I’ve publicly disagreed with the guys who write the GayPatriot blog many times in the past, and I MAY have even made fun of them, um, a little bit, but I genuinely appreciate these words from Dan Blatt on Tyler Clementi’s suicide:
These two probably just thought they were pulling a prank, but they didn’t consider consider the feelings of Clementi. He was so young and while ready to act out his feeling for men, not yet ready to have his sexuality made public. It takes time to deal with the public ramifications of our difference. Not just that, even when we are comfortable with our sexuality, our private life is just that, private life. Many of us, not just a 18-year-old just coming to terms with his difference, would be embarrassed if strangers, friends even, witnessed our sexual activity. It is the most private, the most personal of things.
The students who posted the video did not mean to push this young man to take his own life. They probably didn’t even consider the consequences. They were entirely indifferent to his feelings.
The thing which too few people understand, and which goes to the root of ALL bullying, whether committed by middle school children or college students, is that “just being kids” only really applies when the parties involved are on equal planes. I’ve been involved in my fair share of pranks in my time, but they were always played on people who were my friends. I’ve been on the receiving end of those kinds of pranks, that kind of harassment, too. But it’s the fun kind, exchanged between people who will laugh together and then go out for a drink. But when kids aren’t on the same artificially constructed plane in the social stratum — when one kid or group of kids is choosing another to target for their perceived weakness — it’s not kids being kids anymore. It’s cruel.
This really hits home for gay kids who aren’t ready for people to know they’re gay. I remember, when I was in middle and high school, though I knew beyond of a shadow of a doubt which of my classmates I was attracted to [hot guys], I couldn’t even form the words “I’m gay” in my own head, couldn’t admit it to myself. When my mom found out I was gay at age fifteen, before I was ready, I remember the panic and dread I felt at the very real possibility that a secret I hadn’t even told myself was about to be exposed. I also remember threatening to commit suicide. Fortunately, that did not happen. [Gay kids: It Gets Better! I promise!] But I remember the feeling. I remember how scared I was. It was a fear that, as I quickly page back through the years of my life to this point, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced so viscerally as I did that week.
And I remember not understanding why people seemed to want to hurt me, and the loneliness and isolation that brought onto me, onto a kid who already basically lived in a perpetual state of loneliness and isolation.
These may be feelings similar to what Tyler Clementi felt. Dan Blatt gets it. His commenter Sonicfrog gets it. We may be, on most issues, so ideologically different it’s comical. But on this we’re united.
This shit has to stop.