So, I guess this whole thing with gay kids and gayish kids (that is, not necessarily gay, but gay seeming enough that their peers call them names and harass them) is getting kind of out of control, eh? I mean, not the bullying so much (though that’s not in any way cool) but all the resulting suicides. I mean, now, don’t get me wrong, bullies suck (as someone who was both bullied and a bully [although I was a pretty minor league bully, as I always remembered what it was like to be called a fag and punched] I can attest to this) but the real shitty move here is the suicide. Nobody wants to say this shit out loud and I’m definitely not trying to be unsympathetic, lord knows every time I read one of these stories I die a little thinking about what my poor, sweet little kids have in store for them when they get a little older, but man…fuck. The people that are really committing the shittiest act here are the people killing themselves. Yes, they’re young. Yeah, they feel like shit’s bottoming out, but uh…doesn’t everyone at some point? That’s kind of where the drama of being a teen comes into play, right? Okay, let’s back up a bit:
I didn’t grow up gay. I realize that especially in a world where your family is important to you and religious and they unequivocally equate gayness to evil, that’s a pretty heavy burden for a kid, but I want to stop short of saying that it’s something I could never imagine. Kids are, by nature melodramatic. That’s why kids desperately cling to music and identities and sloganeering and ideologies and shit like that. Pain is pain and in my experience a kid that witnesses their parents hateful divorce, or suffers abuse at the hands of some grownup or gets put into a special class because they’re stupid or grows up a pimply lard ass or has to watch a parent die or has a drunk mom or any number of other things make life for a teenager just as unbearable as it can possibly get.
Sure, there are fat, pimply gays out there who grew up watching their drunk moms die right after the hateful divorce and that totally sucks, but at the end of the day, there’s something really weird going on here, and I don’t want to say it’s something that pertains to all these unfortunate teen suicides, but I’ll be damned if it’s not a factor in at least some of them:
Namely, the sort of shrinking of the world and global localization of news have taken all these very separate events and bound them together and the message that is being presented (the secondary message, mind you. The first message is obviously “omg! Bullies are so mean [which is true, don’t get me wrong]) is that a lot of gay or otherwise persecuted teens see suicide as a viable way out of their situation.
This is a slippery slope, because this IS going on, and it needs to be reported, but there are tons of kids out there that are unfortunately thinking about, or successfully killing themselves and I can’t help but feel that all this attention on these gay suicides further marginalizes these bullied, marginalized gay/gayish kids and sends the message that being gay is SO MUCH WORSE than anything else that for a lot of kids, suicide is the go-to option. That’s fucked.
How bout a report on how being a teenager is rough, and how kids are dramatic and there’s a huge cross section of kids who have these kinds of thoughts, not just gay kids or kids who are perceived as gay. It’s just not healthy to keep this problem (which is the third leading cause of death in teens, by the way) in the media as a ‘gay kid’ problem. It’s irresponsible and it’s gonna create a self fulfilling prophecy that’s truly, truly dark and ugly.
Now, Dan Savage, one of my personal heroes (I actually had the good fortune of taking a piss right next to him once, which was pretty great [strange] and his brother was my professor at Northwestern, which I awkwardly told him while we were pissing…sigh) started this whole “it gets better” youtube campaign, which is awesome. It’s a bunch of people talking about how yes, being young and picked on is hard, but suicide is never the answer and here I am, all growed up and gay and I’m rich and I’ve got friends and shit gets way, way better.” It’s a great project and even if it may be a little bit uh, what’s the word….dorky and grown up, I think it’s about as close as anyone’s come to really effectively addressing what’s at the heart of this issue, which is marginalization.
However, I gotta wonder, does it really get better or does it just get worse in a different way? I mean, I’d never go back to living in my mom’s house and going to highschool, but I don’t know that I’m really totally psyched on getting audited and growing uglier and closer to death by the day either…I dunno, like I said, the ‘it gets better’ thing is cool. Maybe I’ll start a youtube channel too that says shit like “hey, it gets kind of good for a second there, and maybe if you’re lucky, you can capitalize on that moment, but otherwise, it may not get better, but you’ll be able to buy fireworks and whiskey and pornography soon, so there’s that, right? Good deal. Hit the showers.”
Okay both my kids are crying. I need to pay them some attention, I guess.