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    With all due respect to Dan Savage, I’m thoroughly pissed off.  Savage, you may know, is the notorious sex columnist who spear-headed the “It gets better” campaign in response to the rash of LGBT teen suicides in fall 2011.  I thought it was a brilliant idea at the time, and I still do.  

But it just keeps happening, and surely the only valid goal in this particular corner of the LGBT movement is to stop teens from killing themselves.  It just scalds my brain every time I hear about another one of these poor kids who sees no other option than to kill her/himself.  
    Then I try to think, how did I avoid that?  Lots of reasons.  The teasing I got in junior high school was relatively tame, and I was one of the cool kids then, so I had that bit of immunity.  Then I transferred to a small, private college prep school where they allowed no bullying of any sort, so the worst that happened was that my friends called me “Swishy Bill” behind my back.
    But part of the reason is that I have a stainless steel personality and am completely capable of being a balls-out son of a bitch when I choose to be.  I was also impossibly arrogant as a teen ager.  My own mother once told me I was insufferable.
    Then, let’s recall, AIDS activists did not have a profound impact on American culture and public policy by being polite.  They got in people’s faces and demanded change.  They did not post videos on Youtube encouraging other AIDS patients that all would be well if they could just hang on long enough.  
    My point is that I think the LGBT teen suicide prevention impulse needs a good dose of militancy.  As in the AIDS crisis, people are dying, and even worse than AIDS, people are dying from the most preventable of causes.  We need to encourage LGBT youth to tell their tormentors to eat shit and suffer, or their own preferred version of that message, and tell the teens and their parents to demand action from teachers and administrators, on threat of litigation if necessary.  If they doubt you, tell them to go look up Nabozny v. Podlesny, the lead case on this topic, where the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a plaintiff to proceed with a suit against administrators in his school district who repeatedly and callously allowed him to continue to suffer vicious bullying because he was gay.  That plaintiff attempted suicide, but was happily unsuccessful.  
    Dan Savage is not polite.  I once saw him during a book tour in Milwaukee.  During the question and answer session, a young woman asked about “pegging,” the term Savage and his readers hit on to describe the practice of women doing men in the butt with a strap-on.  This young woman, apparently with the boyfriend’s consent, told Savage the boyfriend wanted her to do it to him, and asked for pointers.  Savage’s immediate response was, “Fuck him hard.”  He then went on to give more reasonable advice.
    My point is that I think it’s time to look for ways to let all those LGBT teens out there know that “fuck ‘em hard” is a perfectly acceptable response when the alternative is killing yourself.  This is one messed up culture when too many adults sit by and argue about how to respond, with a significant contingency of them saying that public efforts to stop it are just a ploy by LGBT activists.  I’m an LGBT activist, and this ain’t no ploy.  This is the lives of teenagers we’re talking about, and it is callous and reprehensible in the extreme to stand in the way of any approach that even plausibly might help.
    But we are talking, after all, about people who see nothing wrong with continuing to deprive a significant segment of the population of health insurance, just to start.  Unlike President Obama, I’m not willing to be bipartisan.  “Conservatives” have proven themselves too obtuse for too long to bother bargaining with.  And how do you bargain with people’s lives?  
    So, let’s all get very angry about LGBT teen suicide and start thinking up new ways to stop it.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  You're rightly pissed of, as well am I. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, Oh Mary Oh, rb608

    I lived closeted until I was 25 (going on 32 now). And the biggest reason was that I saw what happened to the kids, especially in high school that were, or even appeared, possibly homosexual. I watched on in silence. I was still in denial myself, but I was too scared to say anything that might out my own "preferences".

    We had a couple of suicidesbetween middle school and high school. One was a boy of only 13 or 14 years. Nothing at the time really indicated that he might be gay, but I still can't help but wonder. The thought o sickens me as I type this.

    Part of me feels like I should have done more to defend my brothers and sisters, but the other part understands that I was living my own secret hell and did what I could when I did.

    It took me 7 years following high school to finally gather up the courage to reveal who I was to family and friends. The pain one suffers from witnessing the treatment of others in addition to constantly hearing words like "gay" and "fag" used as flippant derogatory terms just cut to the bone, and it still does.

    I would have thought that things would have changed some over the last decade and a half, and maybe they have. But it still doesn't make even one little bit of teasing or bullying, especially based on someone's (perceived) sexuality, acceptable  this stuff happens in all parts of the country, but when combined with so called "Christian Values" (perversely termed) families, and/or mental illness like depression, it can be disastrous.

    It make some time and pain, and it will still be painful, but it's true, it does get better. These kids need more courage than I could muster and just tell the tormentors to "fuck off". And if they're assaulted physically, don't be afraid to fight back.

  •  For some reason U.S. culture seems to be (0+ / 0-)

    fixated on death, which is inevitable and disregards abuse, which is entirely preventable. Perhaps it's the culture of obedience--"culture" in the sense of cultivating and making things grow by weeding the unwanted out--which countenances people being abused and personally restricted without social intervention. Perhaps it's just a matter of people being generally unaware that the myth of individualism serves to isolate human beings and make them easy prey for abusive behavior. Or, spreading the myth may be intentional on the part of human predators, who's interests (exploitation and deprivation of rights) are best served by "cutting" their victims out of the herd.
    In any event, factis that when abuse is on the agenda, the victim has no self-defense because the object of abuse is to injure, not destroy, so, to the extent that self-defense risks injury, the victim of abuse becomes his abuser's tool in defending himself.
    This, I would argue, is true regardless of the victim's characteristics and the kinds of deprivation the abuser aims to exact. The victim's characteristics do not define the perpetrator's behavior.  Which is why the failure to intervene in abusive situations and all a halt represents a threat to the community as a whole. If abusers are denied one class of victims, they'll hit on someone else, unless the abuse of humans and the violation of their rights is stopped.
    It is a little difficult as long as children, for example, do
    not have their human rights recognized in the law and parents are entitled to exact obedience however they like, unless they go too far and do permanent physical damage, and can even delegate their right to punish to other "authorities," such as school personnel.
    I suspect that the reason select populations are targeted by the culture of obedience as exemplars is because abuse does have the potential to spark resistance. So, since abusers are basically cowardly, intimidation works best when it is directed towards the most vulnerable, individuals whose behavior is such that they have no reason to anticipate being attacked.
    Finally, there is no denying that the culture of obedience is complicit. How else to explain that adults who abuse children are called pedophiles? That's one sick euphemism.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:15:06 AM PST

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