Lady Gaga has rapidly become one of my heroes. From someone who was mildly amusing (hey, I like her music) to mildly annoying (a meat outfit, really?) for a while, she has become a force to be reckoned with. I sometimes wonder if it’s because she’s just that awesome and want to use her power for good—or because of all of the hate thrown her way in the form of people questioning her sexual identity. Whatever the reason, I am glad she is here, and I am glad she is speaking out and advocating for people to be proud of who they are, since we were all “born this way.”
She’s been an anti-bullying advocate for quite some time, but this week, after another tragic suicide resulting from bullying (there are so many now that we say “another” and barely blink, which is just wrong), she’s decided to meet with the president and argue that bullying should be outlawed and made into a hate crime.
Jamey Rodemeyer, 14, was an It Gets Better hero who boldly spoke out to the young LGBT community. His parents say that the bullying in his life intensified when he want to high school this year. I just watched his video and had to pause, shedding tears for this young man I never knew, and never will because the violence and hate in his life were so intense that he felt he had no way out of it other than to take his own life.
No, bullying is not “a normal part of life.” Yes, Michelle Bachman, it is a national issue that affects everyone. And I hope that President Obama takes Lady Gaga seriously, just as he seems to have taken the issue seriously. But I fear that making bullying a hate crime law may widen the scope of prosecuting little kids for stupid things—and that it won’t solve the problem when we have so many homes with parents against gays, so many communities with churches telling gays they’re going to go to hell. Part of the solution would surely be to legalize gay marriage nationwide to allow everyone to see that it is normal, that it is not a “sin” or something to be bullied over. We need LGBT literature and lessons implemented in schools; when I wrote about that for Teaching Tolerance recently, many teachers commended me but then said that they’d be fired for using such things in the classroom. Fired! For saying something as simple as a family can have a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, one parent, or many other variations. And remember how crazy people went over something as simple as the two moms on the TV cartoon Arthur, or the sweet book And Tango Makes Three? As long as we allow this culture of fear to prevail, why be surprised when our children emulate it in their actions?
When we want change, we must start with ourselves.