This I Believe

January 10, 2012
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From the time I was little, I have always supported gay rights. I knew a man named Wayne who was always our waiter when my family and I went to a restaurant called Luna. I would draw him pictures and tell everyone that I was going to marry him. He was at least fifty and gay, and being five years old, I had no chance. When I found out that he was gay I didn’t think of him any different. I wasn’t scared or disgusted by him. He was the same person; he was still Wayne and I loved him.
This is why it shocks me when I see that people- even my classmates- are prejudiced against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people. I have heard everything from “It’s a disease” to “It’s just wrong” to “It means they are a pedophile.” The truth is, they are all people like you and me. They have feelings and a heart. I am writing this because I believe in diversity and equality. But most of all I believe that people should be accepted for who they are. Our world is exciting because we are all different. Diversity gives us a chance to learn and experience new things. I don’t look at differences as things that make people weird or stand out. They are what makes us what we are. And yet, there is still bullying. There are kids, adults, men and women ending their lives because others don’t think that they are “normal” and judge them. People who are told over and over that they will never be good enough. People who think that the only way to escape the everyday torment is to throw away their most important possession- themselves.
Recently, a boy named Jamey Rodemeyer took his life. His mother said, “He was the sweetest, nicest kid you’d ever know. He would give his whole heart to you before he gave any to himself.” This didn’t stop people from posting hateful words online like “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it :)”. Just because his friends were girls. Just because his voice was high. Just because he was gay. He was found dead in his house. He was only 14.
It is because of people like Jamey that I donated $200 of my Bat Mitzvah money to a gay and lesbian association against bullying called GLAAD. I attached a letter saying “I am only 13 and I am not in the LGBT community, but I have seen how homophobic and racist people can be and I want to help stop it.” I could have bought a lot with that money, but writing that check and sending it away felt right. It felt like I was doing something with my life, and making a difference. Recently GLAAD sent me a dog tag necklace with a rainbow fingerprint on the front, and the phrase “stand for one stand for all” on the back. Receiving this reminded me of what diversity really is. It is not something that should be hidden or ashamed of. It is something that you should wear proudly on your chest and feel pretty and happy. So every morning I face myself in the mirror and fasten the cold chain of the necklace around my neck. By wearing this I am showing that I support everyone- black, white, Jewish, Catholic, Hispanic, gay, lesbian. Even if I am not like them, I still want them to be happy.
I do not understand how people could deny others the right to be happy. Everyone gets one life. Why waste yours hating others for things they can’t control? Gay or straight- love is love. That’s how I like to think about it. But I still hear you in the halls, in classrooms, everywhere: “You’re so gay. You’re such a f*ggot.” Each word is a bullet that is aimed at someone. You can look away and ignore it, but you can’t deny the pain that it causes them. And I am sick of not saying anything and watching it happen. I have stayed silent for too long. So listen up, because I’m ready to start talking.

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