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Aug 20, 2009
In today’s society, we’re not all safe. That’s why, especially for LGBTQQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Intersex) tweens and teens, it’s important to make sure you know the rules and practice caution in everything you do. This rings especially true for teens who are coming out.
Below is a video made by a friend of a friend about how to best come out of the closet and be safe while doing it.
Ask most LGBT people how they came out and the above video should be reminiscent to their expierences and the advice they would often give to a fellow "family member". (The submitter entered a contest on the website so make sure to support them. (ALSO click on this link if you can not view the above video.)
At this moment you should be asking why I am bringing up this topic. Well, it’s because, as stated in the video, there are some places in the world where local law prohibits people from expressing who they truly are. If you haven’t heard the story, yet, don’t blame yourself. The media has been taking their sweet time reporting on this.
Huffington Post reports:
The number of deliberate attacks against homosexual men in Iraq has risen precipitously this year at the hands of Iraqi militias and death squads, according to a report released today by an international human rights organization.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed nearly 50 gay Iraqi men for the report, publishing their harrowing stories about the crackdown on gays and documenting the wide-reaching campaign of targeted executions, kidnappings, abductions, death threats and torture of gay men and men suspected of homosexual conduct.
The 67-page report, entitled "They Want Us Exterminated: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq," says the killings have spread from the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City to many cities across the Middle East country, with Baghdad experiencing the most severe "killing campaign." Human Rights Watch estimates several hundred men have died from homosexual targeted attacks
The rest of the article is nearly unbearable but I urge you to read on. The story seems so much more shocking yet expected in a sad way seeing as this news is so close to the Tel-Aviv murderes that took place not too long ago. The story is another example among hundreds of what happens when we fail to address the overwhelming problem of homophobia in our society. Radical, religious terrorist groups have taken over the streets of Iraq and have committed these mass murders without the fear of the national or state government interfering. If the cable news media cannot be relied on to spread the news of how innocent men are being slaughtered daily on the streets of Iraq, then we must be the ones who tell our friends and coworkers about the violent crimes that arrise because of the misunderstandings of some cultures that lead to homophobia, irrational fears of people who are LGBT. After searching through the interwebs, I was only able to find one video about this news and it was from a Canadian news network and I believe another one was BBC.
Don’t think for a second that homophobia can’t have such tragic effects on our society and on our children.
Does the story of 14-year-old Jacob sound familiar? He was harassed relentlessly by fellow students at his school because of his sexuality and appearance — to the point where another student brought a knife, and death threats, to school. "Beginning in the seventh grade and continuing through Jacob’s eighth grade year (in Herkimer County, outside Utica, N.Y.), numerous students relentlessly harassed Jacob because he is gay, dyes his hair, wears eye makeup and speaks in a high-pitched voice. He endured a range of slurs, such as faggot, queer and homo, on a daily basis, occasionally with teachers present. Indeed at least one teacher contributed to this climate of harassment by telling Jacob he should be ashamed of himself for being gay." And the increasingly familiar part of this story? The ACLU is stepping in and suing the school district for not adequately protecting Jacob.
From the full article found on nyclu.org, it seems that despite Jacob’s and his father’s pleas for the school’s attention on his bullying and death threats, school officials did not file the proper procedures and failed to fulfill their duties as protectors of students’ rights and ensurers of student welfare on campus. Hopefully, the federal lawsuit that Jacob and the NY branch of the ACLU are filing against that school district will bring justice to Jacob’s life and ensure that the school does not make the same mistakes. From the looks of it, it seems that that justice will be served and hopefully Jacob can swith schools so that he can find a friendlier environment for people like him. Such a shame that it has to be that way though. Just like in Iraq, the gay Iraqis are left to suffer in the hands of extremists while the police officiers turn a blind eye. As in Jacob’s case, he suffers harassment and death threats from students and the defendents(Mohawk Central School District; Joyce Caputo, superintendent of schools; Edward Rinaldo, the school’s principal; and Cynthia Stocker, the district’s equal opportunity compliance officer), the people whose job it is to protect students, turn a blind eye, fail to follow procedure, and endanger a child’s life because of apathy towards a growing problem in our world.
Let’s all be thankful that Jacob reported his abuses in time before his life was taken (his life was already threatened and put on the edge). Let’s also not forget that the problem that started Jacob’s case and the gruesome report in Iraq is homophobia, a growing beast tearing our families and friends apart, home and abroad. Let’s try to wrap everything in this post up with something from the video above.
SAFETY!!! Safety first, people. I wish I had the voice for it so I can yell it loud enough for you to hear out of your computer screen, but I think all caps is fine. When I came out to my mother, her concern was my safety, where I was going to be and who I was going to be with, so that she doesn’t have to hear about me being a victim of homophobia. When I tell ANYONE what my best advice is for coming out, it is always safety first. Know the law of the land so that when you come out you can be sure your safety is first and not threatened by homophobic policies.
So all in all, this yet again brings another idea into mind. Should people remain in the closet? Yes and no. When it’s safety first, it’s safety first. In the case of the Iraqi men, I would say get out of there like many are beginning to do. In Iraq, it is not against the law to be homosexual and have a consenting partner who is of the same sex, but that does not mean that the nation will ensure your safety like in Jacob’s case. It’s a positive experience to come out at school to your friends and teachers, but it comes with consequences of course. Be cautious before coming out so that you can be safe and come out only when it best suits your physically and emotionally. You never want to stay indoors too long. Eventually, there will be a time when it comes out of you or some one brings it out of you. It’s best to be prepared at all times and be the most comfortable you can be with yourself as possible. When coming out to parents and friends, be selective. Some friends are more open and sometimes father knows best. At school, know your rights so that if ever needed they can be enforced in your favor to ensure your safety. Live long and prosper, people! And stay informed on the massacre of Iraqi gays. It’s up to all of us to fight homophobia!
“People always make fun of what they don’t understand, but the school has a responsibility to protect people. I shouldn’t have to fear for my safety at school. No one should.”