Reaching Out: Let John Tillman Know He’s Not Alone
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.