Thursday, September 30, 2010

LGBT Suicide "Epidemic" - Tragic, Avoidable, & I'm really pissed off.

Um, wow. I'm telling you now, be prepared for an angry rant. Such a horrible situation already, and now I'm seeing all of these hateful, bigoted comments-- including this one person (who has been quoted in many AP news articles) who seems to implies that it's his fault? I'm assuming it's just been taken out of context, but her comment as written makes it sounds as if his choice of sex partner is entirely to blame- not the people who felt obligated to exploit him, to expose his private life to the world without his consent. Even if it's not what she intended, that's how it sounds, and it only points out so many problems in our society that many are unwilling and/or too uncaring to address.

You're probably wondering what I'm talking about... Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committed suicide. Why? There were likely many other issues, but in addition to anything else he may have been dealing with, his jackass of a roommate outed him by secretly recording Tyler having sex with another man using a webcam (activated from a friend's room), and streaming the video live on the internet. Oh, and planning to do it again 2 days later, and announcing it on Twitter.

And why am I so pissed off? This is too infuriating for rational thought... I'm just sick of it. And don't say my anger is misplaced-- the only thing that pisses me off more than someone who does something so cruel and hateful is someone who defends them or blames the victim

"Had he been in bed with a woman, this would not have happened," said Lauren Felton, 21, of Warren. "He wouldn't have been outed via an online broadcast and his privacy would have been respected and he might still have his life." (pick a news site, any site. HuffPost, ABC, whatever.)

(Lauren, if you're reading this by some weird twist of fate, please don't take it personally. I thought the name was kind of randomly placed in the first article I read, so I tried to do some research. I think I may have an idea of who you might be from what I've pieced together from news articles and what appears to be your website(?), and I'm not trying to attack you, but I'm just very concerned about what your statement implies. I'd love to know the original context. We'll take this as a lesson in "it's not so much what you said but how you said it and/or how it was portrayed.") For a moment, I'm going to assume she simply meant that this happened because he's probably gay or bisexual, and a lot of people have a problem with homosexuality for whatever reasons and therefore feel a need to pick on and harass those who are. I really want to believe that's what she meant. I'm sure it is, and I'm just over-analyzing things as usual. But honestly, that is not what it sounds like, and honestly, I don't believe it's true either.(Can I also mention, before I get too into this, that same-sex sexual encounters don't necessarily make a person gay, and it really isn't the place of anyone to define another's sexuality. That being said, as there is evidence of Tyler frequenting forums for gay men, among other things, I'm going to assume he was probably gay or bisexual. Either way, it's no one else's fucking business what he was doing.)

What it sounds like is that this crime happened simply because he's gay, like the fact that he enjoyed having sex with another man is some sort of dirty crime and implies a "well if you had done what you were supposed to be doing..." Like "had you not gone and fucked up your life by doing something consensual that you clearly enjoyed doing, you never would have convinced your friends to out and exploit you on the internet by secretly spying on you and broadcasting it to the world. Had your roommate seen you with a woman, he totally would have shut off the camera and left the room, because he's just oh so cool like that." That is what it sounds like. Not "his roommate was being an asshole because he doesn't like gay people" but "you totally brought this upon yourself by getting caught fucking a guy."

So do you believe his roommate wouldn't have videotaped him having sex and broadcast it to the entire world, had Tyler not been with another man? So all of this happened simply because Tyler was a closeted homosexual? It has nothing to do with his "friend's" lack of integrity and respect or the fact that he can't mind his own fucking business and has to hurt the people around him in order to make himself feel important or special??? Not to even mention his accomplice? (It was from her computer that the roommate activated his webcam and broadcast the video feed.) What the fuck was she thinking?

What they did was not only incredibly rude and invasive and disrespectful, but cruel. Once is one thing- still horrifically wrong, but the idea that they could do it over and over again, without any feelings of remorse or guilt or anything of the sort, is absolutely appalling. And they get a slap on the wrist of "invasion of privacy," maximum (but highly unlikely) 5 years in prison maybe a little fine, and that's the end of the story? Whatever happened to expulsion, charged with a hate crime, etc.? Does this not violate some sort of school honor codes, since clearly neither cares about a moral code??? (And yes, I would definitely consider this bullying/harassment, which does in fact fall under the category of "hate crime," and the fact that via Twitter, the roommate announced that he "found out my roommate is gay" does seem to indicate that his subsequent actions against Tyler were directly related to the "fact," or his belief, that Tyler is [hypothetically] gay. By definition, that qualifies for "hate crime" status.) According to Tyler Clementi himself, Rutgers does in fact have a policy where a recorded invasion of privacy can lead to explusion. Though the issue was that there wasn't an actual recorded copy of the encounter, just evidence that it had been shared via Twitter and a video chat site. Also, Tyler had repeatedly attempted to change rooms once he figured out what was going on, but never got the go-ahead. Why is that? What is so infuriating is that none of this should have happened, from the roommate's actions to the RA's actions to Tyler's death...

You know, I really was wary when I read a blog post earlier about the "gay suicide epidemic" in Minnesota. The deaths of 3 teens within a year is incredibly sad and tragic, but to call it an epidemic... I don't doubt that it had something to do with bullying and the fact that they were a part of the LGBT community. I'm just wary about calling anything an epidemic... but they're right. Epidemic - n. A widespread and growing problem.This is a huge problem. And you know what it is? Bullies, intolerance, bigotry hatred. Those who can't tolerate other people for WHO THEY ARE. 9 out of every 10 LGBT students are bullied in school.

And they are also 4 times more likely to commit suicide.

Just last week a 13-yr old in California killed himself because of bullies and gay jokes. 13!! He told his parents that morning that he was gay (and they were very accepting), by lunchtime he had been pushed down a flight of stairs, and by the time his parents got home, he had attempted to hang himself from a tree. He died Tuesday in the hospital. A few days before he died, another 13 year old in Texas shot himself because of harassment. A 15 year old in Minnesota hung himself. Another 15 year old in Indiana...

How can anyone be so cruel?! How can anyone not be horrified by what's going on? I don't understand how or why anyone can be accepting of this. Believe me, I know how it feels to want to die, and what it takes to reach that point... I also know what it's like to be the victim of "gay jokes" and harassment. Not only from kids at school, but from my own family. And now that my "label" is shifting, I can't even think about talking about it.It's strange - just this morning I was excited and somewhat relieved that my boss is openly gay and has a partner, and everyone at work seems so cool with it. I thought maybe, if things do begin to shift in that direction for me, if I am bi, I might be ok with sharing it. I would feel supported. And just a few hours later, I was hit with all of this again. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to deal with this at 13. As much as I'm still struggling with some of it now... Life at 13 was hard enough as it was-- I remember how it was to want to be able to be yourself at such a tumultuous time in your life, and know that should you ever appear to be "different," a long period of shunning and bullying and harassment and teasing awaited you.

Right now, I'm just too pissed off to continue this... Children aren't born with intolerance, it's learned. For young children, "different" doesn't exist until it's been pointed out, until it's created. So please, please please please teach your children to love diversity & not hate or fear difference.

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