Combating Dystopia.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Perkins "Explains" Gay Teen Suicides : Dispatches from the Culture Wars

"These young people who identify as gay or lesbian, we know from the
social science that they have a higher propensity to depression or suicide
because of that internal conflict," he says.

Homosexuality is
"abnormal," he says, and kids know it, which leads them to despair.

Its such a convenient, utterly despicable argument that it almost is beneath my dignity to discuss outright. Except that Perkins and his ilk have been working overtime the past several weeks to counter the idea that LGBT young adults and teenagers are in any way deserving of human decency for their so called “lifestyle choice”.

Nevermind that there are in fact very
real correlations between suicide rates, depression and LBGT youth, but what Perkins willfully ignores in the above is that one of the reasons driving the problematic trend is the consistent fact that he and other evangelicals and social conservatives are ardently, and bitterly reinforcing the fact that gay kids are vile, evil abominations that do not in fact deserve to live. That they’re somehow pushing “an agenda” for wanting to live an unrepressed life. Or hell, according to recent polls out of Texas, that they may be inadvertently responsible for the freaking apocalypse just by proxy of existing. Perkins blithely goes about insisting that these “lifestyle choices” are monstrous and ungodly, is allowed to press this issue in “objective” news sources from the Washington Post to NPR, and has the gall to pretend to lament the loss of life when he’s perpetuating the conditions responsible for the “despair” these gay (or perceived as such an therefore persecuted) students face. Its like saying that a given racial or ethnic minority experiences depression at a higher frequency and then ignoring the socio-environmental factors like prejudice and discrimination that in many cases are socially created and culturally reinforced in our society that causes it. Its almost an insult to one’s intelligence to present this ruse of “compassion” when shunning, scorn and victim blaming are the very aims of the organizations Perkins helms and the movement he leads.

When otherwise “normal” children feel justified in taking this embedded message out in society about homosexuality being abhorrent and justifiable to persecute against, and thus become gatekeepers of so called morality, the results can be grim as we’ve learned recently. But make no mistake, we do not learn messages about stigmas and negative statuses in a vacuum. If status Y is somehow tainted, and vile and worthy of scorn, it is in every way because of the values attached to it by the societies we inhabit. LGBT youths can’t feel “despair” about their sexual identities without Perkins’ thinly veiled code about their sin, and the bully pulpit demagoguery others backing this anti-gay rhetoric have been pressing so consistently since the Cold War Era. One can point to studies about depression and suicide amongst gay teens and see a valid correlation, but one cannot remove the idea that social factors that drive those trends have much to do with the open hostility created by Perkins himself.

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