Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.
This comment came in response to our article on a gay student who killed himself after his college roommate broadcast his sexual encounter on the Internet. I thought it was worth turning into its own column because I'm sure this reader expressed what many people are thinking.
First, my deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and loved ones of this young man who felt, tragically, he needed [to] end his life. And, whereas I do not condone the actions of this fellow's roommate and partner in crime, I would also wonder why this young man felt he needed to end his life. It is increasingly common, these days, to find secret videos of individuals' sex acts on the internet and yet these individuals have not chosen to end their lives. What else was going on in this young man's life that caused him to believe that the only viable solution for him was to end his life? This, too, must be explored. The people who did this were young and stupid, to be sure, but I don't believe, for a moment, that they would have done this had they known that the young man's response would have been suicide.
"This, too, must be explored"? Why? To justify or somehow ameliorate this tragedy? The unctuous expression of "sympathies" makes this a particularly creepy response. Would it make you feel better to know that, aside from his being exploited for entertainment while he was emerging from childhood and becoming a sexual being, he also was overdrawn on his checking account?
What if he were killed by a drunk driver? Or a falling bullet from a person shooting a gun in the air? Would you want to "explore" the reason the victim was in that place at that time to be killed by the car or hit by the bullet? What nonsense. Readers, I have excluded hateful comments on this article and came close to editing this one out too—but will use it to make a point.
Our country has come a long way, but the fact is that LGBT people face an incredible bigotry—much of it driven by so-called religious and political leaders who fill their coffers by promoting the sense of an "other" group to discriminate against. There's something in the tribal nature of the human spirit that lets us have a cheap thrill by oppressing and/or denigrating another group. This young man was a student and a musician and a victim. He was not webcast while doing homework; no, the (alleged) perpetrators were enjoying the prurient thrill of outing an 18-year-old kissing someone of the same sex. The reason someone would find pleasure in doing this is the ugly thing we see when we look in our society's mirror, which must be confronted forthrightly if we are going to vanquish it. Our continued oppression of our LGBT citizens, the leveraging of hate for personal gain—THIS is what "must be explored."