GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, asked folks to don their best purple duds October 20 to raise awareness about the dangers of anti-gay bullying after the suicide of Tyler Clementi. I put purples on and wore them proudly.
As a human being who cares about other human beings, I'm 1,000 percent behind doing anything and everything I can to raise awareness about bullying. It sucks to be bullied for your sexual orientation, ethnicity, hair color, drawing breath or whatever.
I have many distinct memories I'd rather not have about being bullied in the '70s (yes, the '70s!), when dirty words like "gay" and "retarded" were ridden hard like Camaros and the girls in their backseats. Back then, kids still said mean things and threw rocks, just in palazzo pants and without benefit of broadcasting their hijinks on Facebook.
My distinct provocation? Let's see ... I could spell, wore glasses and was nerdy, so that was a bummer. My ethnic frizzy crazy orange quasi-fro didn't quite fit the expectations of the occupants of my largely Italian/Irish neighborhood. I distinctly remember one fall day, bolting out the side door of my elementary school and down the hill toward the safe haven of my cul-de-sac, scared shizzless to look over my shoulder at the gang of boys hurling rocks in my wake, to the tune of assorted descriptors illustrating my inherent repulsiveness. All this joy and more, at the ripe old age of 8.
That said, I can't imagine the exact strain of pain and fear Clementi felt when he dove to his demise, but I do know something about fearing random acts of persecution and physical pain inflicted by others. Until recently, bullying was defined as legally sanctioned hate crimes for the under-18 set. As he was of legal age, I believe Clementi was not a victim of bullying, but of a hate crime.
The "It Gets Better" YouTube campaign is more geared toward school-age kids, and with all that's being written about it, I truly believe it has done much to raise awareness about bullying in the LGBT community.
But will all this propaganda be successful in effecting change in an age-old practice? Will kids get the message that bullying is bad? Or will kids continue to bully and be bullied because it's part and parcel of growing up, and a pecking-order mentality among kids is innate?
What do you guys think?