Why I’m Not Wearing Purple on “Spirit Day”

The George Washington Bridge in NY. How many suicides are attempted or committed here annually? Can you name more than one?

As you may know, there have been a recent spate of suicides by LGBT youth due to bullying. “Spirit Day” is today, October 20th. It is supposed to be a way to honor those dead youth, and to show support for the many thousands of LGBT kids who face discrimination due to orientation on a daily basis.

You can read more about “Spirit Day” on GLAAD’s website.

The idea behind Spirit Day, first created by teenager Brittany McMillan earlier this month, is a simple one, not dissimilar to the idea of “Spirit Week” held in many high schools, and can be summed up in three words: Everyone Rally Together.

Spirit Day honors the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks. But just as importantly, it’s also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them.

Here’s the problem: by singling out gay youth, we aren’t rallying together; we’re rallying separately. No one wants to read another tragic story of a young person killing him or herself due to being targeted by the predatory tactics of mean kids. Or mean adults. But honestly, the idea suicide is somehow more tragic, or even noble, when committed by a “sexual minority” is just … stupid.

There is no question gay youth face additional challenges. There is a lot of pressure put on those who have just passed puberty by their peers. Much of it has to do with sexuality: from going to the prom with the perfect date to fitting in at school dances. Gay youth often feel like fish out of water. The statistics I’ve read do, in fact, show that suicide and drug abuse are higher among gay youth than other groups.

But…

Being bullied is a very personal experience. I know. I was the target of bullying all throughout my public school years. Was it because I was gay? Certainly, lots of bullying in high school was gay oriented, but so it was with lots of teen males who were bullied, gay or not. Calling someone a “fag” is a popular put down in American society among men. I don’t know much, but I can guarantee if that’s going to change, it’s not going to be because of a t-shirt or a purple “twibbon” on one’s Twitter avatar.

Kids are bullied because they’re different. I know many of the people I went to high school with who turned out to be gay or bi were … popular. They were the jocks. The debate team captains. They weren’t bullied. Nor were they the ones doing the bullying. They were universally liked because they had great social skills and knew how to fit in, even among people with whom they must have felt they had little in common.

Or did they?

There’s this idea that gay people all have to stick together. That our orientation is such a defining characteristic that we must form a community around it. A community of otherness because society at large won’t accept us. There’s some truth to that, but that’s a two-way street. I’ve met countless gay people who don’t like “the breeders.” Who will only date people of the same skin color, or only those of a different skin color. And, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, you better buy into the politics of the movement, or be estranged by your new found “community.”

Many liberal ideologies are founded upon good intentions. But we all know what Saint Bernard of Clairvaux – and others – had to say about good intentions and the road to hell. The problem is this: these ideologies never go any further, and often end up doing as much damage as they do good, if not more.

What “Spirit Day” teaches gay youth is that they are different. That their lives are so fraught with peril simply for being gay that they need special t-shirts and special awareness programs. They are being singled out for a life of continued divisiveness that will last far beyond high school. It also teaches kids that those who aren’t gay, who aren’t “different,” have no reason to feel bad on the inside. That their troubles and turmoils are somehow less than those of others because they don’t have the same obstacles to overcome. But, on a personal level, if one is treated like crap, does it ultimately matter why? The personal experience is still awful.

You can’t teach divisiveness and unity at the same time. The two ideas are diametrically opposed.

Kids who are taught they will be bullied for being gay now are much more likely to grow up and be the victims of tomorrow as adults. They will be the ones marching in parades demanding marriage “equality” while wearing thongs, wondering why society doesn’t believe they, too, could have traditional family values. They will be the ones who think anytime anyone is less than kind to them, it is because of “teh ghey,” and not because, well, sometimes people just aren’t nice.

Sure, there probably thousands of kids out there targeted by bullies because of their sexual orientation, real or simply perceived. Given that gay people are a small percentage of the population, how many kids are being targeted by bullies for completely different reasons? Because they’re black. Because they’re Christian. Because they wear glasses. Because they’re poor, or rich. Where are their t-shirts?

Also, what message are we sending to troubled youth when we “honor” those who choose to kill themselves? Certainly, we can agree the deaths were tragic. But honorable? How many future suicides are we inducing by immortalizing those who have died at their own hands? Suicide is … selfish. It leaves a giant hole in the lives of others. Often times, people who attempt suicide are looking for a type of immortality. “They’ll be sorry once I’m dead.” In one’s fevered imagination, there is a lingering sense of self to enjoy the pain of others at one’s loss of life, but in reality, dead is dead.

So, no. I won’t be wearing purple for “Spirit Day.” The death of Tyler Clementi was tragic, but so was that of Phoebe Prince. You remember her, don’t you? Or maybe you don’t. After all, she wasn’t gay.

 

 

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Comments
43 Responses to “Why I’m Not Wearing Purple on “Spirit Day””
  1. Lynn Feller says:

    Chris – SO right on, and so brilliant!! You put into words exactly what I was thinking as I watched the news this AM. My kids have seen bullying since their first days in elementary school for everything from being the smallest in the class to being in special ed. BULLYING HURTS, period.

    Keep on speaking up, because you, my friend, are awesomely gifted!

  2. Rose says:

    Chris, I think your post is pretty disgusting. I’m straight, and was also “bullied” as a child, however, it is not at ALL the same for gay children and teens. And unless you’ve had a really close gay friend or family member, you might not be aware of that. As a bullied child, I came home to safe environment – a soft place to fall. I didn’t ALSO have MY PARENTS, family members, members of my own government, as well as my church condoning homophobia and hate, preaching to me and the rest of the world that gays are “fruit loops” (thanks to NC representative Larry Brown) or telling me my life wasn’t “valid” (thank you NY gubernatorial candidate Paladino), nor did I have Reverend Fred Phelps and his congregation going from town to town with signs reading “GOD HATES FAGS.” There is a difference, sir, between another teen, a peer, picking on you, and having religious establishments, church leaders, government officials – who, btw, VOTE on your very life and civil rights – all ADULTS perpetuating this repulsive bigotry. It is OVERWHELMING, and it is EVERYWHERE. And ending this kind of pain is what leads to children taking their own lives. There should be zero tolerance for ALL kinds of bullying, however to say to that any other kind of bullying is the same as what a gay teen faces in this world is to completely bury your head in the sand. It is people like you that CAUSE these children to believe they are all alone. YOU, sir, are the “selfish” one. How dare you?

    There isn’t an “idea that gays should stick together,” nor is that what wearing a certain color today is about. It’s about non-gays coming out of their own closets, and telling the world it’s NOT OKAY to tell GLBT teens that their sexual preference is a sin, or that they don’t live valid lives, or that they don’t deserve to fall in love and marry, or that they don’t deserve to serve their country… When you KNOW better, you are obligated to DO better, and making a statement about systemic discrimination and abuse of a minority is one of the most important things any human being, any American, can do.

    “chrisisright” – you couldn’t be more wrong.

    • What part of “I’m GAY!” were you too stupid to understand, you self-righteous moron.

      And just so you know, Fred Phelps is a Democrat. Look it up.

      • Rose says:

        Nice response, Chris. Very thoughtful. Exactly what I expected. You write what you think is an anti-bullying blog, you welcome responses, and then turn around and call the responder “stupid?” What part of “bully” don’t you understand?

        Louis Farrakhan and Clarence Thomas are black, yet they’ve done some of the most harm to African Americans of any public figures in the last 3 decades. Who cares if you’re gay? You’re still wrong.

        I remember Phoebe Prince, and I also remember Lori Drew, the internet bully mom who SHOULD’VE gotten life in prison for driving a beautiful teenage girl into her own premature and unnecessary death. How you can ask us to remember Phoebe and call her death “tragic” while also calling it selfish?

        I’d ask you to meditate on the question, what does “Democrat” or “Republican” have to do with the factual, bigoted words and actions of the men I noted above? I didn’t feel it necessary to call out anyone’s political party. Why do you?

        So… are you saying you approve of church leaders and government officials sending the message to STRAIGHT teens that their gay peers are hated by God, that they are abominations? Because deny it if you will, those messages are exactly from where these particular suicides come.

        There is nothing worse than a self-loathing person. I wish you so much happiness that you don’t need to destroy that of others.

        • You mean bullying, like you calling me disgusting and wrong because you don’t agree with my point? Or telling me unless I have a close gay friend I won’t understand? Or intimate that I’m self-loathing because I don’t buy into your PC garbage?

          Hypocrite.

          Take your self-righteous filth elsewhere.

          • Crowell29a says:

            while I’m not clear where I stand and good points have been made by Chris and Rose, what is very clear to me is the name-calling Chris employs. Rose called the post disgusting and said Chris was wrong – perfectly acceptable in a civilized debate, albeit “disgusting” is a bit abrasive. Nonetheless, I’m very disappointed in the ad hominem attack. Abrasive is one thing; logical fallacies are another. I was hoping for a good debate but instead got a childish rant. Maybe I’ll come back later and read the rest of the comments, but for now I think you owe everyone – yourself included – an apology for the childish name calling. meet the challenge head-on next time.

          • Dear Crowell29a:

            I’m sorry you found the ad hominems not to your liking, but read Rose’s response to me again. She claims to have read the post, then tells me I couldn’t possibly understand what being gay feels like unless I had a gay friend or two. Then she goes on to lecture me how she had it much easier than these hypothetical gay people because she had a family, but gay teens aren’t supported by theirs.

            If you were black (and obviously, I have no idea whether you are or not) and I told you you didn’t properly understand the “black experience” in America because you don’t have black friends like I do … what would your conclusion about me be? If I were to lecture a black person on what it’s like being black, I think you’d be right to conclude that any attempt at understanding a black person’s point of view wasn’t really my intention. Nor do I think it was Rose’s intention to engage in any sort of civil discourse. She could have made very salient points, but instead chose to tell me that her second-hand knowledge of my experience was greater than my first-hand knowledge. Truth be told, I think she read the post title, then skimmed it in a race to disapprove. Because this was her tactic, I concluded – rightfully so, I think – that she is a moron.

            Civility in debate is one thing, but calling someone out for being stupid is perfectly fine when that person is, in fact, stupid.

            Rose could have responded to me without claiming superior knowledge of the gay experience. I think she missed the whole “I’m gay” thing in the post and chose to give me a written “tongue lashing” about how I don’t understand gays, but she does.

            And, when I told her to take that crap elsewhere, and blocked her from this blog, she used the Contact form to send me an email claiming I’m a blogger “against free speech.”

            She also had a friend (or maybe it was her using a different name and email address. It came from the same IP address) write to me in private to tell me how much of a coward I am. When I allowed his comment through and responded to it, he sent me another private email through the contact form telling me he “officially” didn’t believe I was gay, but some sort of conservative plant.

            And let’s make this perfectly clear: I don’t owe anyone an apology for jack shit. No one is forced to participate in these discussions. Nor are they forced to read them. Don’t like me, my attitude or my blog? Fine. There are some 19 Billion web pages available on the Internet. Find another one.

            I dealt with a spate of straight people yesterday telling me I was shameful and didn’t understand what it was like to be gay. And when I pointed out to the I was gay, then it became all about self-loathing.

            Talk about your logical fallacies…

        • Stickeenotes says:

          I’m sorry.. did you equate Clarence Thomas to Louis Farrakhan? Yep, no longer need to read your comments. Your credibility just went right out the window.

          An act can be both tragic and selfish. Selfish in that it’s a person ignoring the consequences of their actions in order to escape pain they feel. Yet, it’s tragic that they pursued a permanent solution to a temporary problem (been there myself so I speak from experience). And you assume that straight kids all have loving homes with support and only gay kids have parents who don’t love or understand them? Sorry, not true. Sexual orientation does not dictate a supportive home life. Neither does race, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status. Gays do face unique challenges, but dwelling on sexual orientation as the end all be all definition of a person is not the answer. When sexual orientation is meaningless like hair or eye color in the eyes of society, you will see real change. Focusing on sexual orientation, of which we have little or no control, will not make that day come any sooner. Encouraging children to define themselves based on something they cannot control will not make that day come any sooner. Though your intentions are good, you are not helping.

          • Tedi Trindle says:

            Oh, you’re gay all right. Do you need a reference? ;)

          • Crowell29a says:

            Chris,

            I understand your points and largely agree, especially with “calling someone out for being stupid is perfectly fine when that person is, in fact, stupid.” Why you didn’t continue with that instead of resorting to name calling is what I didn’t understand. I don’t mind abrasive at all. Sometimes it’s even a lot of fun.. ;)

            That said, I def agree she deteriorated at the end of the second post. The subsequent behavior is further disappointment and I’ll direct much the same admonition to her as well.

            • Well, but calling someone stupid is name calling, isn’t it? Sure, I called her a moron rather than stupid, but what’s the difference.

              Here’s the thing, and Tedi and John can confirm this (if you’re one of the people who found this post via Tedi and John): I’m a fairly basic person, usually without a lot of pretense. Do you know who Judith Martin is? She’s also known as Miss Manners. Yeah. I *hate* her.

              Miss Martin/Manners has guidelines for how to be exceedingly rude to people within the confines of etiquette.

              If someone’s going to tell me to “eff off,” I’d rather they just say that.

              So, when I had reached my limit of opinions like Rose’s (because while she was the first to post it on here, I dealt with it a lot… and do every time a “gay” issue arises) I snapped a little. Would it have won me any points at a forensics match-up? Well, no.

              In fact, sometimes name calling shuts down a conversation faster than anything else… (read: motive)

              Sadly, that didn’t work.

              When I’m having a debate with people I respect (which is everybody until they prove they don’t deserve it), I do try to follow the “civilized rules.” In other words “that opinion is disgusting” is fair while “you’re disgusting” isn’t. But I lost all respect for Rose when I read her first comment and understood how little effort she put in to understand my point of view.

              In my own, small-town hierarchy of offenses, calling someone a moron ranks well below dehumanizing a person, purposefully misstating their point of view and claiming superior knowledge of an experience one hasn’t had.

              So, when I ran across Rose’s comment, I decided to let off steam, rather than take the high road.

  3. Great post, Chris. I had many things to be bullied over in high school. It started as early as 5th grade when my own personal bully named, Heidi, would knee me in the crotch as often as possible. To this day, I don’t have any idea WHY she felt the need to do that or what her problem was with me. I had red hair. I was the vice-principal’s daughter, I was Mormon – pick one. All those differences came with a varying array of personal attacks that hurt both physically and emotionally. I have not wanted a lot of contact with anyone from my high school years because of how I felt about high school. I was glad to be rid of it.

    That being said, I grew up and moved on with my life and somewhat thank my bullies for toughening me up. I am nearly flame-proof and don’t worry about what people think of me anymore. Not everyone can do that, unfortunately. It’s not just the gay kids who get pushed over the edge by vicious attacks.

    I don’t like segregation or victim politics, either. In the end, a teen who commits suicide is still dead and a family is still left grieving the loss. One reason for “offing” yourself is not more important than another and one family doesn’t grieve more than another.

    Bullying of ANY flavor is wrong . At our house, the phrase, “that’s so gay” is not allowed. When the kid from across the street says it, I ask him not to. I also don’t allow, “you’re so retarded”, either. Learning kindness and tolerance starts at home.

    • Indeed. It’s not about being aware of bullying and protecting children I find wrong and divisive. It’s separating gay teens as special victims.

      Reality sets in after high school, as many of us know. We’re not always going to get special treatment. We need to not only stop bullying of ANY child, we need to give children coping skills. Phoebe Prince is a great example. How horrible to be constantly bullied! I know firsthand what it’s like, as do many, many people. But what leads some of us to kill ourselves over it, and some to buck up and grow from the experience?

      We can’t legislate all mean thoughts and words out of existence. We can’t force people to be nice. Disagree with a liberal, for instance, and see how mean someone who demands kindness and tolerance gets.

      We need to stop creating these barriers between people. Suicide is tragic and selfish. Again, I know firsthand. I lived through a very traumatic suicide attempt (that had nothing to do with my orientation, by the way). I saw what it did to those loved ones around me. “Why didn’t you talk to us?” “Why didn’t you ask for help?”

      I don’t like segregation or victim politics, either. In the end, a teen who commits suicide is still dead and a family is still left grieving the loss. One reason for “offing” yourself is not more important than another and one family doesn’t grieve more than another.

      This is exactly the point! Today is a today to speak out against bullying gay teens. This tells other kids going through hard times they aren’t as important; that their problems aren’t as noble, somehow. I hate that!

      And, I can tell you where this special class of citizen status gets you: The gay community is rife with many of the most selfish and mean people you’d ever want to meet. While there are plenty of wonderful people, I’ve been treated like total crap by other gay people for not having the right kind of body, or a slightly less than white skin color, or having the wrong politics. This is where that divisiveness leads.

      • It’s hard when a group is taught to see “victimhood” in every situation. Not everyone will accept my religion. Not everyone will accept your orientation. So what? I’m sure we have both been damned to Hell over those two things by others. I don’t need to associate with those people – there are plenty of others in the world who can be kind – even when they don’t agree with me on certain things. That’s life. It will never be fair.

        As the mother of middle schoolers, it’s hard to teach them that bullies don’t matter and make them believe it, We teach our kids that bullies are actually weak and have low self-esteem. They pick on others to make themselves feel better. The response we have taught our kids is, “so….?” when someone taunts them. When there is no pay-off, the bully moves on to someone who WILL react. It’s ALWAYS tragic when a kid doesn’t have the skills, the support or the emotional well-being to withstand those things. But those kids come from all walks of life.

        • sauer kraut says:

          I disagree.

          You can teach your kids whatever you’d like but if a bully focuses on yours there isn’t any amount of “ignore the bully” advice which will make things any different unless the bully decides to move on. It is a gross fallacy to teach your kid that s/he is in control; they are not.

          • sauer kraut,

            That, too, is a point well taken. I don’t think it’s simply a matter of “ignoring,” though. There are ways to deal with bullies, some better and/or more effective than others.

            Just like each bullied child is different, each bully is different. I’ve bee bullied by some where ignoring their taunts caused them to stop. I’ve been bullied by some where direct confrontation shut them the hell up. And, sadly, sometimes nothing seems to work well.

            I don’t think it’s a fallacy to teach one’s kid he or she is in control. It’s highly situation dependent. Likewise, I wouldn’t want to teach a kid that he or she is never in control, because that’s not always the case either.

  4. Eddie says:

    >>> The gay community is rife with many of the most selfish and mean people you’d ever want to meet.

    A gay man perpetuating gay stereotypes? I’m fine with you not wearing purple if don’t want to, but talk about cold…

    Dude, you’re totally talking out your ass.

    • Yeah, if you want to buy into the fact that gay people are all great and happy, then please do so. Check dating site postings for men who only date men of the same color. I’ve heard more bashing within the gay community than in ANY other community. And how many gay men do you know who refer to women as “fish” (well, that might depend on how old you are) or talk about how “icky” lesbians are?

      Yeah, there are many, many wonderful gay people. Just like there are many, many wonder conservative Christians. Didn’t stop your friend Rose from going on the attack, did it?

      But, oh no. We are only tolerant of people who share our worldview, aren’t we?

      Both you and Rose (same person, perhaps. Or did she call in the “big guns” to make a little point?) have cherry picked this post to pull out the most negative things you can.

      And, as to your email calling me a coward for blocking posts. I told Rose to go elsewhere. She sent me a snotty note claiming I’m against freedom of speech, proving she doesn’t even know what that means. My blog: my freedom to decide who can speak here or not.

      YOU wouldn’t have been blocked except you’re posting from the same computer (or at least, the same IP address) as Rose.

      I guess, since you and Rose are ganging up on me, I should do the noble thing and try to off myself. Then we can all wear t-shirts against cyber bullying by North Carolinian liberals with axes to grind.

      • Smells like bullies, Chris. I notice someone is quickly posting THUMBS DOWN on all your posts now. A grown-up states their opinion, owns it and stands by it but also respects the opinions of others and often, will agree to disagree. A bully states their opinion then harasses you until you acknowledge they are right. It’s the same deal as wrenching your arm behind your back and demanding you say, “UNCLE”.

        • Oh, indeed. It’s amazing how small minded and mean people can be when they are demanding tolerance, isn’t it?

          • sauer kraut says:

            Actually, Chris, I agree with much of what you wrote in your post. But I now see those words in a different light… should never have started to read these comments.

            • I’m sorry the comments threw you. Perhaps, if I had published some of the private emails I received by the same people calling me self-loathing for having a differing opinion, you might see my post in a different different light. Then again, perhaps not.

              The sentiment of the post stands. I let all the comments stand because I think they paint an interesting picture. Disagree with those asking for a particular type of tolerance, and they will attack you, which is what happened here to me.

              I hope you also see that some of us who disagreed had a very civil and worthwhile communications.

              Do I regret the tone conveyed in some of the comments? Honestly, not really. I am sick to death of being told I need to believe x, y and z because I belong to “minority” group a.

              Sometimes, we express ourselves using anger. And, while the comments got a bit nasty, I doubt others ran away and cried, and nor did I. Which, in a roundabout way, reinforces one of the points I was trying to make in the first place.

  5. JenM623 says:

    So if the purple is the color to wear in support of bullied gay kids, what color do the other bullied kids get? What about the kids who get bullied b/c they are smart? The ones who get bullied b/c they are polite to teachers? The pretty girls who get bullied by girls jealous of them? I was on the receiving end of some brutal bullying, but I don’t recall getting a designated color for any of it.

  6. kla says:

    I think as a gay conservative male, your opinion is about as unbiased as most I know Chris. I always appreciate your desire to be true to you and not to the righteousness of social justice! Which is really…. what?

    As a straight, white mother of teenagers I had a conversation on this VERY subject with my daughter last night. I told her I thought it was super that she wanted to wear purple to support the gay teens at school who, may or not be getting bullied (in our school it is really the Somali/Muslims that bully all the black kids, but that’s another subject for another day). YES. We DO have GayLesbianTeen group at our upper middle class, conservative-voting white suburban high school (imagine that?). ALL types of kids get bullied EVERY day. Shall we wear yellow next week for the “fat” kids? Or how about green for the “brace face/four eyes” crowd? Or black maybe for the EMO kids?

    October is breast cancer awareness month and the world turns “pink”. 207k men and woman die each year from breast cancer, it’s worth mentioning how important this disease is. September is prostate awareness month. YOU wear blue (in case you never heard of this) in honor of the 217k MEN who die each year from prostate cancer.

    Let’s get real. If it’s an issue that touches your heart, it’s a big frickin deal. But there is always someone else suffering more and does that make them less important? Not to me.

  7. robin monillas says:

    Nothing divides us more than Diversity! We should be looking at what we have in common. A connection.I love you because of what we have in common..Choosing to not focus on our differences takes.Seperation and Hate comes from things we dont have in common.I choose to look at those things. To create a unity. They are trying to divide and conquer us.We need to teach our kids to look for commonalities..not differences THEN their might be some steps forward…All the bashing just proves the point! Love comes from grasping the good. Love this Post. Love your stance on oneness…Thank you!

  8. Tedi Trindle says:

    I wore purple today. I understand what you are saying and agree with it to a point. However, I do think it’s also important to raise awareness of a problem in order to have it taken seriously. As much as I’d like to think the world is full of well-educated, tolerant and thoughtful people, you’ve just said yourself that this isn’t the case. It is reported that as many as one-third of all teen suicides are by gay or possibly gay teens. One third is, I think, although you know I don’t do math, a lot. It’s a disproportionate problem that I believe requires disproportionate measures. Wearing purple isn’t going to change a lot of minds, but it does spark conversations and heighten awareness. And that is why I wore purple.

    • Tedi,

      You know I love you, and I completely support your decision. I’m just saying I think there would eventually be less of a problem if there were less of a division.

      • Tedi Trindle says:

        Chicken or the egg? Can you heal a division without first acknowledging that there is one?

        • But should there be one at all is the point. Is being treated as a “special” class of citizen helping or harming? If we all want to go around treating everyone as different and claiming to be special, in what direction are we moving?

          • Tedi Trindle says:

            [Editor’s note: I’ve edited this comment, but ONLY to make the hyperlink work. Any time I edit anyone’s comment but my own, I always note it.]

            Ok, now that I’ve slept, and read John’s most excellent take on the matter, I think I have a reply.

            What we need to realize is that tolerance of others is learned behavior. A baby cries when it is held by a stranger because it is congenitally suspicious of the unfamiliar. It’s a survival mechanism of the most basic sort which is used until one develops the ability to distinguish between that which is safe and that which is a threat. And it’s a mechanism which continues throughout life. We only overcome it by becoming familiar with that which we find threatening.

            I wasn’t born being gay-friendly, or anti-racist, or what have you. I learned it by observation, education and careful consideration. That process is ongoing. How I think today is very different than how I thought even ten years ago.

            The sad fact is that not all of the cues for tolerance are there so that this education is an easy take for people. There are hate messages everywhere in everyday life. So, if one is to foster tolerance and understanding, there needs to be a counterbalancing message, a cue that difference is not always a threat, that some differences are not only right, but necessary and normal.

            So while you take the stand that no one should be treated as special, and I agree with that, there has to be a way to get there. Education has to be provided to overcome those natural fears and prejudices.

          • Tedi,

            I would respectfully suggest that tolerance of others is much more natural than intolerance of others.

            You and I have been friends for years, both online and in real life, much to my benefit. You certainly knew about my orientation from an early stage in our friendship. It comes up. But did we become friends because I was constantly talking about how different I am? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think we became friends because of our similarities. Our senses of humor, our literary interests.

            We have had disagreements in the past. If I had told you you were homophobic anytime you disagreed with me, or if I had told you my emotional pain must be worse than yours because I was gay, how would that have made you feel? Would it have improved our friendship, or would it have driven a wedge?

            I’m not suggesting gay people can’t talk about their orientation. I do on this blog all the time. But I’m suggesting there’s a point at which these movements do more harm than good.

            Upstream, I made the comment that the organizers of Spirit Day missed a very important opportunity. They could have come together to stop bullying for any reason. Sexual orientation could have been part of that. Instead, while claiming to be “rallying together,” they picked one reason for emotional pain and championed it, as if it were more noble.

            You can see how this divisiveness works yourself. We met in a chat room. Not your usual chat room, as you know. Remember how MA would take offense at anything she felt insulted women? It didn’t matter if the woman addressed felt insulted or not. It was all about how she felt, and her sociopolitical views being the only valid ones.

            Her views cost her friendship. Well, more precisely, her insistence that her views were superior to those of others cost her friendships. Meanwhile, she would send private messages to her friends putting down men. When I stopped buying into her politics, she started saying nasty things about me behind my back. And, in my favorite MA memory, she called another user with whom you were once fairly close friends, an “evil Lothario who preys on innocent women.”

            In that same group, some people insisted on using gender neutral pronouns (sie/zir etc.) And someone even coined the term “offense kleptomaniacs” to talk about those who got in a snit every time someone said something less than politically correct.

            Those same people ganged up on a mentally ill woman because she sometimes didn’t (or couldn’t) control her temper. Then they rallied behind a drug addicted single father who threatened the life of a family court judge in writing because they found him clever, when really he was just a giant douche.

            The channel split and, to this date, some people who were friends no longer speak, and likely will never speak again.

            My point is that we initially all got along fairly organically. It wasn’t until the “politically correct” crowd descended on us playing various victim cards (but only the ones they thought were valid) that the channel started having serious problems. (Well, OK, there were other instances. But in general). We learned to stop tolerating one another, to take offense whenever we could and to start beating each other over the head with … everything.

            So, yes. Tolerance is an important lesson. True tolerance. And that starts with accepting – or at least considering – multiple points of view, not claiming that anyone who doesn’t agree with the “social busing” we see occurring today is a racist, self-loathing or otherwise bigoted.

    • Tedi Trindle says:

      I do agree, Chris. I think, at this point, you and I are just illustrating different sides of the same coin. Part of the reason I still love you (in spite of your persistent delusion that you are a conservative) is that we are able to do this and we both walk away with a broader understanding. I didn’t speak up when some here questioned your queer cred (even though a couple of them followed me here) because I know you are more than able to defend yourself if you think it’s called for. (I did offer a reference. *grin*) And, fwiw, my posts on the purple issue were almost exclusively about the bullying issue and only the gay teen issue as a passing highlight.

      • Ha! So I’m not a conservative. Maybe I’m a self-loathing liberal? ;) (for those playing at home… that’s a joke. I am a conservative and have the voting record to prove it :D )

        I think your points were very well taken, as were John’s.

        Yes, we’re discussing two sides of the same issue. It’s as if we are exhibiting the back and forth inherent in some sort of tool. A reciprocal saw, perhaps?

        BTW, how’s Bobby?

        • Tedi Trindle says:

          I used a reciprocal saw just the other day. Did you ever find out what one was for? Bobby is good, but a little sad. She just broke up with her latest SO(it was mutual). Say, does this belt go with my shorts?

  9. Bolton Peck says:

    You said, “Kids who are taught they will be bullied for being gay now are much more likely to grow up and be the victims of tomorrow as adults. They will be the ones marching in parades demanding marriage “equality” while wearing thongs, wondering why society doesn’t believe they, too, could have traditional family values. They will be the ones who think anytime anyone is less than kind to them, it is because of “teh ghey,” and not because, well, sometimes people just aren’t nice.

    This paragraph exposes your true feelings about the matter-it’s ‘OK to be gay’ but don’t march around and proclaim it or anything. And why is ‘equality’ in quotes when talking about gay marriage? I’m sorry.. are those gays offending your traditional family values by declaring their differences-in this case loudly and proudly? The gist of your post seems to be that bullying is wrong, but if ‘teh ghey’ could just sweep it back under the rug, then they wouldn’t get bullied. You would no longer have to be offended by people marching around in thongs demanding equal marriage rights.

    You talk about ‘victim politics’ yet here you are, allowing your bigotry (or in this case self loathing) to make you a victim. You are NOT a fucking victim. The ‘institution’ of marriage doesn’t-and shouldn’t-be limited as it now is, at least in the legal sense. If your church doesn’t want to hitch up gays then fine, so be it. But until they can legally be ‘wife and wife’ and not ‘domestic partner’ than it is society who continues to highlight the differences-and that is perpetuated by people like you. I don’t care if you wear purple or not, because that isn’t what this is really about.

    • Ah, the self-loathing card! Gee, I’ve never heard that one before. Except for… oh, wait! Every time some liberal ass hat wants to put down a “minority” conservative. Black conservatives are Uncle Toms. And self-loathing. Gay conservatives are secret homophobes. And self-loathing.

      Y’all need to get a new schtick.

      How does even the paragraph you quoted and misunderstood make me a victim? short answer: it doesn’t.

      I don’t care if people want to march in parades demanding rights. But when you do so down Main Street wearing nothing but woman’s underwear demanding your traditional family, you look like an idiot.

      The point I was making is that gay youth are taught to think of themselves as gay first. If something bad happens to them; its’ because they’re gay. If they have a problem with their parents; it’s because they’re gay. And, because they’re gay and oppressed, everything is permissible because they are also heroic for speaking out.

      Thus, when little Bubba and his leather daddy, Bruno, march down the middle of a public street wearing assless chaps, nipple rings and nothing else, people are turned away at the thought of marriage being extended to those people.

      If you want me to respect your traditional family values, then respect mine. Respect the fact that my little niece and nephew shouldn’t have to see people flogging each other in the streets, or tying their boyfriends to parking meters while they pretend to be dogs, dressed in fetish gear.

      Personally, I adopt a Libertarian stance when it comes to marriage. I think the state should stay out of it altogether, whether straight or gay. If you go up to my search box and type in “gay marriage,” or choose LGBT Issues from the categories drop-down, you’ll see a very different view than the one you are attempting to ascribe to me.

      But this post isn’t about gay marriage; it’s about gay teen suicide. It’s about the divisiveness of talking about how different one is, while telling everyone they need to be treated as “equals.”

      I’m not suggesting gay youth go back in the closet, nor do I think anyone – whether liberal or conservative – should shut up about their political or social views. God knows, I’m not going to. But there is a total victim mentality portrayed by the liberals in this society, and this focus on gay teen suicide is a part of it.

      Disagree with the policies of a black president and you’re a racist. Disagree with a Jew on just about anything, and you’re an anti-Semite (this one I see played from both sides of the fence… a lot. Google Debbie Schlussel.) And, of course, disagree with a gay person and you’re a homophobe.

      Unless, of course, you’re a liberal. Then you just tell that minority person that they have the problem and it’s all self-loathing.

      Get a freaking clue. I don’t want to see anyone parading around in sparkly underwear in front of children, handing out packets of lube and condoms then talking about how marriage oriented they are. I don’t care if they’re straight, gay or hermaphroditic. And many liberals scream at the thought of women being “sexually exploited” when viewed as sex objects. If straight people behaved at parades like many gay people behave at pride parades, NOW would have a fit.

      Montana wants to start “nomalizing” its school children about sexual politics and sexual identities starting in kindergarten. Another gay group wants public schools to have a multi-volumed set of reference books about homosexuality in their libraries. Included in those books: the proper politics for the young homosexual.

      During gay pride month, Seattle’s “only newspaper,” The Stranger, published a piece about those loathsome (and self-loathing) gay Republicans they’d met along the way.

      The point of the article isn’t about shutting anyone up. It’s about focusing on our similarities, rather than our differences. If someone wants to fight for gay marriage, repealing DADT or any other issue, then they should do so. They will meet with resistance. They need to understand that. They need to be prepared for it.

      Think about the missed opportunity here. Young people could have come together to stand against bullying. They could have talked about being bullied for being fat, black, brown, white, short, tall, physically disabled, gay, having a stutter. They could have made this a day highlighting bullying and what it feels like to an individual, regardless of the given reason for said bullying.

      Instead, they chose to raise some above others as more noble due to their orientation, whether real or perceived. They chose to deliver the message that being bullied for reason A is inherently worse than being bullied for reasons B, D, or D.

      So now we think of Tyler Clementi as some sort of … hero? I’m sorry, but he’s not. He was obviously a troubled teenager who tragically took his own life. His parents, his friends, his extended family are all grieving… just as they would be grieving if he were straight.

      Meanwhile, there is another young man out there who had his sex life published on the Internet, too: the young man with whom Tyler Clementi was enjoying a private moment. Why aren’t we rallying around him in support?

  10. joaninpodunk says:

    I was a gay, suicidal teen, and I have something to say about all this. First, a bit off the subject: I don’t honestly think Tyler Clementi killed himself because he was gay. I think he was pretty OK with his gay-a-tude. I mean, he was comfortable telling his roomate to scoot so he could bring home a boy to smoosh with, right? I think he took the dive because having his sex life posted on the internet was probably the last straw for him. I think that if he had been a straight boy sexing it up with an unpopular girl instead, it would have topped the poor boy off just as much. Just sayin.

    I tried to off myself as a teen, but it had nothing to do with being a screaming lezbo. It had everything to do with a mother who kept bringing in a string of perverts, a brother who lived to bully his little sister, and a world that was going to fry in a nuclear war any minute (but you better do your homework first.) My best friend splattered his brains across the bathroom. Was he gay? No. He was too depressed to be actualizing any sexual feelings as far as I knew- and believe me… we talked A LOT. He just couldn’t stand the thought of living he cookie cutter life as presented by our schools, parents and media- get good grades, grow up and go to college, get a shitty job. Work the shitty job for 50 years, retire and fish.

    But let me tell you: The boy wasn’t even sunk 6 feet before all the adults were whispering “gay panic.” Tommy was a slender, intelligent and gentle boy with a great imagination. That was all the grown ups needed to label him gay. What a comfort to Tommy’s bitch of a mom, distant asshole of a father and drug addicted elder brother. He didn’t kill himself because his life sucked. He did it ‘cuz he was gay.

    Makes me wanna know more about this 1/3 gay-teen suicide statistic. How do we know these kids are gay? Might that be yet another myth perpetuated by a political agenda? Whoops. Better keep my mouth shut about that before the Roses of the world come silence my intolerant ass.

    • joaninpodunk says:

      Oh- and another thing- If all my highschool comrades wore a freaking purple t-shirt to show sympathy for my gay teen suicidal bullshit, I’d have gone ape shit. I’d have been burning purple t-shirts in the student lounge. Excuse the crap out of me… glad y’all feel better about yourselves due to a stupid t-shirt and all, but please go fuck yourselves sideways with a garden rake.

      Maybe you could donate your fucking purple shirt to my mom’s new stud, so he has at least SOMETHING on his nasty hairy body when he sneaks into my bedroom at night.

      My point is this: Teens don’t kill themselves because they are gay. When somone is gay, they want to snuggle up with someone of the same sex. That’s it. No more, no less. Teens kill themselves because there is something else going on in their lives that they are not equipped to deal with.

      But then, perhaps it’s all for the best that we can cover that mess up with a purple t-shirt and forget about it, OK?

    • kla says:

      BRAVO joaninpodunk! Stats are funny things. Its not math and its not science. You can sway them any which way you like based on who you study and what you toss out. So to that end, it would be very easy to say that 1/3 of suicides commiited by teens are gay, but that does not tell you the WHY. Only WHO. And since they cannot speak for themslves, someone else is, as you so smartly point out. Obviosly ANYONE who commits suicide is tramatized, but that does not mean that ones sexual preference was the contributing factor.

  11. GuyS says:

    I was directed here by my wife, and it was well worth the visit. You are spot on in your assessment of the inherent divisiveness of diversity. Of course, to some extent, each of us is “different” than the other. As human beings we all have our respective strengths and weaknesses, physical differences, and on and on. This is what makes us what we are.

    First and foremost, (at least in this country) we should be “Americans”. Not African-Americans, or GLBT-Americans, Christian-Americans … you get the idea, but “Americans”. There must be “common ground”, or we will literally become “that divided house which can not stand”.

    This is not a “conservative” or a “liberal” thing, but a failure in our (over generations) turning away from:
    1.Taking responsibility for our actions. (Or being “allowed” to do so.)
    2. Allowing the “State” (and both sides of the political spectrum are at fault here) to assume more control over our lives/actions.
    3. Willfully ignoring or attempting to inappropriately change our (including our governmental office holders) adherence to the Constitution (as written).

    What has this to do with bullying?
    If you consistently change “the ground rules” in how we view each other (in to separate ” groups of victims”) you start to erode our national identity, thus making it easier to control “us”. (divide and conquer). This also makes for “more visible targets”, if you are a bully.

    By taking away ones ability to be responsible for ones actions, you not only give the bullies of the world a whole list of reasons why they do the things they do, you remove some of the options for those who are the individuals the bullies are “attacking”. For example; back in the day, my dad (and countless others I am sure) would have kicked my butt six ways to Sunday, if I started a fight. However, if the “turn the other cheek” method of ignoring the taunts and such from bullies didn’t work, or they were in fact physically confronting me, then the gloves were off, and I would have been expected to give it my best shot. And yes, at least one bully was turned away by a “fat lip”. But the fighting aside, we learned how to cope with LIFE. I used to be called “four eyes” (my how original!) because of my glasses. This did not cause me to become a social outcast. Rather, it did cause me to toughen up a bit, and just blow the comments off. They were not worth the effort to bother with. It also caused me to develop my sense of humor. You cope.

    These days, you cannot answer a bullies physical attacks with a punch to the gut or jaw, And if you are too disruptive in class (as the class clown) well, you are on the quick road to being given a prescription of Ritlin.

    And as far as “State control” goes, you only have to look at the “zero tolerance” programs, and the (if only tacitly in some cases) state sponsored programs in place in schools, to see how much of our children’s educational input is currently outside of our (direct) control.

    Thank you for a well thought out and presented post. I am afraid I may have hogged far too much of your comment section, please edit at will!

  12. GuyS says:

    BRAVO joaninpodunk! Very well said!

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