***Apparently it was all a fraud and the victim made up the story. You can read it HERE. This makes me even angrier. Although this was a hoax, I think the points I made in response are still valid. I'll stand by them.****
***Apparently, the crime may be a fraud. If it is, this angers me even more than the initial incident***
Read the update HERE.
Back in October of 2010 when the media "discovered" queer youth suicide and bullying, I was angry that so many people treated it as something new. I grew up in rural Montana and saw plenty of bullying based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. I was subject to some of it both in high school and at the first college I attended.
I posted my feelings about the "It Gets Better" campaign and wearing purple here.
When I looked at the internet yesterday, I was faced with another example of violence and bigotry from the area where I grew up. (Which turned out to be a hoax.)
In reading and thinking about such incidents, I realize that my prejudice against "liking" something on Facebook to produce change is a symptom of my age. I started educating myself about LGBT issues and gay rights (as they were called back then) in 1997, before the internet was used to organize, proselytize, and foment large numbers of people. To me, using the internet seems secondary to actually writing letters, placing phone calls to officials, meeting with them or going into their offices. Not to mention showing up for protests, rallies, and community meetings. I remember living in Missoula in 1998 and 1999 the Gay Town Hall meetings would draw hundreds--TWO HUNDRED+--people to discuss issues and concerns like violence against members of the LGBT community.
What would 200 plus people going to city council meetings and the mayor's office demanding that action be taken to make the community safer look like? Today, this seems almost unimaginable to me.
Most people's activism is reduced to an angry comment on a blog or news article, or liking something on Facebook. We might tweet a link. Sometimes, if we are really moved, we donate money to an online organization and let others do the dirty work.
This isn't so much a call for for a grassroots activism to work for good (it is), but my own way of trying to understand how we can reorganize our communities to make our presence felt. Know. Present and unavoidable.
We've given too much away. Too much of our voice. Too much of our money. Too much of our motivation to act. We let others call the shots for us so we won't have to. We let companies (even nonprofit ones) replace our connections to one another and to our queer past. Don't believe me?
My partner and I can always identify other queer people by the purple and yellow equal sign bumper sticker on their vehicles. This isn't a symbol of gay pride. It's an add for HRC. Nothing more and nothing less.
I have given my own power away as well. And even as I speak about doing more than just posting something online I am not unaware of my own hypocrisy using a blog to spread the word.
How can we continue to take direct action and make an impact OFF the internet, as well as on it?