Gay Teenage Suicide Is A Tragic Event; Not A "Lifestyle Choice". Valerie Jarrett Needs To Apologize--UPDATED
(Relevant portion at the 4:20 mark)
I'm so frustrated by this that I could scream. I expect the media to be clueless and binary in their thinking when they cover the tragic spate of gay teenage suicides, and they've proven me right yet again.
Via Pam's House Blend, I learn that the Washington Post's remarkably poor decision to post Tony Perkins's falsehood laden, anti-gay screed on their On Faith blog (on National Coming Out Day nonetheless) was because they felt they needed to "cover both sides" of "bullying and gay suicide." No, really, they're serious. Apparently they hosted a Live Q & A chat with Dan Savage to discuss "bullying and gay suicide" and his "It Gets Better Project," which is a You Tube channel Savage created in order to reach out to gay youths to prevent suicide. So, to balance Savage, the Post turned to Perkins to respond. Apparently to the Post, gay suicide is a two-sided issue.
GLAAD and the Washington Post had an exchange over Twitter, in which the Post responded to criticism over publishing Perkins' column, by saying, "[W]e're working to cover both sides. Earlier, we hosted Dan Savage of It Gets Better in a live chat." GLAAD rightly replied, "There are not 'both sides' to this issue. Teen suicide isn't a debate-it's a tragedy."
Exactly. It's a tragedy, and there are not two sides to this issue. But again, the media doesn't know any better than to pander to the lowest common denominator. But what I don't expect, what I never want to see is one of the President's closest advisers to voice such incredible retro-gay-bashing insensitivity:
Today the Washington Post's gay kapo Jonathan Capehart shares a video interview he conducted on Monday with senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. She clearly states a belief that Minnesota gay teen Justin Aarberg, who committed suicide in July after being bullied, made a "lifestyle choice."
What an outrage to claim that the 15-year-old Aarberg made a choice to be gay, and that sexual orientation is a lifestyle. Did she get her talking points from Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council? It's doubly offensive that Capehart makes no effort to point out how dangerous Jarrett's thinking is.
Seriously? Haven't we gotten past the point where we think gays choose to be gay? The Aarbergs weren't good people because they loved their son despite his gayness. It's these nuances that give tacit approval for the bullying that ended up causing Justin Aarberg to feel such despair he saw no other avenue but to take his own life.
I expect better from this administration and I hope Jarrett apologizes for these remarks publicly.
More on combating gay teen suicide here.
UPDATE - Politico is reporting that Jarrett apologized for "misspeaking" to Capehart this morning:
Jarrett, in an e-mail to Capehart, said that she “misspoke” when she described Aaberg’s sexual identity as a lifestyle choice.
“I meant no disrespect to the LGBT community, and I apologize to any who have taken offense at my poor choice of words,” Jarrett said. “Sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice, and anyone who knows me and my work over the years knows that I am a firm believer and supporter in the rights of LGBT Americans.”
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