Today, October 20, was declared by the Human Rights Campaign and the It Gets Better Project as "Spirit Day." This is marked by the wearing of a purple article of clothing to remind the world that there are still young gay people who are taking their lives in the face of bullying in their communities, at school and within their own families.
I understand that the media has been going on about this anti-bullying business for over a year now. After Justin Aaberg's suicide last year in nearby Anoka, the issue has not gone away. Recently, a 15-year-old in Ottawa, Ontario took his own life because he couldn't wait for things to get better. He was bullied because he did not want to play hockey, but rather do ice skating.
It breaks my heart as someone who had paved the way for hundreds of gay folk in the realms of subcultural identity and the literary arts to see this happening still. For someone who was thanked for saving their lives in terms of both sexual orientation and subcultural identity, I still ask if there's any more we can do beyond using social media to reach out to everyone in regards to creating a true polyglot society free of hatred and fear!
In other words: "Yes, it gets better. But, how do we continue to ensure that it does?"
Yet, after my disappointment in not making inroads in the realm of sport, I am encouraged by this industry that I am proud to cover where LGBT people are not just seen as a demographic, but as an integral part the process from product development to aftermarket support.
Still, a young gay person is likely to experience a form of hatred for who they are – whether they acknowledge their sexual orientation or not. As an out gay automotive journalist, what am I going to do about it?
After rifling though my closet to find that I no longer have anything purple to wear, I went with an appropriate alternative. To signify my support towards these efforts, I present these two fire-breathing purple colored coupes: A 2012 Ford Mustang GT and a 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8. Under each hood is absolute rage: V8s spewing over 400 horsepower. These symbolize not a peaceful end towards resolving this issue, but rather a rescue vehicle for those who are bullied. A superhero in purple with enough torque to scare anyone into submission.
Yes, I know that using the imagery of muscle cars are the same as "bullying the bullies." But, as I continue to do this work, I understand the responsibility being not only out, but also working in the LGBT media, in instilling hope for the next generation to carry our work further.
Look, everyone, saying "it gets better" is fine, but we still need to do more. Join me in becoming beacons for those who are troubled and want inspiration to carry on though these tough times…
If you're on this side of the cause, join me in stepping up in being those beacons. Make your lives and work shine for those who need inspiration and motivation to carry on. Just be there for them. Know they are a part of our community and you are a part of theirs.
If you're a parent of a child who is bullied – regardless of sexual orientation – this is the time to truly do something good for your children. You need to ensure that the leaders in your community is aware that it is no longer safe for your child to coexist amongst them and to make things better for all citizens in and around your home.
If you're a young LGBT person, please hang in there! It will get better – I promise you! Once it does, the world is your oyster! Believe that! Be strong – stronger than the people causing you grief. You're better than them!
Now, I'm ready to move forward…but not without a few taps of the throttle…
Cover photo courtesy of the Ford Motor Company