Against A Feather [Excerpt]
TRISTAN: Okay. So, as we now know that you know, five days ago, a sophomore from your high school named Soren Waterson hanged himself in his bedroom not ten minutes away from here. Now, the press is calling it another gay suicide amidst a quote-unquote rash of gay suicides. It’s a hot topic right now, has been for a few years. Every few months the newspapers will churn out another article lamenting another gay kid who killed himself and saying what a tragedy it is and asking “what could we have done to stop it?” in the same way people ask “what about the starving children in Africa?” But then the conversation ends. That’s where it ends. And if you ask me, that’s a little fucked. Don’t you think that’s a little fucked, Diana?
DIANA: Totally fucked, Tristan.
TRISTAN: ‘Cuz I mean, first of all, it’s being treated like some new epidemic, like SARS or some shit, as though gay kids haven’t been killing themselves for centuries in this stupid fuckin’ country. And second of all, to the extent that we can see, there have been few to no correlations made by the media between these gay kids who murder themselves and the scores and scores of gay people who get murdered by heterosexual people who choose to murder them. And that is, I think, a can of worms that no reporter wants to touch with a ten foot pole. But nonetheless one that begs opening.
TRISTAN: ‘Cuz see, there’s this thing that happens with suicide, where everyone feels terrible about it and asks “Why?” But then they don’t actually look for answers. Because to ask why someone would want to kill themselves is a really scary question when you start really digging. It takes you to places you might not be ready to go. Take Virginia Woolf, for example. You ask why she killed herself you have to look deep into her psychological state, you have to confront historicized violence against women, you have to deal with institutionalized misogyny, and all that hairy shit. It’s a whole mess. And in the case of these gay kids, like Soren, when you really start asking the question “Why did Soren Waterson, a seventeen year old with a good GPA, probably on track to a scholarship at a college, with a loving mom, kill himself five days ago?” You’ve got to deal with the fact that the answers are all over the place, written into the very fabric of our society. Because of the Church. Because of societally constructed shame. Because of Conservative Republicans. Because of the failure on the public school system in America to protect its own students. But you can’t exactly put the Church on trial, can you? You can’t exactly charge zee Grand Ol’ Party with aiding and abetting in a self-murder, you know? So who does that leave?
TRISTAN: Who does that leave, Daniel?
DANIEL: I don’t fuckin’ know.
PETER: It leaves bullies, Tristan.
TRISTAN: It leaves bullies. And that’s why no one wants to deal with it, isn’t it, Daniel? See, if you start doing some digging about the idea of “bullying” you’re inevitably gonna have to confront the notion that these bullies aren’t an idea at all. These bullies are actual kids, they’re actual breathing bodies and not some floating idea of “the bully.” And the press can’t do that. Or it doesn’t. Can you guess why, Daniel?
DIANA: God you are just the dumbest fuck.
TRISTAN: Because, Daniel, no one wants to look into their own kids’ faces and see something that evil pouring out of their eyeballs. No one can handle looking at America’s own kids, and having to put them on trial for being so fucking cruel to their gay or bi or trans classmates that their classmates are driven to the point that they lose their shit and blow their own brains out. No one wants to confront that fact. So what happens? We all talk ad nauseum about “bullying” without ever actually asking the question, who the fuck are these bullies? Why are they all getting away with it? And shouldn’t they be held accountable for their actions?
TRISTAN: And that, sugar, is where our little science project comes into play. See, we do this thing where we go to a place and we find the right people and we ask them the right questions because we always ask the right questions and then we find the bully in question and we take ‘em on a little adventure and we sit ‘em down cozy in a lovely little Neverland like this and we ask them questions, and after we’ve asked the questions, we have us a little show of hands to settle on a verdict, and then we execute the verdict. Got it?
PETER: We’re going to weigh your soul against a feather, Daniel. (coming in close to Daniel’s face) Don’t fuck it up.