Op-ed: Is a Way For Us to Fight Back
BY Advocate Contributors
April 02 2012 3:00 AM ET
First, go see the movie Bully.
Now that my shameless promotion of the film is dispensed with, let me explain why this documentary has become so important to me.
I'm an actor on a show called Victorious on the Nickelodeon network. Its success gives me the opportunity to communicate with teenagers in middle school and high school in a way no other job can. And this has created for me a type of moral dilemma. I wanted to do something with this influence that didn’t involve promoting a new clothing line or tweeting about what I had for breakfast. I wanted to do something that would make school a little easier for people who are trying to develop, who want to find out what it is to be the adult versions of themselves. Being newly inducted into the world of adulthood myself (I’m not much older than a lot of the people who watch the show), I understand how hard that development is and it’s still fresh in my mind.
While I was growing up, my parents had all types of friends, many of whom were gay. I grew up with gay people being a completely normal part of any dinner party my parents threw. So when I went to school and saw people being isolated and abused for being gay, I was bothered by it personally. Although it was never directly my issue, it’s a problem that I always thought I’d like to do something about.
Back in early 2011, the suicide rate of bullied LGBT teens had become highly publicized. Many lives were cut short, and we lost people who, if they had been able to hold on and get out of the shark tank that is school, could have brought so much to our world. It was then I decided I had an obligation to not remain silent. I started a campaign called Straight But Not Narrow. Our message is simple. We are straight men and woman who support our LGBTQ friends and family.
After amassing a number of videos of my friends and others who have lent their support (Josh Hutcherson, Cory Monteith, and Gethin Anthony, to name a few) we launched a campaign to bring awareness that gay equality is not just a gay issue, it’s a human issue. I wanted SBNN to transcend being just a celebrity campaign where everyone sits around yelling “Gay is OK!” at a camera, so I and my cofounders, Heather Wilk and Andre Pochon, started working on getting our message into schools and working with gay-straight alliances. The idea has caught on better than I could have hoped. We have had an incredibly warm response to our work. So many straight people are not remaining silent and are standing up for their gay friends. That is the context. That is the reason I have given so much support to Bully.