Why Wonder

To all the people feeling shock and anger over the five suicides by bullied gay youth, I ask, “What took you so long?”

I also wonder where you have been. You’ve been thinking about other things. The media hasn’t reported on suicides like this before, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been happening. Talk to a well-adjusted adult gay person and you’re probably talking to someone who, at some point in their adolescence, considered suicide. Perhaps he or she didn’t act on the thoughts. Perhaps he or she made attempts, gestures, warnings. Perhaps he or she had close friends, trusted family members in whom he or she could confide these thoughts, fears, feelings. Likely not.

It seems like it should have been more likely in another decade. In the 1960s, when gay people appeared in a film, they experienced only torture and anguish until they, too, took their own lives. This didn’t really change until Making Love appeared in the early 80s. But by then we had HIV/AIDS and everyone had new reasons to hate gay people, to want them quarantined in camps or simply exterminated.

Even as a (fairly) well-adjusted adult, it’s unnerving to sit in my living room, zip onto the Internet, and encounter major news outlets engaging in debate over whether or not I deserve the same rights and privileges as people who are otherwise just like me.

Once, when I was about 13, my dad told a really offensive gay joke at dinner. A debate ensued in which he claimed homosexuality was wrong and that it said so in the Bible. I had never before seen my dad even glance at a religious text, much less read the Bible. And even then I knew that something about me was different. I let that night convince me that difference was wrong. Years later, my father would no longer resemble that man at dinner. He has blossomed into an amazing parent of a gay child.

Only because I afforded him that opportunity. Which I nearly didn’t.

Now that I’ve reconnected with 90% of my high school on Facebook, I realize that the majority of people who knew me then have no idea the impact the constant bullying and teasing I suffered had on me. In fact, probably no one knew.

I spent my entire freshman year of high school looking for a place where people wouldn’t find me. Every day when I sat in band, the kids behind me taunted me and taunted me to no end. I used to pray they would skip class. I used to pray no one else would point out it was happening. I had to ensure–every single day–that I was never alone, because as soon as I was cut off from everyone else, they would descend upon me and I knew I would be pushed deeper and deeper into hating myself. It was like being the captain of the Titanic, running around, trying to convince everyone else a disaster was certainly not afoot.

For a long time I resented everyone I grew up with. But I realized, after quite a long time, that nobody really knew the impact they were having on me. They were all going through their own shit, probably hoping nobody was seeing them suffer. I don’t know what they were going through because I was hiding amid my own fear and shame.

Ask yourself now how many teenage suicides might be linked to this problem. Last month, more than five teenagers killed themselves because they were afraid they were gay or, worse, afraid someone would find out. America is doing this to its own children. And while the majority of Americans–I’m looking at you 50 Cent and Andrew Shervill–who hate gay people really only hate gay adults, we certainly can’t bring ourselves to hate our gay children.

The funny thing is, you can’t get to being me until you’ve been him.

Publishers Behaving Badly

I got this note from a friend of mine yesterday and wanted to put it out there to warn other poets of this bad, bad behavior!

“…”

A couple hours after this was posted here and elsewhere, the publisher fixed the situation…

The Pizza Tracker Tells Lies

Last night I ordered a pizza online from Domino’s (the California chicken one). I love ordering online because then you get this little status bar that tells you who has their grubby mitts all over your pizza and where it’s at in the process:

“David starting preparing your pizza at 6:48 p.m.”
“Your pizza is slowly baking in our oven.”

Etc.

Well, up until last night I had a lot of faith in the Pizza Tracker status bar. My pizza, according to the status bar, left the store at 7:14 p.m. and was on its way to me.

By 7:40 p.m., it had still not arrived at my house. Let’s be frank: I was starving. I was about ready to pass out from low blood sugar. I couldn’t wait another minute. I went over and checked the tracker. It said:

“Your pizza was delivered and you are currently enjoying it!”

Except, I wasn’t. I was about to die.

I called the store. “Domino’s, how can I help you?”

I said, “Your pizza tracker tells lies. It says I’m enjoying my pizza but it hasn’t gotten here yet.” I’d never felt so misled, so duped!

“Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” he said. “Uhhhhhhhhh, well, sir, it’s raining.”

That was, in fact, true. Water was falling out of the sky just then. This often means people in Maryland slow to 5 mph and ride their brakes. “Yeah, but he left 30 minutes ago,” I countered. “My pizza has been sitting in a car for half an hour. I didn’t order a cold pizza, I ordered a regular hot one.”

He started to protest and then, defeated, asked, “Do you want to speak to a manager?”

I’m usually not a complainer, but I said, “Yeah.”

Then I sat on hold for five minutes. Right when the manager picked up the line–and I mean this happened 100% in synch–the buzzer rang on my apartment. My cold pizza arrived! And it was awful.

Alexander Chee posted this on Facebook: a capitalist response to the #amazonfail debacle.

Yes, taking gay books—or any books—off the rankings list seriously limits how many will sell, but isn’t it up to the bookseller to decide what the market wants, what it will sell and how it will sell it? (More behind the link.)

While I do feel like it’s every retailers prerogative to stock what they want, I wonder when those stock choices become silencing rather than just market-driven. Of course the market for gay-themed publications is small. But is it unnecessary?

If capitalism is dependent upon utility, why do we have products like Snuggie?

And is it possible that in light of all the recent controversy about the gays’ rights to equality, we’ve become a tad sensitive to having our access to seemingly accessible things unceremoniously revoked?

Perhaps the books being pulled isn’t the issue, Sara Nelson. Perhaps it’s the fact that:

1. The author who inquired was told his books featured adult content, wherein “adult content” includes positive mention of homosexuality.

2. Heterosexual books with graphic sex and violence were not pulled nor marked “adult” (and despite your admonition, this is more than an ironic element of the situation; it’s hateful).

3. Books promising to cure homosexual lifestyles–which surely must include the same adult content identified in issue 1–were not pulled, mysteriously enough.

Are we wrong for reading this as Amazon putting forth a political agenda? And should we not feel outraged at being disinvited from the bookselling party, when once we all sat equally at the table?

Persephone in Hell

Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, two stars of the MTV reality series ” The Hills,” tied the knot in a secret ceremony last week.

At the altar, the groom called his newlywed “the light in my life.”

And the bride kept her parents in the dark.

“The minute we said our vows, I couldn’t stop crying,” Montag told Us magazine, in a gushy account of the Thursday ceremony at the One & Only Palmilla Resort, outside Cabos San Lucas, Mexico. Photos are in the issue of Us on newsstands tomorrow.

War: What is it good for?

I always enjoy comparative arguments, so here’s a good one about what we could have done with all the money spent on the Iraq war.

You’ll notice “liberate foreign countries” is not included on the list. Must have been on oversight.

“He calculates $1 trillion could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with gold — 23.5-karat gold leaf. It could buy every person on the planet an iPod. It could give every high school student in the United States a free college education. It could pay off every American’s credit card. It could buy a Buick for every senior citizen still driving in the United States.”