These past few months, the media has focused on the several horrific teenage suicides which took place across the country. Each of the victims, all teenagers, identified as being homosexual, and were bullied by their peers at school. Friends and families of the victims have made it clear that homophobia was a major cause of the torment the teens suffered. Sadly, teenage suicides based on homophobic abuse and torment aren’t recent events. This sort of torture has occurred for years, and countless men and women have died at its hands.
The victims in the month of September alone: Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas and Seth Walsh were all tormented to various extents, which led to their deaths. They were bullied in school by classmates, after school, on the internet, etc. The ruthless torture each of these young men suffered played an enormous, driving part in their deaths.
This recent news has reignited the LGBTQIA community, along with the entire nation, into looking at how bullying is dealt with, or rather, how it is not dealt with in the school systems.
Personally, as a Connecticut teenager, a junior at SCSU, the Vice-President of Prism (SCSU’s Gay-Straight Alliance), and a woman who identifies as homosexual, I find these deaths to be incredibly tragic. Nobody should be judged by their sexual orientation; overall, it’s such a small part of who a person is as a whole. Growing up, I did not know this, however. By the time I was a junior at Masuk High School, I had already had several secret girlfriends, and was busy worrying, daily, about what others might say if they found out. I understand now how little someone’s sexual orientation matters, in the grand scheme of things. It wasn’t until college, though, that I felt as if I could be myself, and admit to myself, and to others, whom I love. Now, I know who you love and which gender you prefer doesn’t matter. It does not define someone, nor does it determine the value, wealth or significance of someone’s being.
People are finally listening to the lost voices of the gay teens in America, with the creation of programs such as the “It Gets Better” project. Started by Dan Savage, and accompanied by many celebrities such as Perez Hilton and the cast of Jersey Shore, this project allows the youth of America to see men and women share their stories, and speak out, about how they overcame adversity in their lives. A universal truth exists: For every human being, there is a future where things can get better.
This program reaches out to those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn. I wish that this had come around when I was younger, as I’m sure many before me felt they would have benefited from this.
The aftermath of the horrible losses of Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, and Seth Walsh, have stirred something within America.
An outpour of amazing, nationwide support had blossomed, welcoming awareness and acceptance. People everywhere are finally opening their eyes and understanding why America needs to change. There is no acceptable reason for someone’s best friend, someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s significant other, to have to die, based on the shame of who they love.
The hate, wherever it comes from, wherever it’s directed to, must end.
Prism, which meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Room 326, has discussed many of these issues. As a group we are a safe place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation, and work to end homophobia.
All of these important tasks are things that can keep teens from becoming another suicide statistic.