This is something which I wrote to celebrate Robbie's life.
By Leslie (Robbie's Mom)
"I may be gone, but I hope I'm not forgotten. Remember me." (by Robbie Kirkland)
This is what my gay 14 yr. old son wrote in a poem and in his suicide note. I hope that by writing about him, his brief life will not only by remembered, but celebrated as well.
Robbie was truly a gift from God. I almost miscarried him and felt so blessed when he was finally born healthy after a very difficult pregnancy. I always told him how blessed I felt to have him. He was a loving sensitive, shy boy. Around our family he was outgoing and constantly amused us with his witty sense of humor. Although he felt rejected by others, Robbie accepted everyone for who they were, even though he experienced intolerance at many levels. The comforting words, written by a classmate in a sympathy card, best describe him: "He was so kind, loyal, and always accepting of everyone. Robbie was different from the other boys in that he was sensitive to other
people's feelings, and because of this he would never intentionally hurt anyone!"
Although his life as a gay youth was painful and full of struggle, he did find bright patches of happiness and contentment, summer camp was one of them. Robbie attended a Catholic summer camp for 2 weeks every summer. There he felt happy and accepted, and made friends that he kept in touch with through the years. A short poem he wrote about camp reflects that joy.
"Camp" I love it cabins and counselors fishing and friends it seems the fun never ends swimming, boating, bonfires too you
can't get bored, there's so much to do camp, I love it.
We consider the last 9 months of his life as a gift from God. Obviously, we wish that the gift would have been that Robbie had lived but it
wasn't to be. So we look instead at God's gifts to us.
During those 9 months, we knew that Robbie was definitely gay and Robbie knew how much we loved, supported, and accepted him. We truly celebrated his being gay even though he could not. I gave him literature on homosexuality and told him of gay movies to watch.
One that we both enjoyed was Home for the Holidays We both laughed and he commented on the positive portrayal of homosexuals in the movie. We discussed the hard road ahead of him as a gay person in a society that does homosexuals and their lifestyles. I reassured him that when he found his special partner that they both would be welcome in our home.
In those last months, he experienced our love, and at the same time he understood our anguish and fear about his unhappiness and inability to cope with being gay. Our Gay Pride Day in Cleveland on June 26, 1997 was dedicated to
Robbie's memory. I gave a speech about Robbie and the importance of being out and proud.
I proudly marched with PFLAG in loving memory of my beloved gentle son. Even though he could not be out and proud I was. I felt my special angel watching over me smiling with approval. I miss my darling son but I find comfort knowing that he is with the angels now. He left an enduring mark in our lives with his love, laughter, wit, and creativity. He wanted to be a writer, he left many of his writings behind for us to enjoy and appreciate his special gift of writing. I end this with a carefree poem that Robbie wrote. It reflects his spirit and joy of his life.
Leslie (Robbie's Mom) email: LGJPowell@aol.com
By Robbie's friend from Camp Rebecca Lange
In the past year, my life and outlook on my life has changed. On January 2, 1997, a good friend of mine tragically ended his life. Robbie Kirkland, fourteen year- old freshman at Saint Ignatius High School, shot himself with the hope that he would find peace and happiness in death that he couldn't find in life. You see, Robbie was gay. He could not live knowing that he was gay in a homophobic society. It was unacceptable and impossible for Robbie to continue to live his life lying to everyone, but he did not feel that it was even thinkable to tell anyone his secret. He saw no other way out, so he killed himself.
Robbie's suicide has affected me in so many ways than I could ever have imagined. Looking at pictures of Robbie and reading letters from him help me to remember all of the fun times we had together at Camp Christopher. I replay in my mind our conversations from phone calls and camp, and wish I could talk to him just one more time to tell him how I care. I think about him throughout the day, and carry with me everywhere I go a poem that reminds me of Robbie. I keep pictures of him in the glove compartment of my car and I wear the necklace he made me during Arts and Crafts at camp all the time. Every time I experience something new, I think to myself, "Robbie never got a chance to do this." I have also become incredibly aware of what I say and how it might hurt someone.
Almost everyone I know uses the phrase "This is so gay" when he or she does not like a particular situation or thinks something is unfair. Teenagers use the phrase commonly and easily, without thinking about how offensive it is. I try to have a more open mind now. I have decided that no matter what, I will give everyone a chance and I won't pre-judge anyone. I am also more sensitive to gay jokes and comments than ever before, since January, I have realized just how much I value all my friends. They are so important to me and are such a big part of my life. It makes me so sad to hear people talking about suicide. Everyone's life means something, and there is always someone who cares. I value my life now much more than I used to.
I try to do as much as I can and attempt to be the best person I can possible be. I really think about everything I say and try not to hurt anyone, either directly or indirectly.
When I first found out about Robbie's death, my mind did not really understand or accept the fact that he is gone for good and I will never have the opportunity to hug him or talk to him again. It took a few weeks to hit me, and when it did, I cried my eyes out for hours. I was shocked someone that I knew, that I cared about, was dead. For a couple of months, I was extremely confused about his death. I guess I just didn't understand how someone could kill themselves. Talking to my friends and writing down my thoughts and feelings really helped me to cope with Robby's suicide. I still deal with it everyday, though, and little things can set off a wave of tears. I don't fear death anymore, if I ever did. I know that Robbie is happy now, and when I die I will be happy too. I also know that Robbie is always with me. To quote his mom, Leslie Sadasivan, she and I and everyone who knew Robbie need to "remember that our Robbie is up there helping all of us."