For all of the ways things have been improving over time — the rollback of DADT, a number of cities and states finally getting on board with gay marriage and gay federal employees finally being able to share benefits with their partners — in some ways it might as well still be 1979. Yes, there is a reason I chose that year and a personal significance to it, one that resonates as I read new stories about another teen or young adult. like Jamie Hubble in Ottawa or Tyler Clemente at Rutgers, killing themselves after being outed and/or bullied for being gay. Other kids, some as young as 11, have killed themselves after being bullied and taunted because their school peers decided they might be gay.
Now, shortly after the Jamie Hubble’s death, and his extremely painful and moving farewell blog and video (which motivated and is included in my original post), a video shows up on Facebook of a young man being attacked. You can see the coverage at the Huffpost Gay Voice.
The coverage by the usual suspects such as Huffpost and The Advocate has been there, but not so much the mainstream media. I suppose it’s much more amusing, and lucrative, to give endless (and I would argue at times pointless) coverage to Herman “9-9-9” Cain and Rick “I pick on the President ’cause it’s fun” Perry than to acknowledge that kids are suffering, that we are failing them. The really cynical part of me takes this notion a step further and believes that, in addition to many of us failing to pay attention to, protect and take care of our kids, there’s another group that believes that it’s okay as long as these kids belong to group they believe expendable. The same individuals and news outlets that don’t cover the suicides and/or bullying of gay kids are often the same ones that don’t cry out in horror when an African-American child is murdered or missing but will dedicate hours to a missing white baby, even during the times when it’s a non-story. Coincidence? Yeah, right. Sure it is.
I’m getting off track now (sort of), but my point is that kids are dying and being bullied and beaten and no child — no person — deserves that, deserves to suffer like that. And, no family deserves to suffer because of the loss of their kid. We as adults need to watch out, stand up on behalf of, and speak up for these kids. If we don’t, it doesn’t get better for some of them. And, if we don’t, the bullies win, which only emboldens them and allows them to continue their harassment and terror of others who aren’t like them. Agree with someone or not, standing up for their safety, security and freedom, is basic decency — humanity. And where does that get us as individuals and as a society? In a cycle of hate and meanness surrounded by silence? It’s 2011. and Paster Martin Niemöller’s words still ring true: Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
It’s time to speak up.