Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spark of Wisdom: Stories of Pain

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This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

Two weeks ago I spoke  about a particularly awful party I attended including a particular horror from my teenaged years pretending he was my friend. To a degree I am still dealing with a lot of the shadows I raised there and I have to thank everyone for their kind and powerful words of support. They were touching, comforting and very helpful to me in finding my way through this little maze.

But I also got another type of comments (well, 2 other kinds, but trolls will be trolls after all) in my email through LJ, to my gchat and my twitter. Stories from GBLT people, thanking me for what I said and telling me their stories.

Some were not as bad as mine, some were many many times worse. All were painful, painful for them, to have lived, painful for me to read. They all spoke of wounds and scars, physical, mental and emotional. They all spoke of their lives, as kids. as teens, as vulnerable youth trying to live and learn and grow being attacked, being hurt, being wounded to the core. So many horrendous stories that I don't know whether to cry or break something.

And the stories kept on coming - and keep on coming. Stories of pain and hate and grief - not just one story, not just a few stories, but a growing horrendous heap of stories. A mass of people reaching out, sharing their pain that still hurts, identifying with past wrongs that cast such dark shadows on their lives.

These stories are tragic and touching and heartfelt. The sheer amount of grief suffered by so many young GBLT people, grief and pain that continues into their adult lives was stunning. And enraging.

It made me think back to all the times the homophobes will scream "think of the children" when they opposed, well, anything. Gay adoption, gay marriage, anti-discrimination laws even events like the Day of Silence designed to highlight and combat anti-gay bullying are all met with fierce and furious condemnation and opposition by the usual suspects among the homophobes and always under the wail "think of the children."

GBLT youth is over 4 times as likely to take their own life as straight, cis-gendered teens. And I read these stories and I can believe it, in fact, I can believe the figure is much higher. So many of the people who spoke to me described how they stood on that knife edge, described how they considered it, told me the things that held them back from that fatal decision. So many of them stood on that ledge. I have stood on that ledge.

In the UK surveys by the NUT (National Union of Teachers) have revealed that nearly 100% - not a typo, nearly 100%, nearly ALL - teachers have witnessed homophobia between pupils. These stories of pain and their scars in my inbox are not things of yesteryear - they are happening again, new stories are being written right now in the homes, schools and playgrounds. A new generation of children are standing on that ledge.

And this is why it matters. The activism, the fighting, the campaigning in all its forms. It matters because literally dozens of GBLT people have contacted me with their stories of pain. It matters because so many of us have them, it matters because not having one is almost exceptional, it's that horrifically pervasive. It matters because there is another generation of kids out there living those stories again. It matters because far too many of those stories will be painfully short.

Our children - OUR kids - deserve better. And believe me, homophobes, we are thinking of them and of the kids we used to be.