Give a voice to LGBT silence
On Sept. 22, Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Why? According to reports, it was because Clementi’s roommate had disseminated a video that portrayed Clementi having an encounter with another man.
Clementi’s death, though tragic in its own right, is also another statistic in a recent pattern of similar incidents. In September alone, four LGBT young people ended their own lives because of bullying and harassment. The youngest was 13.
What compelled these individuals to end their lives? Suicide is as complex to understand as the individuals who resort to it. But one thing is true: Our greater society drove these young people to their actions. Take a moment and think about the last time you heard, or said, something was gay, or that some man was a fag, or that a woman was a dyke. I imagine that it won’t take much time to recollect when you last heard those terms used casually in conversation.
When I was young, I was often teased for being gay. Although I wasn’t out, I knew the truth, and my classmates did as well. Bullying ranged from the casual epithet to an outright punch in the face. I don’t remember if I ever contemplated suicide, but in hindsight, I can understand why someone might.
This letter is not meant to serve as a guilt trip. It is meant to serve as a call to action. If you see or hear harassment, put a stop to it. It can be as simple as reminding someone that the word “fag” has inspired both suicides and murders. And if you know a young person facing harassment in school because of his or her real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, share resources like The Trevor Project, a crisis and suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth. Don’t be silent.
Too many have died for people to continue relying on silence as a counter to harassment. And to anyone struggling with his or her identity, it will get better. Don’t cheat yourself of the opportunity to see what an amazing person you will become.
Joshua Bailey is a senior majoring in human services.
Swimming in stereotypes
The world becomes a dangerous place for all, and particularly for women, when sex is equated with humiliation and disrespect, and when sex is linked with violence and inhumanity.
Reading “Swimming in Dangerous Waters” in the Sept. 20 edition of The Hatchet was, therefore, decidedly disconcerting. The article’s depiction of a young man’s sexual encounter with a female partner was degrading to both men and women. In fact, it sold us all short. Despite the promising beginning, the article delivered the same narrative of masculinity and sex that we all know by heart: Stereotypically, men only care about sex (Danielle) and violence (Shark Week). The article also delivered depictions of women that are both all too common and all too libelous: Stereotypically, women are willing to be objectified in the name of sex and will only rebel under the most overtly insulting of conditions.
We love sex and we think everyone should talk about it, but “Swimming in Dangerous Waters” contributed nothing to the conversation. We’re writing to ask the author of the sex column to reflect upon his choice of topic, and we’re writing to ask the editors and publishers of The Hatchet to display better judgment when publishing pieces that insult more than half of GW’s student body.
If King Salmon must write again, we’d suggest a diary so that he can keep his thoughts where they should be – in the privacy of his home.
Alisa Chester, Laura Webb, Liz Owens and Diana Rhodes are writing on behalf of The Women’s Studies Graduate Student Organization.
This article appeared in the October 4, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.