Recently, 15-year-old Oregonian Jadin Bell died after attempting to hang himself in an elementary school playground. Bell was rushed to a hospital and was taken off life support after doctors found little brain activity. According to Bell’s family and friends, he was a target of vicious bullying, both at school and online. Bell’s death adds to the long list of gay teens who committed suicide in the past few years.
Some people might still remember Tyler Clementi who took his life jumping from the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010 because his roommate recorded him kissing another man in the college dorm and broadcasted it online. His death brought national and international attention to the issue of cyber-bullying and the struggles faced by LGBTQ teenagers.
The reasons behind the high suicide rate among homosexual teenagers and young adults are the feeling of rejection by family members and society, and/or the inability to meet the gender roles that they were expected to perform. The sense of worthlessness, hopelessness and acute isolation also contribute to why some might have suicidal thoughts.
If you are female, from the day you are born society has a clearly defined gender role planned for your future, which is to get married to a man and raise children. The same thing goes for men. While this might not be a problem for heterosexual males and females, their counterpart of the population, male and female homosexuals, might have a hard time and sometimes give up trying to survive in a society in which they have to meet the irrational gender roles and expectations.
Masculinity or manliness has often been associated with the terms independent, strong, self-confident, competitive and other aggressive behaviors. So if there are any behaviors shown by a man that are out of the list of manly behaviors, they may be considered a “sissy.” We all have to remember that what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behaviors for the male and female gender is something that is artificially constructed by society, and that it then becomes implanted in the minds of parents as they raise their children. So when parents or other people see their children or friends behaving like the opposite sex or showing interest in people of the same sex, they feel that they have to do something in order to keep that person in the appropriate “gender role.”
Mahatma Gandhi once wrote: “Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in social matters, political or others.” The quote is a perfect counter to claims some members of the society make about “fixing” others for being out of their gender role. Mahatma Gandhi suggested that manliness has nothing to do with aggressive behaviors such as bluffs or bravados; it is about doing the right thing and being accountable for every action and decision you make.
A society should reflect the values of its members or at least accept those with a different view; it musts not exclude anyone so there won’t be a sense of unbelonging among the minorities which could result in extreme actions such as sucide.