Today, in schools throughout the United States some kids will call other kids “gay.” Most of the time, it’s just a juvenile attempt at insulting another kid without any thought of its sexual reference. These days “you’re gay” is the equivalent of “you’re a geek!”
But even an unintended reference to sexual orientation can be emotionally devastating, especially if the subject is being publicly exposed.
Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi was humiliatingly outed by his roommate on a webcam that streamed an intimate encounter to the rest of the student body. Before this vile invasion of another human being’s privacy, Tyler was a popular, friendly, sensitive, studious, talented music student. Afterward, he was dead.
He left this on his Facebook page: “Jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Sorry.” They found his body when it washed up on shore. If they prove it’s a hate crime, the roommate might get five years. But, what about the kids who will be called gay today? Many won’t have any idea whether they are or not. But all of them will feel the pain of Tyler Clementi.