Wearing Purple Against Gay Hate and Bullying


In Memoriam Tyler Clementi


Along with Real Life, avatars were requested to wear something purple recently in honor of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who threw himself off the George Washington Bridge following a nasty piece of apparent cyberbullying.  Tyler, a homosexual man, was surreptitiously recorded having sex with a partner by his college roommate, and then the roommate broadcast the recording over the Internet, supposedly as a gag.  Some gag….

The pity of this whole situation is not just that a young man, possessed of talent and with a world ahead of him, felt compelled by unbearable pain to snuff out his own life.  It’s mainly that bullying goes on to this day, when we live in a supposedly more enlightened age, especially bullying against a group simply because their lifestyle is different from yours.  There are some who feel that children and young adults get too much coddling these days, that they need to have the chance to get bumps and bruises, both physical and mental, to make them better and stronger in the long run.  And there may be some truth to this.  But I experienced bullying myself when I was younger — a different kind of bullying, and nothing to do with my sexuality, but still bullying — and I can tell you from personal experience that the pain often stays, sometimes for years in the memory if nowhere else.  I was fortunate; God blessed me with supportive parents who worked with me, and tried to intercede for me.  I came out of school without too many scars, just some bad memories of most of those years.

I pity and bleed for those who aren’t as lucky or resilient.  And I’m surprised that we don’t have more cases of kids committing suicide, or attempting to commit it.  Or go on a shooting rampage, such as happened at Columbine High School in Colorado in the Nineties.

Bullying, of any kind, must not be tolerated.  We can learn as a society not to sue the pants, purple vinyl or otherwise, off of people for erecting playgrounds with unpadded steel pipes that kids can bang against and break an arm on; and we can allow kids to take chances on getting their bumps and bruises and breaks.  (Hell, they probably do so anyway when they’re out of eye- or earshot.)  We don’t have to swaddle them as a society.  But the kind of stupidity that happened in New Jersey must not continue, at any grade level.  Remember this, and let’s work together to end such tragedies, and to promote healing and understanding and tolerance.

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