Another teen, one much closer to home Tyler Clementi through himself off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate conspired to openly reveal on the internet through a live web chat, the 18 year old Clementi engaging in sex with a male companion. The roommate cruelly opened the feed to the world wide web offering disdainful commentary like: "He's at it again." to God knows how many people online. Worse of all, this wasn't the first time the roommate had done this -- the first time the live web cast and utter invasion of privacy failed to post. Instead of finishing his school term at Rutgers University because the embarrassment was just too much, Tyler jumped off a bridge. We'll never know what potential he was destined to realize.
These stories and the ones from other gay teens this past month: Seth Walsh, 13 from California, Justin Aaberg, 15 from Minnesota, Billy Lucas, 15 from Indiana, and Raymond Chase, 19 from New York -- are the worst tragedies and the most shameful because they could have been prevented. How many other young teens, gay or straight, have recently taken their lives because of the thriving and malicious "mean girl" epidemic? We live in a culture that celebrates and glorifies, awards and makes millionaires of people and their bad behaviors! WIth the country entering what seems it's most undignified era of social strife and racism, with what looks like a fanatical group of white supremacist ranting on about having to take the country back, do we have the luxury anymore to turn a blind eye and not be proactive? Not hold any accountability for the person standing next to you?
Let me tell you something: No one has taken the country anymore, but some folks are prepared to take us back into the dark ages. As a culture and society we Americans are way behind the curve, and if we don't show accountability we will lose this country for sure and the 21st Century will be the era of un-enlightenment. You can't stop the evolution of the human culture.
My message to young people out there, especially those who have faced or are facing the challenges that these young people did as well and find themselves losing the battle -- I ask and I plead that you hang in there, because it gets better. Your life is a gift and everyday you have the opportunity to open it again as if for the first time -- imagine it's like getting a box that you have the ability to find anything you can imagine inside of it. That's the gift of life! I'm not going to tell you that it's easy, but it's worth living. Please do not deprive the world of what you are capable of becoming, because you haven't nearly realized all of your greatness...and what's more incredible is -- you never do as everyday is a new opportunity to be greater and better than the day before.
Do not deprive yourself of the success of achievement, of making your parents proud, your first dance (no matter how badly you did it) and most of all your first kiss. Don't lose out on your very first 4th of July celebration wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you and hearing the words "I love you." It changes your life and is without question the best feeling in the world...and it happens again and again.
It gets better! I promise you -- it's worth living...for yourself, for your families and the friends that you have yet to make that will support you through thick and thin.
If there's anything that I want to achieve with my writing and my notoriety as an interviewer it's that I strive to bring to light the successful and honored stories of strength, joy and character of the people in our community that are doing it every day. What is it? They are living! And if they've taught me anything it is that no one day is like the last...and that each is just one more step to greatness.
Don't let them win! You are valuable -- you are great!