'There are kids like him right now across the US who are scared with the new legislation passing,' she tweeted.
A Twitter user recently took to the platform to speak out against Florida's new controversial "Don't Say Gay" law and similar bills being proposed across the nation. While many have responded to such attempts to curb classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity with anger and warnings of how it'll impact young lives, Rhian Beutler shared a deeply personal story of how her family took in her gay high school friend. In a series of tweets, Beutler—an entrepreneur from Southern California—explained that the story shows "why we can't stop saying gay."
First Florida. Then Alabama. Now, lawmakers in Ohio and Louisiana.— NPR (@NPR) April 10, 2022
Across the United States, at least a dozen states are considering legislation that mimics Florida's new controversial law, referred to by some opponents as "Don't Say Gay."https://t.co/mLQ5PD23rW
"On the first day of my senior year of high school, a new boy showed up in my AP English class. He had transferred from a prestigious private school to my public school, and I was confused. I asked him why he moved and he shrugged," Beutler's story begins. "I had lost most of my friends due to graduation and I decided he was going to be my new friend, and much to my excitement he seemed just as happy to be my new friend. We decided to partner together on a project, and his mom insisted that she come to my house as well."
30 years ago I was a gay kid at a high school where #DontSayGay ruled— Noah Michelson (@noahmichelson) April 15, 2022
After being tortured by my classmates, I began to look for ways to kill myself
This is what happened and why we must make sure it never happens again#SayGayhttps://t.co/9ClYPsEKMh
"I'm first-gen and he is a refugee so I didn't think much of it. Literally thought 'European parents are going to European,'" she wrote. However, after spending some time with the boy's mom, Beutler's also felt there was something a bit off. "At this point, he and I were spending EVERY part of the school day that wasn't in class together. One day, with all the grace of a 17-year-old in the early 2000s who didn't know this is inappropriate I asked him 'so... you're gay right?' He looked at me horrified," the Twitter thread continues. "He asked, almost in tears, 'how did you know?' I explained that my uncle was gay and that I had grown up around queer people and that I didn't care and that we could obviously still be friends and that I wouldn't tell ANYONE. Then everything clicked."
I asked him "is that why you are at our school?" and he said yes and then proceeded to tell me his parents had found out he was gay, pulled him from the school, called him horrible names, abused him, and that he was MISERABLE.— Rhian Beutler (@rhiankatie) April 6, 2022
He said he was scared to go home every day.
Beutler's friend revealed that his parents had pulled him from his previous school after finding out he was gay. He confided in her that he was afraid to go home every day as he faced constant abuse from his family for being who he is. "I went home and told my parents. I begged them to do something about it. They said they would think about it, and they did. My Mom is a green card holder so she said he couldn't come and live with us until he was 18 because that would be considered kidnapping," Beutler tweeted.
My Mom also shared his writings (he loved to write) with her friend, a social worker (my mom was a school nurse and she worked with the said social worker).— Rhian Beutler (@rhiankatie) April 6, 2022
I lived in fear that he wouldn't live to see 18.
Fortunately, Beutler's friend survived his family's abuse for a few more years and left home as soon as he turned 18. "He blossomed while living with us. My parents and the aforementioned social worker took him shopping, made sure he had everything he needed for school and he became like my brother. I remember his excitement after his first date with another boy. I remember how excited he was to be able to dress the way he wanted. I remember how he came into my bedroom EVERY MORNING WITHOUT KNOCKING to ask me if he looked good in his outfits," she recalled.
But he did! He turned 18 and he came and lived with us.— Rhian Beutler (@rhiankatie) April 6, 2022
His parents only allowed him to keep the clothes on his back. They came to our house and called him every name under the sun and my mom stood outside and said "you can't hurt him anymore, I will not allow it"
"His joy and comfort living as his authentic self is a core memory of mine. The story is longer but he went to an Ivy and is an immunologist literally working on curing cancer. He is my brother and best friend. I would move mountains for him. There are kids like him right now across the US who are SCARED with the new legislation passing. If they thought they were safe they no longer think that. One of my mentees shared that they feel like no one wants them to live. I DO. Don't you? There is a LOT of anti-queer legislation being passed at the state level right now. FIGHT IT. Queer kids need to feel safe. They deserve to feel safe. DO SOMETHING," Beutler urged.
Him and my friend would watch The Simpsons together while my friend did Calc.— Rhian Beutler (@rhiankatie) April 6, 2022
He acted like my friend was always there. Like he had always existed as a member of our family.
Be rock steady for the LGBTQIA+ folks in your life.
"Call your legislators at all levels. Encourage the passage of FEDERAL protection of the LGBTQIA+ community. Queer lives matter. Also, be a safe adult. Be like my mom. Every kid and every person deserves to feel safe," she added. Beutler concluded her moving story by urging her followers to "donate to: @TrevorProject @LALGBTCenter @AliForneyCenter @TransEquality @sageusa @PointFoundation @HRC Also engage in mutual aid, but donating locally and directly to those who need it. And again, be the safe adult."