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Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, committed suicide last week, marking the fifth suicide by a gay teenager in three weeks. This includes Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old middle school student from California, who died in the hospital on Sept. 29 after attempting to hang himself.
This recent string of suicides in homosexual teenagers, coupled with an offensive tweet by musical artist 50 Cent, has caused a stir in the media and among celebrities. Ellen DeGeneres, Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris have all released videos pertaining to homosexual bullying. Each video pleads with young homosexuals to let people know if they are being bullied and reassures them that it all eventually gets better.
This recent media outrage over gay suicides and bullying has given fuel to a new campaign called, “We Give a Damn.” This organization helps with homosexual issues including workplace discrimination, bullying, suicide, faith and the military. They have also gained support from celebrities such as Jason Mraz, Anna Paquin, Cyndi Lauper and Elton John.
Outside of the celebrity world, many YouTube subscribers are also letting the world know that they too “give a damn.” Many of these people address the problems with modern culture and how the climate fosters anti-gay sentiments, especially bashing FOX News and the Republican Party.
I agree that FOX News personalities and right-wing politicians spewing anti-gay rhetoric have blood on their hands, but the blame does not stop there.
Older gay men and women are also in many ways responsible for the anti-gay atmosphere that has led teens to kill themselves over their own sexuality.
The gay culture has been aggressively pushing a counter-heteronormative agenda that demonizes anything that would typically be considered heterosexual. Many homosexuals take on a flamboyant lifestyle filled with drug use and promiscuous sex, and the media helps perpetuate the idea that this is the normal lifestyle of all gay men and women.
This idea is not only perpetuated by the media, though. If you look at pictures from or attend any big gay pride parade from around the country, you might call New Orleans Mardi Gras family-friendly.
I’m not asking gay men and women to begin marching in suits and ties, but these types of demonstrations are doing nothing more than highlighting the differences in gay and straight culture. Homosexuals need to begin stressing the similarities between gay and straight.
If we look to popular homosexuals in mainstream culture like Jack McFarland and Kurt Hummel, you see characters that further support the notion that all gay men are loud, flamboyant, and do not fit the mold of the “normal kid.” These shows make gay into something that is not supposed to be normal.
You can witness the same thing all across YouTube. You have gay characters like Chris Crocker who turn gay into something that is a form of entertainment. People start laughing not at these people because they are funny, but because they are gay.
Older gay men and women should spend less time attacking blatantly homophobic figureheads, because they pose less of a threat to gay teens than these silent homophobes perpetuating the notion that a person cannot be gay and normal.
For instance, gay adults should avert their attacks from men like Pat Robertson, who has equated homosexuality to “having sex with ducks” and pedophilia, to people like Perez Hilton and Adam Lambert, who reinforce the idea that you must be gay or normal and that being both is not a realistic option.
It is not okay for Fox News to spread hate through what is supposed to be a “fair and balanced” media outlet. It is also not okay that both of Alabama’s senators got a zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign for gay-friendly legislators. But on the same note, it is not okay to subscribe yourself to a ridiculous lifestyle and blame it on the fact that you are gay.
It is important for homosexuals to assimilate into the heteronormative as much as possible without compromising their personal beliefs. It’s just not pragmatic to declare a war upon a society you want to accept you.
Gay teens should not have to feel trapped between being normal and being gay, and when gay adults make gay into something that’s a joke, who would want to choose the latter? Normalcy doesn’t have to be the antithesis of gay, but right now that’s what it is becoming.
Gay Americans don’t need a Lady Gaga or an Adam Lambert; they need a Martin Luther King who is willing to show the similarities between gay people and straight people, while still respecting common ideals, like common decency.
Gays in America need to make a culture adjustment; otherwise the next time a homosexual teen commits suicide, they might be holding the rope.
Michael Patrick is a junior majoring in political science. His column runs every other Thursday.