Bigotry is Lethal
By Maggie Huang '13
I still remember that man in the leather thong because it was the first time I had ever thought about sexuality as involving two partners of the same sex. I was about seven, standing in a sea of people on the sidewalk of Market Street next to my dad, ogling the floats of the San Francisco Pride Parade. One of the marchers caught my eye — a man clad in a leather thong. Turning to my dad, I asked him why that man was dressed that way — was it Halloween already? My dad explained that it was not and that that man was probably gay.

Gay? What’s that?

It seems people still view homosexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals and all the types of -sexuals out there, this range of sexuality, through squinted eyes full of question, misunderstanding and even suspicion. The suicides of six LGBTQ youth, 13-19 years old, in the last two months serve as evidence. On Sept. 22, 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River in suicide. Three days before, his roommate had streamed online a video of Clementi’s intimate encounter with a man. In a second attempt to broadcast, his roommate had written, “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”

Regarding sexuality, society has an urge to dictate and control what is “right” or “normal,” targeting and excluding individuals, depriving them of proper community support and allies. A college freshman had “dared” others to chat with him to view a recurring event — “yes, it’s happening again.” Turning personal encounters that happen to be homosexual into spectacles reveals one kind of social reaction towards sexual differences. Human beings are naturally sexual beings. They deserve recognition of their human status through others’ acceptance of their sexuality, the expression of their nature. Furthermore, human beings should not only be acknowledged and accepted but also respected by their fellow mankind. At least, ideally. By taking note at all of Clementi’s personal encounters, his roommate treated Clementi as strange for expressing his sexuality. Clementi and others like him have been disregarded by society, excluded as abnormal and, therefore, unrecognizable as a person. Having one’s personal encounters broadcasted online is not only a violation of privacy but a statement of disrespect. If the target were heterosexual, I doubt the roommate would even have taken note of the encounter. I also doubt it would have been broadcasted for the world to see, regardless of the sense of respect and privacy that each human deserves. In allowing sexual discrimination to prevail, we censor our sexuality, circumventing our ways of being.

We ostracize people for being themselves. Then, the effects shock us. Deciding the appropriate punishment for those who contributed to the suicides of those youth is not the primary concern. While these occurrences shock and awaken society, these deaths do not grab enough attention anymore. The focus is more so on examining why and how society breeds and tolerates the oppressive treatment that fosters this kind of self-torture. Think of the last time someone uttered, “That’s so gay.” Then think of the last time other inflammatory words, such as those pertaining to race, have been used. We have recognized and agreed and acted upon the wrongness of such words and the ideas behind such words, so we as a community will not support their existence. I believe that until we as one community recognize and actively protest against sexual discrimination, expanding our ideas of personhood to include all types of sexualities, deaths and other forms of self — torment will continue.

Issue 05, Submitted 2010-10-06 03:00:15