There are so many tears yet to be spoken and so many of our youth growing up just waiting to be heard and wishing to be understood. Bullying has taken the spotlight the last few years as we have seen children and teenagers of all ages turn to suicide to get away from the taunts, name calling and emotional abuse. For many young children and teens out there, the world is tough enough without the bullying taking place in our schools, on our playground and in our neighborhoods that are supposed to be those environments of nurture and positive growth. With the many sources of social media connecting so many of our youth, the bullying has become more extreme, so extreme that we have seen a rise in teen suicide particularly with those dealing with homosexuality. For 14 –year- old Jamey Rodemeyer, the intimidation and harassment due to his sexuality became too much to deal with, but before the teen took his own life this past September, Rodemeyer urged others facing bullying that things can get better in a video he contributed to the “It Gets Better” project which shares voices and gives hope to LGBT teens living in harsh environments of bullying. Jamey’s message and story has led to other teens coming out of the closet and has inspired superstars like Lady Gaga to lead the movement towards a better tomorrow.
In his video posted on YouTube, Rodemeyer says “people would be like `faggot, fag,’ and they’d taunt me in the hallways and I felt like I could never escape it,” andthis is the feeling many homosexual youth face; a feeling of being closed in and seeking a way out. We don’t realize how powerful words can be until they lead to the tragedies we have come to face the last few years but tragedies that actually go further back, it is just now there are many more voices and many more acts of courage willing to stand up and make a difference by sharing, not only who they are, but giving new definitions to being “born this way”. Jamey Rodemeyer felt this impact and thanked Lady Gaga on the day of his death for her influence on the gay community and her stance to stand up to bullying and mistreatment and in memory of Jamey, Gaga promised to push President Barrack Obama to makes laws against bullying. The heart shown by Gaga and gay celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Ricky Martin are impactful, they take and send the message to a new medium and like never before there is exposure and awareness which is necessary because these youths who are taking their own lives are getting younger and younger. But the greatest voices heard are from voices such as Jamey Rodemeyer whose spirit is giving strength to others to hold on and believe in a better tomorrow.
We can all make a difference and it is up to each of us to recognize and make a stand in places where we witness bullying particularly in our schools and on our social media outlets. It takes more than just a few voices to create change but it only takes one voice to save a life and one hand to hold the hand of another who is suffering emotionally and let them know that it does get better. We have to stand up all forms of hate and realize that the next child or teenager to take his or her life can be a son, daughter, friend or just a child walking past making eye contact for help. To contribute to the “It Gets Better” project visit www.itgetsbetter.org.