Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MORE Jonah Madness!!!

At some point, you have to say "enough".  ENOUGH!!!  I've said this several times previously, and the events of last night simply proved my point.  Ok, let's set the record straight once and for all:  This isn't just about Jonah Mowry

Jonah Mowry is a wonderful, courageous 14 year old boy.  Four months ago, he bravely recorded a video exposing his pure fear and pain from being a gay teen, from having been bullied, and from having to face a new school year with only one of his closest friends.  It was a heart wrenching video.  And, the world -- THE WORLD!! -- responded!  In overabundance.  Far, far too many people made this issue all about Jonah rather than the real issue at hand.  See, the true message of that first video was "yeah, I'm scared.  Yeah, this hurts.  But, I'm gonna make it.  I'm gonna be alright."  And, according to most of the responses I read, most people missed the fine print.  Okay, so fine.  Put Jonah's face on the cover if you must. Make Jonah the poster boy.  But, never lose sight of the fact that there are literally millions of Jonahs out there RIGHT NOW who need that same support.  This isn't just about Jonah Mowry.

From the frenzy created by the release of that first video earlier this month, no less that 130 "support" pages for Jonah popped up on facebook.  One of them, "Jonah Mowry, we support you", was prominently featured on a national news broadcast!!  Right there on the green screen, anyone who watched that broadcast or the subsequent repostings of it could clearly see where all the action was.  Free publicity!  The page reached a "membership" of over 36,000!!!! Better yet, more that 40,000 people were "talking about it", which carries a lot of weight on facebook.  Young people were going there to express their kinship with Jonah.  Perfect.  That's what it was supposed to be about.  Former bullies were going there to express their remorse for having put people like Jonah through that and vowing to never do it again.  PERFECT!!  That's what it was supposed to be about.

Last night, the creator of the page blew it up!  Gutted it.  Vanished.  The reason?  Well, I'll keep that under my own hat.  No sense in fanning that flame.  Not only was the page blown up, in its final moments he lashed out verbally at Jonah, posting things that I didn't get the chance to see.  However, from what I understand, and according to some of the reactions that I did get the chance to read, it was really harsh.  I'm not going to speculate.  Again, no sense in fanning that flame.

The real tragedy of it is that the focus was lost.  It's what I've been trying to get across.  See, I know from first-hand experience that this issue of bullying, violence against gay teens, and gay teen suicide is nothing new at all and certainly was NEVER just about Jonah.  Far too many people wanted to make this Jonah's struggle.  It never was.  Now, the hundreds, maybe thousands!, of young people - from both ends of the bully spectrum - have been alienated.  In the end, the page became a mockery of Jonah, himself.  In a culture that was already fragile at best, this is reprehensible.  Daily, there were teens like Jonah who were posting how they could relate to him because, as one boy put it, "we are the same".  Conversely, as one former bully put it "watching your video made me momentarily hate myself".  Watching Jonah's video made him feel remorse for his actions.  And, there were others expressing the same sentiment.  They all found comfort there.  And, with comfort comes healing.  And, from the healing comes growth.  That process was stunted last night.

"Jonah Mowry, we support you" is no more.  That's sad.  However, out of the ruins has emerged the support group Global Bully Awareness.  And, this one isn't about Jonah or any one person in particular.  Rather, it focuses on the issue at hand:  bullying and it's effects.  It has quickly grown to 392 "members".  That's a little more that 1% of what was in the original community.  Hopefully, it won't take too long to get those numbers back up.  It's about reaching out.  It's about providing a safe place for at-risk youth to come and comfortably voice their concerns and issues.  It's about trying to save lives.  Click the link.  "Like" the page.  Then, share it.  There are lives in the balance.