My intent in having a blog on my website was to talk about my life as a composer/lyricist/writer and update people on my projects – in other words, self-promotion.
But today I’m writing for a much, much more important reason. I’m writing in honor of GLAAD’s Spirit Day – a national day to help bring an end to anti-GLBT bullying.
This topic has gotten a fair amount of attention lately due to a number of tragic suicides of college, high school and junior high school students – all of whom were bullied for being, or “seeming” to be, gay. The stories of these young people have been told – for the most part with the respect they deserve – and the details of the anguish and despair they felt has affected millions of people. It is horribly sad that we can no longer do anything for those who felt they had no other option but to take their own lives. Even sadder that there were people who could’ve done something, but didn’t.
Then, there are the “villains” of the stories – the bullies who pushed them to the brink and beyond. These bullies did a variety of things – ranging from “bad” to “despicable” – and they should be held responsible for their actions. But my thoughts have been running a different direction. Specifically, where did these bullies learn that it was “okay” to do what they did. Oh sure, there are bad apples in every barrel as the more folksy among you might say, but ever bully isn’t a psychopath. In fact, almost none of them are.
The big problem with anti-GLBT bullying in this country today is NOT that rogue bullies are doing something society finds universally unacceptable. The problem is that too many people still regard this kind of bullying as perfectly acceptable. When I say that, I am, of course, talking about teachers, other adults and fellow students who look the other way when one kid calls another “faggot”, but it goes much deeper than that.
We, as a country and a society are sending a message to children and to each other. When we deny gay men and women the same rights as straight men and women we are sending a message – the message that being gay means you are “less than” and, therefore, worthy of mistreatment or even contempt. When gay men and women are refused equal treatment in the eyes of the law, what else are we saying other than “not worthy” or, at the very least, “not AS worthy”?
A significant problem has been brought to the forefront in these last tragic weeks, but it isn’t WHAT the bullies did. It is WHY they did it. And the answer is – they were told it was acceptable.
I – along with many, many others – am wearing purple today as suggested by GLAAD to bring attention to this issue. But when everyone goes back to wearing whatever color they want tomorrow, I hope we don’t lose site of the real problem and how we all need to work to fix it.