You probably have read about,Tyler Clementi, the young man from Rutgers University who threw himself off of the George Washington Bridge when he discovered that his roommate had taped him having sex with a man and then put the video online. Or perhaps you heard about 13 year old Asher Brown from Texas, who shot himself in the head due to the constant bullying he endured at his middle school. You might have also seen the story about Seth Walsh, the New York student who hung himself allegedly because of bullying at his school, Seth was also 13. And then there was Billy Lucas and Raymond Chase...both dead by their own hands as well, both also victims of bullying.
Who do we blame for these tragedies?
The bullies? Absolutely - I think that the ones who drove these kids to such tragic ends need to answer for their crimes. But more than that, it's time to look further; Religious leaders, first and foremost, have a lot to answer for. The hatred spewing from the pulpits of such monsters as Fred Phelps (the God Hates Fags creep), Eddie Long (the homophobic preacher recently discovered to have been having sex with several of his male parishioners), and of course, the current Prada Wearing Pontiff. These men and their followers, as well as the Evangelicals, Mormons and Radical Muslims are all complicit in the deaths of these boys.
Politicians also have blood on their hands. Mostly republican fear mongers who count on getting votes at any cost, and if that means denying the rights of gays and lesbians, so be it. If that means denigrating gays and lesbians, so be it. These hateful fuckers are just as guilty and they deserve to be brought up on charges, every last one of them.
But what can be done, now?
I was in high school in the mid 70's. And if memory serves, I was pretty miserable for some of that time. I did not fit in. I was not a jock, nor was I brain, I wasn't particularly artistic, I could not sing to save my life, I failed at every attempt at anything in shop classes ... I really did not have a place. Oh, add to that the simple fact that my sexuality was in full bloom, and I was lusting after guys. Sheesh. What a fucking mess I was. While I was not mocked for being gay (because I hid it well), I was called a weirdo and a spazz as well as several other choice labels. Now, it seems sort of comical, but at the time, it hurt like hell. When I finally out grew my adolescent awkwardness in 11th and 12th grade, I found that if I "blended in" I got along just fine. And that's what I did. I donned a suburban costume of normalcy and sucked it up. Imagine my shock when in the final months of 12th grade, two of my best friends turned out to be gay! Imagine my delight when the three of us admitted this to the other just two or three months shy of graduation ... that helped a lot.
As much has changed in the decades since I went to school, the pecking order is probably still the same, and if I had my way, I'd take every single gay boy and girl aside and tell them they are beautiful, important, NORMAL people who will, in time, rise above the foolishness they are dealing with and that they will brush off the dust of their school years and emerge as fully functional adults. I would tell them that every insult they might have hurled at them now, will be nothing more than a bad memory. Furthermore, I would encourage the gay kids to seek out the other outcasts; the AV Club geeks, the artsy crowd, the theater club...band together and form a majority - in union there is strength.
Unfortunately, I can't speak to every kid suffering due to homophobia - but, if by chance, just one of you is reading this. Please know one thing: It Gets Better. I swear to you that it does.