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Grandparents share memories of gay teen who endured constant teasing, bullying

October 8, 2010 |  9:50 am

When Seth Walsh came home from school, he would open the gate to a chain-link fence, walk beneath a tall red oak tree and be greeted by five dogs and two cats.

Seth lived with two brothers and a sister, four children from three fathers who were seldom around, supported by their mother who worked long hours as a hairdresser. Their home was a rental, a few blocks from Tehachapi's main street.

He was 13, and in the eyes of his grandparents, Jim and Judy Walsh, he was just a normal kid, pushing into adolescence. They looked forward to watching him grow up and never imagined that the harassment he experienced as a gay teenager, or his suicide, would resonate across the country.

Seth's mother, Wendy, is guarding her privacy, lost in grief, and his friends are keeping quiet at their parents' instructions. Only Jim and Judy are willing to share their memories.

They accept that Seth's suicide — along with the suicides of Tyler Clementi, 18, Billy Lucas, 15, and Asher Brown, 13, all within two and a half weeks — is now part of a national conversation about the consequences of being harassed and being young and gay.

At first Judy had mixed feelings about her grandson being mentioned in this context. "But the more I thought about it, the more the world needs to know why Seth was harassed," she says. "He was harassed because he was gay."

Read the full story here.

-- Thomas Curwen in Tehachapi

Photo: Seth Walsh, right, with his younger brother, Shawn. Credit: Family photo