I’m back home in tropical paradise this week. The weather is absolutely gorgeous and I’m eating some wonderful
fresh local food. I’m here for a friend’s wedding, which is reminding me about the beauty of love, and how amazing it is to truly find “the one.”
All of this groovy-ness was kind of bummed out when I read some crazy news of the last couple of days. Several teens from different areas of the country took their own lives after being bullied for being gay. These boys- Justin Aaberg, Tyler Clementi,Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh- were just starting their lives. They were, by accounts, bright, artistic young men with everything to live for. But some people in their communities felt that these young men were somehow less-than because they were gay.
Take the case of Tyler Clementi, a college freshman who jumped off a bridge after his roommate secretly taped him during an encounter with another male- then broadcast it online. There are definite criminal charges that can be filed, but for most other victims there is no legal retribution. Police have said in the past that there is usually not a strong enough link between the bullies’ actions and the victims’ death. Taunting and name-calling is a part of growing up, and most kids survive without harming themselves.
But a lot of kids don’t. I was bullied in elementary school. So much that I had to ultimately change schools. I know how hard it is to feel worthwhile when everyone around you is telling you you’re worthless. It’s hard for an adult to survive, let alone a child questioning his or her sexuality. I was, amazingly, able to get passed that time and enjoy the rest of my school days. As a result of that experience I am much more empathetic than I probably would have been.
As usual, I have a lot of thoughts on this particular story, but I’ll just share one for the sake of this post. It really saddens me as a member of an industry with so many GLBT members. Just imagine where we’d be if some of our most creative minds had been driven to end their lives because of crazy bullies. I mean, maybe I’m looking at this selfishly, but who knows what Tyler Clementi (who was in college to study violin) could have accomplished someday? More than any other, attacks on the GLBT men and women is harmful to the artist community.
Hopefully our community will speak out and work with law enforcement and organizations to stop this insanity. There’s no reason for young folks to end their lives when they’re just starting to live them. There’s a project on YouTube, called “It Gets Better” that was created so that gay adults can share their own stories with at-risk teens. Check it out here.
I think Ellen DeGeneres summed it up well on her blog:
Things will get easier, People’s minds will change, and you should be alive to see it.
Feel free to share your thoughts below!