Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gay is not a Swear Word

Last night, I was watching  P.S. I Love You a highly intellectual and interesting documentary on Film Four, when I saw this ad during one of the breaks. It just stuck in my brain and I had to tell you guys about it, because everyone on the planet should see this video. Take a look at it first, and I'll talk about it afterwards.



That was the commercial released by Google to promote their Chrome web browser, originally aired in the U.S. during an ad break of Glee in May 2011. It focuses on the "It Gets Better" campaign, started by columnist/author Dan Savage after he heard of the disturbing recent trend of suicide in young gay men. Two high-profile cases were those of  teens Billy Lucas and Justin Aaberg. Billy and Justin, from Minnesota and Indiana respectively, were both 15 years old, and both took their lives after being subjected to anti-gay bullying. Sadly, these kids weren't the first to take their own lives after homophobic bullying, and are just two in a long line of young kids who feel like they're all alone in the world.

Image of Dan Savage from http://www.projectqatlanta.com/

Speaking to The Seattle Times, Dan Savage explained that he decided to make a YouTube video with his partner Terry to show gay teens that things CAN and WILL get better. "It just occurred to me that we could reach out to LGBT kids on YouTube before they committed suicide". In his original Savage Love article, Dan said of Billy Lucas, "I wish I could've talked to that kid for five minutes before he killed himself. I'd tell him that however bad it was in high school or middle school...it gets better." Here's Dan and Terry's original video:



Dan's project has inspired many, many people to make their own video in support of the cause, from ordinary everyday teenagers to President Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, Colin Farrell, Tim Gunn, and many more. Please, PLEASE go to http://www.itgetsbetter.org/ and take the pledge. Sign your name to show support for the LGBT youth and let them know that they've got worldwide support on their hands. I've just taken it, it takes about ten seconds for you to show that you're here and you CARE. Share the videos, link to the website, support them on twitter and like them on facebook.

Just in case you still aren't inspired to show support or do anything to help, here are a few statistics from the website:
  • Since the launch of It Gets Better, calls to the Trevor Project suicide hotline have increased over 50%.
  • 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school.
  • LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times as much as straight teens.
  • More than 1/3 of LGBT kids have attempted suicide.
That's only 4 - go to the site for more shocking facts like those. Whether you're gay or straight, parent or partner, single or married - these are our kids. These young people deserve to have a happy upbringing and take advantage of a good education without having to endure such shocking emotional and physical abuse. Homophobia is a major killer in todays society, and we need to stand up and show that we're not going to take it any more. We all have days when we feel down and alone - can you imagine if every single day was like that for you just because of your sexuality? This needs to stop, guys, and it needs to stop now.

Image: www.news.pinkpaper.com
One last thing I want to mention, seeing as I've used it as the title for this post,  is the fact that it's 2011 and people are STILL using the word gay as a term of abuse. I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard young people (and adults, too, by the way) say something like "Oh, I hate that shirt, it's SO gay." Gay is not a swear word. Gay is not a derogatory term. Gay is not an insult. And above all, Gay is not a choice. If you're STILL not on board, then I'm gonna come at you from another direction. If you find homosexuality offensive, then so be it - but  don't go out of your way to make someone feel bad because YOU don't approve. You have nothing to gain by making others feel bad. Every time you insult someone because of their sexuality, you are making someone's life a living hell because YOU don't agree with something they have NO control over. Is that fair? Have you ever been insulted or mocked for something you can't control? How would you feel if that was happening to you every single day of your life? Or happening to your son, your daughter, your sister, your brother, your best friend? Would you still stand by and shout insults? I'm not saying that you have to go and befriend every gay person within a 10-mile radius, I'm just asking you to see beyond the labels and stop the hate. If you hate someone, hate them because they're a bad person. NOT because they're gay. Stand up, and save lives.

LGBT Support in Ireland:
BeLonGTo
Gay Switchboard Dublin - Telephone Hotline 018721055 Mon-Fri 7pm-9pm, Sat & Sun 4pm-6pm
LGBT.ie


S xx

10 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post, I have tears in my eyes reading this.

    I was bullied for being gay (not that I was 'out' then) for a two week period when I was 12. It was only two weeks and it has stayed with me so I can only imagine how how much harder it is to deal with every single day. But it DOES get better.

    I'm off to check out the links you provided.

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  2. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, cornflakegirl. I don't think people realize how much of a lifelong impact they leave on someone when they bully them - be it for their sexuality or any other reason. The point needs to be drilled home that bullying kills, homophobia kills, and we can help stop it - education can help to stop it. Thanks again for reading :)x

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  3. I also got teary eyed reading this post and I would like to thank you for posting it and I would like to vouch for the work that belongto do. They are a fantastic resource for young gay people.

    Thanks again.
    xx

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  4. Thank you for commenting Aphrosie, belongto are definitely a brilliant organisation and a fantastic resource for young LGBT people. Thanks for reading xx

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  5. Definitely, I would URGE any young LGBT people out there and reading this to contact them. Even if they aren't from Dublin as there are a good few regional groups and I am sure belongto would point them in the right direction. It breaks my heart to think that there are kids and teenagers out there that feel like they are all alone with no support especially when it's because they are from a remote part of Ireland. I know growing up that's exactly how I felt.

    I know every time I hear people use gay as a slang word it makes me shudder. I try and not take it as a personal insult though (in the context of (that shirt is so gay!) because language is always in flux and sure gay didn't always mean homosexual. I can see how it can be isolating for young people though when they only hear it in a negative context.

    I was only at a show in London and at the Q & A they were discussing just that point. It was very interesting to hear all the opinions about the use of that word but suffice to say that no one came to a conclusion on it.

    Anyway I am rambling! :) x

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  6. Ramble away, that's what these boxes are for :)

    I completely agree about contacting groups regardless of where you live, there's lots of support countrywide and it IS out there, if you need it.

    The whole "gay as an insult" thing - I've just noticed it an awful lot more on youtube comments (troll central) and facebook likes. It seems that the word is only associated with negative things, I mean I'm not expecting anyone to say "I love that, it's so gay and cute", but it'd be nice to see a move away from using it as the first insult someone can think of!

    Thanks for sharing xxx

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  7. I completely agree with the advice of young LGBT people contacting BelongTo no matter where they are in the country.

    You're right about bullying of any kind having a lasting effect on people. I was lucky (if you can be when you're being bullied,) in that as soon as I told my Dad, he went to the principal who spoke to the girl in question and the bullying stopped immediately but I know for others this approach doesn't help in the slightest.

    Also, I bumped into my bully in the supermarket a few years ago and she was with her child and girlfriend, maybe it stopped so quickly in my case cos she was really confused about her own sexuality and taking it out on me. I told her what an affect she'd had on my life (matter of factly, I didn't get angry at all) and she was mortified and didn't know where to look.

    When you only ever hear the word gay used in as an insult or in a negative way it can be really hard, especially for people who are only coming to terms with their sexuality.

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  8. Sorry CFG, just saw this now x That's mad about the bully turning out to be gay as well, I guess you never know why people do what they do.

    I don't want to mention much about the particular person because they're not out yet, but there's a gay man in our very close circle of friends who is terrified about coming out due to the fact that we live in a very small village where everyone knows everyone else. I've tried to talk to him loads of times, but he can't get over the fear. I just think it's horrendous that there are people living with that fear every day!

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  9. This post got me all teary too. I've had friends who have almost got beaten up and had horrific things said to them due to their sexuality and it's horrible. I have a personal belief that we are all born to love one another, whether it is male or female and I love all my friends whatever their sexual orientation. It's nice to see that there is lots of support groups out there trying to make life better (although I live in England)

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  10. Thank you for your comment FMV, It's horrific to see that this is still happening, in 2011?! I can't understand why anyone would go out of their way to torment someone just because they don't have the same sexual orientation or the same beliefs. If your friends need help or support, there are loads of support groups in England too, just google "LBGT support". It's horrendous, it needs to stop NOW. Thank you for reading & commenting xx

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