Monday, October 4, 2010

You Are Loved Vigil: My Name Is NOT Nathan James Today

My name is not Nathan James today. It’s Tyler Clementi. It’s Asher Brown. It’s Billy Lucas. It’s Raymond Chase. It’s Seth Walsh. It’s Justin Aaberg. My name today is the name of every lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person who has ever been ridiculed, harassed, beaten, told God hates them, ostracized, and driven to such despair they sought only the merciful relief from their torment by ending their own lives. My name today is the name of our LGBT youth, who suffer every day the apathy of a society which gives people permission to hate, permission to bully, and permission to inflict pain. When I hear that Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge, I want to say to the world, “Tyler did not jump.” He was pushed.

Tyler was pushed off that bridge by two people who thought it would be funny to publicly humiliate this gifted young man by splattering his sexual intimacies all over the Internet. They thought it would be funny to torment Tyler by making a vile mockery out of his sexual orientation. Tyler’s abusers were aided and abetted by society, which too often still considers the LGBT community to be deserving of all the hate it receives and all the pain it suffers. But, you know something? When I talk about society, I’m also saying, “that’s us.” We are still a part of the society that ridicules us, still part of the society that legislates against us, still a part of the society that says we are not normal. Because we are still part of this society, when our LGBT youth are pushed to the point of suicide, we don’t have to stand idly by and watch it happen. We can push back.

We can push back by voting for candidates who will enact anti-bullying measures with teeth. We can push back by working to make sure our schools and universities make it clear to everyone that bullying is unacceptable, period. We can push back by supporting all of our LGBT youth, and letting them know there is help, support, guidance, and love. We can push back by making a stand, today, that every life is precious, and that no gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person should die because they just couldn’t take it any more. No, my name today is the name of everyone here. My name today is the name of every gay person who died by their own hand when the cruelty of those around them became too much to bear. My name is your name, and together, we will make sure no one ever forgets or ridicules our name again. God rest the souls of our departed friends, and God grant us the courage to do what we must to make sure our youth get the love and support they need.

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