Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's an epidemic

Four recent victims of LGBT oppression:

Billy Lucas: a 15-year old kid from Indiana who took his own life after enduring years of homophobic harassment and abuse. As Dan Savage noted in his column this week "Billy didn't identify as gay and may not have been gay. But the consequences of antigay bullying -whether the kid being harassed is gay or closeted or just different- are often the same: isolation, pain, despair and suicide."

Cody J. Barker
: Cody was a 17-year old kid from Shiocton, Wisconsin. Dan Savage wrote that he "had planned to start a gay-straight alliance at his high school this fall. He recently took his own life.

Justin Aaberg: recently took his life after enduring abuse and anti-gay bullying. Justin was from Minnesota. He was just 15 years old.

And many have recently been shocked by the suicide of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers, who jumped from the George Washington Bridge after classmates surreptitiously broadcast streaming video of (and cruel commentary about) him in his dorm room being intimate with another guy.

The situation is dire. I applaud efforts like Savage's It Gets Better Project. Hopefully this will help some people in despair break through the isolation and pain of what they're going through. But we're going to need to do a lot more to really smash the oppressive, toxic social environment in this country that is marginalizing kids and destroying their lives. As Savage put it: . It's not just bullies that are the problem here: it's institutions, laws and politicians who create an atmosphere in which homophobia and LGBT oppression thrives. Compulsory heterosexuality is the system, and it has deep roots in our society: in ecclesiastical institution, law, employment conventions and rules, media, culture, the school-system, etc. And the bullies that are ruining these kids' lives, they are the police, they are the enforcers of this regime. They needn't even realize that that's what they're doing. But they are the shock-troops for compulsory heterosexuality and LGBT oppression. The violence of this regime is out on display for all to see.

If the tragedies above aren't a reason to immediately repeal all bans on equal marriage then I don't know what is. That's the tip of the iceberg, but we've got to start somewhere. This has got to end.

UPDATE: Richard over at American Leftist has a pair of good posts about two other young men, Seth Walsh and Asher Brown, both of whom took their own lives after after enduring cruel homophobic treatment and bullying. Heartbreaking.


Richard said...

I posted on this situation earlier in the week over at American Leftist after the suicide of Seth Walsh in Tehachapi and also posted one of the It Gets Better videos. They are excellent. I also spoke at length about it on my community radio program on KDVS in Davis. Thanks for doing this.

As you say, the situation is indeed dire. Over thirty years ago, Harvey Milk, in his famous Hope speech, observed that young gay males in the heartland had three options, to go to California, to stay and fight . . and, sadly, suicide. It is outrageous that they are still killing themselves today.

As an aside, note that Lucas apparently wasn't gay (his mother says he wasn't, anyway). He was bullied because his peers thought he was gay. Beyond that, it is clear that people are even bullied for socializing with openly gay and lesbian students.

t said...

I just added a link to your posts- I enjoyed both of them very much. I had already quoted Dan Savage on Lucas, who noted that Lucas didn't identify as gay.

This is a serious problem.