28 September 2011

There Are Many Kinds of Bullies

I’ve written before about my artwork which takes a stand against gay bullying. Since that work was inspired by the suicides of several teenaged boys in Fall 2010, my work and thoughts were naturally directed toward the kind of bullying that takes place in the hallways at school, on the playground, in the classroom, and via Facebook pages--targeted at and perpetrated by (for the most part) children. You know, kid stuff. The kind of thing you think kids, both the bullies and the victims, will "grow out of" as they mature.

This is the idea behind It Gets Better and many anti-bullying programs now in place in schools. The message to the gay kids is to hang in there, wait it out, turn the other cheek until you can go away to college where you’ll find your people and be fabulous. I do buy into this (the optimist in me has to) but Tyler Clementi’s story also showed us that enlightened universities are not immune to the bullies in their midst.

The anniversary of Tyler’s death this past week, along with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has left me with some very uncomfortable thoughts. There are adult bullies and they aren’t going away.

Was anyone else appalled when the audience at a recent Republican presidential debate began booing a uniformed soldier currently serving in Iraq (in his Army t-shirt, no less) over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Doesn’t conventional wisdom say that if anyone is supposed to honor soldiers and patriotism, it’s supposed to be the Republicans? I mean, they’ve excoriated Democratic pinko commie liberals for decades over this issue, but here they actually booed a soldier. To his face. My blood ran cold.

That Republican presidential candidates have vowed to “repeal the repeal” has made me deeply, almost indescribably, sad. Voters have stated their overall support for gay marriage and repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for the polls, so that’s not the issue.

But these bullies are playing to their own. How much longer can they keep it up?

-Maura McGurk

Maura makes artwork about issues related to the LGBT/queer/gay experience, especially gay bullying. Take a stand against gay bullying by checking out her work, liking it on Facebook, or commenting on her blog.

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