In London Belinda Allen tied a scarf around her neck and hung herself from a tree. She killed herself because she was being teased and bullied. Classmates called her a “dyke” and teased her about her clothes.
A 10 year old child, this one identifying as transgendered, kills himself.
A 14 year old boy picks up a gun, goes to school and shoots his 15 year old classmate in the back of the head twice for identifying as gay. Two lives destroyed in a few seconds.
Children are not born learning to hate, not themselves or others. We teach children to hate because we are full of hatred ourselves.
Some of us just kill parts of ourselves – we hide in the closet, or become estranged from our families. The same homophobia is more subtle, but just as insidious as we deny and kill parts of ourselves, our relationships. Maybe we just drink a little too much, or start smoking to relieve our stress, or eat just a little more then we need.
The security we think we receive by labeling others as different from “us” creates a “them”. And it creates chaos, violence, hatred, separation, death. The death of others, the death of ourselves. We are instead insecure.
White, black, male, female, queer, straight, Muslim, Jew…
We are human, human, human, human. We are the same, not different.
We all live, we all laugh, we all love — especially in a world that is free from bigotry, hatred, intolerance and the insecurity caused by labeling others as different from ourselves.
How can we end this madness?
We can start early teaching that gender expression is o.k. We can encourage children to express their emotions and cry (even little boys). We can watch our language by not using expressions like “boys don’t cry” or “girls aren’t pushy”. (or by the way not referring to people as “100- yarders” or “bull dykes” or “baby dykes” or “lipstick lesbians” or “Queens” or “twinks”…sound familiar? What color is that pot?) One can offer children a variety of toys – so what if a little girl wants a dump truck or a boy wants a doll?
Ritch C. Savin-Williams, author of the Gay Teenager says “Allow kids to be open and positive about peoples’ differences. Even if you aren’t tolerant of gay or transgendered people, your children live in a world that’s very different than it was even 20 years ago. Teach your child about the world that will come, not the one you were raised in.”
Unfortunately for Belinda, or Lawrence, or ________________ that world did not come soon enough.
But you are here, you are here, YOU are here. You can pick up the fractured and scattered pieces of yourself and you can live, and you can live to create a better world.