Suicides

I am watching and revolting at the latest media spectacle in the United States: Gaybie suicides. My first thought is “Great! The mainstream media finally woke up to a problem that has existed since before I was born. I don’t want to hear about it. Let me get back to my life.”

Unless you are talking about sex.

I am watching and revolting at the latest media spectacle in the United States: Gaybie suicides. My first thought is “Great! The mainstream media finally woke up to a problem that has existed since before I was born. I don’t want to hear about it. Let me get back to my life.”

homophobia Glancing through the various stories and pictures brings up residual anger. What makes these kids special enough to draw widespread public support and attention? Of course it is fantastic that they are getting attention but will that transform society in some fundamental way to ensure that it does not happen again? I doubt it so I carry on with life. And my friends cannot understand my apparent lack of empathy or anger.

I’m hiding from the constant stabbing reminder about a time and place I left behind: a Catholic high school in a small island country in the Pacific. I loved her from the moment I saw her but everyone else hated that. I couldn’t quite understand. The closeted nuns entertained themselves by pulling me out of class regularly. My peers did not stop at words—kicking me around like a football was more appropriate. My parents did not know how to act appropriately and dealt me some tough cards. Her parents were worse.

I was weak. The only reference to gay or lesbian was found in the dictionary and it was not a pleasant definition. So I denied who I was for quite a while. I tried to kill myself on several occasions but was saved by people who happened to be in the right place at the right time. I still wonder if death would have made more of a difference than surviving. Maybe there would have been a small story in the newspapers. Maybe someone would have had empathy and put a stop to their behaviour. I’ll never really know whether I made the right choice. But it didn’t put a stop to the bullying. It was just the start.

Bullying continues into adulthood in various forms: white privilege; unjust and unfair laws that target minorities; an immigration system that rips families apart; an economy where the rich get richer and poor get poorer. It is all violence – violence sanctioned by society. The mental and emotional torture continues, albeit in a completely new way. In this interpretation, middle and high school was just a boot camp. The actual war is still lurking around the corner.

It actually does not get better for the vast majority. But that comes with a small and hopeful disclaimer: it may just get way hotter. I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky dyke on most days and I’m not afraid to say that I love women. And some women love me. Sometimes that is enough to make it all better.

About the guest author

Prerna Lal

J.D. Candidate, George Washington University Race in America and Immigrant Rights blogger, Change.org Board Member, Immigration Equality