Via The New Civil Rights Movement, I found out a sad thing today. The young man who made this “It Gets Better” video…
…has taken his own life.
Eric James Borges, who took the time to remind bullied queer kids that life will get better, and whose own life was seemingly proof that it does, is gone.
So. Does this mean that it DOESN’T get better, after all?
Watch the video, and you’ll see that there was a lot Eric had to work through. A real shitload. I don’t know what therapy, if any, Eric sought for his problems, but obviously it didn’t get to the bottom of them. And maybe there was no way that it could. When you grow up with a constantly reinforced message that you are “unnatural”, “repulsive”, and all the other horrible things his own parents called him, it’s hard to hear anything that tells you that yes, there is a better world out there, away from all this. And by the time you do get there, it may be too late.
That’s what’s so horrifying about all this.
And that’s why I have to say this:
It won’t get better unless we all work to MAKE it better.
It won’t get better unless we speak out against bullying whenever and wherever we see it happening.
It won’t get better unless we talk back to the fundies and condemn their twisted, hate-based anti-gay ideology.
It won’t get better unless we make it a hate crime to mess with your kid’s head the way Eric’s parents messed with his.
It won’t get better until what happened to Eric, what drove him to take his own life after an unsuccessful struggle, is wiped off the face of our planet.
This is the only world we’ve got, and we’re all sunk in this shit unless we MAKE it better.
It won’t get better without a concerted effort.
Positive messages are good, but what really means something to a bullied kid is when the bully gets the message that bullying is not acceptable. For that, we have to intervene. We have to stand up in church, as it were, and holler BULLSHIT! when the preacher starts spouting homophobia. We have to stop the mental abuse of gay kids by fundie parents, and frankly, that means sometimes having to stand up on our hind legs and say FUCK YOUR SO-CALLED “FREEDOM OF RELIGION”.
Yes, you read that right.
When religion turns into mind abuse and child abuse, that’s where the freedom to believe ends, and the child’s right to freedom from abuse begins.
Eric James Borges was denied his rights. He was denied the right to be as Nature (that’s GOD, people) made him. His parents and teachers and peers, however, were granted the untrammelled right to abuse him. And in the end, their religiously motivated abuse killed him.
I’m not saying there should be no freedom of religion whatsoever. And I’m not advocating atheism. I’m saying that the right to swing your cross and thump your bible ends where a gay kid’s head begins. You may have the right to believe absolute bullshit, but you do not have the right to cram it down anyone else’s throat. And that includes the throat of your own kid.
I’m saying that trying to de-gay your kid in the name of religion should be made a hate crime, and that perpetrators should become pariahs. NOT their victims.
Right now, in spite of all pious rhetoric about how children (especially in the fetal form) are sacred, the Religious Reich in fact grants parents the absolute power and authority to abuse their children in the name of God. It in effect instructs them to PLAY God. It tells them to “pray away the gay” and to “spare not the rod”.
And when the holy, sacred child offends or disappoints the godly parents, the Religious Reich grants them the absolute power and authority to make that child’s life a living hell.
If we really want it to get better, and mean what we say when we say It Gets Better, we have to start by taking away all the absolute powers and authorities that the Religious Reich arrogates to itself and to the parents of queer kids. We have to take away the rod from the religiously-abusive parent and break it over our knees. We have to give kids the right to a safe place, away from bullies, and the reassurance that the bullying is NOT okay, because it is NOT the Word of God.
After all, a bullied kid who has no safe haven from the angry, punishing gods is a kid who will not live to see it get better.