OCTOBER 13, 2010 9:59PM

Welcome To The Family

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A couple of things I notice recently in the news: When a white girl goes missing, it's news. When a white boy kills himself it's news. When a queer kid who can afford to go to a prom is told that he or she can't go (with partner/ in a dress/ in a tux) it's news. When a celebrity holds a concert/rally to support or fight some act of legislation it's news. When a new support organization opens up to do good it's news for a little while. When a highly visible thing happens or breaks it's news.

News is great. News brings up ideas and happenings to a wide range of people. News can be informative and moving. News can promote worthy causes and warn about real dangers.

News is also ephemeral. What is hot right now will be cold tomorrow and something new will be hot and exciting.

Many of the things the news covers are not at all ephemeral. They are ongoing situations and need ongoing support or resistance.

Social phenomena follow the news trend and it's easy to observe how a tragedy or victory is followed by visual symbols and themes in contemporary entertainment media. Savvy marketers follow these trends and make money selling us items that let us express our support for our troops, our support for breast cancer awareness, our anger at those who disagree with our values, our hope for an end to conflict and stress.

There is a gap between what we can do to represent our emotional support for an idea or a cause and what actual work we do to support that idea or cause. There is a big difference between the spouse who says, "Yes, I support the idea of you going back to school, go for it." and the spouse who says, "Yes, I support you going back to school, let's see how we can revise our budget and plan to make this happen."

Consider this: if I put on a visual symbol of every cause or idea that I support I would be so burdened down by the symbols that I would have no energy to move and do actual work for the causes.

Rather than spending today looking or shopping for purple clothing to wear on October 20th to memorialize the suicide deaths of seven white males, I spent some time researching support organizations for queer youth. Those young men had families and friends who are now mourning them and who don't need any more drama heaped on their lives. Their families and friends don't need us punishing them for 'not doing enough' or 'not caring enough' or 'not being there'. They are being very badly hurt right now and we must only offer them our love and acceptance.

Below you will find a list of URLs for organizations dedicated to supporting and educating queer youth and those around them. Pick one or two to look at and consider the whole list. I put this list together in under an hour using only three different search terms. It's not hard to find. It's not hard to find support for Muslim Queer Youth, or Texan Queer Youth, or Queer Youth of Color, or Deaf Queer Youth. There are many support and education groups out there. There are advocacy groups and social service groups. There are hotlines and scholarships.

If you're outraged about what you hear in the news recently know this: These seven boys are only a single grain of sand on the beach of dead queer youths. They are a drop in the bucket. You'll never hear about the poor queers. You'll never hear about the Black and Latino queers. You'll never hear about the Asian queers. You won't find a single support group or organization for queer Native Americans.

I'm not going to suggest for a second that you should discount the experience of these seven young men because of this, but do please recognize that this moment of news represents the very tip of a very very big, very very tough iceberg. You cry when you see seven dead kids and get ready to cry a lot more. There are a lot of dead kids. Suicide and murder and bullying and hazing and bashing kill. What I am going to suggest is this:

Go check out a few of these URLs. If you see an organization there that you feel you can support in good conscience with money, passing on the word, or even just writing up a blog entry about the organization, please do so. Secondly, I'd like you, from this day forward, no matter what anyone ever says to you, to consider yourself queer.

Whoever you are there is something completely unique and different about you. Maybe people have mocked you about it, or you've feared people mocking you or leaving you because of this difference. Maybe you worry that your best friends would abandon you if they only knew the dark shameful secret you hide inside. If you feel this way or ever have felt this way in the past, there is no difference between you and the social minorities in our world. You are queer.

Don't think about it as standing up for those poor kids or reaching out to gays or others, think about it as standing up for one of your own. From this moment on they're all your brothers and sisters and there is no excuse for you letting them down. And when you need or want acceptance or support, look to your brothers and sisters and you just might find what you really need.

Welcome to the family.


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Rated, and I love the passion, but are you quite certain that none of these victims were poor? (Didn't do the research myself, but wondering.)

Bullying needs to end, and it is certainly passionate writers like you that will call attention to it.

Good for you. Onwards, ever onwards.