Sex columnist, speaker, and podcaster Dan Savage has been on a tear recently with his It Gets Better campaign. Here's the gist: after recent high-profile media coverage of yet more suicides by gay teenagers bullied at school, Savage encouraged older gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people—as well as those who support them—to post videos about how much better their lives became as they grew up. In other words, he wanted to emphasize that the despair of being young and bullied for having a different sexual orientation need not last forever.
As someone who was raised and schooled as a Catholic, Savage heaps particular scorn on churches and other religious organizations (especially in the U.S.A.) for their promotion of bigotry towards homosexuals like him, both within their congregations and in the more general political and social sphere. He minces no words:
...many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools.
And he doesn't go easy on more liberal Christians either:
I'm sick of tolerant, accepting Christians whispering to me that "we're not all like [anti-gay fundamentalists]." If you want to change the growing perception that "good Christian" means "anti-gay"—a perception that is leading many people to stop identifying themselves as Christian because they don't want to be lumped in with the haters—stop whispering to me and start screaming at them.
Dan articulates very well what I find frustrating (and doubtless gay people find infuriating) about the way our society talks about and deals with sexual orientation. Somehow it is still acceptable to be bigoted against LGBT people, when other bigotries (about race, class, gender) no longer are—and even to feel offended when other people call you out for it.
That acceptance has real consequences:
You don't have to explicitly "encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate" queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It's here, it's clear, and we're seeing the fruits of it: dead children.
Yes, LGBT issues being mainstream is a pretty new thing. For instance, despite Vancouver's progressive and liberal bent, when I was a teenager in the '80s, homosexuality was still pretty taboo. None of my high-school classmates was out, though several of them are gay. I doubt any of us imagined that same-sex marriage would be legal in Canada before our 20-year class reunion.
But social change should be rapid. Once we as a society realize that something is wrong, we shouldn't delay in correcting it. Mollifying bigots and bullies is not an excuse to slow down, especially if kids die when we do.