Yet another heart rending story of a gay teen driven to suicide by the abusively anti-gay world in which he lived. In Zach’s case, it seems to have been in response to a city council meeting on whether to make October GLBT month. The council voted 7-1 in favor of the motion, but the three hour session in which the people of the city had their say was filled with plenty of demonization of gays and Zach’s family think that this only reinforced the adolescent taunting that made the boy’s school life hellacious:
“When he was sitting there, I’m sure he was internalizing everything and analyzing everything … that’s the kind of person he was,” [Nikki Harrington, Zach’s older sister] said. “I’m sure he took it personally. Everything that was said.”
Harrington’s father, Van, said he wasn’t sure why his son went to the meeting, especially after his experiences in Norman once he revealed that he was gay as a teenager. He said he feels his son may have glimpsed a hard reality at the Sept. 28 council meeting, a place where the same sentiments that quietly tormented him in high school were being shouted out and applauded by adults the same age as his own parents.“I don’t think it was a place where he would hear something to make him feel more accepted by the community,” he said. “For somebody like Zach, it (the meeting) was probably very hard to sit through.”
Zach Harrington, who graduated from Norman North High School in 2009, had been struggling with acceptance for years. Despite being a talented musician “who could play any instrument he picked up,” Van Harrington said his son asked to leave school early during his senior year and finish his diploma in a separate program.
“He feared for his safety on many occasions at (Norman North), and other people like him,” Van said. “Even though he was 6-4, he was passive and I’m sure being gay in that environment didn’t help.”
Nikki Harrington, who is eight years older than her brother and also attended Norman North, said she recalls the way members of the GLBT community were treated during her time there.
“There was one gay guy in my high school at the time, and he was made fun of all the time,” she said. “It was a pretty much non-stop thing at school.”