We in The Gay Community and those who support us have much to be happy about with the recent events in Iowa and Vermont. We acknowledge there is still much to be done and that the fight isn't anywhere near over. However, the work ahead is far more difficult and far more extensive than realized.
I say this because when an eleven year old boy, Carl Walker-Hoover, ties an electrical cord around his throat and hangs himself, we haven't done enough to educate the public at large and support, and more importantly protect, our youth. When a seventeen year old, Eric Mohat, is the recipient of unrelenting verbal and physical abuse being called "f*g"- and "homo"- in front of teachers who do nothing to stop it. When he's told "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you"- and he does it because he can no longer take the abuse and those who are supposed to look out for him look the other way, we haven't done nearly enough.
When fifteen year old Lawrence King, is killed by a fourteen year old classmate, Brandon McInerney, simply because he came out and publicly said he was gay, when another child is the cause of his death, we haven't done nearly enough for either of them.. For both boys needed protection from people who want nothing, know nothing, more than to infect others with hate because. Both boys needed support, education, protection and love.
We don't simply need to educate the public on the fact that we are entitled to the same benefits of marriage as everyone else. We need to educate our youth, all youth about diversity and acceptance. We need to educate those who are charged with the education of our youth that looking the other way or watching and doing nothing while children are abusing other children simply because they're perceived as different isn't just unacceptable, it is intolerable and those doing so need to accept full responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.
According to The Yes Institute (www.yesinstitute.org), whose mission is "To prevent suicide and ensure the healthy development of gay, lesbian, bixesual, transgender and all youth by initiating dialogue, providing education, and creating support systems."- Thirty three percent of all teenage suicides are committed by GLBT youth. Eighty percent of heterosexual youth that are harassed as gay despite identifying as heterosexual are five times more likely to commit suicide.
These aren't simply isolated situations or cold statistics to me. I was eleven years old when I started getting shoved into walls or slapped in the back of the head by kids who called me "f*ggot."- I was twelve years old when two boys jumped me and broke both my cheekbones after pummeling my face and spitting at me calling me a "filthy homo freak."- It was shortly after that when I threw myself in front of an oncoming car, hoping that I'd be killed and that the abuse would stop. Like something out of a movie, the car came to a screeching halt just centimeters before touching me.
I was thirteen years old when I tried again to take my life, this time by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills I had obtained from a friend. Had I been discovered just two minutes later than I was, I'd be dead right now.
There are other stories I could relate of another thirteen year old boy who thought it safe to come out to his mother and stepfather only to have that trust destroyed by the stepfather's daily beatings and the mother's ultimate rejection by signing away her parental rights--because as she put it "my son died the day he told me he was gay"-.
Fortunately that boy was rescued and is alive and well and now approaching his sixteenth birthday. But not all cases end happily ever after.
So while we in The Gay Community deserve to bask in the glory of the recent hard fought, well earned victories. We also need to acknowledge that there is much great work that lies ahead.
Because we have not nearly done enough.