When I give presentations at schools, I am always looking for Tyler in the crowd. I guess some part of my mind still thinks I can save him. Ultimately I cannot. But every time I tell the story, I meet at least one person who reminds me that there are others who need to know that they are not alone.
This past weekend I was called a "faggot." Recently I'd realized that nothing like that had happened to me in a while and wondered if or when it would. When it did, it made me realize how much, and how little, has changed.
When a heterosexual woman is accompanied by her partner, her chances of being harassed go down. For LGBTQ individuals the opposite happens. I've been harassed for holding hands with a boy. It's not news to anyone that it happens, but it does happen with alarming frequency.
Let's be real: Joel and Ethan's pizza story is heartwarming precisely because it is an exception to what usually happens. And though people's attitudes toward gays are slowly softening, go a few miles outside a city center and you get much less friendly treatment.
Focus on the Family, a right-wing lobbying group that fronts as a religious organization, pays lip service to the bullying issue, but wants no mention of homosexuality in schools because it might encourage kids to be gay.