Archive for April 2012
Last week, while we here in Maryland, and around the world, were mourning the suicide of Kenny Wolf, there was yet another event here. Fifteen-year-old Grace McComas, of Glenelg High School, ended her young life because of cyberbullying two days following Kenny. Both were laid to rest within moments of each other Saturday, April 14th.
Specific details of the cyberbullying were not reported by The Baltimore Sun because of an ongoing police investigation.
What is apparent was that blue was Grace’s favorite color. Her friends started a cyber campaign, #blue4grace, which quickly went viral and attracted the attention of such notables as Lauren Alaina, the 2011 “American Idol” runner-up and Baltimore Ravens’ running back, Ray Rice. Mourners were asked to wear blue for the visitation, but it didn’t stop there. People as far away as Ireland and the Czech Republican were participating in the event. The message is getting out: this has to end. And, to be sure, there ARE many people doing a lot of great things in an effort to end the bullying that’s claiming far too many teens’ lives. One teen suicide because of bullying is one too many. I’ve had 2 here in my own backyard within the past 10 days. Enough.
Footballer Ray Rice has become proactive in the campaign against bullying. He’s hosting an anti-bullying event in Howard County, where Grace was from. I’m in the process of getting more information about that right now. I’ve messaged Ray via his personally-run facebook page. And, as the information becomes available to me, it will be passed along via the blog and on the facebook blog page.
It’s been said in conversations I’ve had with some people that today’s young people should have thicker skin and just understand that bullying is a part of growing up. When I hear that, I seeth as I listen to their opinion. But, listen, I do. See, on the one hand, I do understand where they think they’re coming from with this logic. Bullying has been around for as long as I can remember and, I’m sure, well before that. My own dealings with the bullying and violence is well-documented here. And, speaking from a personal standpoint, suicide wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary when I was a teen. I coped. I moved on. But, as I’ve been figuring out over the past 10 years or so, I didn’t really “cope”. The subconscious scars were very slow to heal. And, that’s because I didn’t even realize they were there until, well, 10 years ago or so. So, that said, it isn’t just a matter of today’s young people “getting over it”. It just needs to end. Period. Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy and security lawyer who advises Facebook and MTV on online safety, had this to say about it:
“I don’t want the kids to be more resilient”. “I want the kids who are doing it to stop. I want friends of the kids being bullied to stand up and say, ‘I am with you.’ The popular kids, the smart kids, the big kids need to stand up and say, ‘Stop.’”
That’s the correct answer. Damned needing tougher skin!! They shouldn’t have to be dealing with it at all.
And, of course, there have been naysayers who believe this is all much ado about nothing. To them, I say “think again”. This is a real-life, real-time problem, and it’s costing lives.
In the most recent report, released March 31, the Maryland State Department of Education cited nearly 4,700 incidents of bullying, harassment and intimidation in the 2010-2011 school year, up from about 3,800 in 2009-2010 and 2,100 in 2008-2009.(The Baltimore Sun)
What that statistic clearly shows that bullying has increased in each of the past three school years in Maryland, alone! Understanding that that’s only from the cases that are reported really puts it all in perspective. We’re in the midst of a crisis that’s causing teens to end their own lives. And, even in the cases where they aren’t committing suicide, sometimes the psychological scars they’re left with can last a lifetime.
A lot is being done, now, and by many people, to address the issue. However, a lot more needs to be done, and by many more people. And, we start by a.) re-educating the adults; and, b.) making sure our lawmakers and school officials understand that this issue needs to be taken with the same gravity of, say, an outbreak of a deadly viral infection that’s hitting teens around the country and around the world. How quickly would “they” find a cure if that were the issue instead of bullying? That same intensity needs to be focused on the issue with bullying.
To the family and friends of Grace McComas, I’m so sorry that you’re having to go through this. My heart and condolences go out to you. And, to you, Grace, the world will now never know what gifts you had to offer. Rest in peace.
I was presented recently with a very interesting question: “If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?” Damn. That’s deep. So, I’ve spent the better part of several days pondering this question. Here’s what I came up with. Bear with me, here.
Third grade, I had a crush on everyone in my class, boys and girls alike. I had my first boyfriend when I was in the 5th grade: 10-years-old. That lasted the entire school year. At age 12, I was viciously beaten for daring to sneak a kiss from a boy I had a crush on. And, it was downhill from there.
Perhaps as a result of the beating I endured, I didn’t dare chase after anyone when I returned to school. That was my 7th grade. Same held true for the 8th grade. Ninth grade, well, that was a different story. Going into 9th grade, I met a new neighborhood boy who was cute and rather fun to be around. In retrospect, he was what we call today “flamboyant”, although I didn’t really consciously pick up on it at the time. (although I’d bet that, on a subconscious level, it was exactly what drew me to him: the unspoken knowledge that he was also gay.) And, he was aggressive. We had quite an enjoyable time together that lasted until his family moved clear to the other side of town.
Then, I met the guy who, to this very day, I consider THE love of my life. He was one year and one day younger than myself. We were compatible in every way imaginable. Except sexually. But, I’ll come back to that. We were literally inseparable for almost 2 years. We’d have sleepovers every day. His place or mine…it didn’t matter. What mattered was being together. Only during the school day would we be separated. When his family moved across town, it didn’t deter me. I’d find a way to see and spend time with him. I’ve never loved on that level before or since. Why weren’t we sexually compatible? Truthfully, I don’t know that we weren’t.
The truth of the matter is that the beating I absorbed for daring to love that other boy, when I was 12, got in the way of my showing my Mr. Right my true feelings. I mean, he knew I loved him, for sure. And, I had know doubt that he loved me equally. He even let me know, on several occasions, that the physical attraction was mutual. He never verbalized it, mind you. It was more the look in his eyes, the smile on his face. More than anything, it was the…well…let’s just say it was his own physical, and quite noticeable, arousal that told me more loudly and more clearly than any words could’ve. And, it wasn’t once. It wasn’t even twice. This happened quite a few times. Eventually, I guess he lost patience, or figured that I wasn’t interested in him “in that way”. By the time we were 18 and 17, we’d drifted completely away from each other. I’ve never loved as intensely or completely since.
If I could give my younger self a piece of advice, what would it be? Easy. I’d tell that badly battered 12-year-old boy to:
“…never, ever be afraid to love because of who you are. Never, ever be afraid to show your love. Don’t let what just happened to you control the rest of your life. Yes, what happened to you was traumatic. And, no, you didn’t deserve what happened. However, if you don’t get back on your feet as fast as possible and continue to be who you are and love who you love, then that boy and his group of bullies will have totally won. They will control the rest of your life even though you’ll probably never, ever see them again. For as wrong as it was, what happened, happened. It’s over. You heal, you grow, and you win by getting back on your feet as fast as possible and continuing to be that same ‘you’ you were before the attack. Being bullied, even as brutally as you were, isn’t the end of the world. Now, it’s up to you to pick yourself up, move on with your life, and continue to grow into that awesome person you already know is there inside of you. Anything short of that, and you’ve completely allowed the bullies to win. And, in the grand scheme of things, that would be much worse that what they did to you physically.”
If only. Since I can’t time travel, I pass my knowledge on to today’s struggling youth. Who knows? Maybe it can help somewhere along the way. Knowing what I know now, it’s the emotional scars of being bullied that last the longest, that potentially cause the most damage. And, knowing what I know now, keeping your head held high and moving forward with your life is a great way of starting the process of healing those emotional scars. Bullies win only if you let them.
There was a very sobering video posted today on the facebook blog page, courtesy of Stop Teenage Suicide and Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook. Sobering because it was a mother telling how her 5-year-old son had been bullied to the point where he wanted to die. Five years old!!! There can’t be a more resounding wake-up call than that.The story of 5-year-old Aden is both heartbreaking and familiar. Heartbreaking, for obvious reasons. When you have anyone feeling so much emotional pain because of the actions of a few people who carelessly abuse them because they are “different”, that’s a problem. When you have a 5-year-old saying he wants to die because of the treatment he’s getting, that’s a 5-alarm blaze.
I could connect with this because Marty, my 23-year-old surrogate son, deals with the same issue. Like Aden, Marty is not your average Joe. He’s uniquely Marty. And, that’s okay. He’s highly intelligent, as I’m sure Aden is. He yearns to be accepted by his peers, like Aden; yet, because he’s perceived as different, it’s a constant challenge for him to gain acceptance . As a result, he struggles with social anxiety. Like Aden, all he yearns for is to be accepted, by his peers, by anybody…simply for being Marty. That’s not asking too much. Isn’t that what we all want? Sure it is. And, sadly, like Aden, Marty has voiced on occasions that “I don’t belong in this world”. I’ve worked hard for 3 1/2 years to show him that he’s wrong.
Like Marty, Aden will grow into the understanding that there IS a place in this world for him. He’s got an incredible mother who, right now while he’s still very young, is Aden’s “voice”. On that, alone, he’s got a leg up on Marty. But, that’s a whole different story. Like Marty, Aden will grow into the understanding that Asperger’s is simply something he has to deal with in his life, but it’s not who he is. In the 3 1/2 years he’s been with me, Marty has done nothing but grow. It’s amazing what positive reinforcements can do for a person. It’s sad, though, that he had to wait until he was an adult before he had someone who would take the time to give him that daily positive reinforcement. And, that gives Aden a major leg up!!! His mother, in speaking out with this video, should win “Mother of the Year” accolades!! Asperger’s isn’t a death sentence. It’s just extra luggage to carry as you embark on your journey through life.
Here’s the real problem. How is it that five-year-old kids can be so intolerant and mean as to make one of their peers want to end his life!? That’s a REAL problem!! And, there’s no way you can blame a 5-year-old for that behavior. I’ve said it a thousand times but, obviously, it needs to be said tens of thousands more times: the issue of bullying isn’t just about the young people, IT’S THE ADULTS WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON!! The young people are learning this level of meanness and intolerance from people much older than themselves. Take that to the bank. And, perhaps, it isn’t the parents, directly. Maybe it’s the older siblings. However, the link still goes back to the parents. Adults are the root to this whole bullying problem, like it or not. The issue with Aden makes that woefully clear.
I challenge every single adult and, especially, parent to monitor themselves. Do it for a week. How are the young people in your life seeing you deal with other people, people you perceive as different? How are they hearing you talk about a different ethnic group than your own, about members of the LGBT community, about someone with a disability? How they see and hear YOU deal with people you perceive as “different” is how they are taught to deal with them. Plain and simple. And, as is made obvious by this video and 5-year-old Aden, they learn young.
It’s the only way we’re going to change this culture of hatred and intolerance. As Aden’s mother stated poetically in the video: “Love…cures. Hate…kills. Be nice to others. It starts with you.” It’s really just that simple.
Every teen suicide is hard to take. Each time I write about another one, it takes another piece of my own soul. And, there are some that I take very, very hard. Jamie Hubley, for example, hit me like the ton of bricks. To be sure, it was his suicide in October that led me to embark upon this campaign to make a change. Kenny Wolf’s recent suicide hit me as hard, if not harder. He was right here in my back yard, right there from my old neighborhood. I know it’s counterproductive to blame myself at all, but I can’t help but wonder…with me doing this right here in Maryland, why wasn’t this blog or the facebook blog page reaching him? And, if it was, what could I have done differently with it to prevent this from happening?
Second-guessing aside, I have some vital updates about Kenny. Firstly, all reports of age were wrong: Kenny wasn’t 17, as originally reported, nor even 16 as it was later reported. Kenny was just 14 years old. Secondly, his event wasn’t Thursday, the 5th. It happened Friday, the 6th. Thirdly, I have a link for those who would like to leave their personal condolences for the family and friends. It goes without saying that this is an extraordinarily tough period for Kenny’s family and friends. Indeed, for the entire community. Letting them know that there are those of us around the world who are mourning Kenny right along with them will, I’m sure, help with their healing process.
Lastly, I can’t stress enough that if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, or any mental issues, bullying, and/or suicidal ideations, please, please, please reach out!! There are many people, professional and non-professional alike, ready to reach back.
With this tragic event being right here in my backyard, I’m redoubling my efforts to reach out and bring this epidemic to an abrupt end. Sadly, of course, it’s not going to bring Kenny back. Or, any of the other teens who ended their lives far too soon. But, it will, hopefully, prevent another family from having to go through what Kenny’s is going through right now. That’s my promise.
John Tillman is an openly gay 17-year-old. The video, done in “written message” style a la Jonah Mowry from December, tells of his being constantly bullied and recently jumped all because of his sexual orientation. He’s scared. He’s confused. It’s sad that he’s having to go through this type of torture just because of who he is.
It’s really heartbreaking that LGBT teens today still have to endure such excruciating pain at the hands of their unaccepting, intolerant peers. It’s more than heartbreaking: it’s alarming that so many LGBT teens are routinely pushed to the brink, to a point where they feel the only way out is to harm themselves. And, it’s heartbreaking because all these young people want is the same opportunity as their straight peers to just be happy teens, to just be able to be themselves without having to worry about being constantly attacked, verbally, emotionally, and, in cases like John’s physically. Straight or LGBT, the teen years can be tumultuous enough without the presentiment of being attacked simply because you exist.
What is maddening about this is that a John Tillman even has to make a videoed cry-for-help at all! Why aren’t there more people speaking up and demanding that school officials and administrations take this issue far more seriously and protect all of their students rather than just the ones they choose to protect. Why aren’t there more voices screaming at the top of their lungs to the politicians who hate that their politics do not hold more importance than these young people’s lives!?
Look, this isn’t rocket science. These young people who do the bullying are learning the hatred and intolerance from bigoted, mean-spirited politicians, religious leaders, school officials, and sometimes even parents. They are learning from their cue that treating people who aren’t just like them, who don’t think like them or act the way they think they should be acting with hostility is acceptable and even expected behavior. They are taking their hatred and bigotry with them to school and passing their lessons learned onto anyone who is perceived to be different, especially LGBT teens. Conversely, there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of LGBT teens who hear these words of hatred spewed from their mouths and, each time they hear it, they’re pushed closer to the brink. Their self-esteem gets shattered by their words. Their sense of self-worth takes another beating each time they hear, or read about, one of these people consumed with fear and intolerance spewing their hate-filled rhetoric.
The only way videos like John Tillman’s will stop having the need to be made is for more and more people to start speaking up and letting the world know that this is no longer acceptable behavior. It’s not acceptable that so many teens, LGBT and straight, are pressed to a point where they feel that ending their lives is the only way out. It’s not going to change or end by itself.
Make sure John Tillman knows that he is not alone and that he is loved. He really needs the reassurance.
When it hits this close to home, it’s really painful for me to think about. According to information just received, Kenny Wolf, a 14-year-old freshman at Olde Mill High School in Maryland, successfully attempted suicide yesterday, Thursday April 5th. According to a memorial page set up on the popular teen site, tumblr, Kenny had been constantly bullied because of being an LGBT teen.
The information hit me like a Mack truck. I lived in that neighborhood for a while. When I saw his facebook picture, taken just the day before his suicide, I just wept. No, I didn’t know him. I lived there when he was just 6 or 7 years old. I didn’t need to know him, though. I know that he was another teen, just trying to become, but because of other people’s hostilities, is now gone forever.
I don’t think it can be said enough that this whole epidemic of bullying has to be met head-on, and dealt with as seriously as any other epidemic that hits our society. It was said that “if teens were dying at this rate because of a medical outbreak, everyone would be in a panic.” I agree. As such, the same intensity has to be applied to the problem of bullying, and the suicides that it’s leading to.
The more I learn, though, the more I realize that it could be easier said than done at this point-in-time. Why? Well, where do we start? The easy answer would be to hold these young people accountable for the consequences of their bullying. And, I believe that to be true. If they knew, without a doubt, that their bullying would lead to severe consequences especially in cases where it led to suicides, they would think twice before doing it. After all, if those same kids were to take a weapon to school and physically harmed or killed another student, wouldn’t they be charged for a crime? And, depending on the severity of the outcome, they would potentially be charged as an adult. What, then, is the difference between that action and bullying someone to a point where he or she ends their life? On a real core level, especially to the family and friends of the victim, there is no difference. In either case, their loved one is gone forever. However, that’s the easy answer. Our society, especially in this country, already has a lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality. It doesn’t “cure” a thing. And, it doesn’t bring anyone back.
The long-term solution absolutely has to be a re-education of our culture beginning with the adults. Once again, I will say that these young people aren’t born to hate, discriminate, or be intolerance. They. Are. Taught. They are taught, either directly or indirectly, by adults. Listen to the rhetoric from the extremist’s corner. Watch, again, what a “pastor” “preaches” to his “congregation” about the LGBT community. These are the people who tell the young bullies, either directly or indirectly, that it’s ok to treat LGBT teens, real or perceived, as mean as they want to. These extremists send the signal that even physical harm is acceptable when it comes to LGBT teens. And, that is what has to be addressed quickly, and severely. Forget their claims of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not include hate speech. Their idea of “freedom of speech” is costing lives and destroying families. That is not acceptable. Not anymore.
Kenny has been gone for just over 24 hours, so his family and friends are still raw with unimaginable pain. Send them lots of love and support. And, prayers. And, while you’re praying to a God that loves, pray that He works on the hearts and souls of the people, young and old, who spread harmful hatred and intolerance. It’s time for a change. Rest in peace, Kenny. No one can harm you now.
I was hoping that i would never have to do something like this but it seems that that time has come. as of 9:20pm 3rd of April 2012 (Melbourne Australia time) a girl by the name of Olivia Penpraze died as a result of a suicide attempt. she was on life support for a number of days and her parents had to make the traumatic decision to turn it off as she was brain-dead. like Jamie, she used tumblr as her escape to post all of her thoughts and messages. she suffered from extreme depression and it really upsets me that I didn’t do anything to help her, even though there probably was nothing I could do. She will be one of the many teenagers each year that goes unnoticed, not documented, not in the media. but all i hope is that she is in a better place now. it’s your time to shine Olivia, we all love and miss you ♥
No, Andrew, she won’t go unnoticed. Not if I have anything to do with it. I watched the video that she had made, and it just ripped my heart from my chest. No one, no one should have to live such a life of unchecked turmoil. Olivia had been screaming for help for almost a decade. Finally, the demons of mental illness and depression won. Depression that was brought on by bullying.
Bullying. Again. Will it ever end? Not as long as people keep talking about it rather than doing something about it. According to a post her father made on her tumblr page, a photo and thought-sharing website used by many teens, people there had been bullying her, as well. How on Earth does a person sit behind a computer screen and urge a person who is already obviously in crisis to kill themselves? How does one think that’s cool or funny? Or, do they just truly not care? Olivia’s dad’s letter said that this had gone on before she attempted suicide for the last time:
To all of my daughter’s followers, this is to let you all know that on Thursday, 29th March, Olivia attempted suicide, as a result she is on life support and this will be terminated shortly due to her being brain dead. So, to all of the people who posted support of this outcome on this blog, you can be real proud of yourselves. As a father who witnessed her first breath of life and now to witness her last, I thank you for your utmost disregard for life. If this sort of activity gets you off, you are nothing. To those of you who offered her support to refrain from killing herself, thanks. You should all try to make contact with family even if it is against your wishes. At least leave a contact somewhere on your blog in times of need. I know that you all need somewhere you can vent your anger and feelings and that these blogs can help, but in reality family must always come first…
I talked to someone else just tonight, as I was writing this actually, who had someone on that same page telling her that she, too, should kill herself. Who is teaching these young people such a deep level of hatred? Is it hatred? Or, is it simply an ambivalence of human life? Do today’s youth just not give a rat’s ass about the next human being? Have they become desensitized to human life? Look, it’s become painfully and frighteningly clear that the change in our culture has got to start with the adults since that’s where young people learn from. No teen, anywhere, should ever feel so helpless and hopeless that they feel the only way out is to end their life. At the same time, no teen, anywhere, at anytime!, should feel that it’s perfectly okay to bully another person for any reason. Hatred and intolerance is taught.
When I asked Andrew, the young man who posted the original post about Olivia’s lost battle, if he had anything he wanted to say about her, he had this:
she loved her friends and always seemed happy. I remember once at choir she said she was changing schools. That may have been when she quit school like she said in her video. As i have said before, I wasn’t close with her. But, on the outside, she was happy; on the inside, it seems she was screaming for help. We all miss her, and I personally am going to do everything I can in my power now to put an end to bullying and teen suicide.
We need more Andrews. Families and friends should now be forced to go through this kind of trauma…this level of pain. May you rest in peace, Olivia.
If I were a regular, church-going Christian, I’d be ashamed. Hell, I’m not a regular, church-going Christian, and I’m still ashamed. I’m ashamed and appalled. I’m ashamed that there are people like this Arizona “pastor”, Steven Anderson, representing himself as a religious leader while spewing pure, absolute hatred. Bitter hatred. Violence-laden hatred.
[for the record, let me say that whereas I'm not a "regular, church-going Christian", I do strongly and fully believe in God.]
This video surfaced today on the facebook blog page and is a must-see. It’s a must-see for anyone who wonders why so many of my recent posts have been about the far-right “religious” faction, in particular. It’s important that I reiterate that nothing I say herein is meant as an attack on true Christians or on Republicans. In fact, I had an opportunity to exchange thoughts with one who did take offense to what I was saying, and it turned out that his philosophy really isn’t that different than my own. Let’s say we’re on opposite sides of the aisle, perhaps, but we’re both occupying close enough to the aisle that we can see and speak to each other. What I am trying to get get across, however, and will continue to try to get across, is the amount of pure hatred, vile intolerance, and in some cases, suggestions of violence is coming from that far-right extremist faction who disguise themselves as Christians to mask their bitter hatred. Watching the video will say more than I can ever say here.
This guy, Steven Anderson, is no stranger to the national spotlight. As soon as I saw the name, I knew who he was. As is evident in this video, I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Anderson spends more time “preaching” hate than he does spreading the word of God. And, forget about him spreading love. Thanks not on his agenda. In 2009, he had this to say:
The same God who instituted the death penalty for murders is the same god who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals, sodomites and queers!
That’s what it was instituted for, okay? That’s God, he hasn’t changed. Oh, God doesn’t feel that way in the New Testament … God never “felt” anything about it, he commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed.
You know why God wanted the sodomites in the Old Testament to be killed? You know why every good king of Israel, the Bible says they got rid of the sodomites in the land? You know, the good kings that came after the bad kings who had allowed the sodomites to infest their land, they had infiltrated … King Asa got the sodomites out of the land, Jehoshaphat exterminated the sodomites that were left from the days of his father, Asa. Why? Because the sodomites are infectious, that’s why. Because they’re not reproducers, that goes without saying, they’re recruiters.
How are they multiplying? Do you not see that they’re multiplying? Are you that blind? Have you noticed that there’s more than there were last year and the year before, and the year before that? How are they multiplying? They’re reproducing right? No, here’s a biology lesson: they’re not reproducers, they’re recruiters! And you know who they’re after? Your children. Remember you dropped off your kids last week? That’s who they’re after. You drop them off at some daycare, you drop them off at some school somewhere, you don’t know where they’re at. I’ll tell you where they’re at: they’re being recruited by the sodomites. They’re being molested by the sodomites. I can tell you so many stories about people that I know being molested and recruited by the sodomites.
They recruit through rape. They recruit through molestation. They recruit through violation. They are infecting our society. They are spreading their disease. It’s not a physical disease, it’s a sin disease, it’s a wicked, filthy sin disease and it’s spreading on a rampage. Can’t you see that it’s spreading on a rampage? I mean, can you not see that? Can you not see that it’s just exploding in growth? Why? Because each sodomite recruits far more than one other sodomite because his whole life is about recruiting other sodomites, his whole life is about violating and hurting people and molesting ‘em.
You read that right: this man, this “pastor” was advocating the murder of members of the LGBT community. How is that even legal!? Hate speech should never, ever be confused with free speech. And, what comes through in the video, and in the malicious diatribe from 2009 is pure hate speech.
Bitter, violence-laden hate speak. The kind that’s leading to many of the LGBT teen suicides.
Bitter, violence-laden hate speak. The kind that leads the mindless to have ideations of shooting the leader of our country.
The punchline: the guy who is advocating the wholesale slaughter of homosexuals also says Obama is just like Adolf Hitler. You can’t make this stuff up; no one would believe it. And by the way, the guy who showed up at an Obama rally with an assault rifle? This is his pastor.
Get the picture? People of this mentality are dangerous. Plain and simple. And, understanding that “they” are the driving force behind the opposition of equal rights is a somber, sobering reality. I mean, even good ol’ Fred isn’t this bad. He’s just…simple.
Voters in Anchorage, Alaska, chose discrimination against the LGBT community when given the chance to make things right. Proposition 5, a ballot initiative that would’ve added the LGBT community to protection under their existing anti-discrimination law, was struck down. With 90% of the ballots counted, 58% voted against it. Fifty-eight percent of Anchorage’s voters feel that it’s okay for its gay, lesbian, or trangendered citizens to be discriminated against, or bullied.
If you thought this was going to be an easy battle, think again.
This marked the third attempt at getting the Anchorage legislature to right a wrong and provide protection for all of their citizen; however, it was the first time it had been taken to the voter. Sadly, each time up, it’s been knocked down. Does this say that all people from Anchorage are mean-spirited and bigoted? Of course not. I once had a very dear friend who still lives in Anchorage, and he has a heart of pure gold. And, 42% of the voters obviously agreed with it. What it says, however, is that the misinformation, the narrowmindedness, and the intolerance still exists at a level that borders on lethal. More to the point, in the so-called “red” states, it’s ingrained into the psyche of the citizens.
Giving extra or special rights to certain groups is discriminatory to those who don’t get those special rights. Please don’t be selective in your anti discrimination stance.
That’s what one bigot had to say. Let’s make this point as crystal clear as possible: wanting the same rights as every other tax paying, hard-working citizen is NOT a special right. Expecting to be protected UNDER THE LAW against hate crimes and discrimination is NOT a special right. It doesn’t matter if the citizen is gay, straight, black, white, and everything in between, these are just simple, basic HUMAN RIGHTS!!!
This goes back to what I’ve been laboring on for a while: one of the biggest problems in this struggle is that there is an overabundance of people in very powerful positions who exact their own prejudices, their own hatred, their own narrowmindedness on the very people they were hired to work for…and, protect. This is the land of Sarah Palin, and we know how much she’s for equal rights. Once again, it’s that hardcore, extreme right-wing faction that’s working to sanction the extermination of a group of people they don’t like because of their warped understanding of Christianity.
Opponents, campaigning as Vote No On Prop. 5, complained that the law was vague and poorly written and would impinge on the religious freedom of residents opposed to homosexuality. The proposition included an exemption from the law for churches and religious organizations.
“…would impinge on the religious freedom of residents opposed to homosexuality.” What does that mean!? Can you read between the shallow lines here? This is just one more state, “red” state mind you, that believes that discrimination, hatred, intolerance, and bullying against a group of people, the LGBT community, should be their right as Christians. Wait. I have to read that again, myself. Is it me, or is that just purely insane!!?? “I’m Christian (which is to say “I’m a follower of Christ”), so I should be able to be as intolerant, evil, and violent towards the gay community as I please.” I’m sorry. That just sounds insane.
Fortunately, I know from my own personal experience that not ALL Christians think like this. Nor do all Republicans, for that matter. It’s just that extreme group way over there on the right who takes it upon themselves to speak for every Christian and every Republican. Don’t let them fool you. They don’t speak for all. Reverend Samuel Tuttle left a marvelous comment on a recent blog post. Read it when you get the chance. And, in the midst of this madness in Anchorage, a true Christian left this comment on the online news article about the vote results.
I’m a devout Christian who has lived in Anchorage for over 45 years. I am the chairman of my church and led a Bible Study in which Jim Minnery participated occasionally. I have never been more disappointed in my community than I am today. This community would be better if we didn’t thrive on the misinformation and fear sown by the few. My faith directs me to stand up for the downtrodden, to stand for what is right in the face of injustice, and to show love to my fellow mankind, regardless of whether we share similar views. Supporting discrimination is contrary to my faith. My heart goes out to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members of our community. I grieve with you today.
Get it? It isn’t about their rights as Christians. It’s about them being bigots who are full of hatred and intolerance. Religion is simply their shield. And, never be fooled by the rhetoric: it’s not about special rights. Never has been; never will be. It’s simply about basic human, equal rights. That’s all.
You know when you’re doing something right: you start getting tomatoes thrown at you. In this case, naturally, it was only a matter of time before “they” started leaving their well-thought-out and, of course, completely accurate comments on this blog about the gay “lifestyle”. Makes sense to me. I would fully expect them to be experts on how we, the LGBT community, live our lives…much in the same way I would fully expect my mechanic to have the perfect diagnosis and treatment for whatever physical ailment I may have at the time.
I didn’t want to publish this comment. But, the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that this is exactly the type of mean-spirited, hate-laced behavior and reaction that I’ve been talking about. It’s exactly the type of response we’ve come to expect from the hard-core, ultra-conservative, group who dedicate their lives to hating any- and everyone who doesn’t think like them or act the way they feel you should act. So, I have to publish it:
Homosexuality is a behavior. I mean that whole “genetic difference” fraud has been thoroughly debunked and now it is referred to as a “lifestyle” which openly implies choice. Thus the Jim Crow analogy you so frivolously apply is errant from the start. Nice try though. Oh yes and studies are also demonstrating that “queerness” does not occur in nature at some regular, predictable rate either as the homo community has alleged recently. It is after all quite “unnatural”. Were it an instinct of nature it would be productive not destructive. Simple enough eh? It’s just plain old square peg round hole stupidity and futility but some are determined to persist in their ways which are much too often self indulgent and self loathing. A frank discussion with the priest or pastor might bring about much needed spiritual enlightenment. I would recommend that.
Regarding the idiotic and shallow remark made above about Christians and minorities nothing could be further from the truth. It isn’t Christians funding and promoting Planned Parenthood the organization founded to exterminate blacks and now applying the same level of hate for their fellow man among latinos. Those are secularists, progressies, and plain old moral wretches. I mean think about it rationally for a moment: you have your baby, your product killed via brutal method then it is sucked down a vacuum hose, the parts placed in a bag, then thrown out in the dumpster? And you want to call this a “womans right to choose”? She chooses allright. There is truly a deep level of pathology at work in that kind of mind. In fact it is acknowledged to be so disgusting and disturbing that Planned Parenthood and abortion supporters don’t want women to see pictures or video’s of the procedure or the result in fear that they might actually become re-acquainted with their consciences. That says it all. God help us.
“Stupidity”, “futility”, “self-indulgent”, and my personal favorite “self-loathing”. That’s this person’s view of the LGBT community.
Let me say right here that this is not an attack on Republicans. I have many Republican friends who are absolutely wonderful people. To be sure, most of them even distance themselves from the narrow-mindedness, hatred, and intolerance that is spewed from the fringe group. Instead, this is about people who hate anyone who doesn’t conform to their beliefs. That’s a very dangerous mindset.
The first question that comes to mind is why is it that what other people do with their lives so incredibly disturbing to these people? I don’t know what goes on in their homes. And, personally, I don’t really care. Nothing about their lives has an affect on my life. That is, of course, unless and until they begin to impose their thoughts, their beliefs, their biases on my life. Then, the line is drawn.
Now, in an attempt to be fair to “the other side”, I will acknowledge that their first argument to what I just said will be “Well, you gays are always shoving your lifestyles in our(the normal people’s) faces.” How would I know that? Because, they’ve used it so much, now, it’s become a tired cliche. But, let’s explore that philosophy: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought this struggle that we’re immersed in is for equal rights. Nothing more; nothing less. Two factors come into play with their argument: 1.) if “they” weren’t always so concerned about “those radical gays” or “the gay agenda”, there would be no need for “them” to feel we’re “shoving [ourselves] in their faces”. If they would simply mind their own business and live their own lives as opposed to trying to dictate ours, they probably wouldn’t even know we are here; and, 2.) we get heterosexuality “shoved” in our collective faces regularly, which makes their argument terribly hypocritical.
Let’s cut to the chase. What this comment proved, without doubt, is exactly what I’ve been saying: the mindset and the rhetoric that comes from the opponent out there on that fringe right, is nothing short of hate speech. There is nothing “godly” about how “anonymous” wrote that. It was written with unmitigated hatred. It was written as an attack. And, it’s precisely that mindset and rhetoric that fuels the violence against the LGBT community that we see. It’s the trigger to many a gay teen suicide; it’s the catalyst for many of the schoolyard bullies.
So, how do we combat it effectively? Well, first of all, we need to be realistic and understand that it may never fully go away. There will always be lunatics who need someone to look down upon in order to make themselves feel superior. And, there will always be the self-righteous power junkies ready to force their will, their views, their reality on others. Ultimately, we combat them, and win, by continuing to increase our numbers and making our voices heard. We win by continuing to live our lives openly, honestly, proudly, and happily. Most importantly, though, we continue to spread love because, in the end, love will always conquer hate.
“I’m a Christian, Unless You’re Gay”. Explain to me, again, how that works!?