First posted on Facebook, October 17, 2010 at 9:52am
To be blunt, I don’t think that you should use gay / lesbian slurs because it really is personally painful to me. I’ve struggled with lesbianism since kindergarten, and hidden that struggle for the majority of my life. Fear of being ridiculed, misunderstood, and ostracized meant that I kept a tight reign on anything that could possibly “give me away.” For the most part, I’ve been successful in avoiding anything close to what so many others have experienced – insults, actually being beaten or thrown out of their homes.
It wasn’t until I was half-way through college that I found a safe place to open up about what I had been feeling and thinking, how confusing it was, and was able to work through sorting out my struggles with my faith. Having that opportunity was very freeing. I should have been able to have that opportunity in church. (Through the years since then I have found a few churches where conversations on that level came to pass.)
Homosexuality is such a polarizing issue in our culture, and it’s easy to lose track of the fact that there are people beyond the headlines and political heat – people that you may do business with, work out with, joke around with, etc. Everyone deserves the chance to live his or her life in peace. And it’s during our school years that most start to ask themselves questions about their sexuality – that’s a tough time for big questions.
It takes effort to create an atmosphere where people of any age can ask questions without fear of retribution. It takes maturity, self-confidence and courage in order to listen and to show compassion. But as these recent sad losses of kids to suicide show, it’s a rare thing to experience. I wish that those kids had the chance to find the kind of place that I had, with kind, levelheaded, considerate people who took the time to allow me to unfasten the knots and the clear up the mystery around what I was struggling with.
If you’re ever in a place where people are being bullied, I would like to encourage you to seek to stand up for those who are being put down around you. It’s not OK to laugh along. Each one of us can make choices to make the world a better place every day. Make the decision to eliminate gay slurs from your vocabulary.
And I realize that if you’re in a peer group or family where that kind of jeering is common practice, it can be hard to be the one person who speaks up and says, “Guys, really – that’s just not cool.” Right away you’re setting yourself up for someone to spin around and accuse you of being homosexual, and you’ll get slammed with all the same slurs. Well, that’s where the call to be courageous comes in. Think this situation through now and be ready with a solid answer beforehand.
Maybe you’re really grossed out by the thought of homosexuality. Well, you probably do or think of things that would gross out a lot of other people yourself. I’m sure you appreciate not being ridiculed or beaten up about it. In a sense, it might just take you greater courage to stand up for those you just don’t understand. Do it anyway. Imagine that you were the one being insulted for whatever reason – how would that make you feel?
That’s what the Golden Rule Pledge is about – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
If you have questions about how to go about taking a stand against bullying, check out the Golden Rule Pledge website for more information and resources.