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Dan Savage fights teen suicide
September 21, 2010 3:09 PM   Subscribe

It gets better. Billy Lucas committed suicide September 9th. Hate messages have been left on his memorial page. Dan Savage was looking for a way to reach out to every gay kid in high school and tell them that they have something to live for, so he started another youtube channel, encouraging submissions from those who have gotten through it. Dan has a well known sex advice column and podcast. Previously
posted by poe (80 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good for him. :)
posted by zarq at 3:14 PM on September 21, 2010


Also, for Billy Lucas:

.
posted by zarq at 3:14 PM on September 21, 2010


Thanks for posting, maybe I will throw something together this week to submit!
posted by hermitosis at 3:20 PM on September 21, 2010


What kind of fucking sociopath leaves hate messages on the memorial for a teenage boy? Jesus, this makes me so freaking angry.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:21 PM on September 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


What kind of fucking sociopath leaves hate messages on the memorial for a teenage boy?

People who either believe:
a) Gay people aren't people
b) God hates gay people and actively hating gay people is an act of faith

Usually, these go together.
posted by yeloson at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2010 [20 favorites]


I've never really been moved to make a talking head youtube video before, but this project has tugged my heartstrings. I may try to come up with something to share. Truly wonderful idea, inspired by a HORRID situation.

And for Billy...

.

And for those posting hate messages on his memorial?

FUCK YOU.
posted by hippybear at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


How does a suicide victim hang himself?
posted by emelenjr at 3:30 PM on September 21, 2010


"People who either believe:
a) Gay people aren't people
b) God hates gay people and actively hating gay people is an act of faith"


c) Trolls and/or 4chan.
posted by jaduncan at 3:31 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I want to favorite this a million times. Thank you.
posted by BigVACub at 3:31 PM on September 21, 2010


How does a suicide victim hang himself?

Generally speaking, they tie a noose from the ceiling, stand up on a chair to put the noose around their neck, and then kick the chair away. Sometimes they will just use a clothing rack in a closet and let their body weight do the rest of the work.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:37 PM on September 21, 2010


Oh, and good for Dan Savage for doing what he's doing. I know some people don't like him, but this project is a good thing.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:38 PM on September 21, 2010


Yesterday in the Queering the Guinness Book of World Records post, some were opining that such seemingly non-politcal actions such as setting a Guiness World Record that highlights gay people in the relatively trivial act of kissing was "silly." Tragic events such as this youth's suicide serve as a reminder that young people could stand to see some "happy gay news" that doesn't require an understanding of the Ninth Circuit to appreciate. The invisibility of gay people is one of the most insidious and destructive weapons in the arsenal of oppression, leading individuals to believe that they are truly alone. Good on Dan Savage for contributing in any way to combatting that.
posted by Morrigan at 3:40 PM on September 21, 2010 [37 favorites]


What kind of fucking sociopath leaves hate messages on the memorial for a teenage boy?

Pick any Tea Party follower, if their public representatives are anything to go by.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:41 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


maybe this isn't the best place to be discussing the efficacy of suicide techniques
posted by angrycat at 3:42 PM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


My queer daughter, during middle school, used to eat her lunch alone in the bathroom. I only found out about this later. (Thanks heavens she is now a competent, relatively happy young adult.)

Even in this so-called progressive college town, gay kids are hounded and verbally (and sometimes physically) abused. And the response from school administrators is always too little, too late.

So Terry and Dan, thank you. Thank you deeply for this.
posted by Danf at 3:47 PM on September 21, 2010 [14 favorites]


How does a suicide victim hang himself?

The Google is remarkably effective for looking things like this up. I sort of envy people who don't know this sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn at 3:48 PM on September 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


So sad :(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:50 PM on September 21, 2010


Oh, and good for Dan Savage for doing what he's doing. I know some people don't like him, but this project is a good thing.

Yeah, I'm not Dan Savage's biggest fan, to put it lightly, but this is a good thing he's doing.
posted by kmz at 3:51 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you look at the page, it seems that all the trolls are coming from 4chan, and there's none of this supposed "religious" outrage. I don't know why they think it's funny, but then again I understand 4chan far less than I used to.
posted by shii at 3:52 PM on September 21, 2010


The Google is remarkably effective for looking things like this up. I sort of envy people who don't know this sort of thing.

I think he was trying to point out the awkward phrasing of the article headline.

(Which seems to me to be rather tone deaf and out of place in this thread.)
posted by kmz at 3:54 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


How does a suicide victim hang himself?

I think emelenjr was referring to the "dead person dies" grammar in the article.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:55 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know why they think it's funny, but then again I understand 4chan far less than I used to.

Inappropriate=Lulz is pretty much all you need to know.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:56 PM on September 21, 2010


maybe this isn't the best place to be discussing the efficacy of suicide techniques

In case it's helpful to anyone reading this, or if anyone reading this knows somebody who's on the brink, here are two resources:

If you are feeling suicidal now, please stop long enough to read this.
How Not to Commit Suicide
posted by Lexica at 3:58 PM on September 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


I can't believe the school suspended Billy for defending himself against his bullies.






I like Dan and Terry's video. I hope there are more soon.
posted by Neofelis at 4:04 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somewhat relatedly in terms of homophobic horror, there is some intrigue over who posted a really nasty comment on a blog detailing what went down in the DADT cloture (?) vote. Speculation is that said comment, as per the IP address, came from a Repub. congressional staffer.
posted by angrycat at 4:05 PM on September 21, 2010


Stories like this make me want to both rage, and fall apart and cry at the same time. Just when I think I've put all the pain from junior high and high school well behind me, something like this comes along and reopens those old wounds, and shows that I haven't really healed at all. Now I'm thinking about putting something together to submit.

It's bad enough that there are bullies, it's worse that year after year after fucking YEAR, school administrators never do anything about it.
posted by xedrik at 4:07 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


At my son's elementary school here in Canada there are signs that say "This is a no-homophobia zone" and there are little speech bubbles saying "That's so gay" that are crossed out with big Xs. Hopefully this will help things get better.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:08 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dan Savage was looking for a way to reach out to every gay kid in high school and...
Is there any indication that this kid was actually gay, aside from the homophobic comments? Because teenagers (and 4chan) make those comments to everyone.

Also, interestingly the people who ere mocking him before he was suspended were girls (and he got suspended for arguing back)
Billy had been suspended from school that day. Friends say he was fighting back with cuss words against the bullies. They say girls were harassing him in class when he stood up and let the words spew. He was suspended.
posted by delmoi at 4:12 PM on September 21, 2010


.

And good on Dan and Terry. Seeing successful, happy people that went through what (they) are going through now should hopefully help.
posted by flippant at 4:21 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like Dan and Terry's video too. It seems like it might really help someone. I hope that it does.
posted by found missing at 4:24 PM on September 21, 2010


@delmoi: I dunno, but would it change the message? This straight adult had a pretty goddamned tormented couple of years in HS and it *definitely* got better.
posted by pjaust at 4:36 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


"There's nothing wrong with you - listen to me: You just get on a bus, to the nearest big city, to Los Angeles or New York or San Fransisco, it doesn't matter, you just leave. You are not sick, and you are not wrong and God does not hate you. Just leave."

I cried like a little kid.
posted by rdc at 4:57 PM on September 21, 2010 [20 favorites]


Speculation is that said comment, as per the IP address, came from a Repub. congressional staffer.

Not that "Jimmy" is necessarily this person's real name, and not that I am accusing anyone in particular of of anything, but Saxby Chambliss's staff does happen to include three current employees named James, two of whom appear to be based in Georgia, not DC. Just sayin'. I am sure that everyone else employed by Senator Chambliss, other than this one bad egg who may or may not be named Jimmy, is a perfectly nice person.
posted by naoko at 5:00 PM on September 21, 2010


Is there any indication that this kid was actually gay, aside from the homophobic comments?

I imagine that there are reasons for keeping certain details out of the papers, and ways of making it happen.

As for the fact that the tormentors were girls, some of the worst bullies at my high school were female. One day my friend Eric and I ran into a group of them at a grocery store, and despite our attempts to avoid them, they walked about twenty feet behind us chanting "POOP-DICK! POOP-DICK!" at the top of their lungs until we finally just fled the store. This was in a very small town, and it was all the more humiliating to know that word of the incident might get back to my parents.

That night the leader of those girls looked my parents up in the phone book and called the house looking for me. When I tried to stand up to her, she said that she and her boyfriend were going to get in their car, come over to my house, drag me outside, and beat the shit out of me. And that my parents wouldn't stop them once they heard it was because I was a faggot. Then she put her boyfriend on the phone and he basically confirmed the plans. When I hung up on them, they called back and threatened to keep calling back until my parents answered again, that they'd tell my parents I was gay. I ended up begging and pleading for them to leave me alone.

I have probably told this story on MeFi before, in another bullying thread. Years later Eric ran into this girl and she expressed sincere apologies for what she did to us. Hearing that helped a lot, but to this day I still can't tell my mom everything that was going on back then -- she already tears up just thinking about everything she maybe could have protected me from. I don't have the heart to let her know that it was actually worse than anything she could imagine.
posted by hermitosis at 5:02 PM on September 21, 2010 [56 favorites]


@delmoi: I dunno, but would it change the message? This straight adult had a pretty goddamned tormented couple of years in HS and it *definitely* got better.

Given that the message is aimed directly at gay kids, kinda? I mean, if he was straight, it seems kind of cruelly ironic if everyone thinks he's gay because a bunch of trolls called him [gay slur] on a memorial page, after he killed himself over taunting which no doubt included capricious use of that word.
posted by delmoi at 5:07 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, I think "It gets better" is a great message for anyone in high school, regardless of gender, orientation, or other identifying quality that makes someone a target in a generally shitty environment.

One of the most amazing things I have ever heard from one of only two people from high school who I am still friends with, was that I carry myself completely differently from when I was in school (this was a year or so ago, we all graduated in the early 90s). I took that to mean that I no longer walk around expecting someone to hit me, I am proud of who I am, and I have turned myself into someone I can respect. When you are a teenager, high school feels like your entire world. And that world is harsh. And my school, in Toronto, was pretty progressive by what I learned were the standards in the US (my ex's school in suburban Chicago seemed like a medium-security prison to me). But then you leave, and you get to decide who you are, and you learn that you weren't wrong and that the people (including teachers) who you thought were dicks, were actually dicks; and no you don't have to put up with that sort of shit (you have to put up with other sorts of shit, but that's another story, and you have different, and usually better, options).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:07 PM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hate messages have been left on his memorial page.

People who would do that, whether dedicated homophobe or just dumbass web troll, someday you are going to be on your deathbed and you are going to have to look back on what you spent your life doing. If you feel no guilt about celebrating the death of a bullied teenage boy, well, then you are a sociopath and there's no hope for you. If you do feel guilt, well, good, and if you want to redeem yourself and make the world a better place, say that what you did was wrong and tell people not to do it.

Also, internet harassers are the ultimate fucking cowards. I doubt they'd go to someone's funeral and spew that shit and if they did, I wouldn't blame anybody for slugging them.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I imagine that there are reasons for keeping certain details out of the papers, and ways of making it happen.
Uh yeah. But think about it. The fact that there's no evidence that he was gay is not evidence that he was gay just because in theory it could have been hidden. We don't really know anything and it's possible this kid died without ever having any kind of relationship with another kid.
posted by delmoi at 5:14 PM on September 21, 2010


I get so angry, hearing these stories, even as I sometimes have a hard time comprehending how they turn out the way they do. I was bullied throughout my youth, though not for being gay. I was just one of those loopy, talkative, hyperactive little odd children, built with an emotional thermostat that went up to eleven and interested in things the cool kids just weren't interested in, and I never fought back, because I'd been hit and kicked and roughed up and I knew how those things felt, and how wrong it was to do that kind of thing to anyone else.

How can you hurt someone unless there's something wrong with you?

How can you be mad at someone when there's something wrong with them?


My parents raised me right, but that empathy made me a victim, more often than not. So I was this natural target, a little raw nerve with mismatched socks and embarrassing clothing from the local Sears Surplus, and the bullies took advantage at every turn, and there were times when I hated my life, and the world, but something in me worked different than most people.

At the worst of it, I wasn't suicidal—I was genocidal.

My sister would fight with my parents, then stomp upstairs, hollering "I wish I was dead," but that was never my refrain. I'd come in from a day of bullying by students and administrators alike, stomp upstairs, and mutter, "I wish you were dead—all of you."

Because of a time when I got lost at the State Fair and found the tent of the Free State Survivalists, I was a pre-teen survivalist, armed with a lot of stupid ideas about the coming end of the world that would drive my parents insane for years, and I was smug about my chances for surviving the end of the world, so I just sat back, waiting for the bombs to fall so everyone would be sorry. See, I had a survival kit, and a little hidey-hole in the crawl space, and it was the bullies who'd all die when the bombs fell.

I had a sex life, too, the kind we're not supposed to acknowledge, but you be amazed how many other eleven year-olds were as curious about the various uses of the penis as I was. That part of me didn't show, though enough of my friends and not-friends had played around that people should have known. Maybe that was the thing—defensive seduction, and maybe kids left me alone in that regard because we all had similar secrets in time, all played out behind the wheezing old furnace in a basement in Scaggsville.

No one called me "fag," really, though everyone called everyone "fag." It just wasn't a freak flag I flew in my United Nations circle of flagpoles, not until high school.

I was a skin-and-bones kid until then, and you could reliably count my ribs right up to the summer before middle school, and suddenly, I was this lumbering truck of a guy, still with the same values and the same insecurities, and I thought high school would be like the same ugly reign of terror as the previous eight grades, but I'd had enough.

Mean kid, Matt D., picked a fight in the first weeks of high school, and suddenly I realized that I was six inches taller than the guy, and when he sucker-punched me in the back, through my knapsack, breaking my super-cool sunglasses like the ones in Rollerball, something finally changed.

I held the broken sunglasses for a second, looking into the sneering, snickering face of a little Napoleon, then my hand came up, connected with his nose, and in an instant, I had him by the throat, noticing how thin it was, and how I couldn't let go, even as the biggest ox of a bully in gym class, a cousin to my assailant, started to cry. Everyone backed away.

"Joe, you're KILLING him!" he said, and I let go.

The next two years at that high school weren't bad. People would tease, taunt, and mock, but no one hit me again. I failed the ninth grade, then failed it again. Ended up in another school.

Figured out I was gay after watching a TV movie starring Marlo Thomas on February 5th, 1985, at approximately 10:48pm, and lurched out of the closet. It hadn't occurred to me that all boys didn't screw around with all other boys, largely because I'd been very, very good at constantly pushing those barriers as a queer teen Lothario, and when it struck me that, well, I didn't really have much interest in doing it as a side project to a marriage to my high school girlfriend Lurleen, I was a newly-militant little fag.

Some years are just embarrassing. I wore a lot of buttons, and quoted a lot of ridiculous Gay Lib dogma from all the strident 1970s homo-lit I found in the gay section of Waldenbooks (Seriously—the Laurel, Maryland shopping mall Waldenbooks had a gay and lesbian section in 1985!), and lumbered out of the ugly silence of secrecy right in the middle of the worst time to be gay since the previous worst time to be gay.

Everyone was dropping like flies. AIDS was fucking hilarious.

Q: Why are they calling AIDS the miracle disease?

A: It turns fruits into vegetables!

When, in what would have been my senior year, if I wasn't failing the tenth grade again after being pushed ahead for social reasons in the new school, my gym teacher found my insistence that I was going to bring another guy to the prom (which wouldn't have worked, as our school was so small we had to have a joint prom with a Catholic school) worthy of constant comment, I had that red light flash in my eyes again, following an incident where the teacher jokingly called me "fruity pants."

For the record, orange wide-wale corduroy is actually marginally fruity, but that wasn't the point.

Again, it turned out that I was bigger than the guy, and I kicked a sizeable hole in a plaster-and-lath wall for good measure, and that was pretty much it for my formal education, at least for a few years.

It's been an interesting life since then.

For a while, I worked as a peer counselor around the DC area, paired with a social worker and going into schools to help out queer kids who'd been bullied and put out on the streets by their families, and it was and is a noble thing to do.

At one house, though, where I'd been sent to retrieve a cross-dressing kid's school books and clothing for him to be placed in foster care, a father stood firm in the door, saying he wasn't gonna give us nothing, and that he didn't have a kid, not anymore. The red light flared, the fires lit up the whites of my eyes like windows into a furnace, and I took the handle of the storm door the guy was closing, kicked out the glass, and yanked the rest of the door off its hinges, and said "Buddy, are you're gonna hand over everything I'm asking you to hand over or am I going to go in there and take it? Your kid wants to learn and live his life, and I really don't give a shit if you've got some fucked-up stupid little reason to be a bitch, okay?"

It's all wrong, though, to be suicidal or genocidal, to escape from oneself or to escape into angry, self-destructive fantasies of seeing the whole world burn, with the occasional bouts of berserk, blinding violence.

It's all wrong, and I have my regrets, even when I hear these stories and wish that kid had turned the tables and tilted the world in his favor, because we can do these things, when the rage is raw and close enough, but these are interesting times.

My nieces have friends that have been out since they were eleven. The rhetoric of the old, ugly it's-true-because-the-bible-says-so age is dying a loud, violent, difficult death, but it's dying for one simple, important reason:

People can't articulate why this shit matters.

Seriously.

The blowhards can ramble and pontificate and spout the old bull out of their hemorrhoidal blowholes, but there's a generation who have seen gay people, and known them, and known their hearts and their intentions and their humanity, and you can only bluster against that for so long before the eyes start to roll. We've raised a generation of cynics, but sometimes that's a wonderful, glorious thing. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. In the worst places, there's light emerging, in the bible belt and the barrios, in the deep South and the repressed North, and it's just a matter of time.

While we're waiting, there's still work to do, and energy to channel, and lies to counter, but history is on our side.

I see handsome faces, gone too soon, and I feel that rage rising, and I want people to hurt, too, but I'm a different guy now than I was when I found my strength. There's one last bit of all that silly seventies Gay Lib writing that always comes back to me, and it's that we gays, we lesbians, we freaks and fabulous legions both, all slouching towards our queer Bethlehems—it is in us and of us to parent those we understand so well, and to see them to safety.

Make a video, tell a story, share yourself, but stand.
posted by sonascope at 5:23 PM on September 21, 2010 [235 favorites]


What is your point, delmoi? Who cares if he was actually gay? Does it make it less life-destroying to be the butt of homophobic bullying if what they're accusing you of isn't even true? He was FIFTEEN. He may not have even known for sure whether he was gay.
posted by hermitosis at 5:27 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I haven't logged in or commented in forever, but god-damn sonascope. That was all kinds of awesome.
posted by grimley at 5:40 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


"What kind of fucking sociopath leaves hate messages on the memorial for a teenage boy?"

Considering the fake names people were posting under on facebook, e.g. "ann iggur II" and "Candle Jack" and "David D. Davidson," it all points to 4chan, which isn't the first time they've 'raided' a memorial page to piss people off.

But hate speech doesn't matter when you are bringing "teh lulz," I'm sure BoingBoing will give us a hilarious 4chan meme next week so we can all forget about the milieu of hate that festers on 4chan.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 5:55 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not Dan Savage's biggest fan, to put it lightly, but this is a good thing he's doing.

I've read comments like this one a few times on MeFi, and I haven't listened to Savage long enough to know what it could be referring to. Does he have some big gaffe in his history?
posted by EmGeeJay at 6:02 PM on September 21, 2010


I've read comments like this one a few times on MeFi, and I haven't listened to Savage long enough to know what it could be referring to. Does he have some big gaffe in his history?

I remember during the 2004 election he volunteered for some Republican's campaign as a mole or something. He ended up catching a cold, which was very fortuitous, because it allowed him to sneeze and wipe his hands on doorknobs, in hopes of derailing the campaign via some sort of viral outbreak.

From my point of view, the guy's sex positive message is great, and he has a forum that brings straights and queer folks together, examining the same questions.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:20 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's one last bit of all that silly seventies Gay Lib writing that always comes back to me, and it's that we gays, we lesbians, we freaks and fabulous legions both, all slouching towards our queer Bethlehems—it is in us and of us to parent those we understand so well, and to see them to safety.

This is marvellously put, sonascope. Thank you for being a total badass.
posted by bewilderbeast at 6:26 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sniff.

Thanks to Facebook I've encountered high school people that teased my gay twin sister. Some have apologized. Others haven't. Some are gay now.

I'm glad that it is less acceptable to tease like this now, but maybe it IS still acceptable, if this story is representative.

Good on Dan for this effort.
posted by k8t at 6:29 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The bit in the video about walking the streets of Paris at sunrise made my room all dusty. All those allergens. Right in my eyes.
posted by Gin and Comics at 6:39 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am shocked that I didn't kill myself during high school, in small town Alberta. I was loud and I was brash, I got the shit kicked out of me, I was harassed every day. No one knew how to handle me, and I felt like I needed to be handled.

I read all the queer lit I could, I went into the big city once a week or so, and I surrived. I have no idea how I surrived. But I live in Toronto now, and I have lots of sex, I write queer lit, I do queer theology, I write about glbtq stories in the west. Everyday I keep trying to make narratives of sense out of the place I grew up.

I worked hard to make sure that this happened. But if you were betting 10 years ago, that I would be in this place, the odds were not very good.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:41 PM on September 21, 2010


gnfti is right. I made a drive-by jokey comment about the lazy journalism on display. Sorry for the derail.
posted by emelenjr at 6:42 PM on September 21, 2010


the milieu of hate that festers on 4chan

I'm not sure it's so simple. If you look at the constant use of "fag" and "nigger," then yes, it looks like a cesspool. But have you actually read some of the things anons post about themselves when they're not fucking around? There are lots of gay people and black people on the site, probably as many as on MeFi. These kinds of raids, if that's what this is (and it seems like it), are more expressions of teenage immaturity and Internet Fuckwad Syndrome than anything else.
posted by nasreddin at 6:49 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've read comments like this one a few times on MeFi, and I haven't listened to Savage long enough to know what it could be referring to. Does he have some big gaffe in his history?

He tends to fall down on bi and trans issues and refuse to apologise. See this (McKenna isn't trans, Savage is using it as an insult) and this (trans people are selfish and let me call the people who'll call be on this trannies, preemptively), for instance. (That's what a quick Googled turned up, which is why they're both trans examples.)
posted by hoyland at 6:49 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


What kind of fucking sociopath leaves hate messages on the memorial for a teenage boy?

Ummm.....a Sociopath.
posted by Jaymzifer at 6:53 PM on September 21, 2010


See this /b/ thread about gay marriage for an example of what I'm talking about. (NSFW, link will die soon).
posted by nasreddin at 7:03 PM on September 21, 2010


What is your point, delmoi? Who cares if he was actually gay? Does it make it less life-destroying to be the butt of homophobic bullying if what they're accusing you of isn't even true? He was FIFTEEN. He may not have even known for sure whether he was gay.
My point is that we shouldn't assume he was gay just because people posted homophobic slurs on a memorial about him, the posters may not have even known him. He could just be another "An Hero".

I don't know if people were making that assumption but it seemed like they were.
I'm not sure it's so simple. If you look at the constant use of "fag" and "nigger," then yes, it looks like a cesspool. But have you actually read some of the things anons post about themselves when they're not fucking around?
Yeah. It's mostly about fucking toddlers.
posted by delmoi at 7:31 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and to the people leaving ugly messages on this young person's tribute site- next time, why don't you give your real name and address? Put your money where your mouth is. Perhaps you don't quite understand what it's like to be bullied; I'm sure there are several people here, including myself, who would be happy to bully the shit out of you. I'm not proud of this, but I'm still prouder than you should be.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:34 PM on September 21, 2010


Yes I'm drunk. What about it?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:36 PM on September 21, 2010


Good on Dan for this effort.

All other possible nitpicky disagreements aside, this conclusion is pretty much beyond dispute. Good on Dan for this effort. And good on Dan for so many other things he gets out there to do. I'm not his biggest fan and I don't agree with a lot of the advice he gives people. But there's no denying that Dan Savage does a ton of good.
posted by The World Famous at 7:36 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you, sonascope, for telling this.
posted by lathrop at 7:44 PM on September 21, 2010


The Trevor Project 24-hour, 100% confidential suicide-prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth.

1-866-4-U-TREVOR

1-866-488-7386

You can also visit TrevorSpace to connect online with other LGBTQ youth - make new friends, find support.

And when high school is over, and you get to choose where you go and who you spend your time with, your communities are waiting for you.
posted by philotes at 7:50 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


EmGeeJay: "Does he have some big gaffe in his history?"

Perhaps not as relevant here, but Savage also tends to be down on monogamy, etc etc.

Still, he does enough stuff like this that is both awesome and important that I think he's an overall net good.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:01 PM on September 21, 2010


I think this is great, what Dan Savage's doing.

Plenty of people of all stripes are bullied and some kill themselves because of it. But I can guarantee that a higher percentage of the ones who are bullied who do kill themselves are gay, queer, bi, or questioning. That's because mostly, well -- from my own experience, the thought of death is far more attractive when you're a teenager or a 20-year-old in high school or college, and you've told nobody that you are queer, even your best friends, because you know that the consequences are worse than death. Truly. It saddens me that this is still true for so many kids, in the year 2010, as much as it was in the 1980s when I was going through the same personal hell.

High school and college are already highly painful, sensitive, hormonal experiences without having to go through the double torture of concealing your true self from everyone you know, teachers, professors, roommates, best friends, people of the opposite sex who think you are attracted to them and you play along because you don't want to hurt them and, more importantly and more selfishly, because you don't want to reveal that you are queer. I still hurt inside at the thought of all the people I deceived when I was that age because I wanted to convince them that I was like them, normal, upstanding, moral, correct -- especially since not a single of them was probably ever convinced by my shitty acting job. A college guy who has a 900-page biography of Oscar Wilde on his dorm bookshelf is not fooling much of anybody.

I wish I could have had a way at that age to open a browser and have the It Gets Better Project hit my corneas. It would have saved me so much pain, sorrow, and worse.
posted by blucevalo at 9:42 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. I look forward to your videos, y'all.

Meanwhile, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has been cyber bullying Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the University of Michigan’s student assembly.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:05 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't believe the school suspended Billy for defending himself against his bullies.

The wife of one of our homophobic politicians ran for the Board of Education specifically to fight against including sexual orientation as one of the protected categories in the DOE official anti-bullying policy, so I can easily believe it. There are a lot of people who think "faggot had it coming."
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:59 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has been cyber bullying Chris Armstrong

Actually, it looks to me like he's committed libel by accusing Armstrong of underage drinking.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:04 AM on September 22, 2010


I love that Dan is wearing a Vera Project t-shirt. That music club was a haven and outlet for me in Seattle, where most shows were 21 and up. I imagine it's still a rare outlet for teens in Seattle, and most importantly a safe, accepting place.
posted by piratebowling at 4:54 AM on September 22, 2010


Trans/Queer/Freak Activist Kate Bornstein has excellent anti-suicide advice on Twitter under #stayalive. (Obviously, others contribute to this too, but she "started it" so to speak.) I haven't read it, but she also has a book targeted for teens considering suicide called "Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide."

Just so more resources for teens (especially trans teens) who might not be touched by Dan's particular message.
posted by sonika at 6:06 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


*Just some
posted by sonika at 6:06 AM on September 22, 2010


I'm also not a fan of Savage but this is a good thing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:40 AM on September 22, 2010


I grew up in a small West Texas town on the border of Mexico. It was about as provincial as you can get, very redneck. In high school, there were a few suspect queers - not really suspect, but it wasn't something that was discussed openly. A raised eyebrow, some juvenile snickering, that kind of thing. As far as I know, these guys were pretty well liked in their circles, and well tolerated, even respected outside of them. I don't recall any of them being harassed or bullied.

In fact, the rednecks - kickers, we called them, and they called themselves that, for the shit-kicking boots they wore, were generally really cool people. Interested in getting laid, drinking beer, and fighting each other for shits and grins. Real good old boys. No interest in picking on fags. Deer hunting, bass fishing, yeah. Bullying, no.
posted by Xoebe at 9:11 AM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sadly, this isn't the first story I've read in the past few weeks about teenagers, gay or perceived as gay, who have committed suicide. Here's an even more appalling story from Anoka, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis. There's no 'Minnesota nice' in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. Teachers as well as students are to blame for the name calling, bullying, etc. There have been THREE suicides this year. THREE. One is bad enough...

While the sentiment of Dan Savage's "get on the bus, kid, and move to a bigger city" is well intentioned, we queer folks are NOT leaving our hometowns, nor should we have to do so just to achieve the basic dignity that all human beings deserve. Conversely, not all small towns and rural areas are stereotypical dens of hatred. One of my lovers was gay bashed in San Francisco, proof that there's something much more fundamentally wrong with the world that moving to a "big city" won't solve.

I'm sorry for Billy's mother's suffering, and I hope that she will find inspiration in the work that Judy Shepard (Matthew Shepard's mother) has done to raise awareness of the real damage that homophobia does to families and individuals alike.
posted by kuppajava at 9:40 AM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh G-d, that story from Anoka is just awful. I'm really familiar with Anoka - it's where my mom grew up and a lot of her family still lives. Interestingly, it's also where Michelle Bachman is from, so maybe I shouldn't be so shocked by this.
posted by sonika at 9:52 AM on September 22, 2010


While the sentiment of Dan Savage's "get on the bus, kid, and move to a bigger city" is well intentioned, we queer folks are NOT leaving our hometowns, nor should we have to do so just to achieve the basic dignity that all human beings deserve. Conversely, not all small towns and rural areas are stereotypical dens of hatred. One of my lovers was gay bashed in San Francisco, proof that there's something much more fundamentally wrong with the world that moving to a "big city" won't solve.

Yes, thank you. The "gay flight" situation doesn't really do anything to help gay youth at all, and if anything, it drains exactly the communities which most need to have gay members from having the exposure to homosexuals, and the idea that only exposure overcomes bigotry is not exactly a new one. Even well-intentioned members of MetaFilter have told me that, if I feel I don't have a sufficient gay community here in eastern WA where I live, I should move rather than stay and struggle to create one. That's really not solving any problems at all.

Pedant: that quote about getting on a bus comes from Harvey Milk, and not Dan Savage. In Milk's time, this was probably better advice all around. Things were MUCH uglier toward GLBT persons 30 years ago, and often the big city ghettos were the only places that gay men and women could find any kind of community at all. Here, in the 2010s, we should be expecting better from ALL our cities and towns and working toward the goal of dignity where ever one lives.
posted by hippybear at 10:14 AM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Make a video, tell a story, share yourself, but stand.
posted by sonascope at 8:23 PM on September 21

thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
posted by liza at 11:43 AM on September 22, 2010


Sadly, this isn't the first story I've read in the past few weeks about teenagers, gay or perceived as gay, who have committed suicide.

Again, I haven't seen any evidence that he was gay or perceived as gay by the people bullying him, just that people posted slurs on memorial pages about him. Obviously people use those words to insult straight people all the time.
posted by delmoi at 12:57 AM on September 23, 2010


Obviously people use those words to insult straight people all the time.

Which ultimately gets to the root of the problem, doesn't it? That being homosexual is still viewed (even in an under-the-radar manner, although mostly more overtly) as something shameful, something to hate, something to not-want-to-be.

That's why the homosexuals have worked to reclaim "gay" and "queer" and even "faggot". Because it was being hurled at them in an effort to keep them silent, keep them hidden, keep them filled with shame about who they are. And the gay queer faggots decided that the fact of their existence wasn't going to be a shameful matter any longer, and they started taking those words and using them with pride (which, in the case of homosexuals, doesn't mean "the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance" but instead means "the consciousness of one's own dignity" i.e. "the opposite of shame").

That we're living in 2010 and any straight person still feels insulted or threatened to be called "gay" or "queer" or whatever only really goes to show how far we still have to go as a culture before full acceptance truly comes to pass.
posted by hippybear at 6:44 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can't really read through this thread for self-preservational purposes, but in case it wasn't mentioned, it bears mentioning that Nathan Manske is doing something very similar over at I'm From Driftwood - only he's not telling gay superstar stories of triumph and recovery, he's telling everyday tales by gay folks from all over. Some are specifically directed at the message that "it gets better" but most are just subtle confirmation of that fact, a promise that we're out there in large numbers and that no one is alone.
posted by jph at 8:33 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are a slew of videos up on the channel now, and in case anyone's still reading this thread, I wanted to point out this one, which nearly brought me to tears.
posted by Jugwine at 12:33 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Even well-intentioned members of MetaFilter have told me that, if I feel I don't have a sufficient gay community here in eastern WA where I live, I should move rather than stay and struggle to create one. That's really not solving any problems at all.

If anything, it actually exacerbates the bullshit 'culture war' regional divides in this country, if you ask me.
posted by jonmc at 7:19 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wanted to make a new post about this, don't have the strength. Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide this week after his sexual encounter with another young man was broadcast online by his roommate via hidden webcam. Vile, vile shit.
posted by hermitosis at 9:51 PM on September 29, 2010


"A host of young Broadway stars came together to record a song in the hopes of calling further attention to the problem of suicide among LGBT youth. The song, written by composer and lyricists Jay Kuo and Blair Shepard, embraces the theme of 'It Gets Better' and will be available for download via iTunes on October 19th. Proceeds will benefit a terrific cause - The Trevor Project. What's just as good is that is the fact that the song is actually catchy"*
posted by ericb at 11:40 AM on October 17, 2010


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