Community Coping With Suicides, Some Media Struggling
GLAAD attended the rain-soaked vigil in New York's Washington Square Park in memory of Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas and Raymond Chase - all gay teens who took their own lives in recent weeks. Hundreds gathered despite the weather to remember those tragedies, and to call for an end to the homophobia that all six faced.
The rally was also meant to send a message to other gay teens in similar circumstances - to tell them there is a vast community of people that loves and supports them. Following a moment of silence, the mourners sang Over the Rainbow in their honor.
While our community has been trying to recover, some in the media have missed the mark in their coverage of the tragedies. In particular, several of our constituents pointed out this piece, titled "Preventing Teen Suicide" which ran on CBS Sunday Morning.
Only twenty seconds out of more than nine minutes (in a piece clearly inspired by the death of Tyler Clementi) dealt directly with the struggles faced by teens who are, or are perceived to be, LGBT. We thank CBS for taking the time to shine a spotlight on the tragedy of all teen suicide, but the network's decision to brush right past Tyler's story can sadly be seen as just another example of the world telling these teens that they don't matter.
Reporter Jim Axelrod said that Tyler's "impulse" was a "classic example of a permanent solution to a temporary problem." But the scourge of bullying is only temporary on a small scale. Overall, our culture is continuously manufacturing new bullies, who are making new victims, which is perpetually keeping the cycle alive. We can make homophobic bullying a temporary problem, but only if we have the courage to address it head-on.