Embrace yourself no matter who you are
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 20:04
On March 16 — almost two years after Tyler Clementi’s death — Dhauran Ravi was found guilty of some charges in the case of the suicide of the gay Rutgers student after Ravi videotaped him in an intimate interaction with his partner.
Ravi was guilty of a number of crimes including: invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence (tweets and text messages were deleted) and hindering apprehension to the police/trying to influence a witness’ testimony. In other news, the rain is wet, scrambled eggs are yummy and Kelis’ milkshakes brings all the boys to the yard.
What gets me the most about this case as a gay American is the fact that in 2012, Ravi’s lawyers were trying to use the pathetic “gay panic” defense, stating that Ravi was not used to homosexuals and encountering one had scared him.
In other words, straight people who are not used to gay people may attack them verbally and physically as the law allows. Just imagine if this panic defense was a viable excuse for any other minority.
Afraid of fat people, the elderly, Muslims, the handicapped, Asians, Jews, Hispanics, African Americans, women? How about those scary pagans? Here’s a baseball bat, now run along now you ignorant little imp. In a time when the LGBT community is gaining visibility on television shows and movies, equality in marriage, jobs, the right to serve our country and the right to adopt, “gay panic” no longer is a justifiable reason to film an intimate moment between two people and broadcast it on the Internet. In fact, regardless of sexual orientation, there is none.
In a sick way, I believe that Tyler Clementi’s death has taught America that bullying laws don’t work. I came out my senior year of high school and it was one of the saddest times of my life.
I could not tell my parents that I had my life threatened because they would have supported my attacker. To protect myself, I withdrew, speaking only when I was spoken to or when I had something really insightful or witty to say.
So when I came to college I was funny, a great writer, several young women’s best friend and shoulder to cry on during pregnancy scares, and yes, peeps — it got better.
However, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, kids are downright cruel. Statistics show that children with leukemia are not afraid of cancer, but what the other children will say when their hair falls out. As a big Dan Savage fan, I believe that not only do people need to make “It Gets Better” videos for LGBT youth, but in fact, people need to make “It Gets Better” videos for all youth.
Americans need to reclaim the names they were called in childhood. It’s not the word that causes the pain. If that was the case, Tyler Clementi wouldn’t have died.
It’s the built-up reaction to the word and the stigma it holds. If everyone “came out” as four eyes, sissy, fat, slut, queer, or pizza face, then children wouldn’t be hanging themselves over Myspace comments.
If children were raised as open-minded, parents would be horrified to hear them ask what homophobia is, there would be no anti-gay Facebook pages, and the Internet would be a safe haven instead of a stalker paradise. And if everyone really acknowledged we all are different and possess our own unique beauty as individuals, these truths would be self-evident.