Homophobia is wrong.
Fear mongering is wrong.
Raising children to believe that gay people are bad is wrong.
This is a black and white issue for me.
Sort of like racism.
That's another monstrous wrong.
Which made me think of how the two issues are related. I spent some time recently over at Monkey Girl's place. She had a post about how it was fine with her if Texas seceded because she felt - well, I'll let you read what she said. One part that caught my eye dealt with all the hanging trees down in Texas. Trees which the tourism site TexasEscapes.com blithely lists as attractions, noting:
The best way to survive as a tree in Texas is to arrange to have some historic event occur under (or hanging from) your branches.Racism is still very much alive in this country. President and Mrs. Obama may be in the White House, but there are a lot of people saying very hateful things about them. And let's not forget this, this and this. It's not just words, either.
How does this relate to homophobia? Perhaps you haven't caught the news lately. I learned about a pair of tragedies related to homophobic bullying over at The Blue Door. My friend Mrs. Chili shared the news about 11-year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who hung himself after enduring daily taunts of being gay.
I have to stop a minute to wipe my eyes. This could have been my son. This could have been my neighbor's son. It really doesn't matter whose son Carl was. His death is a blow to us all.
Rest in peace, Carl.
Then a few days later, I saw the title of Mrs. Chili's post: Quick Hit: We've Lost Another One.
Surely not, I thought.
She must be referring to something else.
She was not.
Another eleven year old, another hanging, for the same ugly, evil reason.
Jaheem Herrera, rest in peace.
I wish so much that you were still alive.
Mrs. Chili wrote a very fine post about things we can all do to foster love and show acceptance for gay people. If you click on only one link in my post, I hope you will click here.
And here too. I really like this post at Nailing Jello to the Wall. Sue J gives some excellent links for resources to combat intolerance and hatred.
If you travel around the Blog Universe, you will find a lot of people citing similar stories of young people driven to desperate acts by bullying from others. Some blame the schools for not taking action to stop it. Some point to the political climate with leaders who accepted torture instead of more humane methods of interrogation. Judith Warner has a thought-provoking piece in the New York Times about how young people socialize and the role that parents have in this process. There are hundreds of comments about it. I found my head nodding in agreement with one of them. A man wrote, in part:
Today, I live in NYC, with gay and lesbian friends and lovers.
New York City, a place where the new cardinal speaks once again as the bully on the playground.
It's more than just schools, or bullying classmates, or parents. It's our community as a whole. Bigots are everywhere, to be sure, but there seems to be a disproportionate number of them who are thumping on their Bibles. I think that people who make ads like the one from NOM bear significant responsibility. That people who proclaim that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality contribute mightily to this gay bashing. That people who voted to support Prop. 8 in California are a real part of the problem. They are culpable for these deaths.
This week was a busy one, with lots of stuff to occupy my time. Though I'm proud of my posts and my other activities, I am a little sad that I failed to acknowledge Earth Day in this blog. Environmental activism has been an important part of my family's life for many years, and I wish I'd written about it. Sometime soon, I will; for now this post title will have to do.
I had a hard time coming up with the title for this post. Given the nature of the two young men's suicides, I wanted to include a reference to that. I briefly considered using the famous song that Billie Holliday performed which condemned racism and the lynching of African Americans. The lyrics by Abel Meeropol are powerful indeed. But when I began to type in the title, a light bulb came on over my head. I don't want to be misunderstood in any way that I take this issue less than totally seriously.
And that is why this post is not called Strange Fruit.
Language is a fascinating, ever-altering instrument. It can be an instrument of change. An instrument of lovely musicality. Or an instrument of torture.
Be careful how you use it. Be mindful of your word choice.
Choose love over hate. And express that.