I'm taking to the blog this week to issue a challenge to anyone who reads or shares this. It's a simple one, so don't bail on me just yet.
Here's the challenge: End the use of the word "gay" when referencing something negative. "That's gay." "You're so gay" etc etc etc etc etc etc.
As a Director for two very different summer camp programs, I would start my yearly spiel to the kids and staff with a basic message...that I would have zero tolerance for the words, gay, fag, retard, and the 'n-word.'
At Camp Micah where I was Assistant Director/Boy's Head Counselor, I would talk about how the camp was named after my Uncle Milt - a guy that loved camp, was insanely talented, creative and hilarious...and just so happened to be homo-sexual. As a kid, my Uncle Milt never truly felt he could be himself, often worrying what people might think of him. Or even worse - find out his secret. My goal was that this would never happen to kids similar to my uncle sitting right in front of me.
I was so bent on hammering this home that a parent later told me their kid came back from camp and was "swearing like a sailor." When the mom checked her son's language, he told her it was ok, because "Scot told us that as long as we didn't say gay, fag or retard, it was ok." Message missed, but not completely!
Aside from the above story, I was never really sure if my yearly speech had a long term impact on the kids ...until late last Tuesday night when I received this text.
Following the horrific events in Orlando, the words from those in the LGBT community are incredibly powerful and painful. A population of people who already feel discriminated against and looked down upon now have another, very real layer of difficulty with which to deal. Fear.
It's unfortunately been made clear that real gun reform and containing the terror threat is much easier said than done, so on this day, I'd like to focus on what's truly doable. Take on my challenge, and issue it to family members, co-workers, and kids casually talking around you. It's a baby step, but one that only makes us better as people, and does so at a time when so many could really use our support.