In the wake of a Last week, Dan Savage addressed the recent rash of LGBT teen suicides:
Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself--hope you're pleased with yourselves, Tony Perkins and all the other "Christians" out there who oppose anti-bullying programs (and give actual Christians a bad name).
Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates--classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.
Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.
This assessment prompted not despondency, but resolve:
Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it does get better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can't imagine a future for themselves. So let's show them what our lives are like, let's show them what the future may hold in store for them.
Savage and his husband created the It Gets Better Project to tell this vulnerable population that, indeed, life does goes better after high school. Their inaugural video has since been joined by many, many, others--and has now spawned an anti-bullying PSA called It Gets Worse (h/t: Lindsay Beyerstein at Big Think) to let the bigoted bullies know that the trajectory of their lives will not be aided by driving other teens to suicide.
Pointing out homophobia's religious roots didn't sit well with the sanctimonious crowd, and Savage's letter of the day last Friday played the poor victimized Christian card:
I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bulling. [...] I think you need to be aware of your own prejuduces [sic] and how they might play into your thinking. At best I think your comments were hypocritical.
If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preferance, [sic] how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)?
Dan trumped it quite forcefully:
I'm sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.
No, wait. I'm not. Gay kids are dying. So let's try to keep things in perspective: fuck your feelings.
A question: do you support atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All legal, of course, and there's no Christian movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or to people divorcing and remarrying. Why the hell not?
Being told that they're sinful and that their love offends God, and being told that their relationships are unworthy of the civil right that is marriage (not the religious rite that some people use to solemnize their civil marriages), can eat away at the souls of gay kids. It makes them feel like they're not valued, that their lives are not worth living. And if one of your children is unlucky enough to be gay, the anti-gay bigotry you espouse makes them doubt that their parents truly love them--to say nothing of the gentle "savior" they've heard so much about, a gentle and loving father who will condemn them to hell for the sin of falling in love with the wrong person. [...]
The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from lips of "faithful Christians," and the lies that spew forth from the pulpit of the churches "faithful Christians" drag their kids to on Sundays, give your straight children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. [...]
Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words.
Did that hurt to hear? Good.
The Trevor Project
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)