not only his struggle to survive the zombie apocalypse, but also the reality of a new and unfriendly world. The Band of Dystopian Author’s annual Zombie Crawl is an awesome event that I unfortunately didn’t get to take part in last year, but now that I am, I’m excited to participate! You can find out more about my novel (and enter a giveaway to win a few eBook copies) at the end of this article.

So, without further ado, here is

Why Representation is Important

I initially struggled to decide on what I wanted to write for this article. At first I wanted to discuss LGBT characters in zombie films, but upon asking my audience for recommendations and only receiving only four responses, I began to think about how little representation there are for them in the horror genre. We’re used to seeing the common stereotypes of effeminate gay men and butch “woman who wants to be a man” lesbians. Transgender characters, or even those whose gender identity is slightly within the shades of grey, are treated even worse. This is an incredibly frightening realization — because growing up, we’re taught that diversity is important, and that we should attempt to understand people who are not like ourselves. It’s a fundamental aspect of the human experience to know that we are different from one another, whether it’s through skin color, religion, sexuality or even culture.

As of recently, I’ve begun to run into an argument that only serves to discount diversity in fiction. Usually it is presented in the form of a statement such as, ‘it isn’t necessary for characters to be defined by race or sexuality.’ A defense is then offered through the addendum ‘ because we’re all human.’ Some people don’t claim to see skin color or sexuality. Others say it isn’t important to a character’s development or story. A few even say that they don’t want to see it at all. While we can all agree that the later statement is born of ignorance, I’d like to address the former by explaining why it’s important that we not only understand what other people go through, but that we allow those stories to be presented without fear of censorship.

I grew up in a predominantly-white, Mormon town in Southeastern Idaho, experiencing not only homophobia, but witnessing the racism projected at the small Hispanic population that was present. I didn’t see a person of black or Asian descent until I was fourteen, and it wasn’t until the age of sixteen that I began to even accept the gay community and its various subcultures. Because of this sheltered lifestyle, you would think that I’d have opened my mind enough to where I could easily see through the ‘personal lens’ of my own existence, especially after I moved to Austin at the age of eighteen.
Not too long ago, however, I realized how ignorant I was to other people’s experience. This was revealed when, while reading a book, I completely ignored the description of a black character. I had, unconsciously, assumed he was white.

While this isn’t surprising (considering my background and the representation seen throughout the media in the later parts of the 90s and throughout the early 2000s,) I was completely mortified that I—a minority, if only by my sexuality—had unintentionally disregarded another person’s experience. It wasn’t out of malice, but ignorance.
This single event—captured within a span of five minutes—was enough to change my entire outlook on what many people consider unimportant in entertaining media. The ‘I don’t see color’ declaration was completely disregarded when the default narrative of straight and white is automatically inserted into a piece of fiction, which is exactly what I did when reading that book.

I could go into immense detail about how I experience the world differently from other straight men—including, but not limited to: the way I am perceived, the assumption of ‘dominant or submissive roles’ based on my personality, or that I like or dislike certain things based solely on the fact that I am gay. But since this article isn’t about me, and is instead about acknowledging the fact that people of different backgrounds (whether they be racial, sexual, religious or cultural) have different experiences, I will leave you with one final reminder:

I ignored the declaration of a black man’s skin color because I automatically assumed he was white.

If that isn’t enough to make you think, I don’t know what is.

SUNRISE_FINAL_WEB

My novel Sunrise is currently available for purchase and loan through the Kindle Unlimited Reading Library on Amazon.com. If you’d like to purchase a copy (or read a sample,) you can do so by clicking here.

If you’d like to win one of 10 eBook copies of Sunrise (and it’s tie-in novel when it’s released) for free, you can do so by entering and performing the various Rafflecopter tasks below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

z crawl schedule

Zombie Crawl 2 – Blog Party

October 22 – 31, 2015

by Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans

How it works: Each day, the scheduled authors and bloggers will post awesome zombie-tastic content for your enjoyment along with a giveaway on their site/blog/page. You can hop around to all of the participating sites and enter as many giveaways as you like! If you would like to be emailed links to the new posts each day, join this Zombie Crawl Daily Digest list which will ensure you don’t miss a post (or join the party on Facebook to get notifications). Make sure to leave comments and interact with the participating sites. Thanks for joining the party!

The Schedule:

OCTOBER 22 – Thursday

Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans (Party & Grand Prize Host)

Jo Michaels Blog (author)

Rissa Blakeley (author)

OCTOBER 23 – Friday

Claire C. Riley (author)

2 Girls & A Book (blog)

Emily Shore (author)

OCTOBER 24 – Saturday

Kathy Dinisi (author)

Us Girls & A Book (blog)

The Voluptuous Book Diva (blog 18+)

OCTOBER 25 – Sunday

Casey L. Bond (author)

THE KATY blog (blog)

OCTOBER 26 – Monday

Saul Tanpepper (author)

Warren Fielding (author)

The Leighgendarium (blog)

OCTOBER 27 – Tuesday

Kody Boye (author)

Rhiannon Frater (author)

ER Arroyo (author)

OCTOBER 28 – Wednesday

Allen Gamboa (author)

Armand Rosamilia (author)

Ethan @ One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads (blog)

OCTOBER 29 – Thursday

Kate L. Mary (author)

aftershockzombieseries (author)

Eli Constant (author)

OCTOBER 30 – Friday

Aria Michaels (author)

Brian Parker (author)

Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps (blog)

OCTOBER 31 – Saturday

Cindy Carroll (author)

M. R. Pritchard (author)

Toni L.H. Boughton (author)

Digital Dirty Girl (blog)

To learn more about Band of Dystopian and/or to enter our Grand Prize Giveaway, visit BandofDystopian.com and don’t forget to join the group on Facebook!

An open letter to Principal BJ Buchmann of

After learning of and reading about the gay valedictorian whose graduation speech was silenced by school administrators, I felt compelled to reach out to Mr. BJ Buchmann with my own story – not only to tell him of the struggles I experienced throughout high school, but to also remind him that stripping someone of their narrative and ability to come out is damaging beyond compare. You can read the letter I sent to the school (and the principal) below:

Mr. Buchmann,

It is no surprise that your name – along with your actions against Twin Peaks Charter Academy high school student Evan Young – has been greatly publicized over the past few days. While I could easily join the flock of those internet commentators who have condemned your actions as outrageous and, some may say, homophobic, I wanted to reach out to you and tell you a story instead.

Growing up in Southeastern Idaho in the early 2000s, I was subjected to near-constant discrimination due to my sexual orientation through the media, by society, and by my peers and those adults around me. Though it would take me years to become fully comfortable with myself as a person, I suffered constant harassment and bullying through my one and only year of high school – a time which should have allowed me to comfortably transition into young adulthood without fear of violence. None of my family knew I was gay, nor did any of my friends. The idea of anyone finding out was, at the time, the most horrifying thing I could possibly imagine (and it was not unwarranted.) Stories such as Matthew Shepard’s – the young man who, in October 1998, was bound and left for dead in a Wyoming snowstorm – were haunting artifacts of a past that could easily become my future.

I don’t need to mention the countless individuals who have died for their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past year, or even in the past few months. Childhood (especially young adulthood) is a time when we should nurture our children and encourage positive reinforcement in their development. For you to have declared Evan Young’s experience as an ‘agenda’ that he was attempting to ‘push upon others’ speaks of an inherent ignorance that you as an educator should not have. Your actions not only dissembled a young man’s confidence at a time in which he could close one chapter of his life, but also stripped him of his God-given right of choice (and, in an alternate circumstance with a potentially less-fortunate outcome, could very well have endangered his life.)

As a young gay man who suffered through the education system believing that I had few, if any allies, I would encourage you to reach out to Mr. Young and attempt to make right the wrongs you have committed against him. Not only would this serve to reinforce your character, but would also reflect highly on the values of your school – which, I am sure, you do not wish to endanger in any sense.

Thank you,

– Kody Boye