I’m wearing purple today.
I’m hoping the world is a sea of orchid, aubergine, magenta, violet, and mauve today.
In case you haven’t heard, people are wearing purple today as a symbol–a statement–that homophobic abuse must stop. This demonstration was triggered by a recent rash of teen suicides.
- Asher Brown,13 years old
- Tyler Clementi,18 years old
- Seth Walsh, 13 years old
- Billy Lucas, 15 years old
- Justin Asberg, 15 years old
These talented young men saw no way out. Their lives had become a living hell, and all they could think about was escape. They were tormented and bullied–either for being gay, or because their peers suspected they were gay. It’s enough to break your heart.
While no one deserves to suffer because of their sexual orientation, I don’t think anyone should be bullied. It’s time for us as a nation to stop turning a blind eye and saying “kids will be kids”. Is this progress?
Some say that we’re raising a generation of bullies. Since today’s kids are weaned on the Internet, video games, computers, and television, they’ve lost the ability to connect with people in the real world, or so the theory goes.
As for me, I don’t think bullying is worse now than it was years ago. Granted, the tools of the trade have become more sophisticated, and a bully can spread his poison much farther over the Internet than he could over the telephone.
Back in the ’80s, I witnessed kids being trampled, spit on, called names, and ostracized. Gangs of “mean girls” would wait outside a diner for hours until their victim finally emerged. I saw one girl run down the street, pursued by a pack of bullies–male and female–who took her bike apart and threw the pieces at her. My friend and I were beaten by a guy with a hockey stick until we were bruised and battered. A concerned woman stopped and offered us a ride home, but–afraid to accept a ride from a stranger–we said no. The guy continued to beat us after she drove away. None of these victims were gay, or even suspected of being gay. I shudder to think what would have happened to the poor kid who dared to come out of the closet in that town. Fitting in was a matter of survival.
Bullies have always existed, kids have always been cruel, and parents and teachers have always turned a blind eye or given useless advice. (Remember ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me’? Exactly what good was that supposed to do?) It’s great that people are paying more attention to this issue now, but these bursts of attention come and go in waves (as they did after the Columbine shooting). It is time to take action–consistently–until something actually changes.
Let’s begin by wearing purple as a silent but poignant message.
The bullying must stop.