To any GLBT teenager who thinks life sucks right now because your friends make fun of your sexuality, because your parents have made homelife a living hell, because you think you’re alone… Dan Savage and a whole legion of people who have been exactly where you are right now have a message for you:
Even as an atheist, I never had to deal with the feeling of ostracism because of my identity in high school. I can’t claim to fully understand what GLBT students are going through. But I do have plenty of experience dealing with Christians (and others) who try to make your life miserable and who continue to deny you equal rights. (Hi, Illinois Family Institute!)
But I did have to move away from my friends at a really important time in my life, right as I was about to enter high school, and I thought my life was over. My thoughts ranged from loneliness at best to depression at worst.
It got better within a couple months.
I learned not to dwell on the bad ever since then. No matter how bad it has been, it has always gotten better. And until you go through that cycle a few times in your life, it’s hard as hell to believe that.
It’s not surprising that a gay teenager, Billy Lucas, committed suicide after being “taunted by his classmates.” Dan writes:
Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.
“My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas,” a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. “I wish I could have told you that things get better.”
I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.
Have you heard from any teenagers yet since posting the first video this week?
I’ve heard from bunches. I’ve gotten 3,000 e-mails in the first 24 hours. The ones that are really moving are the ones from straight kids who are telling me that they are e-mailing the link to their picked-on gay classmates and friends who need to see it.
If any gay teens are suicidal for whatever reason, there is a free hotline you can call. Don’t go through these things alone. Talk (or listen) to someone who’s been there before.