Having attended the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in San Diego last week, Jason Mraz took to his blog to explain, on a personal level, part of why his support for LGBT people is so fierce:
When I was in high school, I experienced being bullied. For whatever reason, there were a few students that enjoyed calling me “faggot” as I walked thru the lunchroom. On one occasion, just before graduation, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and picked up a few punches, kicks and scrapes to add to my story. I never knew why the handsome lads called me names or felt the need to bully me, but it happened and I let their actions contribute a great deal to my moving away from that community.
Shortly after the row, my best friend came out, sharing with his friends and family that he was gay. In my small town, this was uncommon and since then I’ve considered my friend to be the bravest man in the world. Aware of the hate within our community, I was afraid my friend might be inviting trouble to his door — but that never stopped him from being fully expressed.
This is why I am actively seeking equality for the whole. When all of us are acknowledged as the human equals that we really are, there will be no space left for bullying. It will no longer be wrong to choose one thing over another. Equality and Separation cannot exist in the same space.
I love that man.
His experience sheds light on why the Religious Right’s lies about anti-bullying programs are so hollow. Linda Harvey and others hide the fact that they support the bullying of LGBT students by telling their sheep that discouraging bullying against LGBT students somehow stifles their religious freedom. The only way that could be true is if the full exercise of their religious beliefs included berating and abusing students different from them. Indeed, all of the proposals and programs to limit LGBT bullying merely seek to bring all students to a level playing field, where all bullying is treated seriously, whether due to a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, race, religion, size, or whatever stupid reason kids are bullying other kids. The fact that we have to talk about it is sad, but it’s reflective of the reality that, while things are getting better in many places, LGBT kids still often deal with schools where that sort of bullying is either ignored or tacitly supported.
Jason Mraz is straight. But he dealt with the same sort of bullying I did (worse, in fact, as I was never physically hurt), simply because he was perceived as different, and in middle schools and high schools across the nation, “different” is often interpreted as “gay.” Indeed, though, among the kids who fall victim to that sort of bullying, it’s often because the kid (whether or not he/she is actually gay) is more talented, more creative, smarter, or a whole host of other characteristics that vulnerable kids view as threatening. (It’s important to remember, as always, that the kids doing the bullying tend to be extremely vulnerable and battling their own demons, as well. That’s why this requires such a holistic approach.)
It’s heartening to see public figures like Jason get behind issues like these as truly fierce advocates, because the younger generations are already basically on board with issues of equality and fairness. It’s also heartening that, among people who younger folks respect, the Religious Right messages of hatred and fear are mostly absent. It’s not surprising, though, because these days, it’s becoming harder and harder to find people who are truly intelligent, creative, talented or inspiring who still cling to messages of vilification, discrimination, and animus toward LGBT people. While the Religious Right may still, as a force, be obnoxious, and still have the power to hurt untold numbers of people, as the years roll on, that power is dwindling, and will continue to do so. The only hope people like Maggie Gallagher have left is the (unproven) axiom that people grow more conservative as they age. It might hold true in certain areas, among certain subsets of the population, but there’s no evidence that people start hating gay people more as they grow older. One of the main reasons, I suppose, is that Generation X and the Millenials are probably the first generations among whom a solid majority know and love gay people, in their families, neighborhoods, churches, schools, etc. They know, from personal experience, that Religious Right spewing about LGBT people is garbage, and thus, they are out of reach for the Peter LaBarberas and Matt Barbers of the world.
This, by the way, is why they’re turning their wigging out up a notch. They’re spooked. And they can’t blame it on Hollywood. They can’t blame it on Teh Homosexical Agenda. They only need to turn an eye on the bright light of reality and knowledge to see why they’ve lost the war.