How a homophobic comment by a public figure can have a far-reaching and devastating effect.
Of course, as a lesbian who could physically pass as a 16-year-old boy, I’ve become accustomed to such attacks. In the various forums where I've posted my writings, I’ve been referred to as an "angry dyke" and even a "man-hating lesbian." I’m 23 and have been out for almost six years; I don't cry over every negative comment regarding my sexual orientation anymore, but I do think back to high school and remember a time when such statements would completely unhinge my entire self-perception and esteem.
According to BullyingStatistics.org, LGBT teens are "two to three times as likely to commit teen suicide than other youths." While I never attempted or truly considered suicide as a teen, the idea of struggling through my entire life as I had been in high school seemed like a daunting notion. How would I ever accomplish anything, I thought, with the "burden" of being gay, which seemed to cause so many people to instantly loathe me?
The problem with comments like Macke's is that, not only do they force LGBT youth into hiding, but they perpetuate the bullying mentality. When a prominent local figure condones and participates in the defamation of the gay community, it tells our youth that it’s acceptable to ostracize their peers based on their sexual orientations. Minors (especially high school students) are severely influenced by celebrities, both local and national. Such behavior from an older figure sets a precedent of discrimination for younger fans.
Rachel Maddow is known for her distinct voice and far left-wing politics. Like Ellen, she’s a pop-culture inspiration to the LGBT community. To target one of our icons with derogatory statements essentially allows young people to believe that a gay individual who has an opinion is simply unacceptable. Continue reading...