Thursday, 12 April 2012

april 11, 2012

today was the international day of pink - the day to stop bullying, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia. i went to the day of pink gala in ottawa tonight, which was put on by jer's vision - an organization that does anti-bullying education and advocacy work in schools, community groups and government. their work takes place mostly in canada, centred around the mistreatment of queer and trans kids. the gala was pretty inspiring.

i was struck by the sheer amount of fabulous pink around me today, the power of being able to identify each other as allies as we walked around because of wearing said pink, and the strength that i saw in so many of the teens at the gala tonight. one of them wore a t-shirt that said, "bullying? child, please!" some of them gave speeches about their experiences, including a close friend of jamie hubley, who was a 15-year-old gay boy from ottawa who committed suicide last fall.

listening to them, i was near tears a number of times - sometimes because of inspiration and delight in hearing their thoughts or hearing about their projects, and sometimes because of a sadness that they should have to access so much strength and courage to get through the crap that they're living in their high schools - those small enclaves that feel like the whole world while you're in them.

rick mercer was there, accepting a role model of the year award, and he talked about how most of us don't think about high school after we leave it. about how, if we were queer or in any way "different", we are likely to want to never think about the experience - or the school system - ever again. but this is the main way that we're failing the kids that are coming through the schools now. if we leave them hanging like other adults before us left us hanging, all this crap is never going to stop. we need to go back to high the sense that we can't just forget about these kids and their isolation. we need to take responsibility for what's happening to them and support the process of change.

some of you may remember a time when there used to be block parents - a safe home that you could go to if you needed help. i don't really see those signs up in people's windows anymore, and i think that's partly because of a shift in culture: less trust, more isolation. as older queers and genderqueers and trans people, we need to be those block parents. we need to be safe places for kids who don't have a community yet - or even believe they might find one someday. they need to be able to see us out there, living our out queer lives - a multitude of adults who have made it past high school. the "it gets better" campaign is too neat and tidy and hands off. we need to show kids that we exist - flag ourselves to them as their people; as people that might understand what they're going through. we need to flag that we're safe places and in this together, like we did by wearing pink today. we need to start doing more to create visibility about who we are. and the only way we can do that is if we're present out there, volunteering or teaching or leading activities for youth.

i can't stand the idea of even one more suicide of a queer or trans kid who feels totally alone and like life isn't worth living because of who they are and how this world is for them. so much sucks, and so much needs to change. that change is so slow and, sometimes, we need understanding company on the way there. we need to be that company.

there are so many kids out there who need help mending their ideas of themselves because of the garbage they've been fed about who they are and what that means about their worth. to do that, we need to be able to make contact with them - or help others to make contact with them - to let them know that real humans care about the fact that they feel so alone. then we need to be there for them. we also need to talk about cruelty and hate and phobia so that the effects of bullying are more clear to kids who aren't gay or trans or poor or people of colour or disabled or or or... we can either do that by volunteering for community projects - like jer's vision or support our youth or some other similar initiative - or we can give our money to organizations like these so they have the resources to reach more kids.

i just committed to a monthly donation. what are you going to do?

1 comment:

  1. i also went, didn`t see you though, probably because i didn`t stay long, as i had worked that day and thus was on my feet for a long time and there was nowhere left to sit. i did make a one-time donation, and i`ve volunteered for jer`s vision in the past. i like your comments/opinion about older glbtq/etc. folks' roles and responsibilities towards queer/glbtq/etc. youth and young women and men.