Over the past weeks we have been hearing in the media about a series of suicides by teenagers who were bullied, or harrassed by classmates, roommates and others in their lives for either being gay or being perceived as gay.
Many blogs have commented on this, and have said it more eloquently or with more passion than I probably can, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't say something or pay homage to these lives cut short so soon and so sadly. They are:
Justin Aaberg, 15, MN
Asher Brown, 13, TX
Tyler Clementi, 18, NJ
Billy Lucas, 15, IN
Seth Walsh, 13, CA and
Tyler Wilson, 11, OH
And it isn't just gays who face this sort of terrorism. Here in MA we had the case of Phoebe Price a teen who moved to the US from Ireland, who had the audacity to be different, and to date, however briefly, a boy from the popular group in her school. That made her the target of unrelenting harrassment from classmates that became so unbearable she hung herself.
This isn't new, being ostrasized for being different. People of color have been fighting this battle for equality and respect for centuries in this country. People who dress differently, talk differently, have earrings and tattooes, you name it if it makes you different it probably makes you a target for some level of unwanted attention.
As a mother of a young boy, I am more than a little terrified of something or someone hurting Cooper, and cannot make room in my conscious mind for the idea of him being dead for any reason, much less by his own hand. I can only hope that he never finds himself in a place of such despair, loneliness and torment that he feels that ending his life is a better option than seeking help. From me, from his father, ANYONE.
The world needs to change for the better. WE NEED TO CHANGE. I don't care what your religious belief system says about being gay. This isn't about that. I don't care what you were told growing up by your parents. This is about common decency, about treating people with basic respect for their humanity.
I went to a college which is a very conservative Christian college. Being gay was not okay there. My first roommate there had experienced a great deal of negative attention because she dated a guy who was a different race. It just wasn't done. I remember hearing that AIDS was God's way of punishing people for being gay. This is all unacceptable. I would like to think that in 25 years a more progressive, accepting attitude has been adopted, but I don't know.
You do not have to agree with someone in order to respect them, to treat them as you would like to be treated yourself. We need to rise above the hatred, and embrace that which makes us interesting, makes us beautiful. I want my child to be able to laugh, love and experience joy in his life no matter who he loves, what color his skin, eyes, or sports team he cheers for. It is our differences that make life such a blessed and beautiful experience.
I am quite sure no adolencent, teenagers are reading this blog, but if someone out there needs resources to deal with harrassment and bullying, they are out there.
The Trevor Project is there for gay teens who are in trouble, considering suicide as an option. The It Gets Better youtube channel has hours of videos from people talking about their own experiences with bullying and harrassment and how they stuck it out to find out it truly DOES get better.
No one should feel so lost and alone and harrassed that death seems a better option than living. We need to stop the hatred, and start the loving.