On September 22nd, 2010 Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old Rutgers University Freshman, jumped off of the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson river. He committed suicide after his roommate Dharun Ravi and another student Molly Wei ALLEGEDLY (I firmly believe in 'Innocent until proven guilty') taped Tyler kissing (and possibly more) another man in Tyler and Dharun's shared dorm. Not only did Ravi and Wei ALLEGEDLY tape these images, but also BROADCAST them to anyone willing to watch online.
A few online reports of the incident show that Tyler was made aware of this broadcast and, while furious, opted NOT to seek revenge. An act I personally believe to be a quality that not only puts one on the path to TRUE manhood (sexual orientation irrelevant) but many historians, philosophers, poets and other writers see as one of the many ideals that determine the make up of a true HERO. Unfortunately Tyler convinced himself that he could not live with the torment he believed he would receive as a result of this ALLEGED act. So he threw himself into the waters of the Hudson River and ended his life.
Before I go into my own thoughts on the ALLEGED actions of Ravi and Wei, Jane's Addiction band mate Dave Navarro posted this letter entitled 'An Open Letter To Gay, Bi & Transgender Teens'. I feel the need to repost it here...
"Ok everybody, here is the deal. I cannot imagine what it’s like growing up in a close minded environment and being gay, bi or tans-gender. I don’t think any of us who aren’t can possibly imagine. The strength and character it must take to stay true to yourself in such an unforgiving microcosm are qualities that a major portion of the world lacks… Sad, but true. It’s just how it is at the moment. However, it’s that very strength and character that gives the world hope for a new way of thinking and acceptance in the future and when one of our children gives in and gives up, it is not only a tragedy but a victory for those who fear diversity. DO NOT LET THEM WIN! I know how overwhelming the feelings can get and how small the reality can feel, but the bottom line is that this is but a drop in the bucket in terms of the magnitude of life. You can get through this. High school is full of plenty of bullies and fear based hate, as is the world. With any group of people comes a percentage of people who just don’t get it and probably will never get it. That’s OK. We all deal with this to an extent. The truth is that in High School, you are kind of stuck in the group you are a part of until graduation, but trust me… You can pick and choose who you associate with and there are plenty of like-minded people in the world that are understanding, accepting and loving. Sometimes, we just have to stick it out to meet them. The hard cold reality is that once you have chosen suicide, that’s it. No going back. Sure, there is a public outcry and MAYBE the bullies feel remorse for a while, but it all dies down, life goes on, the bullies let the memory fade and get on with their lives. They learn to laugh, love, reach their goals and in many cases go on to have a full and productive life. Who loses? You do! Your family! Your friends! Other teens who need support in this area! Oh yeah… We all Lose! Now the world has one less mind that is open and different and unique and sensitive. Instead, we inherit the bullies, the fear, the set back… Our world has one less soul to help it evolve with a new level of clarity. Personally, I have seen a lot of darkness and tragedy that has felt insurmountable. The murder of my mother, my battle with drug addiction, the loss of friends and family. Utter depression and despair. Of course the thought of suicide has crossed my mind a time or two. Let me share this. THANK GOD I never took that action. The friends I have made, the experiences I have had, the laughter I have shared would have all been missed. In hindsight, some of my darkest moments now seem so small and insignificant that I am amazed I gave them so much power at the time. I am even able to laugh about it now. When I think back to the times I have considered ending it all I end up saying to myself, “What was I thinking?” To those of you contemplating such a course, please do us a favor. Seek counseling first. Find a network of people who have gone through what you are going through. Help others in even more turmoil than you. I am certain that you can find peace. As you know, our society and political climate is SO divided right now. We need your voice. The world at large needs your sheer existence in order to come to terms with itself and where we are going as a planet and species."
It's one thing to disagree with homosexuality for personal or religious reasons, but to openly attack and intimidate them is so over the line it LITERALLY pisses me off. I've changed alot in certain areas over the years. One of the areas I've changed in is my outlook on those who's sexuality is different than mine. I used to merely 'tolerate' them. Now I don't give a damn. If you're gay, props to you. Live ...your life the way you want. It is NOT my place to judge you or even to believe I have the RIGHT (in ANY way shape or form) to interpret the Bible as an excuse to condemn you to hell. The Bible has no chart for the severity of humanity's sins. If it's a sin for you to be gay, it is also equally a sin for me to lie to someone. A sin on equal ground. I am on no better or worse ground than you are.
Attacking someone who's sexuality is different from yours is INEXCUSABLE. You want to feel like a big man? Put your fists up and FIGHT. Stand up against someone abusing a woman. Stand up for a friend who feels lost. Kneel down and help lift a family member out of the muck of their life, but don't judge. THAT'S what makes a REAL man. Not degrading others just because you can. I've got a few homosexual friends and you know what? It has not, in ANY way shape or form, colored my view of them. In fact, knowing them has made me MORE aware of just how intolerant and hurtful I once was. I may not have made fun of them or done anything harmful, but judging someone for their lifestyle, TINTING my view of someone just because of my own misguided ego, can be EQUALLY as harmful sometimes.
So you want to be BIG and MACHO and degrade someone else for their chosen lifestyle? Take a LONG, HARD HONEST look at who YOU are first. Then BRING. IT. ON.
I wish I could say that Dave Navarro's letter will CHANGE something about the way this world deals with those who are 'different'. It won't. Neither will my blog. Neither will the multiple news stories that cover this ALLEGED act. Somewhere down the line, another person will be attacked for their sexuality, race or religious views.
It's not right. It shouldn't happen. But it will.
What CAN change is how WE react to those who decide to insult and degrade someone just because they are different. We can stand up. We can either watch from the sidelines as someone gets hurt emotionally or physically, or we can take a chance and stand by their side. Stand by what's RIGHT.
I'm a heterosexual, but I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to stand and watch as someones life is destroyed just because YOU can't seem to deal with their life's path. You want a fight? You've got one.
Because no matter HOW many battles ignorance and evil win, JUSTICE and GOOD will ALWAYS prevail. And you know what? I don't care how cheesy or self righteous that sounds to you.