how I ended up here…
Once in a past life I was a middle school teacher. Becoming a middle school teacher was for me an accident of convenience. I won’t try to explain that too much other than to say substitute teaching while you are working on your art doesn’t probably usually inspire people to become middle school teachers. Continue reading
Elizabeth Seeberg, 19 years old. Suicide September 10, 2010
Samantha Kelly, 14 years old. Suicide November 14, 2010
A college freshman, Elizabeth Seeberg, at the women’s college of Saint Mary’s committed suicide early this school year. According to all accounts during the first weeks of her first year at Saint Mary’s she reported being sexually assaulted by a football player at her brother college Notre Dame. Her report included a criminal complaint and a rape DNA exam. This awful event was pretty much a non-event, however, at Notre Dame. Continue reading
I continue to feel a niggling discomfort with the “It Gets Better Campaign” and the current public activism around queer youth and suicides. I see this initially radical campaign continuing to morph into an ever more contained cultural tool for mainstream queers reclaiming dignity from the past and for populist politicians to speak without acting where speaking is beneficial rather than costly.
Yes, this public campaign continues to create new levels of queer visibility within the mainstream media that will hopefully expand the constricted societal norms of what it means to be gay. But I continue to read a not so hidden subtext within this prolonged moment as the gay media darling: we’re just like you, you must love us because we are nearly carbon versions of you straight upright citizens with a tiny twist, we ARE those sneaky gays who know how to blend.
And I have to ask myself how much of this is really an expansion of possibilities? How much is assimilation? Continue reading
Just over a week ago a teen in a neighboring community, Corvallis, Or, committed suicide.
The story was brought to my attention by some of my students from that community who explained that this was “another gay suicide.” Looking into coverage I found that the local news paper had decided to downplay this tragic event for a series of important and thoughtful reasons. As a result there are virtually no public details about this death. And therefore there was no way to corroborate the underground rumor.
And I have to say that as a parent, as a former h.s. teacher, and as an ‘out’ educator, I would not wish the national media spotlight on the family, friends, and educators coping with such a difficult situation.
But I have to wonder as an advocate for educational change and for community accountability how secrecy in these moments operates to perpetuate intolerably hostile conditions in our schools and communities.
And let me be quick to go on and say that I absolutely – do – not – point to Corvallis as any more hostile than the entire culture toward the sexuality of all developing adolescents. And I am deeply concerned about the cacophony of hostility that is directed at families and even the deceased following these tragic events.
But as a person who came of age during the Reagan era of the AIDS epidemic intentional silence is deeply concerning to me as well….
As always I have no answers.
Just a deep discomfort as I continue puzzling possibilities…
Are we breaking down the substance of old ideas, or simply forever offering them a new set of clothing?
Dorothy Snarker wrote a fun review of this weeks GLee. Read her review for a smile.
And if you need to laugh out loud, she also pointed me to the web site Damn You Auto Correct where I discovered gems like these… Continue reading
I saw the story of Samantha Kelly’s suicide posted on some feminist blogs a few days ago. It seems this 14-year-old girl broke under a wave of misogynistic hate directed at her after she made sexual accusations of statutory rape against an 18-year-old neighbor.
Now the victim blaming, girl shaming, she asked for it heterosexist discourse that broke the spirit of this 14-year-old girl is an open sport in the comment lines and online bulletin boards about the event: Continue reading