Well folks, if you're part of the LGBT community or have any heart at all, you know that September wasn't a very good month. There has been 6 reported suicides including Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Tyler Clementi and Raymond Chase. All teenagers, all gay, and all bullied and harassed to death. All names that we should permanently ingrain into our memories.
Of course this doesn't include that thousands of others that have either taken or lost their lives for being part of the LGBT community, but there's no mistaking that this has been a shock wave of senseless deaths, again that should not be quick to leave our thoughts.
But this leads to a very important question. How do we stop this trend? I think before we answer that question, we need to locate the source. In other words, who do we blame? You see, until we've actually identified the problem, we're not going to be able to come up with a viable solution, and the problem by no means is rooted in the fact these young, vibrant souls saw no other way out.
Of course, some are quick to react and simply place the blame on those who are suppose to be addressing the issue. A post on Queerty blames Kevin Jennings for not doing his job of keeping our schools safe. According to the post:
Unbelievably -- UN-F*CKING-BELIEVABLY -- Kevin Jennings remains completely silent. He's speaking later today in New York, to a private audience at NYU. This is the guy in charge of keeping our schools safe? A joke.
But is Kevin Jennings really to blame? Perhaps he's not addressing the issue in a timely enough fashion, but I don't believe Kevin Jennings is the root of the problem.
I also took into consideration something I heard while listening to NPR yesterday. They were talking specifically about Tyler Clementi and the commentator was placing the blame on the parents of the bullies. He basically said that bullying is often times a learned behavior and even if the parents aren't bullies themselves, they're failing to teach their children that it's not OK to harass someone who you perceive as different. Was he right? I think to an extent, he absolutely is because yes, it is a parents job to teach their children the difference between right and wrong, and bullying and harassing others is wrong no matter how you look at it.
But again, is that the root of the problem? I don't think so. Let's face it, even if a parent is a perfect role model as it pertains to this issue, that doesn't necessarily mean the child is always going to follow. Kids often times do exactly the opposite of what their parents tell them to do and many times those actions are spurred by peer pressure. But do we blame this solely on the bullies? There again, I think not, especially in the cases where this is a learned behavior.
But then there's a really great perspective on this brought to our attention by one of my personal favs, Dave Rubin who says:
So, naturally, Perez Hilton, the self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media" tweets about how awful this all is, and various groups start doing videos of celebrities saying it is okay to be gay. And yes, that is good, people seeing that there are people who say it is okay to be who you are. But at the same time everyone knows about all the closeted actors, musicians, TV personalities and news anchors, who all talk about the problem but don't practice what they preach. Instead they tacitly endorse something wrong with gay. And making videos about suicide keeps the focus on suicide, so then all you see on TV are more stories about suicide, and then the same fashionistas and closet cases who wonder why. It is all nobody's fault and everybody's fault at the same time. (I highly encourage you to click here to read this entire post -- it's well worth it!)
I think Dave has a very good point -- there is plenty of blame to go around and no, those of us in the LGBT community aren't exempt.
But as I was thinking about this issue last night, I couldn't help but wanting to really get to the root of the problem. So I sat down with a pen and paper and started drawing out the chain of command. Where does this all start? Where are the "roots" of this problem? Well, I found myself going back to something my grandfather always told me (even as a very young child) Sh*t rolls down hill. This is where I firmly believe the deep seated roots of this problem begin.
Let's face it. When we have leaders who are reinforcing the thought there is something wrong with being gay, how can we ever expect others to think differently? Let's start with the Pope. Millions of people would would probably go out into their yard and eat the dog poop they found if that's what the Pope told them to do. For decades upon decades, we've had the leader of one of the most historically corrupt institutions in the world tell the world over and over that being gay is an evil abomination, and all while covering up the molestation of alter boys. Let's not exclude other religious leaders such as the Ted Haggards, George Rekers and Eddie Longs who have negatively influenced public opinion against the LGBT community, all the while they were getting theirs from another man, or boy.
Then we have those who served this nation as president for 8 years who based their campaign upon LGBT discrimination -- and won! George W. Bush actually stood up more than once and said, "Marriage is between one man and one woman," and even though it's doubtful he could actually spell any of those words, people cheered and applauded.
Then we have the likes of Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Newt Gingrich, Jim DeMint and countless other high-profile politicians echoing the sentiment that LGBT people shouldn't be afforded equality, something they tag as "special rights" because they want to reinforce the belief that being part of the LGBT community only qualifies you for second-class citizenship.
Further down the food chain are the Maggie Gallaghers, Pete LaBarberas, Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischers who draw huge salaries from their efforts to promote lies about the LGBT community and keep homophobia alive, mainly in order to keep their large salaries intact.
So how can we ever expect teachers, parents and others who are raising these bullies to stop this vicious cycle when the very people they look up and listen to with bated breath are exuding the disease of hate, intolerance and bigotry?