The sad truth is that although my primary partner and I were legally married last Thursday, it is unlikely that children are in our future. I'm surgically sterile by choice due to my legacy of hereditary medical conditions; and being a trans* guy, my husband won't be procreating any time soon. Adoption and foster-care agencies tend to frown on poly families, particularly (impoverished) queer-pagan-poly families where one partner has a socially stigmatizing disability and a high-profile professional history as an outspoken BDSM educator.
Perhaps it's this unfortunately truth that makes me feel so protective of LGBT youth. Collectively they are our children too, and as a community we have an obligation to protect them, nurture them, and try to give them an easier world than the one we came out into (although in reality, Massachusetts in the mid-90s wasn't exactly full of hardship for me).
And yet the hard truth is that our kids are still dying at a horrifying pace.
Yesterday, Jadin Bell of La Grande, Oregon died after having being removed from life support a few days earlier. He was an out gay teen who endured severe bullying before finally hanging himself in an elementary school playground. His pleas to his parents to be taken out of school were not heeded, and the administration at his school was unable or unwilling to do anything to stop his tormentors.
Each new kid we loose to hopelessness and suicide leaves me feeling even more impotent. I'm always more comfortable in situations where I know what to do, or at the very least what I'd like to do. Hell, I like a situation I can look at and say "eh, in a perfect world I'd put a bullet in that guy there and things would be better." (not that I'm advocating violence, but I appreciate at least being able to understand a situation in those terms). That way of thinking simply doesn't work here though.
Sure the list of hateful, bigoted assholes I wouldn't mind providing with a high-velocity trepanning is pretty long, and seems to get longer with each new What You Need To Know I compile, but that wouldn't save our kids. At best it might silence a few gloating bigots who take to the airwaves and blogs to profit by the death of our youth, with their ranting about how each suicide "proves" that we're unhealthy, emotionally unstable, not right with their god, or that being queer inherently makes us more likely to die young. But there would still be another dead queer kid.
I'm one of the biggest supporters of religious freedom you'll ever find, but we live in a national melting pot, which means you don't get to huddle behind religious freedom when it comes to making someones life a living hell. As a non-Christian, it's a daily struggle for me to remind myself that these kids' blood is on the hands of right wing extremists, not on Jesus'. It's always tempting to brand all those of the Christian faith as hateful, because the bigots who gloat and profit over our children's deaths use their Christianity as a justification for the poison in their own hearts. But our kids would still be dying, and blind hate can only breed blind hate.
I supported Dan Savage's It Get's Better Project when it launched, and despite some of its black marks and growing pains, on a fundamental level I still do. But I also know that for some kids it's just not enough. Promises of a bright future can't wash away the shadows of the present for too many of our youth. I don't think that this is a situation that has a legislative solution either. Frankly, there are already laws in many places regarding bullying and school safety, but clearly they aren't doing what we need.
Whatever we as a movement and a community are doing (or not doing) clearly isn't enough. In the last few years LGB people have been accepted into the armed services, we can get married in a growing number of of states, our jobs are protected across a good chunk of the country, at least if we aren't transgendered, in which case our situation is still far more dire. The majority of Americans seem to feel that we deserve to be treated as human beings, if not necessarily fully equal ones. It's safe to say that there's never been a better time to be a queer/LGBT adult in this country.
But our kids are still dying, and if we don't care about it, no one will.
And now, here's what you need to know today: