The news has been full very recently of  Suicide , by boys and young men in America.

It is difficult to think of anything more sad than a young person taking his or her own life.

But these stories make me uneasy. About the media, about our attitudes to sexuality, and about the agendas of the gay rights movements, particularly in America at the moment.

Some pertinent Questions have been posed by Mr Fuck Theory on this issue. I respect him for challenging received wisdom about such a current, emotive subject, especially as he is based in the U.S.

I have a few (rhetorical) questions of my own.

Can we identify a boy of 13, categorically as ‘gay’, so early on in his sexual development?

Is his own self-identification as gay to do with his sexuality or how he has been treated by those around him?

Has anyone commented on the fact that he shot himself with his step-father’s gun, which was lying around in their own home?

By labelling these young men as ‘gay teen suicides’ are gay campaigners adding to the stigma of growing up with a sexuality that doesn’t fit the straight, hetero ‘norm’?

Has the media found a cluster of examples in order to make a story, when actually suicides by young men in particular are relatively common occurrences?

What is going on with this war of words between  Gay Rights   activists and The Christian Right ? And what does it have to do with these young men?

Can Dan Savage and  Andrew Sullivan and Joe My God get anymore sanctimonious?

When people say ‘Gay’, do they really mean white, male, middle class, liberal?

Is America a fucked-up place to grow up, no matter what your gender identity or sexual orientation?

  1. arctic_jay says:

    Your 5th question, I think, is the most interesting one. All the news articles and online posts I’ve read obtusely refer to this phenomenon as a crisis of gay teen suicide. They never point out that all these high profile cases have been teenaged boys. This is very suspicious as the mainstream media never wastes time in pointing out demographic irregularities occurring in behavioral trends when doing so paints women and minorities as victims. Since most popular media is feminist, the reason probably is that since the vast majority of suicide victims are male, one way to redirect attention from that fact is to focus exclusively on some other sanctioned minority status. This changes the discourse. When a man or boy kills himself, we speculate on what feminist-approved oppression he might of suffered, never asking how society’s treatment of men contributed to his decision.

  2. I agree jay, up to a point. It depends how you see the ‘gay’ discourse fitting in with feminism. Gay rights campaigners and the Christian Right and the media are all invested in pathologising ‘gay’ people and giving them a special victim and/or deviant status.

    I don’t know what this has to do with feminism but I see what you are saying about avoiding acknowledging the more general unrecognised problem of suicides by young men.

  3. arctic_jay says:

    “I don’t know what this has to do with feminism but I see what you are saying about avoiding acknowledging the more general unrecognised problem of suicides by young men.”

    One of feminism’s primary goals is to promote the dogma that men are never oppressed as men. If a man is oppressed, then it’s due to some identification other than his maleness. That’s why this third wave of feminism is trying to promote the concept of kyriarchy. It’s becoming harder to ignore the problems that men face, especially as women continue advancing. In order to preempt the correlating suspicion that feminism is a hate group, pragmatic feminists are selling a theory that allows that an individual man can be more oppressed than an individual woman while still maintaining that his being male is not a causal factor of his oppression. When a gay man commits suicide, it’s regarded as a gay suicide, even though being male is a strong determining factor in suicide. By only regarding male suicide victims by their non-gender identifiers, society can easily ignore the factor of maleness in a problem that is significantly determined by it. Again, that’s a feminist goal.

    “It depends how you see the ‘gay’ discourse fitting in with feminism.”

    The idea of “gay” serves a few purposes in feminism. One, stereotypical “gay” gender rebellion is used as a tool to promote the idea that maleness and femaleness are performative. Two, by setting up gay men as victims of the patriarchy, they help prevent men of various sexual orientations from becoming allies. Three, “gay” can be used as a smokescreen to prevent analysis of the oppression of males.

  4. I see what you are saying, but it is Gay Men who are going on about these ‘gay suicides’ the most, and I don’t think they are feminist or ruled by feminism. So the relationship between the two gets more complicated…

  5. Mark says:

    Respect to you for raising this difficult issue, QRG. I too am somewhat dubious about this appropriation of these teen suicides to the cause of Mr Savage et al. They want these deaths to have a ‘message’ – when they might not have a message at all, or one that doesn’t really fit with their cause. But, hey, that’s politics.

  6. Politics can be very ugly at times.

    We can’t go back and talk to those boys and young men to get more of an idea of the causes of their suffering. It’s likely nobody bothered to talk to them in the first place, which will not have helped matters. To then lecture everyone after their deaths, about what they mean, seems like one more, posthumous cruelty to me.

  7. arctic_jay says:

    Ask five gay men you know if they consider themselves a feminist and then five straight men and see the difference. The dominant theory of gender amongst gay men, especially gay men with an activist bent, is feminism.

    Yes, gay men are disproportionally discussing this issue, yet, they’re still ignoring the male aspect. Why?

  8. well they like to see themselves as victims. survivors of oppression I guess. I don’t support that view. I am more bothered about the suicide rate amongst young men in general. But I am not going to blame absolutely everything on feminism that is a bit fundamentalist.

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