This isn't just a 'gay' problem. It's a bullying problem, and not enough is being done to stop it. Parents are failing to put a good tolerant base on their children - but this is a moot point, as prejudiced parents will raise prejudiced kids. Schools are not enforcing strict enough rules and are not doling out harsh enough punishments to kids that are caught bullying, or are reported by their classmates - but enforcing harsh rules only makes a bad kid hate harder, and if a bully knows a target child told the enforcers what happened, then that child might be a continued target for harder harassment outside of the realm of school. So what do we do? How do we make it better? How do we show these kids that we're there for them?
Honestly, I don't know. I don't know how to enforce cruel punishments for bullies (I think hanging by the skin of your scrote for a couple of hours is a good start), and I don't know how to get through to a close-minded child who was raised to be that way. (Maybe hanging their parents by the skin of THEIR scrotes.) But even if I can't do anything to reform a defunct school system or fix the broken pieces of society, I can at least reach out to those who find themselves the target of bullying and harassment, for whatever reason. No matter if you're discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, religion, race, gender, height, disability, class standing, or anything else, I just want to say I love you, and it's going to be okay.
It sucks right now. It really does. I know how it feels, I really do. As a youngster fresh out of the closet ten years ago, I remember feeling the harsh sting of rejection from those around me. I got called plenty of names: dyke, carpetmuncher, queer, homo, fag. Those names never really were hurtful to me as they were some of my peers, as they're kind of, you know... accurate, I guess. And I own those words, so they can't hurt me if I use them on myself. But I didn't just get heckled, I got physically harmed. I saw others get physically harmed. My gay idol, a friend of mine named Wally, was a beacon of strength to me in a dark time - he was the first out and proud gay guy I'd ever met, and he was violently flamboyant. I saw him get beaten bloody right before my very eyes by people we knew, but even after that, I never saw him without a smile. He always seemed so strong to me. If he could stand up to the torment, I could too. We both went out separate ways, and each went through our own dark times. His seemingly endless strength failed him, and he put a bullet through his head. I didn't.
I've known other suicides too. Heroin overdoses. Gunshots. Hangings. Drownings. Because they were gay. Because they felt alone. Because nobody told them otherwise. Nobody told them that it was going to be okay. Nobody told them that they were okay just they way they were. Nobody gave them a hug and a smile. Nobody reached out to them.
I don't like to talk about these things. I'd rather forget they ever happened. But I know there are kids out there going through the same things that I did, and worse. I can't stand by and know what they're feeling and not do anything about it. I need them to know that someone knows what it's like for them, and that it's going to be all right. You can get through this, no matter how hard it is, no matter how bleak it looks. You can. Find what moves you, find what drives you, and hold fast to that. Find those that love you for you, and surround yourself with them, be they friends, family, whoever. For me, I had Quincy, and he pulled me through my worst times. Paint, draw, hike, take your dog for a walk, go for a long drive. Whatever gives you strength, hold on to it.
There will always be someone out there who hates something about you. You could even be the Saint Mother Theresa, and people will still hate you (paging Pat Robertson!). What you have to do is love yourself for who you are, and surround yourself with those who love you too. That will build you up against hatred so that it can't get in to affect you. And know that there is help out there if you need it. There will ALWAYS be someone who will listen. Always. You aren't alone... we're here. Bullies are cowardly and unsure, using those around them to lift themselves up and feel better about their miserable existences. Don't let your life go because of what a coward thinks, because you are beautiful and you are better than that.
I can't be silent about this anymore. And neither can any of you, if you have gone through something similar, for any reason - even if you just got called four-eyes in grade school, it's still bullying. Stand up with me, and reach out to someone who needs help. We can't let this happen to anyone, no matter what age they are. We can make a difference through our love. We have to fight the dark away. Love who you are, love who you're with, and love those around you. Love is our strongest weapon against the hate. Where they want to separate, we join together.
Love. And listen. You can make a difference through just those two things alone.