Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Does It Really Get Better?

As I've written a few times now, many people in society have rallied following the recent spike in teen suicides as a result of anti-gay bullying, contributing videos to the It Gets Better Project. President Obama has contributed a video, as have legislators (national and local), celebrities and everyday people. Even me.

The videos are designed to let those struggling with being bullied and questions of self-worth know that life does get better, and that suicide isn't the answer. As someone who was a victim of bullying and one who contemplated suicide to escape this on more than one occasion, I can say that life did get better.

These messages are important, and I hope that hearing the stories of those who have been through these difficult times will provide the necessary support and encouragement to keep these young people away from suicide.

However, the cynic in me wonders whether the inspiration and encouragement of these videos is enough to trump those voices in society who equate homosexuality with sin, publicly wish that all gay people would commit suicide and compare same sex marriage with marrying animals or inanimate objects. The cynic in me wonders how we can tell these young people that life gets better when so much of our society is so filled with hate toward gay people?

Today I heard that Texas NBC affiliate station KTEK and radio station KTBB did a segment entitled Will Gays Destroy America? Both stations invited viewers to call-in, and the radio station is also conducting a poll on its web site.

How can something like this be allowed in today's world? How can a major network condone something so discriminatory? Could you imagine a network asking if giving African-Americans the right to vote would destroy the country? Or if Jews will destroy America? No one would stand for either of those. But yet this segment aired.

And scarily enough, this isn't the worst of it. Arkansas school board member Clint McCance allegedly wrote on his Facebook profile that the only way he would have worn purple to show solidarity for bullied gay and lesbian youth "was if they all committed suicide."

Said McCance: "Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin."

Now, let's not even touch the fact that a member of a school board used the word "thereselves." But isn't a school board supposed to advocate for students, all students, regardless of race, sexual orientation, income, intellectual prowess, etc.? How could a school board member encourage children to commit suicide and condone anti-gay bullying?

Oh, yeah, and today also saw coverage of Wisconsin lieutenant governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch, whose recently shared her views on same-sex marriage (in addition to it being a "fiscal back breaker") as: "At what point are we going to OK marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table or this clock? Can we marry dogs? This is ridiculous."

We need to stop condoning hatred.

We need to stop acting as if not everyone in our society deserves the same rights.

We need to stop worrying about votes, worrying about offending supporters and worry about humanity.

We cannot go on this way. Anti-gay rhetoric already leads to bullying, discrimination, violence, suicide and murder.

We need to stop believing being gay is a choice. Who would choose to surround themselves with this much hatred?

It's time we think beyond our personal beliefs and prejudices. These are human beings.

But the only way this will change is if we refuse to be complacent. Our society can no longer afford complacency. This will only change if we are willing to change.

Make it happen. Demand that it happen. Stand for nothing less. That is the only way we can honestly say things will get better.

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