Monday, October 4, 2010

say it right

So last month was rough for gay kids. Well, the five gay kids who killed themselves, at least. Any given month tends to be a rough one for gay kids.

Brace yourself for some unresearched opinionating.

Dan Savage, whom I love like a teacher who has some problematic attitudes sometimes, started a project for homo adults to address homo kids directly on YouTube to let them know life isn't always going to suck. It's called It Gets Better and it's a great idea because it's so honest. Teenagers need someone who won't bullshit them with platitudes and I think the people who've made videos for this project are doing a good job of that.

Meanwhile, on another prominent gay blog:

Gays and lesbians are not allowed to legally marry. Gays and lesbians are not allowed to openly serve in the military. Gays and lesbians are not protected from being fired for their sexual orientation across all 50 states. None of these rights and protections exist on a federal level.

So, then, why are we so surprised when teens pick on gay kids? When a government says it is OK to discriminate against gay people, kids think it's OK to hate them. All politics are personal, and nothing is more personal than being treated like a second-class citizen.

So this, this is why Prop. 8, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, etc. all matter so much. While on the surface they may seem like they’re about a single issue — marriage, military service, employment — they’re a gauge of what we as a people believe is important to protect. They’re the legal harbingers of our overall acceptance and, ultimately, full equality.

And they’re also why it is so very important to vote come November. Will the repeal of DADT or Prop. 8 end GLBT bullying overnight? No, of course not. Are they are an important step to creating a culture of tolerance? You'd better fucking believe it.

Oh really? I didn't know it was so easy to build a culture of tolerance just like that, by campaigning for legislation that affects gay adults specifically and that happen to be super-popular among white wealthy gay people especially. I didn't know that all we had to do was politicize the fuck out of some gay kids' deaths in all the wrong ways.

I know what she's trying to say, and there's a way to say it right:

Just remembering to vote in politicians who will protect wealthy gay people's interests is not enough to make sure gay kids stop killing themselves because they're being bullied.

Another way to say it right would be to encourage people to focus on protecting gay kids at school by drawing attention to legislative issues that would have an immediate effect on them, like the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. That would be a fucking perfect way to say it, instead of conveniently dropping bits of the Gay Rights Movement (sponsored by Bud Light)'s agenda and leaving out the really crucial stuff.

Of course the message sent by the fact that DADT isn't repealed and gay people can't get married isn't the best one. But remember that the Civil Rights Act certainly hasn't stopped people from hating on black people. It hasn't ended institutionalized oppression against racial minorities. It was just a step in the right direction. The Gay Rights legislative package is a step. But it's not one that will make everything better.

All these calls to rainbow-emblazoned arms aren't going to help those kids.

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