We all want to live.

I recently watched Monica Lewinsky’s Forbes Under 30 Summit speech. I did it partially for research for my latest writing project and the other partially because I was curious about what she had to say. I have never watched her speak before. She even mentioned during her speech that she has not given many speeches before.

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about Monica Lewinsky. The last time was a little over seven years ago. The fact that I can remember that clearly about her, but forget other things so easily shows that you can forgive, but you can’t forget. Before watching her give her speech I didn’t think I would get much out of it, but afterwards was another story.

I still can’t say I can put what she did out of my head. But I had never thought about her side of the story or what she went through. Honestly, back then I think I was too preoccupied with school to worry about what she was feeling or going through. I just kind of went on with my life and that was that. I never thought she could feel so badly she’d have suicidal thoughts, but when she described everything that happened to her, I can kind of see how she could be enveloped by such darkness. Then she talked about Tyler Clementi. And my mind immediately went to a book review I did recently because I think the author of that book did mention something about Tyler and definitely references Matthew Shepard.

It made me think about how some young people say, “that’s so gay,” when they are talking about something or someone unpopular. I guess that statement is pretty harmless, but who really knows? That simple statement could cause someone to feel lowered self-esteem, leading to thoughts of suicide and harm. It seems silly, but it’s possible.

I think that’s sad because no one, not Monica Lewinsky, not pop singers (you know people call their music gay sometimes), not actual gay people, not artists, not anyone, should ever feel like they deserve to die. Just for being a different color or race or sexual orientation or whatever, a person should not feel so bad about themselves because of hurtful words other people have said to them that they want to die. They should feel proud of who they are and what they have accomplished. Why should a pop singer be labeled “gay”? At least that person is out there singing his or her heart out, doing something he or she loves and living for it. We all want to live. That’s more than can be said of many people who call them names or label them “gay” just for doing their thing.

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