The above video is a tear-jerker even considering how saturated the topic if anti-gay bullying is on the Internet, showing it's not something we can let up on. Activist and writer Mark Blane's response—The Rock & The Ripe Project—sounds like a good idea, a combined political response and play, and it's one that could use your patronage. (Kickstarter here. I'm donating now.)
More info after the jump...
"The project is an anti-bullying movement that specifically gives voice to the LGBT teen suicides that have happened across America in the past 3-10 years. The characters in the play are based on real people and interviews I've been gathering for the past 2 years. (The explanation of the title is very powerful and can be seen in the video I've attached, it's inspired by two teen suicides from January 2012).
"Two of the suicides I've been most connected to happened in January in Tennessee and Washington. Both boys were 14 years old and hung themselves after being tortured and bullied for being gay at school. I flew to Washington to visit the family of Rafael Morelos to do video footage and interviews. And I'm in contact with Phillip Parker's family in Tennessee. His story is extremely heartbreaking and infuriating, because the school actually knew of his plans to kill himself and they ignored it. And now there is a giant investigation. These stories are very much secretive and covered up by the media. I'm visiting Phillip's family next weekend to get more of the story.
"So besides being in contact with people across the country, I'm in contact with psychologists, Chicago school employees and teachers, I'm in contact with Dan Savage. And Lee Hirsch (Director of BULLY) and I met a month or so ago, and talked about my play. Oscar Award Winning Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (MILK) tweeted our video to his followers a couple weeks ago. There is 'buzz' and it's very exciting, but we're hitting a wall now.
"Our video is evoking a global response from thousands and thousands of people from over 80 different countries. I'm receiving messages and emails from people all over the world asking that we bring this play to their town to help people understand the gay youth's experience of bullying and loneliness. The play is about 7 kids sitting in an office waiting to see the principal. Throughout the play, we are introduced to why each kid is there, their experience, and how they are all connected. It's magical as well as tragic. We're marketing it as a combination of THE BREAKFAST CLUB and WAITING FOR GODOT.
"The play is being performed by paid professional actors and will be showing at LINKS HALL June 1-3 and we just decided to extend it for 2 more weekends. And the book will launch then too. (It's being designed by incredible graphic designers and will include the voices of people across the country, as well as insight into how the project came to be.) It will be a resource guide for people to take away with them. Some of the people contributing quotes or short essays are James Lecesne (The Trevor Project), Patrick Dati (a rape survivor of John Wayne Gacy), and a handful of others that cross between performer, activist, and writer.
"This is a massive and ambitious project and it's my passion. I was ridiculed and harassed from the age of 11 to 18 in Indiana where I grew up. I was being encouraged and instructed to kill myself on a daily basis. The disgusting and horrific stories I have are terrible because it wasn't just kids, but community members, school administrators and teachers that were a part of my harassment. As awful as it was, I am so very lucky to have to gotten through it to go to college and travel abroad and find happiness and freedom in the world...However, my story is not singular. It's (still) happening everywhere, and people are scared to talk about it. "Bullying" is all over the media, but no one is talking about the gay issue, which is ironic, because all of my research and studies show that not just gay kids and suicide victims are LGBT but ALL kids are being bullied with homophobic language and gender policing terms. The national movement is not giving a voice to gay youth, but I really hope to change that."—Mark Blane