There's an ironic old saying that "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I sometimes take things I see on the news a little too personally, more than is healthy in all likelihood. As wrenching as the recent drama in Boston was (and I live relatively close to Boston), I find myself much, much more upset by the story of the teenage girl in California driven to commit suicide after she was raped by "friends", and graphic pictures of her after were splashed across the internet. As troubling as that was to me, another story in the same vein much closer to home has caused me sleepless nights.
It seems this 14 year old girl in an especially rural part of the state where I live was outed as a lesbian. I don't know who outed her -- a "friend" she trusted with her secret, someone with an ax to grind -- and I suppose it doesn't matter. What matters is that she was suddenly subjected to intense and unrelenting bullying by her peers for being gay. She and her family did everything by the book, going to school administration and reporting it, contacting police; but nothing was done. What makes that even more astonishing is that the principal of her school is obviously a lesbian herself. So, bullied relentlessly, not receiving any help from those who are supposed to help, she hung herself. There we go, that's a fine and decent outcome, isn't it people. Drive a 14 year old girl to kill herself because she's a lesbian. That's real goddamned 21st Century.
I often get asked why I didn't come out until I was 30, married to a man, and with a teenage son. I was 14 in 1982. If this is the kind of shit that happens to 14 year old lesbians in the 21st century, why is it SO GODDAMNED HARD to understand why I buried myself in a closet 30 frickin' years ago? Excuse me, I was not brave enough to even contemplate subjecting myself to that kind of peer pressure. It was ever so much easier to lie and pretend to myself and everyone around me that I was as straight as an arrow. Some have called me cowardly. So be it, but I lived to fight another day. That girl didn't.
So I was under the delusion that things had changed for the better in this country for LGBT people, and I suppose by and large they have, but they didn't change for that girl. She's dead. Those who drove her to kill herself are complicit in her death, and I hope they have enough conscience that it haunts them every day for the rest of their lives.
So you see, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We have a looonnnnng way to go.