When Jeremiah Sterling came home from Colorado last July, his mom bought an automatic coffeemaker so he and she could hang out, have coffee and talk in the kitchen – just the two of them – in the mornings.
“He was real simple in what he liked, but what he liked, he stuck to,” says LaWanda Thompson-Sterling. “Jeremiah loved chicken nuggets, Cinnamon Crunch cereal, Ray’s bar-b-q.”
What she discovered on those lazy summer mornings over coffee was that the boy who’d gotten on the plane to Denver in the winter had come back a man.
“It was almost like he was older than me,” says LaWanda Thompson-Sterling. Jazmine Sterling, 19, Jeremiah’s older sister, says her brother had an almost uncanny talent for intimacy and consolation. “You could talk to him about anything,” she said. “He always knew what to do and say when he saw me or my mom sad.”
Update: Rumors abound that the Capleton show canceled at the Kinetic Playground will take place at a private location but so far there are no specific details. In the meantime, Fitzgerald's, a club in Houston, also canceled the show scheduled there -- and for the same reasons. That show was moved to a sports bar. The Capleton show scheduled this Saturday at the Kinetic Playground has, in fact, been canceled.
The Capleton show scheduled this Saturday at the Kinetic Playground has, in fact, been canceled.
UPDATE: The Capleton show scheduled for this weekend at the Kinetic Playground has been canceled. I’ll have more on this, and on reaction to it, tomorrow.
This past weekend, a young friend of mine posted this status on Facebook: “I think I’m gay.”
The announcement made me both proud and sad.
No, my young friend was not actually coming out of the closet, or even so much as doubting her sexuality. It was, instead, a gesture of solidarity, a nod to the fact that, in the last month alone in the U.S., there have been headlines around five different suicides by young queers, all victims of bullying.
I was proud of her, not so much for her courage but for her compassion. And sad not just because of these senseless deaths but because, in the hours that followed her status update, her Facebook page – usually a hive of activity – was deadly silent.
Were her friends left speechless that it might be true? And what if in fact that was the case? Would it make a difference to them?
In photos of a young Jeremiah Sterling, a beautiful brown boy smiles from the frames, making life look easy: laughing, playing tough, but with sweetness and mischief in his eyes.
But, according to his mother, that wasn’t exactly so.
“That boy’s been fighting since he got here,” LaWanda Thompson-Sterling says about her son, Jeremiah, who was shot down in the alley across the street from their house on a residential street in West Pullman on July 15.
Odel Sterling, Jeremiah’s father and LaWanda’s ex-husband explains: “Jeremiah was stillborn, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and he lost oxygen, so when he was born he didn’t breathe for 10 minutes before being revived. But I didn’t worry,” says Odel, a pastor, “because God had already showed that he would live.”
They named the boy – LaWanda’s second son, Odel’s first – Jeremiah because “it means `one whom God hears’,” says Odel, “and I wanted God to hear his prayers and his cries, and God did.”
Room 702 at the courthouse at 26th and California has a panoramic view of Cook County jail facilities: block brick buildings, guard posts, barbed wire in circles. On the wet, grey morning of September 16, lawyers mill about casually, occasionally joking, flipping through papers. A couple of Derrion Albert’s family members sit on the west end of the third bench from the front, with lawyers coming and going before them, giving them updates on the day’s wrangling.
But for them, the courtroom is quiet and spare, with less than a score of spectators. Inevitably, they walk out to the hallway, look out the windows at the end of hall to the broad expanse of white clouds and penitentiary, then idle back inside.
After almost two hours of whispers and lolling, the judge appears and five teenage boys are brought before him. They wear Department of Correction uniforms, hold their hands in front of their bodies, fingers laced in submission.
One of them, Silvonus Shannon, cranes his neck to look at out at the courtroom, perhaps hoping for recognition or connection. He walks standing straight and without pause.