Rutgers, Gemütlichkeit & Me
Posted October 2, 2010on:
I am appalled on so many levels that a so-called pillar of the La Crosse community tried to grab a gay pride flag from a girl walking with the GLBT group in the Oktoberfest Maple Leaf Parade,.
He then allegedly shoved her and said, “Go to a country where they will hang people like you.” It is beyond the pale.
This man denied saying that and pushing her. “It all had to do with the discoloring of the American flag. Other commodores on the commodore float were upset because the flag is offensive to veterans … This is not an issue of gays. This is an issue with the American flag.”
It’s not. It’s an issue of bullying. And it is all about prejudice. And it has potential for lethal consequences.
In the back of my mind I remembered that there is a very sad and very high rate of suicide among young people who are gay. That death this week of a gay student at Rutgers University after bullying by his roommate reinforces that sad statistic.
We don’t know if this girl is a lesbian – she may be an ally – but that shouldn’t matter. Young people are vulnerable, at risk for suicide in general and adults are supposed to act like adults. The commodore certainly didn’t. And he put a young person at risk, if not physically but emotionally. Others who witnessed the exchange are at risk, too.
Although the commodore later apologized, I am still appalled that he would wrap himself up the flag to justify his bad behavior.
The U.S. flag is a symbol of freedom of expression, and not just for those who have your sexual orientation. It is symbol of welcoming to people and not just to those whose grandparents or parents came here ahead of us. It represents our freedom of religion and not just to Christians.
I’ll say it again – wrapping yourself in the flag as an excuse for bad behavior is not patriotic and it is not American.
It is ironic that this happened at La Crosse’s largest festival, Oktoberfest, which brings in tens of thousands of people for that parade under the banner of Gemütlichkeit.
Gemutlichkeith is a German word meaning belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the opportunity to spend quality time. (Wikipedia). Miriam Webster dictionary describse it as cordiality, friendliness and with synonyms including amity, benevolence, brotherhood, charity, cordiality, cordialness, fellowship, friendliness, friendship, goodwill, good-fellowship, kindliness, neighborliness.
Which of those words applied to the Riverfest Commodore’s actions? Where did he help build our La Crosse community?
At the end of her program this week, Ellen had some powerful words about the death of the Rutgers student and the tragic loss of four teenage boys in the last month alone
‘He was outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself… One life lost in this senseless way is tragic,” she said. ‘Something must be done This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing. We have an obligation to change this.”
- This was first shared on a Facebook page, which allowed for it to be posted on other pages.
Here’s a link to Ellen’s words: http://ellen.warnerbros.com/2010/09/an_important_message_from_ellen_about_bullying_0930.php