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Entries in Editorial (2)

Friday
Dec312010

What's In A Word?

As 2011 approaches many of us will take the time to reflect on our lives and make plans to better ourselves in some way, whether it be mentally, physically, socially etc.  Instead, I offer this as a suggestion.  This year make a resolution to make society better, a better place for all of us to live.  It sounds cheesy and it sounds impossible, but it can be done, and it can be done with as little as one word.

Since I announced to the world that I was gay in November of 2004 I have been on a mission to eliminate the word gay from the lexicon of my friends, family and even some strangers that I come into contact with.  It would seem a fairly simple task, but this word has become so engrained in every day speech that it has proved difficult.

Dictionary.com defines gay as: having or showing a merry, lively mood. Bright or showy. A homosexual person. 

Take a moment and think about the last time you heard the word gay used.  Now ask yourself was the word used in conjunction with the above definitions.  The answer is probably no.  In fact, the word gay has taken on a whole new meaning.  It is now generally used in a derogatory manner, replacing the words stupid or dumb in a sentence.

So what's the problem with this?  Over the course of time the definitions of words change, and perhaps that is just what is happening here.  However, because this word is associated with a group of people, every time someone uses it in a derogatory way they are putting down an entire section of society.  This can be particularly hurtful to people who have not yet come to terms with their sexuality.  Generally when we are talking to our friends we don't think about others around us, but other people can in fact hear conversations that are being had in a public place. 

Imagine that you are a teenager again, trying to make you way through an already extremely awkward time in your life.  If you hear yourself being put down every day, this is going to have an impact on your self worth (See related posting).  With the recent teen suicides I think it is time that we take a look at how we impact people around us, even when we don't know them.  I know many of my friends won't use the word gay around me now because I have taken a stand, but some of them probably still use it when I am not around.  My message to them and to all of you is that you never know who is listening.

This year I am doing something that I normally don't do.  I am making a new years resolution.  I am going to eliminate the word retarded from my vocabulary.  I realize it is hard to change habits. All I ask is that while you are reflecting on this past year, take a second to think about how easy in the grand scheme of things it is to stop using one word.  Who knows, it could make a difference in the life of someone you have never met, or maybe on of your closest friends.


From me to you,  I wish you a safe, happy and prosperous new year.

Wednesday
Feb242010

The Destruction of Self Worth

For years we have heard how the media's portrayal of women has caused an increase in anorexia.  Young girls see pictures in magazines and see actresses on television and believe they are not as pretty as those stars, so they starve themselves and tell themselves they are ugly.  Obviously this is not the entire population of women, but it is a definite segment.

The reason I bring this up is because of a conversation I was having this weekend.  The same way that we as a society destroy the self worth of little girls, we also crush the self worth of those in the gay community.  By the time many gay men and women come out they have had to overcome self-hate that for the most part is generated by societal norms.  Society dictates that homosexuality is wrong.  As a result people sit in the closet obsessing over their sexuality and how it is a bad thing.  Even after they have come out every day they are told they are less than others.  They aren't worthy of getting married, gay men and women are inferior to their straight counterparts, they are unfit parents et cetera.

I am no expert but I have talked to many gay men and women and can speak from my own experience.  In many cases the people I have spoken too tell me that coming out is like a weight being lifted off of their shoulders, and I too shared in that feeling.  What few talk about is the lingering effect of the self-hate that once dominated every fiber of their being.  When I came out it took me years to come to terms fully with my sexuality and be fine with being gay.  In the interim this affected the relationships I could build with a boyfriend.  I was worried about holding hands in public, about showing any affection whatsoever to the one I was in love with when someone was watching.

For some the feelings may linger for years if not forever, and who can really know what impact those feelings of guilt, and hatred have on a person over their lifetime.  Anorexia is a disease that one never fully overcomes, the physical and psychological damage inflicted can last a lifetime much like the self-hatred that many in the LGBT community feel.

What as a society are we doing to our children, to our future?  By criticizing your young men and women we are destroying their self worth, potentially robbing them and us of their greatness.  Abusing them psychologically, creating people who feel that they are less of a human being because they aren’t paper thin or because they love someone of the same sex.  You may think this dramatic, but I care very little.  I have talked to enough people and seen enough relationships fail because of self-hatred to know that this is a big problem not only in the LGBT community but throughout our entire society.

So, I have a message for everyone.  It is fine to be gay.  You are a good person; do not ever let anyone tell you that you are inferior because of who you love or because of how you look.