Today is the National Day of Silence, which is about making sure LGBT kids are not bullied in school, and this year it will be dedicated to the memory of Lawrence King, a California pre-teen who was shot and killed by another classmate out of homophobic hate. It is an important day, because we need to protect our children. Kids aren’t always aware of what their hatred can do. It is just as deadly as grown up hate. Hate kills. And it hurts everyone.
I remember when I was in high school, and someone had written all this homophobic graffiti, identifying all these ‘lesbians’ in school, writing all the girl’s names in big letters all over the walls. It was really scary, like a witch hunt. Rumors started swirling about who else was a lesbian, and then my day came. One horrible girl named Kathi said that I had tried to kiss her on the lips, and I was really offended â€“ because yes, I wanted to kiss girls on the lips, but not her! Eew! Kathi was gross! Of course she was not ugly, she was a beautiful girl who later became a real live anorexic model, but she was mean, with a long black dark streaky sandy gritty vein of meanness that ran through her like a shrimp, and that made her unbearably ugly to me. I was really mad about it and I was scared anyway because I knew inside that I was different, and that people were picking up on it was really frightening. This was in the 80’s, so we had no real understanding of gay pride. It only existed for adults then, not for kids. When I tried to defend myself against the rumors, people would say, “Why are you getting mad? If you are mad about it that totally means you are a lesbian and you love Kathi!” I donâ€™t know if I cared about being called gay as much as I cared about people thinking I had bad taste.
In retrospect, I had it really easy. Kids didn’t have guns then, at least not in my school. Bullying and name calling was hurtful, but it didn’t kill you, it just made you want to die, which was bad too. When you are a kid, being thought of as different is so scary, and we just want to blend in, but if you are gay, you can’t always hide it. People pick up on it, and if they want, they can turn it against you. And the consequences can be deadly. I don’t want any more children to suffer because of this kind of ignorance and stupidity. Growing up is hard enough without having to fear being killed because of who you are.