So much awful news today. It’s really hard to top what John says here:
A horrific story. 18 year old Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University in New Jersey, reportedly jumped off a bridge to his death after his roommate secretly set up spy cameras in his dorm room, filmed him making out with another guy, and then posted the videos on Twitter. (Someone set up a Facebook page in his memory.)
This is what it means to be gay in America in 2010. I think a lot of people who aren’t gay, and even many who are, like to think that we’re all rich and live in big welcoming cities where being gay is about as big a handicap as being left-handed. We say we want our civil rights, but I think a lot of people think we’ve got things pretty good, and behind closed doors, they probably call us whiners too.
And I’m sure our lives are pretty good, and just as good as straight people’s, except for the part about not being able to get married, have children in many states, keep a job – oh yeah, and that nagging desire to kill ourselves because so many of us grew up thinking we were horrible people who would never be loved, or find love.
I think it’s this kind of attitude that leads people to lecture us about “keeping the long view in mind” with regards to getting our civil rights. I wrote in response, just yesterday, “to paraphrase Keynes, in the long view we’re all dead.”
And this story — and many of the suicides of other young people — is proof that the pain is not just inflicted in flyover country in some backwoods area. Homophobia is a sickness that is taught. There are people out there like Tyler’s roommate who thought a “little fun” was harmless. Each generation is capable of spawning the most cruel and heartless behavior that turns up in peer groups, seemingly younger and more obsessively focused on gender norms as the cultural changes and expression of difference becomes more common.