Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 274- A tough week

Dear Mr. President,

Before I start in on tonight's letter, I just want to say that I watched your speech to the Gen44 summit last night and thought it was excellent. It was exactly the kind of old-school campaign speech I was writing you about yesterday, and so I should apologize for not having watched it before writing my last letter. I actually laughed out lout several times and would have cheered at the end, had I not been watching it at work in our bookstore's cafe with my headphones on and already disturbing the people around me. We need more of that, Mr. President, and not just because of the upcoming elections. There are even more important things at stake.

Tonight, a friend of mine from high school wrote a poignant blog post on the ongoing difficulties faced by gay Americans, A tough week in the struggle. In it, he discusses the tragic and high-profile suicides of several young GLBTQ Americans as well as several acts by celebrities and government officials showing homophobia is alive and well in our culture.

Repealing DOMA and DADT cannot wait. Changing our laws might not have saved the young lives lost this week, but it might go a long way toward changing the stigmas against gays and lesbians. The cruel bullying that led to the suicides this week comes from a culture that accepts and even normalizes homophobia. You can't change that, but you can change the laws that say our government agrees with that irrational fear. These archaic relics of our hateful past have no place in our modern discourse or in our modern legal system.

I've been following a number of these sad stories this week, but I've also seen another story posted and reposted by friends around the world. It's about a campaign aimed at gay youth called "it gets better." I went to a high school where being GLBTQ was not generally accepted. A number of my friends struggled with their identity as such at the time, and also with depression, fear, and bullying as a result. Some came out. Some stayed in the closet. All of them went to high school knowing that the taunts of their classmates reflected an accepted viewpoint of their society, endorsed by their own government. DOMA and DADT might be articulated in language that is more sophisticated than the crude taunts of high school bullies, but it comes from the same mean-spirited fear that ought to be a thing of America's past and not our present.

It has been a tough week for gay rights in this country, and a tragic week for the families who are suffering the loss of a loved one because of it. You're in a position to offer more than just your condolences, Mr. President, and I certainly hope you do.

Respectfully yours,


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