Seth Walsh was a 13-year-old California boy who was openly gay, which apparently, in that part of the state (just outside of Bakersfield), was unacceptable.
And so he was bullied.
He was bullied so severely that 10 days ago he hung himself. Yesterday he died.
Walsh is not alone.
This month, there have been three suicides all over the country, all with similar stories. In Texas, 13-year-old Asher Brown shot himself September 23 after being relentlessly bullied for his perceived sexual orientation. And on September 9, Billy Lucas of Indiana hung himself for the same reason.
A 2009 survey of 7,261 middle and high school students found that at school nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) students experienced harassment at school.
So, who are the losers here? The ones just trying to live their lives and find out who they are or the disgusting little twerps making their lives hell?
Any child who feels the need to bully in general and be so relentlessly mean clearly has something going on at home that is far worse. But somehow with bullying over sexual orientation, they probably think it's OK. Their mother uses the word "fag" and their father says things are "gay."
Homophobia is such a part of our lives (in some circles) that very often people don't notice it. "You played that game like such a fag," one man jokes to another after winning at poker.
"What are you, gay?" one man asks another after he expresses sadness about something. Somehow being "gay" in our culture is anything that's bad.
Children see this.
Dan Savage, the openly gay writer whose column Savage Love is nationally syndicated, has started a YouTube campaign he calls "It Gets Better" designed to show high school and middle school students that their torment will not last forever. And we all know that all those little middle school bullies are the ones later serving fries and looking like hags at the 10-year high school reunion.
But knowing that might not make it enough to help kids today. In these schools, the administration and faculty members are very often just as homophobic themselves. Homophobes have the upper hand right now.
Here are a few reasons to cut out your own homophobia today:
- You look stupid: If you openly hate gay people or you stand by and say that it's OK to ridicule and bash them because your religion tells you it is, then you look like a weak-minded follower.
- Buh-bye any chance of having sex with smart people: As we all get older, most women don't want to be with angry, racist, and homophobic men.
- People will know that you're actually homosexual: So many of the politicians and religious leaders (I'm looking at you, Bishop Eddie Long) who condemn homosexuality are actually only so hateful because they feel those urges themselves. The harder someone fights against something, the more likely they are actually it themselves.
- You are a hypocrite: The Bible says a lot of things, but perhaps the most important, most moral rule of all is "do unto others ..." Is this how you would want to be treated?
- You are teaching your children to hate: Maybe some people think this is OK, but if you're teaching your children to hate, you're limiting their future unless they learn to go against you. The world is changing and the homophobes are on the way down. Do you really want your child to be with them?
Fighting homophobia starts internally. These suicides are unacceptable and hopefully they will start a conversation that clearly needs to happen.
How do you fight homophobia?
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