Sunday, February 04, 2007

Death, blame and myopia

The Washington Post reported that two teenage girls from Maryland, Rachel Samantha Smith, 16, and Rachel Lacy Crites, 18, missing for two weeks, have probably been found. The car they were in was located and two young women were found dead inside.

During the search, Crites’ family released an entry from their daughter's journal:

“Wherever I end up laying, whether buried or cremated, I want to stay with my true love, buried next to her. This is my choice. I'm sorry.”

It’s obvious what was probably going on here. Police apparently believe the two had a suicide pact, and the journal entry appears to suggest why.

Whenever young people take their lives, there’s a lot of soul-searching and questioning. But if it turns out that the young women were lovers and killed themselves over it, the cause isn’t a mystery.

In recent years, America has endured a convulsive campaign to outlaw any legal recognition of same-sex relationships, whether marriage or something less. In doing so, the campaigners have created a climate of hate and fear, declaring over and over that same-sex relationships deserve no recognition, that they’re sick, perverted, against their god.

They have defamed gay and lesbian people, they have lied, they have distorted, they have spared no expense to attack not only the recognition of same-sex relationships, but lesbian and gay people generally.

And then a community wonders why young, vulnerable gay and lesbian people might find death the only option available to them. If the community wants to know why this happens, maybe they should begin by looking in the mirror.

Have they opposed the crusade against gay and lesbian people with their vote or their voice? Have they corrected lies and distortions when they hear people spouting them? Have they defended the gay and lesbian people in their own families, school, workplace, neighbourhood? Have they objected when they hear people telling fag jokes? No? Then they have contributed to the atmosphere that leads young people to feel their lives are over before they’ve truly begun.

I have a lot of sympathy for parents and friends of young gay and lesbian people who take their own lives. They’ll be feeling the pain of a loss that only they can really know.

But I have no sympathy for the community. Why do young lesbian and gay people kill themselves? Look to yourselves for the answer.


d said...

Oh, man..when I first read the story, I had come to the conclusion that the girls had been in love, and couldn't be together. This was before I knew anything about the journal entry.

How very tragic and sad.

It's times like these that I'm glad for a show like "Ugly Betty" which shows a gay son (only 12)! and how his mother supports and loves him just the way he is. If only that brings hope to a few people...

Arthur Schenck said...

This post still has the record on my blog for having the most people land on it as the result of a Google search. Apparently a lot of people were searching for answers.

You raise an interesting point about the character on "Ugly Betty". Maybe if there were more positive role models in pop culture, kids like these would have had some hope. But, I guess that wouldn't help all that much unless America stopped its hatred, too.