Confessions of a crazy mom

getting whipped, coming back for more!

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Earlier this week, I heard the story of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who killed himself after discovering that his roommate and a friend had set up a hidden webcam and streamed live video on the internet of Tyler having sex with a man. His roommate Dharun Ravi had tweeted a month before that he found out his roommate was gay and had also invited people to watch the live video via a link that he also tweeted. The webcam was turned on remotely from the room of Ravi’s friend Molly Wei. Both are currently charged with invasion of privacy, but is it enough?

In the past month, four other young men have taken their lives as a result of being bullied about their sexual orientation. Seth Walsh, 13 years old, died nine days after hanging himself from a tree. Asher Brown, 13 years old, shot himself in the head. Billy Lucas, 15 years old, hanged himself at his grandmother’s house. Raymond Chase, 19 years old, hanged himself in his dorm room just this past Wednesday. All had been bullied and taunted and harassed for years. When the police spoke to the alleged tormentors of Seth Walsh, they all expressed regret and sorrow, broke down in tears and cried that they never saw it coming. I’m wondering, just what was their intention, what did they expect to happen? At best, years of constant bullying lead to feelings of inferiority and isolation, low self-esteem, acting out inappropriately and often in self-destructive ways. No one takes that sort of abuse without some kind of damage. I don’t believe any of the bullies in any of these cases expected or wanted suicide to be the outcome, but they did want to inflict pain. Why? What had happened to them to cause so much hate and anger, what had they been taught?

The other night, I was out with some friends and someone started talking about the sitcom “Modern Family” and how hysterical it is. Somehow that led to a conversation about the number of gay characters there are currently on TV. Someone questioned if the % of gay characters corresponds to the % of gay people in real life or has the entertainment industry gone overboard in the number portrayed on TV? Then another person commented that she didn’t really care, the gay characters on TV don’t really bother her personally, but she worries about her children being exposed and that’s not something she wants to explain at this point. I nodded in agreement and then we moved on to something else. I have to tell you, it’s been bothering me ever since. I’ve been thinking about it and wondering why we don’t want to explain it to our children? I have a nine-year old daughter. We’ve been talking about puberty a lot lately. We haven’t gotten to the sex talk yet, but I know it’s coming. Just imagine the difference it would make if we explained homosexuality as a fact of life when we are talking to our children. Would it have made a difference in the lives of Tyler, Seth, Asher, Billy or Raymond? Those boys didn’t choose to be gay any more than I chose to have blue eyes. How would it have felt to them to have made it through puberty believing that everything they were feeling and thinking was normal and not disgusting or deviant? That homosexuality is not a disease or a mental illness. That they have the right love people just like the rest of us love people. That gay people deserve peace and joy in their lives just as we all do. That they deserve any opportunity that is available to the rest of us. That God says we are to love and treat EVERYONE as we would want to be treated. More importantly, imagine the difference that information and teaching would have made to Dharun Ravi, Molly Wei, and the rest of the young people who bullied those boys.

I know people who would consider themselves to be progressive thinkers who would say, I don’t care what gay people do, I just don’t want to have to see it. Really, is that any better than calling them names? I’m sure to some that is the meaning of tolerance…I accept who they are, I’m not trying to change them, but I don’t have to like them, and I don’t have to call them friend. If that’s the meaning of tolerance, it isn’t going far enough. Why aren’t we welcoming them into our neighborhoods, schools, and churches like we would anyone else? I get so tired of the way the term “family values” gets thrown around when discussing gay rights. I don’t know about you, but the family values I hold most dear and most want to pass on to my children are love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness.

I know there are people who will read this and completely disagree with me. I know this goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church of which I am a part. I also know that the Catholic church does not condone the bullying of homosexuals, but I have received plenty of emails requesting that I not support a certain business or vote for a certain candidate because they support Gay Marriage or condone the “homosexual lifestyle”. The message of the church is “love the sinner, hate the sin”. But let me ask you this…even if you choose to believe that homosexuality is a sin, what makes that sin so much worse than all the sins that all of us commit every day? Do you believe that you are less deserving of love and acceptance because you had sex before marriage, you gossiped about a friend, you had a child out-of-wedlock, you told a lie, you said hurtful words to your child in a moment of frustration? Of course you don’t, and you don’t withhold love and acceptance from people you know when they commit those sins either. It simply is not our job to judge. I refuse to believe that God wants that either. The God I believe in simply asks for us to love one another.

I’ve tried to imagine that one of my own children is gay. They are still young, but a lot of gay adults will tell you they knew at a very young age (Seth Walsh and Asher Brown were 13 years old when they committed suicide). I have thought, what if my daughter comes to me at 11 or 12 and says that she thinks she is gay? Or what if I suspect it myself, just because I’m her mother and I know my child better than anyone else? Am I going to sit down with her and tell her that our church believes it’s wrong. I can tell you unequivocally that I will not. I will tell her that she is a child of God. God created her from love. I will tell her that there is nothing wrong with her. Is it the path I would choose for any of my girls? Absolutely not, but only because it’s a more difficult path, only because I can’t always protect them from the cruelty of others, not because it’s wrong or disgusting or deviant. I refuse to believe that God would expect me to behave differently.

Think of the world that Tyler, Seth, Asher, Billy and Raymond were living in…a world where they were harassed and tormented relentlessly and cruelly because of who they loved, a world where they had no hope that things would ever get better, a world where they would rather be dead than have people know they were gay. That’s not the world I want to live in, and it’s surely not the world in which I want to raise my children.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 at 12:01 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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