Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hubley

In tragedy, we find statistic. As cynical and cold as that statement may sound, Jamie Hubley's recent passing, and the media coverage puts an exclamation point on it.

I have to be absolutely blunt about this subject, and if you are easily offended by talk of being gay, please do us both a favour and click the red “X” at the top right hand corner of this page.

A.Y. Jackson school flew their flag at half mast, mourning Jamie's death. The principal was quoted in various newspapers as being saddened, mourning, and various other “right things to say” when something like this happens. Do you want to know what I would have wanted to hear? How about “I'm sorry for letting this young man down. I simply cannot believe that I let an entire school pick on the gay kid until he could not endure the torture any longer.”

That would at least be an honest quote.

All of a sudden, the student body cares about Jamie Hubley. All of a sudden, the faculty and the school board are springing into action, correcting those bullying problems. All of a sudden, Jamie Hubley becomes a martyr to the bullied, a face to the progressive changes they're all going to make, and fodder to the ever-hungry media machine looking for the next cause.

What an absolute load.

I listened as Lowell YellowandBlue took to the airwaves each day last week, turning the subject over and over until he progressed from “Bullies are bad” to “Stand up for yourself”, and inevitably to “The bullied need to punch the guy in the nose”. Yeah, that'll fix everything.

One problem. Jamie Hubley didn't have a bully. Like many young gay men, he had an entire student body dead-set against him, disgusted with him, harassing him, making fun of him, discriminating against him, treating him like all bigots treated him. This wasn't a case of Matt Dillon picking on him for lunch money, and there was no Linderman waiting in the wings to be his bodyguard. This was a case of good old fashioned bigoted oppression. If I were a parent of a kid at A.Y. Jackson, I would be tearing that school down brick by brick trying to find out why the faculty allowed such blatantly cruel bigotry to exist in my kid's school.

As I watch Jamie Hubley's death turn from what it actually was into another statistic that glosses blatant homophobia and discrimination into a much more palatable “Bullying Issue”, I can't help but think how little we have really progressed as a society in terms of discrimination against gays. We say all the right things, sure. We tolerate the parade every year, yup. But we also must be teaching kids our bigotries and personal hatreds to have them act as they did at A.Y. Jackson, no? Where else do our kids learn to hate like that? Seriously, how the hell can an entire school turn it's back on a kid, make him drink from the coloured water fountain, make him walk through the coloured entrance, make him sit at the coloured lunch table, and not understand that each and every student, teacher, and administrator participated in this young man's torture?

A.Y. Jackson, are you seriously going to suggest to me that you didn't know this was going on? Have you read this young man's public diary? You'd have noticed if he had an ounce of weed on him, that's for sure. But a huge burning S.O.S. on your front lawn, with the entire school participating in a crime? Nope. Never saw it, right?

At some point in life, can we all just admit we hate gay people enough to treat them like garbage, so we can at least work on coming to the conclusion that we're stupidly wrong about them?

What right does anybody in this world have to judge how a person loves another person?

I have no idea how to end this rant. I've been sitting on these words so long because I have trouble articulating anger. My heart goes out to the Hubley family. The pictures, the blog, Allan's words on the radio were all so hard to digest. I can see myself in Allan's shoes, mourning the loss of one of my kids. I can also see myself as that high school student, alienated, picked on, alone.

My prayers are with you, kid. And I am sorry, because when I was your age I said the things people said to you. I'm sorry because I didn't work as hard as I could to change things for you now that I am your father's age. I can see that now.

3 comments:

  1. Amen. I too had to do a lot of soul searching on this one. I too said all of those stupid things. But then, someone in my family came out, and everything changed. Slowly at first, but then there was no stopping it. If we can humble ourselves and at least try to empty ourselves of ego and arrogance, we may just wind up discovering ourselves in others, and others in ourselves. Differences and prejudices just seem to melt away then...

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  2. I read your blog all the time and I love it. I think you are wonderfully thoughtful and articulate and I hope you never stop writing. This post was one of the most powerful and clear things written about Jamie's death so far. I'm gay and I spend much of my time conducting anti-homophobia workshops for university students and staff - I applaud you for taking a stand against homophobia and encouraging others to do the same.
    Keep up the great work.

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  3. Heart-felt, thanks. You must be right, that attitudes have barely changed and many parents are still (by example) teaching their kids intolerance. We know it comes from fear but that doesn't make it better. Maybe we just have to keep talking about it until it finally starts to change in a meaningful way. I'm an old feminist from the 70s and we're still working away at attitudes, but progress is being made.

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