By: Amanda Fox
Spirit Day has arrived, and while we are glad such a day exists where as a global community we take a stand against the bullying of LGBT persons, we’re also a bit disheartened we need to do so. Bullying is a problem of epidemic proportions throughout the world. No one is spared from bullying during the entirety of their life, but there are always certain people that seem to get the worst of it on a consistent basis. Today, in honor of Spirit Day, we at Spicie want to talk about bullying as it related to the LGBT community and stand up in support of all individuals who are the victims of bullying.
Depending on what statistics you believe in, the LGBT community makes up somewhere in the range of 6%-10% of the population. Many of us members of the LGBT community who recall what the world was like before people began slowly warming up to the fact that aside from matters of sexual attraction and/or gender identity LGBT people are just that people, the world wasn’t always so nice. Being gay or gender variant was as low as you could go when it came to societal perception.
Recall as a child a time when it was okay to play a game on the schoolyard called “Smear the queer”, or how being called a fag or dyke was about as harsh an insult as one could throw. Remember how it was all okay because if you were gay, you weren’t even considered a person by many. You were some sort of “thing” that existed on the fringes of society that was to never be looked at, much less talked to or touched.
We fought through Stonewall and the days of “gayola” where paying off police was often the only way to keep gay clubs open and those in them safe from arrest and physical harm. We made it through Harvey Milk being assassinated because he was gay, and the ruse that was the “Twinkie” defense being used to lessen the charges of his murderer. We watched the AIDS crisis take so many of our loved ones away from us, all the while being blamed by the world for the epidemic. We endured ridicule, beatings and for many an unwanted trip back to the closet just to survive. Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard and on and on. Death and bullying followed our community because we were different.
We’re not going to trot out statistics because there is no need to. We all know LGBT people have endured more bullying than perhaps any other segment of society in the past thirty years. Discrimination on the job, housing, medical care, by insurance carriers, by neighbors, schoolmates and to add insult to injury, often by family and people we thought were friends. Even online, something as simple as a photo of two members of the same sex sharing a kiss has resulted in accounts being revoked or suspended by social networks – and if you don’t think that’s bullying, think again! It’s using a double standard to bully individuals into conformity.
The core of the question is “Why?” Why are LGBT people bullied so much? Is it a matter of fear? Misunderstanding? Morality? Religion? Legal issues? Willful mean-spiritedness just because someone is different? Sadly, it’s a little bit of all of that and then some. The fact is, bullying against LGBT persons is institutionalized.
It wasn’t until WWII that gays were denied the ability to serve in the military openly and that was only because the DoD was desperately trying to disqualify anyone they thought might be at a heightened risk for shell-shock (PTSD). Since gays were supposed to be weak and soft they became the easiest group to exclude. You can look it up. That turned into disavowing and barring all open LGBT persons from government service on the basis of being a security risk. Imagine a world where someone like Alan Turing having not been dismissed or any number of persons bullied out of their jobs or so far into their closets they committed suicide during the McCarthy era. How different the world would be.
Let’s be very clear – when you call an LGBT person names or purposely misgender them, that is bullying. When you deny them their rights just because they are different, it is bullying. You are picking a very personal part of someone’s identity and using it to try to belittle them and that is wrong. It goes without saying that physical and verbal assaults are bullying as well.
Bullying is always a petty and hateful action. Bullying anyone for any reason is wrong. There is absolutely nothing positive that comes from it. While Spirit Day is all about raising awareness regarding bullying against LGBT persons, we at Spicie ask you to take a stand against all bullying. It doesn’t matter who you are attracted to or what gender you identify as, bullying hurts everyone. So while we ask you do speak up and say “Bullying LGBT persons is wrong” on this day, we ask you all to spread the message it is aways wrong.
Take a stand! Make your voice heard! No one, LGBT or otherwise, ever deserves to be bullied.
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