A Word In Edgewise: It Needs To Get EVEN Better


Same-sex marriage is legal in Minnesota; DOMA is dead. I like to think that things are getting better. And they are, but the good is relentlessly pursued by the bad, the light by darkness.

Recently, the NYPD charged a 22-year-old Bronx man with second-degree murder as a hate crime after he repeatedly stabbed his 69-year old victim thinking the man was gay.

In Porterville, California, the Mayor and Vice Mayor were stripped of their titles over a proclamation to designate June GLBT Pride month. The two remain active members, but the action is indicative of the furor that can be generated by things gay.

Pauls Tutonghi’s Salon.com article concerned Jadin Bell, the La Grande Oregon, fifteen-year-old who, after being bullied for months with no intercession by school authorities, hanged himself last January. Jadin lingered five days then was taken off life support.

Jadin’s father, Joe Bell, told Tutonghi that three different congregations refused to host fundraisers to defray medical bills, while a friend recalled that when attending church with Jadin the pastor declared, “If you’re here, now, and you’re gay, you need to come up to the altar and repent your sins.”

Visiting La Grande High, Tutonghi wrote, “I was struck by the physical loneliness … There was nothing near the building other than a few homes and, beyond the residential neighborhood, a Congregational church.” Joe Bell identified a large truck as one used by Jadin’s tormentors: “’They’d chase him and scream insults at him from the cab.’”

“I had a brief flash of what Jadin must have felt,” said Tutonghi. “Because it would be terrifying–that giant machine pursuing you–the kids inside of it calling you a faggot, its engine roaring like an implacable beast, nobody there to intervene. If there was physically nowhere for Jadin to go–no buildings other than the school itself and the homes around it—where could he be safe? Where could he find shelter?

“When they finally did suspend one of the main bullies in Jadin’s case,” Tutonghi concluded, it was three weeks after Jadin’s death–when the bully had started harassing someone else.”

It will continue to get better, but only if we remain mindful of the many still left behind, and work for change.

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