If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen the heartbreaking stories of teen bullying and suicide. Many of these tragic losses came to kids who were either gay or “perceived” to be gay.
I’m not sure if there’s anything that hurts quite like being ostracized, isolated, abused or ridiculed during one’s teen years. When we think back to those years, I’m sure we can all remember a day or a moment when we wished, hoped or pleaded with the universe to feel at ease, comfortable in our skin…comfortable anywhere.
The fact that kids are taking their own lives rather than reaching out is disturbing and heartbreaking, simply because those of us who made it through our teen years (often by the skin of our collective teeth) now understand that things usually get better. I say this with full awareness that things did not, however, get better for a boy named Matthew Shepard or the kids we honor today.
I suppose that’s part of the mystery of change. It ebbs and flows.
What I can tell you is that I’m thankful for the people, organizations and moments that inspire, give comfort, support, hope, work to provide fairness and equality and remind us that difference is something to be prized, cherished, honored and celebrated.
Like snowflakes, we are each unique, unlike any other, fragile yet most powerful when clinging to one another.
Thanks to Gil Shuler Graphic Design who put together an incredible billboard campaign series with us at The Alliance For Full Acceptance. In honor of those we have lost and those who work to make it better. The words I wrote are especially for you.
Did you choose to be tall?
Tall people don’t choose to be tall. They came that way, or rather grew UP (and UP) that way. Anyway, it’s simply part of who they are. And while yes, they do find reaching things on high shelves much easier, it also isn’t necessarily true that all tall people play or even like basketball. Luckily, tall people are equally protected under the law. Well, that is unless they’re tall and gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The truth is, tall gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are denied rights that tall heterosexual people receive without question. Things like the right to make decisions on a partner’s behalf in a medical emergency, the right to assume parenting responsibilities, and family-related Social Security benefits, income and estate tax benefits. And really, when you think about it, discrimination isn’t something any of us, even those of small stature, should look UP to.