I feel like I need to take a moment and acknowledge the addition of the Trevor Project ads to the main page. This, of course, is in response to the recent publicized suicides of Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, Billy Lucas and Asher Brown. I say “publicized” instead of “rash” or “epidemic,” because this is not a new problem. This is a very old, institutionalized problem that’s just getting some attention now. Why now? Because it’s an election year. The media wants to ask candidates if they support or denounce gay teen suicide. It’s as simple and heartless as that. Right now on CNN.com, there are no less than six articles about bullying, from all points of view, all pondering what’s going on, without taking a single, courageous step towards identifying and correcting the problem.
Make no mistake. Neither CNN nor MSNBC, nor any other media outlet for that matter, gives a f**k about the bodies of gay teens piling up around the country. They don’t. If they had any courage, they’d follow in the footsteps of Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman, who just connected the dots and made it clear that our government’s sanctioned homophobia, the relentless evil that religious fanatics spew and the exploitation of the gay community as a “wedge” issue for the past decade have created an extremely hostile environment not only for gay youth, but for all of us. That’s the truth, and it shouldn’t just be coming from female comedians.
But this isn’t new, either. I was bullied as a kid. Every single day. I developed all sorts of tactics and coping mechanisms to stay alive. I found a sympathetic English teacher who let me hide out in her classroom before school and at lunch. I learned the schedule of my tormentors, so I could avoid them in the halls, often going way out of my way to do so. I learned to linger after school long enough for the crowds to disperse, so I wouldn’t be jumped while walking home. I hid. I became invisible. I survived. Cowardly? Perhaps. But there were so many of them, and just one of me. To do it all over again, I would have dropped out at 14 and gotten the hell out of town, because my mental health was worth more than a high school diploma. And that’s why I’m no longer invited to give motivational speeches at high schools.
While I applaud the efforts of Dan Savage and his It Gets Better Project, what are we going to do for these kids right now? Telling them to suffer until college is really tragic and disheartening advice, when they’re so desperately in need of help right now. That’s why I’m supporting and promoting the Trevor Project, which offers a 24/7 Lifeline (866-488-7386), message service (TrevorChat) and resources for LGBTQ youth. Like the ad to the right says, you can actually donate $5 to the Trevor Project just by texting TREVOR to 85944. Or, if you prefer to donate directly, you can give any amount you want right here.
I don’t interact with gay teens that often, but I did get the chance to chat with a few who visited the Prism booth at Comic-Con. FBOTU is an 18+ website, but I’m well aware that we have teen members, because while they claim to be over 18 in their profiles, their Facebook pages tell a different story. Oh yes, I check.
I’m going to talk about this again later this week, but for now, I just want anyone reading this, no matter what age, to know this: we need you. There is a special community here that you are an important part of. Things are only going to get better if you’re around to help make that happen. Talk to us, talk to the Trevor Project, stick around. We need you. Besides, there are still two Harry Potter movies to go. You don’t want to miss that, right?