After Tyler Clementi took his own life in the aftermath of a extraordinarily cruel act of bullying, you might think the real victim was Tyler. You might also think the young GLBT people still living with bullying are victims too, ones that we can and should try to help before the next tragedy strikes, and the next.
You would be wrong, according to an unsigned editorial in the Rutgers student paper, the Daily Targum. The real victims are those poor dears who've been made uncomfortable by pro-GLBT activists exploiting Tyler's death with their unseemly gay talk about preventing GLBT suicides.
A few nuggets of wisdom from the editorialist:
The death of University student Tyler Clementi might have been properly mourned if it were not for the massive rallies and aggressive news coverage that altered the nature of the situation.
Improper mourning: talking about anti-gay bullying that contributes to the unconscionably high suicide rate among GLBT teens. Proper mourning: dab your eyes with a hankie and say "What a shame. Too bad we just have no idea how this could have happened."
Yet people's relentless agendas took his death and turned it into a cause based on false pretenses.
Ah, yes, an agenda: that thing that only scary militant GLBT activists ever have. In this case, we want to keep our people alive. That's an agenda. The editorialist wants to be sure nobody ever mentions something that might make him/her uncomfortable. That's also an agenda, but we're not supposed to call it that, because only GLBT people have agendas.
Essentially, an angry mob fending for their rights turned the death of a young boy into a cause for "safe spaces" for gays across the University -
Elsewhere the writer admits the "angry mob" consisted of about 20 people gathering together and - brace yourselves, this is soo scary - chanting.
all the while, these spaces already existed.
For Tyler, whose roommate secretly used a webcam to film Tyler and his boyfriend, even his own dorm room was not a safe space.
The focal point of Clementi's tragic death should have been a boy's inability to deal with the hardships of life.
At first glance, "the hardships of life" appears to be the editorial's only mention of the cruel bullying by the roommate and his accomplice, and the devastating humiliation that Tyler suffered at their hands. As it turns out, that's not what the writer is talking about.
Homosexuality is not the only reason for which people kill themselves. In this case, it might have pushed Clementi over the edge, but
That's right, the "hardship of life" that "pushed Tyler over the edge" wasn't homophobia, it was homosexuality!
Let us - family, friends and the University together - mourn for Clementi, and just for him, rather than using him as a martyr for a cause that has yet to be proven.
As opposed to a cause that has been proven: the all-important agenda of never mentioning icky gayness and/or bullying that doesn't look quite so hilarious in hindsight.
Tyler discussed the bullying incident (and the school's inaction on it) on a gay website shortly before his suicide. The writer claims that we don't know why Tyler killed himself - but has no problem claiming to know the "agenda" of anyone who dares to talk about the circumstances of this very preventable death.
I'm glad to say that the comments on the editorial are overwhelmingly negative, articulate, and unwilling to let the writer's agenda off the hook. The only compliments seem to be coming from the "Gayz is evil" crowd - and, sadly, they didn't take the day off either.
I came out in college in the 1980's. A lot of things have changed since then, but some haven't. I remember an editorial depressingly similar to this one in my college paper. After an ugly incident targeting a woman of color, a privileged young white guy was complaining that all this talk about racism and sexism was so unfair to non-racist, non-sexist white guys like him. He truly couldn't grasp that those living on the receiving end of racism and sexism might not think his discomfort was the most pressing issue.
Today is National Coming Out Day. There are a lot of important reasons to keep taking the next step, keep coming out. It's good for your own peace of mind to live as your authentic self. It's good for GLBT and questioning youth to see GLBT people living happy, productive lives. It's good for straight neighbors, colleagues and family members to know us as real people.
It's even good for anonymous editorialists whose agenda consists of demanding that no one ever make them uncomfortable. They just might learn there's something a little more important happening here.
Mostly, though, it's good for the next Tyler, and the next, who are too afraid to come out yet. I'm not willing to let anyone exploit their silence for the sake of a do-nothing agenda.