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Gay in America: Coming Out, and Recent Suicides

TM NOTE: This is a diary by Joyce Arnold, originally posted “In the News.”

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Coming out can still be dangerous. As can being “outed.” Recent suicides by young gay men reveal this, or rather, reinforce the reality in which significant numbers of LGBTs (of all ages) still live. Discrimination is real, in spite of gains ranging from tolerance to acceptance to active support.

In Washington, D.C., on the 11th of October, 1987, the second major LGBT demonstration occurred in the nation’s capital. Amazingly, a half a million people showed up. The energy from the “March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights” carried over, and four months later about 100 LGBT activists from around the nation met. The result was the decision to have a day that would celebrate “coming out.” One major reason for that decision was a recognition that the LGBT community was frequently on the defensive. Why not turn that around? Rather than defending who we are, why not celebrate it? The October 11th anniversary date of that 1987 March was chosen for NCOD

And even with all the changes for the better since 1987, NCOD is still important, because “coming out” is still necessary, and while it is surely easier, safer to do now than even five years ago, it’s also still done in a society in which a fairly significant number of people think “homosexuals” are abnormal if not evil. A few right-sighted sites:

American Family Association
Family Research Council
Our American Values

Or you can just listen to some among the DC Elite who are defending the need for DADT (or read the infamous questionnaire), and opposing the need for ENDA.

Check out the important message, via YouTube (above) from Ellen DeGeneres about the recent suicides of young gay men — high school and college ages. “Bullying” seems to be perceived, rather often, as a no big deal, “kids will be kids, suck it up,” kind of thing. Or as “the fags and dykes deserve it.” Parents, community members in general, administration, teachers, school boards, local, state and federal government all share responsibility. As, of course, do the students of whatever age who think, as in the case of one of the recent suicides, that it’s perfectly okay to secretly live stream sexual intimacy between two “fags.”

This isn’t new, of course. But I think the fact that in significant ways, it is “easier” to be out, that it’s a “no problem” kind of thing for many … I fear that it’s easy not to notice the discrimination and harassment that does, in fact, exist. Kids, at very young ages, are marked as “gay” and different and therefore targets of everything from playground taunting to being chased down school hallways to being left to die hanging on a fence. In various professional roles, I’ve had many conversations with targets of such, and with parents and teachers and administrators. The range of harassment is wide. Hallway, loudly voiced jabs: “Hey, are you a dyke?” “Look at the queers!” Shoving and pushing. Hitting, with fists or baseball bats, or whatever is handy.

This reality isn’t limited to any age group, of course. The fact that “homosexuality” remains something many feel quite comfortable openly judging, mocking, demeaning … this is one reason why it is important how DADT, ENDA, DOMA, etc., are handled by the White House, as well as Congress.

To read about the current suicide stories among young gay men, among multiple sites check out:

Pam’s Houseblend
Box Turtle Bulletin
The Bilreco Project
The Dallas Voice
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
Electric Blue

TM.com edited the above diary to embed links, as well as YouTube clip.

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