Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bullying isn't the underlying issue...

It's an unaccepting world. It's cultural "norms" that we don't quite fit into that are reinforced by EVERYTHING. It's the overwhelming number of people and institutions who either expressly don't accept us, or just "tolerate" us. What do you expect from youth with no affirmation outside of their small support networks (if they have any support)?

Courtesy of
 In college, when I first realized that I was gay, I played countless solutions and compromises through my head in order to "fix" myself. Honestly, suicide was one of them. Thankfully, I didn't consider that one too seriously... I came up in the deep south, in a conservative community, by Catholic-Republican parents. A community that still festers today with racism, colorism, sexism and homophobia with a healthy serving of guilt when applicable. And I can't begin to express how lucky I feel that I didn't begin to question my sexuality until after I left Louisiana and was attending a liberal/hippie-esque university. Reading about all these suicides has me playing the what-if game. What if I not only had to deal with ignorant classmates calling me "nigger" but also had to deal with people's response to my sexuality? What if I knew I was a lesbian while being hyper-Catholicized by my their-way-or-the-highway parents? What if I had to reconcile my sexuality and my then very religious-concervative spirituality while being a social outcast in school? I had absolutely zero exposure to the queer community before leaving home. Only homophobic comments passed down from my elders to me. How many options seem realistic in situations like those? Suicide would most likely have been on my list. And it wouldn't have been enough to have a gay-straight alliance or some non-profit in town. Someone would have needed to REACH OUT to me.

But hindsight is 20/20. And all those things, if they had happened that way, would not have been so bad if I knew then what I know today. I came out to my parents over 3 years ago and they still love me. They treat me no different today than before I came out to them. We struggle, yes. But love is there. So yeah... it does get better. Really. Really really. The most important thing is to focus on your thoughts. Don't let them go places that will further hurt you. And surround yourself by people who love you.

The It Gets Better Project is noble. But it's not enough. How many gay teens and young adults do you have in your life? Embrace every one of them. And don't ever let them go. It's a matter of life and death.

The National Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans Suicide Hotline:  

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