It’s nice to think that, in our amazingly developed, technologically advanced, 21st century life we’d all be educated and tolerant. Real truths would be taught to our children instead of opinions, and ignorance would not be fuel for abuse. However, upsettingly that is often not the case. If you’re lucky enough to have been brought up in a tolerant community, stay there. Once you leave, the things you’ll discover some people do to their fellow humans will psychologically torment you almost as much as it does the victim.
In the past month, four teenage boys in the US have taken their own life as a result of having to suffer abuse at the hands of ignorant, malicious, fascist, archaic and quite frankly evil people. Whether it was by individuals or a whole society, these boys along with many others in the LGBT community, were tormented day in day out. Socially isolated by their peers and made to feel worthless because they stuck out. It’s sickening to think that a child of around 14 years is able to torture an individual to the point of suicide.
Start at the beginning. Billy Lucas never told anyone he was gay. Those who were closest to him believe he wasn’t. However, the children at Greensburg High School convinced themselves he was, so, naturally, he was teased and bullied until he was suicidal. Kids who went to school with him told reporters that he was called a “fag” and a “piece of crap” among other things. During one incident, Lucas had a chair that he was standing on pulled out from under him and was told to go hang himself. Unfortunately, Billy listened. On Thursday 9th September Billy’s mum found him hanging from the ceiling of their family barn. Amazingly, the hate didn’t stop there. Since deleted hate messages have been posted all over Billy’s memorial facebook page, majority of which from severely religious people who in all the hype got the impression that Billy was in fact gay. They supported the bullies’ actions.
Tyler Clamenti was a talented, shy Freshman at Rutgers University. The 18-year-old was gay, but had not yet come out of the closet. On September 19th, Tyler asked his roommate Dharun Ravi to have the room to himself for the evening. Dharun agreed, and set up his webcam in a convenient spot before rushing to his friend Molly Wai’s room to find out what Tyler was up to. After realising Tyler was with another man, Dharun quickly streamed the video live to the rest of his college mates, and again two days later. On Wednesday September 22nd, after finding out about the incident, Tyler stepped off the George Washington Bridge to his death. Dharun and Molly are both being charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy.
On Thursday 23rd September, 13-year-old Asher Brown came home from school, opened a closet door, reached up to a shelf and shot himself with the pistol he found there, leaving no note. That morning he came out as gay to his mum, Amy Truong and his stepfather, David Truong, who accepted it whole-heartedly. Although he decided to tell his parents, he did not tell any of his classmates outright about his sexual orientation. Even so, he was bullied and teased every day for being gay at Hamilton Middle School, Texas for the past two years. The day before his death Asher was tripped and pushed down a flight of stairs. Once at the bottom, he tried to pick up his books to have them kicked and scattered all across the hall, and be shoved down the few remaining stairs. His parents knew about the bullying and allegedly contacted the school a number of times to ask them to help the situation. Nothing was done, although the school claims that they had no knowledge that Asher was being bullied.
On Tuesday, 28th September, Seth Walsh died in hospital after being on life support for nine days. He had been found hanging from a tree in his garden unconscious and not breathing after a failed attempt to hang himself. He slipped into a coma and was airlifted to the nearest hospital, but there was nothing they could do. The 15-year-old had been bullied for a few years by several classmates at the Jacobsen Middle School in California. Seth was openly gay, and as a result was tormented daily. While he was comatose his sister posted this video up on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6_pj5qJbwY&feature=player_embedded
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds, accounting for 12% of all deaths. For every completed suicide of a young person, there are between 100 and 200 attempts made every year. Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual youths are four times more likely to make a suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers. This can’t be for any other reason than the isolation and torment they have to go through as a result of their sexuality. Apart from a lucky handful, most homosexual people will have to go through some sort of abuse at some point in their life. This could take on the form of disownment from parents, being left out of social groups, being beaten up or even being condemned by political/religious figures who don’t even know them personally. These past weeks have witnessed four great tragedies, and so much could have been done to stop it. Why some people feel the need to make others feel worthless because they are different, whether it be because of their sexual preference, race or the clothes they wear, is completely beyond me.