Last week yet another Canadian teenager committed suicide, this time in Ottawa. He had come out of the closet, and let his friends, family and school community know he was gay. But the unbearable homophobia, bullying and sheer hate he suffered as a result overwhelmed him.
He escaped. Permanently. Tragically.
It’s time we stopped this. It’s time we declared this kind of bullying and discrimination off limits. It’s time we said no.
Rick Mercer, Canadian comedian extraordinaire, recently called on prominent LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer) entertainers and politicians to come out of the closet to become role models and supporters for our teens.
But we can do even better than that.
We can each come out of the closet of our silence to our family and friends and declare homophobia unacceptable. We can stand up for our LGBTQ coworkers, teenagers and community members.
To our teenagers, it doesn’t matter that it gets better when you get older. It doesn’t matter that high school doesn’t last forever. What matters for a teenager is the here and now, the present, today. We need to be there for these young men and women. We need to walk out of the closet with them.
The time has passed for those of us who accept sexual difference to simply stand by. The time has passed for silence. Not one more teen must die for this. Not one.
How do we come out of the closet? We stop using the word ‘gay’ as an insult. We stop making fun of other people’s sexuality. We start accepting that each of us is unique, and that different isn’t just another word for wrong.
For those who hold up their Christianity as a barrier to acceptance I say, remember what Jesus said about sexuality. Can’t think of it? That’s because he said exactly nothing. Not once in any gospel does he bring it up as he eats, travels and hangs out with the so-called sexual and societal deviants of his time.
Jesus leads us with an example of acceptance and integration. He comes out of the closet against hate and discrimination. He strides out into the world proudly with the marginalized and bullied.
I think it’s time we followed. Will you join me?