Filed under: People to remember, Rants | Tags: Dan Savage, Ellen, it gets better, suicide
Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, we are all hearing about these stories. I want to talk about this, but I am not sure I know how.
I want to talk about it, while recognizing that these exact same stories are happening all the time, we are just not hearing about them. Even Ellen isn’t hearing about them, if you can even believe that.
Telling people that “they aren’t alone”, when what you really mean is “well, you are alone in your city… but, in NEW YORK CITY they have all these faggots just like you!”, is really fucked up. I heard this a whole lot as a kid and that led to me… looking for these supposed people who were allegedly around me, just sitting there waiting to support ME.
I never found those people and I know that a whole lot of kids in small towns, especially in the south, can’t just go to a local gay bar or organization or whatever and find someone. Often, it is so much more complicated than that.
Everyone is touting this phrase “it gets better”, letting them know that they just need to suck it up, because some day, maybe, it won’t be as shitty.
But is this really helping? I mean, what about kids who it won’t get better for? Sometimes I worry about this campaign, because so often I am hearing “It gets better… You will grow up to be a perfectly normal person in this society” or “It gets better… You will grow up to be in college and it will be wonderful and you will find all sorts of faggots to hang out with”. But what about the kids who know that they will never be ‘normal’, or the ones who either have no desire to go to college, or that just is not an option for them?
We know anti-bullying policies don’t work. We know that training teachers and staff to have more ‘tolerance’ does not work.
But what does work?
That’s impossible to say, because every situation is different. If someone thinks that dropping out of school will help, then for the love of fuck, let them drop out of school. Don’t fucking tell them to ride it out, because IT GETS BETTER. No no no no, you know what, in a lot of places, it just won’t ever get better. Ever.
But what I do know, is that telling kids that “it gets better” is a really shitty solution to this problem. Just offering them a “it gets better” youtube video makes it seem like it is nothing they can control. It makes it seem that nature will just run its course and it will get better, if you just ride it out. No, we need to tell them to make it better, in whatever way they think that is. Drop out of school, run away from home, find older friends who are not assholes, start drinking, experiment with drugs, have lots of sex, have no sex, become sober, kill your abusive dad, pet a furry animal when you are angry, go swimming in a creek, grow a vegetable, start a band, go to a house show, move into a punk house, anything. For the love of fuck, just do whatever you need to do.
Please, please, please, don’t passively just wait for it to get better. Be active, MAKE it better. Or worse, if that would help.
Oh okay, lets also talk about suicide for a second.
I hate, hate, hate when people talk about suicide to young folks and they ALWAYS say things like “You don’t know what you are doing!” or “You don’t know how much that will hurt the people you will leave behind!”, etc. Anytime I hear an older person talk to a young person about suicide, it is ALWAYS in the framework of “you don’t know…” and I think that is really awful. Or, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”… but you don’t know anything about this kids problems. You could not possibly know that this is a “temporary” problem. For a lot of people, these “problems” are not temporary, at all.
I mean, clearly this conversation is complicated because suicide is such a complicated thing to talk about. But I think that we need to figure out a way to talk about it, that isn’t completely demeaning to whoever you are talking to. Don’t start conversations with “you don’t know”, because you don’t fucking know that they don’t know. Chances are, they have already put a lot of thought into this and probably know exactly who it will effect, or what they are doing. I think that you can still be supportive, without making them feel like some asshole who does not know anything.
I someone comes to you and wants to talk about suicide and wants your opinion, I think it is valid to tell them how YOU feel about it. Things like “That would make me sad” or “I would miss ______ about you” is such a better way of talking about suicide, then just telling them they don’t know something.
It’s also really upsetting to me that no one is even offering suicide as a solution. Granted, I don’t think it should necessarily be the first option, but, I just can’t believe that people are telling young folks that suicide absolutely is not an option. It is, you know it is, everyone in the entire fucking world knows it is. I know that for me as a kid, I was never terribly suicidal, but it was always comforting to me to know, that if it ever got so bad that I just could not take it anymore, that I could control when it would stop. We live in a world where young folks often have very little control over their lives, but but in this one single realm, every kid has complete control over their lives. Why would want to take that away?
6 Comments so far
Leave a comment