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March 30, 2012 at 8:47 PM

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Photographer reflects on gay teen's death


STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Malinda Morelos cries while describing her son on the before he committed suicide from a bridge near there home in Cashmere, Wash.

Seattle Times staff photographer Steve Ringman and staff reporter Lornet Turnbull visited the rural community of Cashmere, Wash. earlier this month.

They were working on a story about Rafael Morelos, 14, who killed himself in January. Morales was openly gay. His death has raised uncomfortable questions among his family, school officials and this conservative Central Washington farming town.

Steve said when working on emotionally-difficult assignments he keeps in mind how painful it is for family members to tell their stories. He takes fewer pictures, tries to blend into the background and keeps his distance. His goal is to be a sensitive and respectful as possible.

Read Lornet Turnbull's story: Soul-searching in conservative Cashmere over gay teen's suicide.

STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A memorial poster is filled with messages for Rafael Morelos, 14, who hanged himself in January.

STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Makitta Noble, 13, outside Cashmere Middle School in Cashmere, is wearing Rafael's favorite sweatshirt. She said some students would taunt and call her friend names.

STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Rafael Morelos, 14, hanged himself from a bridge near his home in Cashmere.

On April 7, a benefit concert by the Seattle Men's Chorus, called "Come Together: The Music of the Beatles," is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee. Sponsored by the Sleeping Lady Foundation and KOHO Radio, the concert will benefit the Morelos family as well as the Partnership for Children and Families. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students.

Most Popular Comments
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Thank-you, Steve Ringman. The picture of the bridge is hauntingly beautiful. MORE
Nice work, but I wish the media would stop using the term "openly gay". ... MORE
Sea88, exactly. Thank you. Bless this family as they grieve thier beautiful boy. MORE