Another light missing

So I like to pretend that I’m not a hypocrite, but of course I failed in my promise to actually update my blog on a regular basis. *headdesk*. But I’m going to try again. Here’s something I wrote a few weeks ago (1st October) and put on facebook. Let’s archive it here on this great wide internet.

I have to talk about this, because it isn’t talked about enough.

Facebook and the LGBT online news community has been blowing up over the last few days talking about this.

Raymond Chase, 19, Rhode Island. Hanged himself.Tyler Clementi, 18, New Jersey. Threw himself off the GW bridge. Seth Walsh, 13, California. Hanged himself. Asher Brown, 13, Texas. Shot himself. Billy Lucas, 15, Indiana. Hanged himself. Justin Aaberg, 15, Minnesota. Hanged himself.

What do these names mean to the parents of these kids who committed suicide recently? Were they named after family members, childhood heroes, celebrities? Did they light up when they talked about them? Did they have dreams for their children, about them growing up to be lawyers, doctors, politicians, fighters, lovers, social workers, parents? Did these kids have dreams of their own? Some of them might have never been kissed. Now they’re names in a google search engine and on memorial signs and newspapers and gravestones, not in graduation programmes and honour rolls and 21st birthday party invitations.

All these kids are dead, and I don’t understand.

I want to make some things clear. The online reporting and the news stories surrounding these events talk consistently about “gay suicides”, “an unacceptable number of suicides”, teens who committed suicides “because they were gay”.

That’s bullshit. There are no gay suicides, there are only suicides. “Gay suicides” imply a degree of justification, that of all the kids in the world who are going to committ suicide, it might as well be the gay ones, because after all, that’s where statistics come from.

Suicides shouldn’t be unacceptable. One suicide is unacceptable. To say that 6 is an “unacceptable” number implies that one suicide, one kid who falls under the media radar, is acceptable, is expendable, is just the right amount of tragic. We shouldn’t have suicides as justification for our cause. We’ve had enough matyrs, enough deaths.

Teens don’t commit suicide because they were gay. To say so suggests again that their sexuality or gender identity acts as a predisposing factor, that bullying just tips them over the edge. It feeds into the idea that queerness = mental instability, that we’re screwed up because of how we think and fuck and love, not because of how society responds to that. People seem to forget that not all of these kids identified as queer, that it’s how people behave towards queerness that is the sickness, not queerness itself.

I know this seems like all I’m talkiing about is all pedantics, but it frustrates the hell out of me. Two of these kids were THIRTEEN. They hadn’t even had a chance to live, and they thought death was a better choice, and now they have no choices, they’re going to become the new poster children, just like Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepherd. The ostensible difference is that Brandon and Matthew were murdered, and the deaths of these kids have been reported as suicides.

There’s no difference though, because teen suicides are teen murders. There is no difference. These kids might have squeezed their own metaphorical trigger, but it was always someone else holding the gun to their head. Those people holding the gun are the bullies, the bigots, and the teachers who stood there and did nothing, turned a deaf ear to pleading and homophobic language use. And there is nothing I can say to express my fury and my sadness at the ignorance and hatred of these people, and I hope they rot in hell and regret everything they ever said, and see the faces of the people that they killed.

But they’re not the only ones complicit in these murders. Does anyone really think it’s a coincidence that all these deaths (even only the ones that we know of, because there are more, never doubt that), are being brought to attention, are happening in the wake of what have been dubbed “victories” for the American gay community? Does no one else find that strange?

I’m talking, of course, about Proposition 8 being declared unconstitutional by the Californian Supreme Court, the process of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the other supposed “success stories” of the white gay elite, which are mainly focused around the legislation of same-sex marriages in various states. I’m not going to rant about this capitulation of this elite to the gaystream white-fucking-picket-fence ideal, because that would take a lifetime. But to me it seems pretty damn clear that the people fighting for these so-called “rights” have had their priorities fairly out of focus. They don’t hold the guns, but by diverting far too much attention to these causes, we’ve lost resources, and manpower, and time, and lives. They don’t make the guns, but they sure as hell didn’t help to burn down the factories that did.

And I hate that I used to be one of them, I hate that I spent the majority of my time in California in 2008/9 fighting against Prop 8 when I could have been doing something, anything, to help kids like these. I was living in one of the most historically conservative counties in CA. There must have been deaths there. I wish I’d had the knowledge that I do now.

I wish I knew what to do. I can post links on facebook, I can write, I can give money to the Trevor Project. I can observe silences. I can cry with fury at 50 Cent’s horrendous homophobia on twitter. None of that is any good. I want to go back in time. I want to save them. And I can’t, and it scares me that these deaths are the tip of the iceberg, that America and any other places where suicides happen are caught in an epidemic that starts off with cruel, horrible words and ends in lives being lost.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I have to start with writing this down. We have to talk about this. We don’t talk about it enough.

“We’ve all been pushed too far, I guess on days like this you know who your friends are. Just another dead fag to you, that’s all. Just another light missing on a long taxi ride” – Tori Amos


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