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Remembering Blake

Readers responded with an outpouring of support after the news of teenaged transgender activist Blake Brockington (

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Blake. He was a frequent visitor at my house because he and my daughter were friends. I have taken much interest in Blake’s struggles and I am heartbroken that he chose to surrender to the fight of being overwhelmed with grief from narrow-minded individuals that make it hard for people such as Blake to be just who they are..human. We as a people need to really take a look at the importance of self-determination and not pass judgement on the LGBT community. Doing so, continues to place people of the LGBT community in a state of isolation and hopelessness. I, too had to come to terms that people are different and their choices don’t always match ours, but we need to embrace each other and see that its the difference that make this world unique and interesting. How many more youth do we have to lose before we take a stand to end this horrific tragedy from continuing. Rest in peace Blake. Love you.
— Tracy Setzer, March 24,

I had the great pleasure of knowing Blake through my daughter and what an amazing young person. My heart is breaking right now not only for his family and friends but that someone could be so sad that suicide seemed like the only option.
— Mandy Kotz, March 24,

This is so tragic on so many levels. First and foremost another young transgender life has ended before it barely got started. The hopelessness that one must feel to make that decision makes me beyond sad. I am heartbroken for our LGBTQ youth. It is also tragic that while the young people in our world are starting to progress in more accepting actions, many of the adults in our society continue to send a conflicting message. We love you but…There should be no if ands or buts in unconditional love. The work and the journey continues…RIP Blake!
— Robert Kellogg, March 24,

I had the pleasure of meet this kid and I am outraged at the state. He was (like me) a productive of Mecklenburg county foster care. He age out and attempted to sign himself back in. However he was not a priority to the county and so ignored and left to be homeless sleeping on couches and struggling to survive. He spoke for people who don’t have much of a voice in society, BUT WHO WAS SPEAKING FOR HIM!!! I AM OUTRAGED! His emotional health and quality of life could have been vastly improved if he was heard.
— Jamika, March 24,

Blake was a good friend but an even better person, which says a lot to anyone who knew his friendship. He was an incredibly hard worker and put his best into everything that he did. He was so intentional in making people feel like they were someone of value and importance and when he hugged you, he literally picked you up. He was a person that made your life better simply by being in it. Rest in peace, Blake.
— Kaitlin Klotz, March 24,

Until we rally around our youth & begin to support them we will continue to lose them. Your fears become their faults of not being accepted as a person. God don’t make mistakes & is the creator of us all. Respect, acceptance, & love is what is needed to assure them there is a place in this world for ALL of GOD’s children regardless of your faith in the Higher Power. “I am what God says I Am” not who you want me to be. My heart goes out to the family & friends that loved him for who he let you see. Cherish the memory. God bless & strengthen you in this time of sorrow. Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
— Deacon Robin D. Jewell, March 24,

A strategy needed

A reader responds to the March 27 guest commentary, “We can’t leave anyone behind” (

Please understand that this is meant as no disrespect towards anyone, but facts are facts. Those who advocated for drafting and pushing the non-discrimination Ordinance made a serious political miscalculation. At first, they stated in public strategy sessions that they thought they had 7 or 8 firm votes in favor. They underestimated what a large political hurdle the bathroom issue would be, especially to the folks represented by Council members Barnes, Howard, Lyles, etc. Now, most folks in our Community seem to have decided that compromise is unacceptable, that it’s all or nothing, include the bathroom terms or nothing at all. If so, then I would like to hear a firm, REALISTIC strategy for how you intend to win over the skeptics (members of conservative African-American churches, for example). Preaching to the LGBTQ (and ally) choir is not going to cut it. You will have to change the minds of a lot of people who frankly have never been very supportive of the LGB, let alone the T. Until I hear that strategy, don’t expect me to put a lot of personal time into pushing this fight.
— Charles, March 29,

‘Religious freedom’

Readers react to news of North Carolina’s proposed anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill (

My religion ( I worship a 7-foot vinyl statue of Conway Twitty) says that I should kill and eat you if you walk on my front lawn. Or pull into a parking space I was about to use. It’s my religious freedom to do this.
— Helen, March 26,

Why are the members of our N.C. government so hateful and such bigots? I am ashamed that our state is so backward in equality, teacher pay, education and so many other things. Did these people all get their positions paid for with big money?
— Nancy J. Nance, March 26,

So now that I can marry legally here, if this shameful bill gets life in this state, I may not be able to be served in a restaurant? What ever happened to separation of the church and state?
— Susan Mast, March 26,

If you have to make a law that hurts people in order to “prove” your faith or morals, then maybe, just maybe, you don’t really have faith or morals to prove!
— John P., March 27,

They already have ‘religious freedom’ as guaranteed by the Constitution. We also have freedom from religion guaranteed by the same Constitution. Legislative action attempting to force one’s religious beliefs on another is unconstitutional and will never stand up to that test. Federal judges are standing by with pens ready to strike down any such nonsense passed by the bigots in Raleigh. Tell your representatives they have to add a clause to the bill requiring businesses to publicly post who they are not willing to serve, and this will die quietly in committee. Worked in Oklahoma.
— Jimmy Locke, March 27,