Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shooting the messenger

If only closed minds came with closed mouths.

In the last few days, I've heard multiple stories recounting not only hatred and ignorance toward people who are gay, but also toward people are who straight and working toward building a world that is more tolerant and more accepting.

I'm outraged.

I'm certainly in no position to be the morality police, and nor is anyone else, but I just have to say it.  When did love become immoral and hatred become the moral high ground?   This isn't a blog about religion  (and nor will it ever be), but I'm pretty sure that nobody's God/higher power wants its followers to act in hatred in its name.

Now, I don't know too much about this whole life thing and I know we are all unique and with different needs, but I steadfastly believe these to be two things we all need:

1.  To feel welcomed, to feel accepted, to be wanted in the places that we happen to be.
2.  To have a soft place to land when things don't go as planned.

At this point, just about everyone knows that bullying is a major problem in schools---and in life.  You hear so many stories about teen suicides after extended periods of bullying- when one teen suicide is one too many.  And you hear responses from some adults that suggest that bullying is just a part of growing up.  

News Flash:  Bullying is abuse.  It's not a rite of passage.  

What's more, bullying now takes on a different, and more vicious dimension than it did 20 years ago (when yes, I was bullied, too).   It's no longer limited to a small distribution--- it's blasted via email, and facebook, and twitter, and texting---and people have a tendency to be even more malicious behind a keyboard than in front of a real, flesh and blood person.

It's hard enough to be any teenager---to be in the process of figuring out who you are and where you stand in this world--without the additional (and gut-wrenching) complications associated with being gay.  Unfortunately, that same pervasive insecurity that is nearly synonymous with being a teenager often prompts teens to be ruthless toward each other--particularly those that don't fit neatly into social conformity.  As a result, gay teens often get brutalized by their peers.  Don't believe me?  Check out the Trevor Project or the It Gets Better Project.  You'll see what I mean.

And many adults, those adults who should have the perspective and life-experience to step in and stop the nonsense, either turn their heads or perpetuate the cycle by saying that being gay is a choice, and an immoral one at that.

Here's the thing.   Anyone who's watched someone go through the process of coming out (and, yes, I have) realizes that being gay is not a choice.  Who would choose to be ostracized?  Who would voluntarily choose to do an inventory of virtually everyone in their lives--even those people on the periphery-- to see who in their life stays loyal and who bails once they come out?  It's like saying that someone would choose to be homeless.

And, for the record, I don't recall choosing to be straight.  It just happened.  

A good number of high schools and universities now have Gay-Straight Alliance groups.  Alliance.  Support.  Solidarity.  Tolerance.  Respect.  How great is that?   

Apparently, not everyone agrees.  Apparently, the same people who are anti-gay also believe that straight people who join in alliance are equally immoral.

Right.   Because ignorance and hatred are so frigging morally awesome.

What I want to do at these people is scream:

What if that child was YOUR child?  Still okay with the bullying?  Still okay with the verbal abuse?  Still against  gay-straight alliances when it's YOUR child who takes the brunt of the ignorance?  You ready to change your tune yet?

My daughter is only 3, but you know what?  She might be gay.  I just don't know it yet.  

Irrespective of her sexual orientation, I would want her to grow up in a place where she was accepted, and had allies, and was surrounded by supportive people.  

I couldn't care less if Little M was gay.  My love for my daughter is unconditional.  There's nothing (okay, nothing short of capital murder) that would make me love my daughter any less.  I care that she's kind, and I care she loves and is loved in return.  The gender (or race or religion) of who she loves?  Utterly and completely irrelevant.

People who work to make our schools a friendlier, more accepting place should be applauded-  not denounced.  People who impede understanding should be ignored--not embraced. 

It gets better,

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