Seven years ago, I received an email from a young man because he had nobody else he could turn to. It saddened me that somebody so young had such an unnecessarily difficult life... but it broke my heart that a stranger on the internet was the only place he felt he could turn to for a friendly word. Hurting and alone, his entire existence was that of suffering and hatred just because he happened to be gay. Through no fault of his own, for something he could not change even if he wanted to, he was mercilessly teased and bullied day in and day out.
His story changed me in a way I can never explain. But hearing somebody's hopes and dreams revolve entirely around escaping their miserable life is a soul-crushing experience that should change you.
Sadly, since that time, things have not gotten better. The rash of suicides among gay youth making the headlines these past years is a constant reminder how even being perceived as gay can have tragic results. At a time when just being a kid can be confusing and painful enough a burden, being bullied can be that final straw that removes all hope from a young life... maybe even one you know. And, sadly, it doesn't end there. Even if they manage to survive their youth, the violence, intolerance, and hatred never disappears.
This has to change.
And it will change if we want it to. And a big piece of the puzzle that's been missing is to change the attitudes of those that often end up doing the bullying: young straight men.
Enter Straight But Not Narrow...
It's wonderful that there are organizations like The Trevor Project available to assist after the damage is done, but it's organizations like Straight But Not Narrow which will (hopefully) start to change the way society views our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends and neighbors. And it's about fucking time...
Some of the bravest, kindest, most decent and honorable men I know happen to be gay. Who they date or who they fall in love with makes no difference in their moral character. None. But anybody who would persecute them for who the are has serious character deficiencies regardless of what justification they try to use to back-up their hate...
Everybody has their own beliefs. Everybody has their own opinions. And that's fine. That's America. But if what you say fosters hatred towards somebody so vicious that it can lead to their death... then you have no place in a society which was built specifically to insure the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens.
I can only hope that the voices of those in the Straight But Not Narrow project (and other organizations like it) can eventually drown out the voices from hateful pieces of shit whose only goal is to tear us apart because of our differences. It's these difference... and the right to be who we are... which should be binding us together.
Make a difference. Make your voice be heard.