What I would like to title this post is, “So it will never happen again.” But the horrible, evil truth is that what happened to 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, will happen again. And again. It’s up to all of us to be the difference. To create change.
According to news reports, Clementi killed himself because a live-feed of him having sex with a man was streamed on the internet. (The talented violinist left a message on Sept. 22 on his facebook page saying he would jump from the George Washington Bridge.) The webcam was set up by his roommate, Dharun Ravi and his friend Molly Wei. Tweets Ravi wrote about Clementi “making out with a dude” have also been found.
Ravi and Wei face charges of invasion of privacy, which comes with a five-year maximum sentence. That’s just not enough and I’m not the only one who thinks so:
Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights advocacy group Garden State Equality, said that not enough is being done to deter young people from bullying and harassing each other.
“We are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport,” Goldstein said. “We can only hope the alleged perpetrators receive the maximum possible sentence.”
What the hell is wrong with this world?! Why do things like this have to happen?!
Ellen DeGeneres is asking these questions, too, in a heartfelt video-statement.
I take news like this — and there’s been far too much of it lately — very personally. I have four brothers and one of them is gay. When he was living in the dorms in college he would always be so anxious. Each fall, he’d be worried about who his roommate might be that year. He never took personal calls in his room when his roommate was there. He felt like he had to live in secret, when it came to his sexuality. And let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to make friends or feel comfortable if you are always worrying that someone might attack you right where you live, where you sleep, where you are most vulnerable. And, in fact, my brother was attacked once (that he’s told me about).
What happened to Clementi is absolutely terrible. It is shameful. It is shameful because we live in a society that tolerates this kind of bullying, harassment and fear-mongering. We tolerate that pranks and hazing and taunting are just part of being young. We say that young men should just “man up” and take their humiliation “like a man.” We say that things that are lame are “so gay.” Somehow it’s funny that you can use the internet to destroy someone. Really? It’s funny? Is Clementi’s family laughing?
The saddest part of all this is that there are so many other young people out there who are ashamed of who they are or scared of what people will think, say or do to them. Lady Gaga calls her fans “little monsters.” But today I think it is time to call out the real monsters — hateful people. People so full of hate that they try to destroy someone else. This time hate won. And I fucking hate that.
I want to destroy the hate, but I don’t know how. What I do know about is love. I know that no matter what you are going through or what terrors you may be living with, there is hope, there is help and there is love. I know this because in my own life, in different ways, I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it in the lives of people I love very much. And I know it to be true because I know so many great, wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to eradicating hate and empowering young people through knowledge, hope and love.
So if you feel alone, you’re not. If you feel the world hates you. We don’t. If you think that you are a freak. You’re not. (Well, maybe you are. But it’s beautiful.) If you are afraid. Here’s a light in the dark. I’m here holding it for you. And there’s a whole army of people lifting me up to bring it to you. Take my hand. I’ll lift you up, too. Actually, it’s not just me; there’s a whole lot of us. We’re here. And, yes, we are queer. And we don’t give a fuck about the haters. You know why? Because you’re awesome! And we love you! Just as you are.
And if you are contemplating hurting yourself, please don’t do it. The Trevor Project has resources available 24/7.