A few days ago, news of the suicide of Tyler Clementi shook people up. From the surprisingly objective article at Sankaku to the emotionally charged article in USA Today, the news was reported everywhere, and I don’t know if there’s anyone left who hasn’t heard about it by now. It really is a tragic story—the guy was MY age, and what happened to him was downright awful. He should be at college, having a great time. Not dead. I don’t know if I could even imagine that invasion of privacy. What happened splits into two issues—anti-GBLT sentiments and cyber bullying. I’ve thought about it…a lot.
The truth is we have come a long way when it comes to gay rights. A lot of people are tolerant of gay people. We still have a long way to go through. While tolerance exists, respect doesn’t. I learned first hand (I am bisexual) there’s a lot of people that while they’re tolerant, it’s only if they don’t have to deal with them. The idea of actually being around a gay person is scary/gross/’Oh no they’re going to force their gayness on me!’. Despite being in a relationship for over a year, I went through two roommate because they couldn’t deal with my gay half when they found out. My first didn’t even wait to try living with me. One of the couple reasons my second chased me out, I found out, is she couldn’t deal with my sexuality on top of me changing in the room—even though I also turned my back, changed as fast as possible, and fuck it, I was paying for the room too. My changing is my obvious attempts at seduction and to turn people gay, obviously. In the end, I’m paying $1,000 more for a single. (I can watch all the anime I want in peace though.)
For Clementi’s roommate to do to him what he did, he had to completely devalue his roommate as a person. His roommate was an attraction, a freak, and no longer an equal person to him. What’s scary is he got another girl to go along with this, and support this idea. Not just another girl, but all the people who participated online. Why? His roommate was with a man.
Although there is the truth that gay sex is used as entertainment. Look at yuri and yaoi. I know I love some girl on girl action (though only in anime form for some reason). At the same time, I think we need to draw the line between fantasy gay sex, and normal people with normal sex lives. Media has also made steps recently, but for a long time, it didn’t help with the perceptions of gay people, making them characters to be laughed at and be mocked. As I said, we have come a long way, but at the same time, the rest of the world is still catching up.
Cyber bullying is a relatively young problem, and one not taken seriously. A lot of people online feel they should be allowed to act anyway they want, and it’s everyone else’s job to develop a thick skin. Look at Livejournal. If someone gets upset, they think it’s very funny. Yet, the fact that people are killing themselves suggests that maybe this idea isn’t working.
Bullying alone is hard to deal with. Treating people as decent human being seems like it shouldn’t be too hard, but it seems to be a difficult concept for some people. Especially among young children through the middle and high school years. Cyber bulling is a more potent form, yet an extension of bullying. There’s no solution to bullying, so I can’t possibly hope to find one to cyber bullying. What I can do is advocate awareness to cyber bullying and the dangers of it. When I was in school, we pretended bullying didn’t exist. I hope for my child, it’s the opposite, and that’s they’re taught about it, and about cyber bullying. I hope in the middle school years, these kids who killed themselves stories are told.
I hope they’re never forgotten. I wish he didn’t resort to suicide, but he did. Now I can just hope his death will make sure it won’t happen again.
Side note: I’m tired of people equaling religion with thinking homosexuality is evil. Not all religions do. My church doesn’t.