Saturday, January 1, 2011

HATRED KILLS: Seth Walsh, suicide, and bullying gays to death.

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."

Do these words ring any less true today than when Martin Luther King Jr. first spoke them in the 1960’s?

Fifty years later, people die, and we stand by.

2010 draws to a close with coffins nailed shut on good people who succumbed to their tormentors.

That’s right: this is America, and it’s the year 2010, and kids are killing themselves in the land of the free.

How hard should it have been to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

Think there was a chance in hell it would’ve happened without Obama in office?

I am almost as incensed at the lack of outrage as I am at the injustices themselves.

Examine for a moment the teenage bullying epidemic Ellen DeGeneres refers to in this PSA:

Seth WalshAsher Brown. Tyler Clementi. Zach Harrington. The nameless others we’ll never know about because it seemed easier to commit suicide than to face the hateful condemnation of society. Can you imagine living with the internalized hatred of strangers, friends, peers, family members?
"While their straight friends and siblings can hope to fall in love and have their most important partnerships lifted up, celebrated, and supported by the community, the best that sexual minorities can hope for is to slip under the radar, unnoticed by those who would call their loving partnerships abomination.
Some internalize this condemnation. They accept the message that their deepest impulse toward love and intimacy is an affront to God. And since that impulse is an ineradicable feature of who they are, some come to see their very existence as a blight on the world."
“Their rejection of me is as deep as their faith.”
Excerpt from "Gay Suicide and the Ethic of Love: A Progressive Christian Response," by Eric Reitan

It’s a national travesty, yet no one seems to give a damn.

YOU don’t have to care if YOU aren’t gay. Right?

See if this rings a bell:

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” -Martin Niemoeller, on the failure of Germans to speak out against the Nazis.

Maybe you throw around phrases like, “That’s so gay,” equating homosexuality with stupidity. Harmless?

Or call someone ‘faggot’ as the worst possible insult, but you wouldn’t dare utter ‘nigger’ because that’s vile…if you think it’s not hate speech, you’re wrong.

Perhaps you tolerate gay people…instead of valuing who they are, much less *loving* them…

Maybe tonight another young person bows out of the torture, because: 
"even if the self-hatred does not sink in all the way, the experience of alienation from the community, the sense of being alone in the world and despised by the community, can lead to suicidal despair"
-- Reitan, Organized Ugliness and Gay Suicide

No mother, brother, sister, friend should EVER have to endure this kind of senseless loss. Chely Wright, founder of Like Me, was on the Nate Berkus show earlier this week in support of Seth Walsh, who could no longer cope with the cruel bullying he was forced to endure at school. Wright spoke openly about how close she came to suicide as a closeted lesbian. “When you wake up every day and you know that a good portion of the world doesn’t like you for who you are naturally born to be, it hurts.” Her phenomenal autobiography Like Me outlines her breakdown and subsequent renaissance. Find out more about Chely’s work on Facebook, follow her organization Like Me on Twitter, or join the No H8 Campaign.

As for me, I am ashamed to live in a country where the ignorant, the hateful, the intolerant - the bullies - reign in tyranny.  In a seminal piece on this issue, Reitan argues that, "The problem runs much deeper than overt bullying" ...
"Harrington killed himself, not because he was being bullied, but because he became painfully conscious of the self-righteous intolerance of a large segment of his community."
 Never give hatred a forum. 

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." – MLK Jr.


  1. My dad was gay, and spent his whole life drowning who he was in drugs and alcohol. He wasn't part of my life.

    I wish he knew that being gay was something I never held against him or hated him for. I just...missed him.

  2. Sometimes I wonder what it is like to harbor that secret, or else face the hatred. It's devastating to see that play out in someone's life, because the people who DO love and accept you can't have you....the rest of the world gets to them first.