A call to end bullying

Nathan Zoschke

Nathan ZoschkeIt’s easy to be apathetic when you’re ignorant.

Three weeks ago, Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, jumped to his death from a bridge after he was recorded having sex with another male in his dorm room.

The video was posted on Twitter by Clementi’s roommate, who invited his 150 followers to a chat session where he streamed a live feed of Clementi’s same-sex encounter.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals, like most any minority groups, are easy targets for discrimination.

I can’t say I haven’t made a few gay jokes and used derogatory terms in the past, but now I regret it.

I reasoned it was okay to make these jokes because I was telling them to other straight people who wouldn’t be offended.

The problem is that there’s no way to identify a gay person or straight person unless they tell you.

After seeing shocking statistics about LGBT suicide via other people’s facebook status updates, I quickly learned how harmful a seemingly innocent joke about someone else’s sexuality can potentially be.

After having met a few people who were attracted to the same sex (and learning a few of my friends and family members were gay), I began to realize the reason I made jokes and used derogatory terms was out of ignorance.

It’s easy to have a faceless enemy and it’s easy to be a playground bully when you don’t see your victim hurting.

I believe most of the discrimination we see against homosexuals is not as visible as discrimination against other groups. Unlike race, gender and ethnicity, external qualities that can’t be easily concealed, being attracted to the same sex is something people can, and often do, hide.

A friend recently told me he was gay and he felt worthless because he was afraid he’d never have a normal life. When he told his parents, they told him he needed special therapy. He hasn’t told most of his friends yet for fear of losing them and being excluded from cliques.

It’s difficult for me to understand why people in 2010 have such a hard time accepting others who are different.

The reason I believe most people make these jokes is because they don’t realize how offensive and hurtful they can be.

Having gay friends led me to realize LGBT people are often treated like victims of a psychological disease who need a cure.

The ones who don’t express remorse for being attracted to the same sex are called “abominations.” They made an evil “choice.”

What I would like to know is how can people possibly think the hundreds of LGBT teens and young adults who kill themselves every year made a “choice” to like members of the same sex?

People don’t choose to be persecuted. They don’t choose to be stereotyped and mocked.

People don’t suddenly wake up one day and say, “Hmm. I think I’m going to be gay today,” any more than you or I wake up and decide to like members of the opposite sex.

Let’s put an end to the gay jokes and name-calling.

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