You’re Not Furious, And It’s Killing Us

I haven’t watched Glee in over a year, but like most people with an ear to the ground, I’d been expecting (SPOILER ALERT) one of the show’s gay characters to attempt or complete suicide this season. That finally happened this week when gay football player Dave Karofsky made a failed attempt. Fashion/Pop Culture bloggers Tom & Lorenzo (hereafter T Lo), who had praised the introduction of the gay romance last year, had some harsh words for the episode, and even harsher – and truer – words for the It Gets Better Project.

[K]ids only get so much out of “It Gets Better.” You know why? Kids, by their very natures, are not forward-looking; everything is RIGHT NOW and of the HIGHEST IMPORTANCE. We can’t think of any message from an adult more condescending to a teenager than “Shh. It’s okay. Just dream of ten years from now.” Especially since the message of “It Gets Better” pretty much accepts anti-gay bullying as an inevitability; something for the kid to just hunker down and get through. In other words: the message of “It Gets Better” whether it intends it or not (and obviously, it didn’t) is that the victims of anti-gay bullying have to do the work of dealing with it, but no one else does. “You’re on your own, kid. Chin up. The good news is, you might be happy in a decade.”

In the interest of full disclosure and bragging a little bit, I’ve internet-known Tom of T Lo for over a decade. Well before their website so deservedly took off, his and Lorenzo’s example was one of the reasons I finally came out in 2007, so I’m probably biased in favor of their opinion.

On the other hand, it could just be that they’re right.

The way for the creative community (and indeed, the entire world) to address anti-gay bullying is not through weepy portraits of its victims, but through SHEER RAGE. Fuck “It Gets Better.” Show us a campaign against gay teen bullying called “THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW” and we’ll sign on in nano-seconds. Because the people who need to address anti-gay bullying definitely aren’t the victims – and not the bullies, either. It’s society that needs to change its attitudes toward gays, from the top down. And when the majority of people are righteously angered by any attempts to dehumanize gays or treat them as inferior – and more importantly, moved to act on that anger, rather than sitting at their computers and shaking their heads over it – then anti-gay bullying will practically evaporate. Every time a gay kid takes his life, it’s not he who’s at fault, nor is it the parents, the bullies, the church or the school district. WE ARE. WE ALL ARE. You should be furious about it, not gently weeping over music videos.

You know how I know T Lo are right? Because of this video.

February 21, 2012: Tanya Ditty from the anti-gay Concerned Women for America (Georgia chapter) compares gays to pedophiles, necrophiliacs

Anti-gay forces have been using this “23 sexual orientations” lie for years now, most memorably in 2009 by Rep. Steve King during debate on the Matthew Shepard Act (following then-Focus On The Family head James Dobson’s lead), when it was thoroughly debunked on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Following Ms. Ditty’s lying testimony Tuesday, the LGBT workplace protections bill was killed by Georgia House subcommittee. She was the only witness who spoke against it.

So here’s my question: How many newscasts have featured this prime example of what T Lo are talking about? How many national news sources have shown Ms. Ditty’s lies? What the hell, let’s open it up to Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly, and all the rest. Tanya Ditty’s blatant, pre-debunked, harmful, hateful lies most certainly contribute to the atmosphere of scape-goating and hatred and death of gays; how many times have they been shown for what we know they are?

The answer is none, and I’ll bet you a nickel it will remain none. Unless you’re pretty doggone plugged into LGBT political blogs, you haven’t seen this video because quite frankly, it’s still okay to tell these kind of lies about lesbians, gays, bi, and trans people. Worse, telling the truth about us is still a liability. The network heads know what we all know. There is no “THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW” movement in America, nor will there be. Americans just don’t have any righteous anger about the mistreatment and dehumanization of LGBT people, and with It Gets Better‘s transformation from first aid to supposed cure, the gay community has let them know that being a little sad when our kids kill themselves is close enough for us.

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12 thoughts on “You’re Not Furious, And It’s Killing Us

  1. Matt, I utterly disagree with your subject line as well as the premise here. The lack of Furor within the LGBTQ community isn’t killing us. Because we are not responsible for the level of anti-gay vitriol out there. This is another example of blaming the victims.

    While the It Gets Better project is far from perfect, it isn’t the problem either. Here is why I think that:

    There is no one thing that could be done in a day or a week or maybe even a year that would end all of the anti-gay rhetoric and violence especially against LGBTQ youth. No law will accomplish that. Even a slew of laws won’t eliminate it. That’s the reality in which we live. To end all anti-gay bullying and violence, especially towards our youth, it will require such a massive cultural change, and no one knows how to make that happen.

    We can say it would happen if every LGBTQ person came out and was visible, but will it? No one knows, and history suggests that violence is only going to get worse before it gets better.  If you look at the Black Civil Rights movement, violence, prejudice, and anti-racial efforts didn’t cease just because of emancipation.

    I don’t mean to suggest that we should say that anti-gay violence/ hatred  is OK or acceptable because it isn’t. But I am saying that there is no way for it to end in a heartbeat so the best we can do is make that cultural change happen as much and as quickly as possible. 

    It that change can not happen in a heartbeat, then the It Gets Better project, is right and kids are going to have to be prepared to deal with it. That is the reality of the real world. Can we change it in a year or two or five or a dozen? I don’t know.

    I am 54 years old, and I mention that because too often, there is this implication that today’s youth has it easier than we did way back then. I don’t think that is the case at all. I was never bullied or harassed. I was not a jock or butch in any way, but at the same time, the other kids had fewer references about difference. I don’t think it occurred to anyone to call me gay or a faggot. Today’s youth live in a world where GAY is very visible, and there is now a history and a culture of abuse towards any youth that is different. 

    In my opinion, the Glee episode was right on the mark in very many ways. We have watched “queer” kids now in three different schools on Glee, and we have at least 5 queer kid characters that display different responses to how they are each treated. I think this is pretty realistic- that there is no one way that every kid feels or fears or is treated.

    Dealing with people and culture is a mixed bag because there are so many variables. It is like dropping a drop of food coloring in a glass a water. If you do that and don’t touch the glass the color dissipates throughout the water slowing and unevenly. If you stir it, the dissolution happens quicker, but it is still not instantious. I think out job as activists is to stir the water, not be pissed off because it needs to be stirred.

    I agree with the sentiment that kids are living in the now and so the base message of hold on till you can be out on your own as an adult isn’t all the message that the kids need. It is both true and not sufficient. I think the solution to getting more messages and messages about the “now” is a complex process.  One the one hand, I think it includes making more It Gets Better videos. We need to scream about the fact that it gets better, so don’t lose hope. I think we also need to be developing PFLAG groups and GSA’s EVERYWHERE. And we need more and more people to speak out against any incident of violence and homophobia. Silence equals death.

    In the Glee episode, I so appreciated Shuster’s telling the kids that he had thought about suicide. THAT is a powerful message- that many kids feel desperate and hopeless for many reasons and there are other choices than to kill yourself.

    Should more LGBTQ adults be outraged about the impact on teen bullying towards LGBTQ youth. Most certainly! But many of these folks are the products of abuse and bullying themselves. So differing people cope and deal and act differently.

    We are living at a time when these issues are front and center and those who hate LGBTQ persons are desperate because they are close to failing. They are pulling out all the stops to try and slow the cultural change towards tolerance and real acceptance. This is our world today. We need to se it in the attacks on a woman’s right to choose and the attacks on contraception; in the efforts to “other” illegal aliens and the poor. These are all efforts to maintain the status quo of heteronormativity.

    It is a battle out there, and we need to tell everyone of any age to hang in there and together we will get to the victory

    1. I’m going to leave most of this alone and defer to what I said in the post itself, but in reference to your first paragraph, I should point out that “You” in the title and “You” in the post include straight people.

  2. I totally agree.  

    From:Scott RoseContributor
    http://www.TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com

    To Cobb County School District Officials:Please let me know via e-mail no later than 5p.m. today, Friday, whether Tanya Ditty continues as an employee of the Cobb County Schools.

    Here is why I *must* have a response.

    Ditty was listed as a schools employee on the Cobb County schools’ websites when I was researching towards this article about her, posted this morning:http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/anti-gay-activist-who-likens-gays-to-necrophiliacs-is-a-school-teacher/legislation/2012/02/24/35168

    However, Ditty’s name now does not appear on most of the school district’s websites.  One such website page to which I had linked, precisely because it included Ditty’s name, is here:http://www.cobbk12.org/eastcobb/staff.aspx

    Her name has since disappeared from that list.

    The question therefore arises, are you shielding Ditty and your schools from public scrutiny because of Ditty’s public gay bashing, or have you taken some action against her?

    Sincerely,

    Scott Rose

  3. To: michael.hinojosa@cobb12k.org

    Superintendent Hinojosa:

    I am working on a story about conditions for gay students in the Cobb County Schools.

    You should understand that I am interviewing student subjects from your district. You also should understand that I will be in contact with the Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights in connection with this story, as well as with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. I trust that you review “Dear Colleague” letters sometimes issued by these offices.

    There is particular concern that you could be creating and maintaining a learning environment hostile to gay students, as you have in your employ Tanya Ditty of the anti-gay hate group “Concerned Women for America.” An additional concern arises about Ms. Ditty, in that her group also is comprised of tyrannical theocrats who view people who do not subscribe to their precise religious beliefs as being “lesser.”

    Ms. Ditty recently presented testimony written and spoken to the Georgia House of Representatives in which she fraudulently alleged that HB 630, intended to prohibit anti-gay discrimination in the hiring of public employees, should not pass because, according to Ms. Ditty, the proposed law could be construed as protecting necrophilia as a “sexual orientation.” Ditty also alleged to lawmakers that pedophilia is a “sexual orientation” and that therefore, the proposed anti-discrimination law should not be passed.

    Ditty’s and her organization’s past gay-bashing hate speech make clear her pernicious hostility against gay people. The multiple absurdities involved in her alleging that the bill must not pass because it could allow necrophiliacs to be public employees gives one no confidence that she would separate her irrational and bullying non-acceptance of gay human beings from her school-related job duties.

    Ergo, Superintendent Hinojoso, please let me know by 5p.m. Thursday what you do to create and maintain a safe learning environment for gay students in the Cobb County Schools, and also, what you do to make sure that Ms. Ditty and people like her check their bullying non-acceptance of gay human beings at the door when they are in the school workplace and/or are otherwise involved with students, faculty and staff.

    Scott Rose

  4. o: billy.maddox@house.ga.gov
    (NO RESPONSE FROM THIS JERK, THOUGH MY DEADLINE PASSED)

    Dear Representative Maddox:

    Please answer the questions below — towards my investigations for a story — by 5p.m. Thursday.

    By way of background before posing my questions to you: The story involves testimony presented to you against HB630 by Tanya Ditty of the Concerned Women for America, who also works in the Cobb County Schools.

    As a scholar of the Holocaust, I find intolerable any and all defamatory anti-minority testimony provided by anybody — but even more egregiously — accepted as valid by any elected official.

    In her testimony, Ditty alleged that, for example, necrophilia is considered a “sexual orientation” and that therefore, HB630 must not be passed into law. Frankly, it boggles the mind to imagine what connection Ditty alleges between sexual activity with corpses and HB630.

    Ditty’s hostility and bullying non-acceptance of gay human beings is a matter of public record. See this link, for example:

    http://tinyurl.com/89zjdyo for a previous interview with Tanya Ditty:

    What is your greatest concern?
    “There is a great concern with the radical.
    homosexual agenda aimed at Georgia,
    especially in the middle schools where.
    there is a rise in homosexual.
    administrators and counselors. Counselors
    have a tremendous influence on.
    students—they are sent to talk with them.
    when a disaster occurs or when the.
    students simply need to talk.”

    In her testimony, Ditty engaged in the characteristic gay-bashing smear of attempting to link all gay human beings to pedophilia. Nothing in the proposed legislation even remotely authorizes a school to hire a convicted pedophile. Ditty’s duplicity in claiming concern about pedophiles hired by schools as a result of HB630 is plain in her previous public gay-bashing comments with her specific opposition to gay human beings being hired by schools.

    Now, here are my questions for you:

    1) Do you think that Ditty’s mention of necrophilia in her testimony had relevance to the proposed legislation?

    2) Do you acknowledge a distinction between homosexual human beings and pedophiles?

    3) Do you think that anything in HB 630 would cause a school to have to hire a convicted pedophile?

    4) Do you share Ditty’s belief that it is bad for homosexual human beings to work in schools?

    5) Is there any aspect of Ditty’s testimony that you believe brings discredit on the House of Representatives if it is accepted and not condemned by the House?

    Scott Rose

  5. To: “tanya.ditty@cobb12k.org” Ms. Ditty: (THE GAY-BASHING FUHRER OF GEORGIA’S CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA WAS TOO COWARDLY TO ANSWER THIS

    Please respond to my questions below, in association with a story I am working on, by no later than 5p.m. Thursday

    These questions reference statements you made here:
    http://tinyurl.com/89zjdyo

    1)
    You said “But prayer will change hearts, redirect events, change public policy and point people to Christ”

    I want to know, in the carrying out of your school-related duties, do you proselytize to Jewish and other non-Christian students?

    2)
    You said “There is a great concern with the radical homosexual agenda aimed at Georgia, especially in the middle schools where
    there is a rise in homosexual administrators and counselors. Counselors have a tremendous influence on students—they are sent to talk with them
    when a disaster occurs or when the students simply need to talk.”

    I want to know, when a gay student feels they need counseling from a school staff member, do you personally believe that such a student should be confronted with a hostile anti-gay adult? Have you ever expressed bullying non-acceptance of gay people to staff and/or students in your school? Also, do you believe that “pray away the gay” so-called therapy is scientifically sound, and an appropriate recommendation?

    I further want to know, when you cross the threshold into Cobb Middle School, do you leave your bullying non-acceptance of eventual gay administrators and counselors there at the front door?

    3)
    You said “Human effort will never return our communities and nation to the roots of our Founding Fathers”

    I want to know precisely what you mean with that quote. At the time of the nation’s founding, for example, Jews did not have the vote. In Maryland, Jews were not allowed to vote until 1825, and even then, in order to vote, they were required to sign documents saying that they believed in the Christian concept of the after-life. Do you advocate for a return to such conditions?

    Scott Rose

  6. IT will only get better when gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and intersex and our str8 allies DEMAND that IT gets better. I have been on this fucking planet for 60 SIXTY fucking years and for 60 FUCKING YEARS IT HAS NOT GOTTEN BETTER.

    IT HAS NOT BEEN BETTER from the time the new world was colonized by those fucking genocidal pilgrims

    WE have had NO FUCKING RIGHTS for the entire 235 years that this FUCKING COUNTRY HAS BEEN A FUCKING COUNTRY.

    One major reason is because self-loathing queers are STILL WAITING for IT to GET BETTER. Fucking SELF-LOATHING QUEERS think we have not WAITED LONG ENOUGH. Fucking SELF-LOATHING QUEERS keep thinking we need to WIN HEARTS AND MINDS, that we have to be ACCEPTED, AGREED WITH, APPROVED OF, UNDERSTOOD, TOLERATED AND RESPECTED FOR US TO HAVE OUR FUCKING UNALIENABLE UNCONDITIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

    We are BORN with the unalienable RIGHT to UNCONDITIONAL constitutional EQUALITY but we will only KNOW our RIGHTS – IT WILL ONLY GET BETTER when we DEMAND our RIGHTS from the school yards to the courts to congress. 

    STOP WAITING 

    If you want to meet other activists who are doing what I am DOING join https://www.facebook.com/groups/occupyequality OCCUPYEQUALITY where LGBTIQ activists from around the world are not WAITING for IT TO GET BETTER – we are DEMANDING OUR EQUALITY RIGHT NOW 

  7. I see the point being made here about the It Gets Better campaign.  Still, I think it is helpful.  If a gay teen struggling can see one person after another telling them just to hold on (to stay alive), people who have been where they’re at, then I think seeing all those can give them some degree of comfort and strength.

    But I think you are right that people should be more inclined to finally stand up and say enough is enough when it comes to acceptance or indifference to the bullying or mistreatment of gays.  Really, it should go beyond that as well though.  But, being a teacher, I honestly think the total doing away of this will never happen.  Young people, even the good ones who know better, have their moments of doing bad things.  When you’re young, you’re stupid a lot of times and may do things not realizing the impact you’ll have on others.  Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve things and teach kids better though.  I’m just saying I don’t think this particular problem can always be avoided, and some level of understanding must be taken into account on both sides of every issue.

  8. I haven’t watched Glee in a long while also, but became interested in this episode after hearing all the buzz. I tried my very best to not read spoilers, and I was successful. Last night I watched the Glee episode on the internet and was indeed saddened by this utterly predictable and all too common story line.

    Will Dave suddenly find happiness after a 4 minute hospital bed conversation with Kurt? Of course not, but at least Kurt and Dave will be friends and Kurt can give him guidance and a shoulder to lean on, and cry on.

    While I was watching it, I decided in my mind that if Kurt said “it gets better” I would get the nearest heavy object and smash my computer, because, and I think we are in agreement here, it doesn’t get better. Not for a long time. And fragile kids cannot wait for the months/years to pass for it to get better. If it wasn’t bad in the first place, they wouldn’t have to wait for it to get better.

    Thankfully, I didn’t have to smash my computer. I’m also thankful for your posting. I think you said all the right things. Our enemies are growing strength as evil builds among them.

    For example, did you see the testimony from the Springfield city commission meeting this week? One so-called christian said, “We believe immorality is a choice.  The question is why do we give special rights to someone who has made a choice?  We don’t have the right to do that.  It’s their choice.”

    This lie about our sexuality being a choice is perpetuated by the so-called christian churches around the world, and the ignorant, and dare I say stupid, masses of followers believe it! Why would anyone choose to be a member of an oppressed minority? It doesn’t make any sense to me, but those people are convinced of it. If a “This Shit Has Got To Stop” campaign ever comes about, it really needs to focus on this lie above all else.

  9. This society keeps trying to associate a dislike for a particular life style with the same as dislike of a persons color. be for 1971 Homosexuality was considered to be a mental disorder,now just 40 years later it is being force on people as a alternative lifestyle. The modern day city of Sodom.

  10. Bravo Matt: You hit the nail on the head. I’ve been troubled by the It’ Gets Better bandwagpn for all the reasons youv’ve articulated. It seems to be saying to the victims , the problem is you and your inability to transcend this passing angst. “Just get up, get up get up” translates to to just “get a grip, get a cl;ue, get over it.” As if the they had laid down rather than been knocked down. “Be yourself and then you’ll find your way.” For most bullied kids it’s “being yourself’ that got them targeted for an ass-kicking in the first place. I too have had my fill of winning hearts and minds. As a United Methodist pastor in West Hollywood , CA I spent the last decade working in the regional body facilitating “christian conversation” among a profoundly divided polity. Every concession to do so came from those seeking full inclusion of LGBT folk in the life of the church. We talked and talked and talked and at the denomination’s general conference in Tampa last month – the talking came to an end when a massive influx of new Methodists from Africa and Asia over the last four years changed the balance of power and LGBT folk took on the chin for for ten days from fellow Christians in places like Uganda and the Congo, who are actively considering legislation to execute gay people. And what did I get for all my tolerance of the haters for the last decade — my largely LGBT congregation “discontinued” (read: shit-canned) by the regional body in which I had played peace-maker. And whatr is the general response form the LGBTQ community – somewhere between “we don’t do organized religion” and “what did you expect?” OK fair enough, but if it had been any other type of organization political, labor, fraternal, or professional and the parent organization had so brazenly slapped a predominantly LGBT local affiliate in the face all hell would have broken loose. But because it’s a church everyone just takes it in stride. We can just walk away to our white-parties if we want, but when we do we are abandoning millions of our little brothers and sisters, LGBT and straight alike, who don’t have that choice. Or we can say THIS SHIT STOPS RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. Where do I sign up? pastor Scott Imelr

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