Better for Whom?
Okay, I really need to address the recent volume of gay teen suicides--at least the kids and the families garnering attention in the mainstream and gaystream media.
There have been lots of responses here in New York City, and around the country. There is a glowlight (no open flames allowed—that does not exclude flamers, though) in Manhattan tomorrow. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll go. I think it’s really too little, too late just as I believe Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” initiative is a totally guilt-assuaging, bourgeois response.
And, yes, I understand my white, just-barely-middle class privilege and also that I have a national platform to voice my opinions, too
I think saving lives of LGBT teens is about more than telling kids it gets better. For some it does, especially for white, cisgendered (look it up) and middle class folks. For others, it only gets worse. This young sister tells it straight (or rather, gay) on the It Gets Better channel: http://bit.ly/9vyCO5. I suppose if this one young sister of color reaches even one queer youth, It Gets Better is worthwhile.
This other sister tells why she doesn’t like the It Gets Better project (with good reasons and good writing): http://bit.ly/bdylOM.
To me, it’s really about letting kids (and adults who want to come out) know it’s OK to be different and embracing that difference instead of trying to make everyone the same.
It’s about saying a resounding no to assimilation and homogenation! It’s about being queer, meaning different, and not accepting mere tolerance—begging for crumbs from the straight, mainstream or gaystream tables.
We do need to challenge the mainstream media covering the haters thereby legitimizing and spreading their messages of hate, giving them an ongoing public forum for their hatred and lies and providing them with public bully pulpits from which to continue to spew their bile.
And, yes, we need to put a stop to the status quo (funny everyone is on board with stamping out the status quo in terms of bullying, but still want their chairs at the military and marriage tables!).
But, we cannot leave it to “our leaders” as some have said—there is a petition or something such going around cyberville for Obama to acknowledge these young people. Why bother? Who are our leaders? Movement leaders (Are there any? Is there even a movement?); national, regional or local leaders (Who are they and how committed are they to queers?) World leaders? Too busy fighting ill-advised and totally illegitimate wars—and with the voluntary help of some queers!
WE must ourselves become leaders! We must lead ourselves and lead the young and lead the vulnerable. America is our country, we need to lead it! What are you doing to make this country, this world, a better, more open and agreeable place for everyone? Not just queer kids, not just yourselves and your gay nuclear families, not just for white, middles class gay and lesbian people…but for every single human being on the face of the earth?
People—friends, acquaintances, individuals I admire—have said, but we get stronger, we don’t buy the bullshit, we don’t care what people think so much anymore, we just don’t give a shit when: we get older, leave our small towns and temporary teenage closets, grow up, come out, graduate high school, get a job.
The waiting is what kills. Waiting for it to “get better.” Can a gay kid having suicidal thoughts and being consistently bullied afford to wait? For it to get better? For anything?
Plus, it seems lots of people give a shit—lots and lots of queer people give a shit and give credence to what other people say and think. Hence, the begging for mainstream crumbs.
We (my friends, acquaintances and I) are here in a microcosm of queerness, activism, theatre and such in NYC, in our choice of friends on FB (where a lot of this discussion has taken shape), in our literary and art worlds, the queer communities in which we reside, etc., and it's pretty limited/limiting, I often think. Perhaps it is just as limited as a teenagers (and others) inside of homophobic communities/families/lives in the South or the Midwest or at Rutgers University—or the possibly queer kid working it out on my block in Brooklyn.
Blogger Bio: Stephanie Schroeder is a dreamer, wanderer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She likes to exchange apartments with artists and other interesting folks from around the globe and travel in search of new friends and singular experiences. She makes purple a way of life and also fancies green, purple’s complementary color on the color wheel. (stephanieschroeder.com)