Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crisis of Meaning (And Yes, You Will Misunderstand)

Churches contribute to gay suicides, most Americans believe. I wonder if blaming region also somehow gives it more power or credence in the lives of those who would commit suicide. It seems Americans believe all sorts of crazy shit, so I'm not convinced that religion actually does cause gay suicide. Although I readily admit that "gay suicide" is just as despicable as "gay marriage" or "gay rights."

I guess I'm somehow perplexed at the crossroads of identity politics, empathy, and my exhaustion with the handwringing over "overly sensitive kids"* killing themselves. I also don't see how "it gets better" sloganeering does anything except feed into a false and unrealistic sense of the future. I'm a 43-year-old queer who still has no idea what "it" is and who has not yet seen evidence of anything "getting better." If anything, the recent spate of gay suicides proves just the opposite, no?

Also, I despise Dan Savage, and I find him as reprehensible as Glenn Beck and his ignorant ilk. Savage's usurpation of this issue bothers me more than the actual deaths, which is a great injustice no matter how you slice it. Eschewing therapy and other feel-good, solipsistic avenues, and at the great risk of ignorance and hatred, I wonder what other people think about this issue, about my perplexity. Is anyone else (just as) confused?

This crisis--which admittedly is only my crisis--came to a head several months ago when President Obama posted his own "it gets better" video. When I was thirteen and reading in the Arkansas newspaper at my grandparents' house about gays dying of some mysterious disease, I felt my own life slip away, as if G-d (Himself) had punched me in the belly. Even by then, I had already begun to suspect my inclinations.

It would take several years and many more deaths (approximately 21,000) before President Reagan ever muttered the word "AIDS" in public. How is it possible--in the age of the Internet and a caring and concerned President--for these children to take their lives when in my own world I managed to survive the 1980s with my own physically-abusive bullies at home and at school and without knowing another single gay person in my east Texas town (population: <1,800)?
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*Perhaps my problem is not knowing how to speak/write about what the problem is. When I think about who I was at that age, I think "overly sensitive kid." I don't remember a time in my teens that I wasn't crying or self-medicating to avoid crying. I'm not saying that's a problem, that's their problem, or even that I have a problem with my overly sensitive nature now. Ultimately, even while attempting to lump them under the category of "overly sensitive kids," I am still not one of them. And yet, I have no idea why I'm not, especially after years of my own self-hatred and suicidal tendencies.

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