Today is best known as Columbus Day, but I (as an indigenous woman) prefer to think of it as “Indigenous Peoples Day.” I mourn the genocide of millions of indigenous Americans and enslaved Africans that happened during the construction of our country and the system we now know as capitalism.
Normally, I’d go on a tirade about how Columbus wasn’t worth remembering, about how today is not a day to celebrate the achievements of a mass-murderer.
That man does not deserve a federally recognized holiday. He deserves to be recognized for the disgraceful, treacherous person he was.
It’s like honoring a pimple. Think about it: a pimple is just a big, disgusting white thing. Columbus’ self-proclaimed ‘discover” of America marked the beginning of the American holocaust, ethnic cleansing characterized by murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery, kidnapping, and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands. To my non-Native American friends, I say that to celebrate the legacy of this murderer is an affront to all Indian peoples, and others who truly understand this history. It would be the same as if German people would celebrate and glorify Adolf Hitler and the rise of fascism, and the Nazi holocaust by holding parades through the Jewish communities of America and throughout the world.
However, today also happens to be National Coming Out Day 2010.
This year, National Coming Out Day takes on particular poignancy in light of a preponderance of anti-gay bullying incidents that have led to the suicides of five teenagers over the course of just three weeks, including Raymond Chase, 19; Tyler Clementi, 19; Billy Lucas, 15; Asher Brown, 13; and Seth Walsh, 13. These deaths highlight the difficulties that many LGBT people face when coming out.
Observed on college campuses and in communities around the country, National Coming Out Day is aimed at celebrating coming out as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person. The Human Rights Campaign describes coming out as “the process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates his or her sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others.”
One death by suicide is a tragedy, but five? And these are just the ones that made the news. How many other LGBT youth have taken their lives that no one knows of? The tormentors need to be made an example of, and national action needs to be taken to address youth bullying, harassment and the need for safety and inclusion for LGBT youth at colleges and universities across the country.
We must not let these tragic deaths go unnoticed. Together we must act decisively to curb anti-LGBT bias incidents, harassment and acts of violence.
It will get better, but only once we all stand up and refuse to sit down.
I for one am mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.