G played for a few years on a gay rugby team. He didn’t have to pretend he was gay or anything – they were all inclusive – it was just open and public about the fact many of its members were gay. As a result of his years on the team, many of the team members are also my friends in real life so we are all pretty well connected on Facebook.
Daily, it seems, one of them will post an article talking about the latest gay teen who has committed suicide because of the harassment or bullying they have endured. Or, like last night, the news about the 9 gang members in New York who were charged with attacking, torturing and sodomizing two gay teens and a gay adult. This came, according to one article, on the heels of a beating near a gay club that is considered a symbol of the gay rights movement. Which comes the heels of the multitude of youth suicides.
I read something recently that implied it was the gay community making a big deal out of an issues – making it appear a larger issue than it is by bring into light an issue that has always existed. There is no epidemic; there is just an attempt at using media attention to further an agenda.
What amazed me about that statement – by all of the people who are closing their blinds to an issue instead of being appalled – is that regardless of your beliefs, this is an issues that needs to be addressed. This isn’t about gay marriage. This isn’t about whether or not being gay is right or wrong. This is about how we treat people in this world – how we treat people different than we are. And what we are teaching our children in terms of understanding and accepting there are people who are different than they are.
These pockets of intolerance – these silently endured and often stealthy attempts to bully people into what is considered by a group to be “normal” – is unacceptable, yet it continues to happen.
And yes, it has always happened.
And yes, it may be the same sized problem as it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago.
But neither of those things mean it is right that it continues to happen.
And it means we need to change our thinking – change our kids’ thinking if necessary – watch for signs – and stop kids from killing themselves for any reason.
Today is National Coming Out Day.
You don’t need to come out as gay today if you are not. But come out in support of the gay community struggling with these death.
Come out in support of those struggling with their own coming out.
Come out in support of love and tolerance, instead of bullying and hate.
Come out from behind those curtains and make it known this is NOT acceptable in this day and age.
Make it known that this has to stop.
5 Comments Add yours
Tolerance. I hate that word. I don’t want to be tolerated in spite of my differences, I want to be celebrated for what I bring to the table.
I suppose tolerance is a start, but I don’t think it’s what we need to aim for.
I was happy to see you write, “and stop kids from killing themselves for any reason.” as much of my frustration with the recent media attention focusing specifically on gay/lesbian teen suicides.
Teen suicide is a HUGE issue in this country, and is often a result of bullying – bullying because one is different in some way. Although I’m glad to see teen suicide being addressed, I’m a little concerned that the media is so focused on the sexuality side of what is the third leading cause of death for ALL 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for ALL 5-to-14-year-olds.
Suicide goes beyond sexuality.
I agree that tolerance is a baseline minimum for most people – but it should only be a start. It is, a step above hate – kind of like my request for people with different opinions to simply coexist as a minimum. You don’t have to like the ideas of others – you simply have to figure out how to mentally wrap your head around the fact there are others out there with other ideas – ideas that are different, so you must learn to coexist or even tolerate these “different people” at a minimum. Like you, I believe everyone brings something unique to the table – and those things should be celebrated instead of used as a reason to hate or bully people.
A good friend of mine from elementary school through high school was teased non-stop because he was gay. Hell, he wasn’t even out of the closet, but they latched onto that difference they sensed and drove it home with him continually. It was probably the worst bullying I had ever seen. And in the small town I grew up in, it was acceptable in a way that other types were not by the adults. They all turned a blind eye to it. Now had they bullied him because of his race (he was one of the few non-whites in our very small town), they would have been all over it. But, no, it was more acceptable because he was gay.
But, I had to throw into it that suicide among teens, in general, is a huge problem. I think of things you have gone through – things others I know have gone through as a result of a person in their life feeling that is their only out – and it is a problem bigger than just sexuality. The one thing, however, I do appreciate about this attention to the issue right now is that I think it is easy for people to write off the suicides as “they were depressed” or simply “they were bullied” without talking about the larger issue of why did that happen – what was it that drove those people to do those things. Sorry – this is my analytical side coming through – dismissing something on a surface level is like putting a bandaid on a bandaid on a bandaid in my opinion.
I agree – it all goes back to root cause. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water here. It’s better to have society tackle ONE issue (in this case GLBT teens and their struggles) that has the potential to reduce teen suicide rather than dismissing it all on a surface level.
Did you come out? 😉 I was saddened to hear that someone was saying that the number of suicides should be downplayed.
Let’s downplay the child abductions, diseases, famine, murders, famines, genocide, and all other criminal activities. That way, we all can live in the la-la land.
I was bullied in school because I was…different…until I fought back. I can’t stand intolerance in all aspects of life and beliefs.
Wake up, people and smell the crap on the roses you’ve heaped on in order to…downplay it.
Yes, exactly. We (some of us need to work on it more than others!) could all stand to treat others with more respect and caring. The pure, unadulterated hate in this world is truly frightening.