I remember the panicked and scared look on a GLBT person I know who was still in closet at the time.
The young person came to me and another adult about a rumor. With a trembling voice the young person said, "There is a rumor that I am a lesbian. I'm scared."
"Oh no," I said, "How did the rumor get out? Do you know who did it?"
"I told 4 of my friends in school, one of them decided to tell everyone because she thinks it is a sin."
The other adult piped in at that point. "Something is not a rumor if it is true."
I felt my blood boil as I said, "No, it is not slander if it is true, it is still a rumor if the person does not wish the details of their lives spoken about!"
The other adult looked at me and then said, "Well, she should have been more careful about who she told. She has to take partial responsibility for this."
"No. That is like telling a rape victim they should not have worn a red dress that night or flirted with someone she found interesting. Hell, you may as well tell a mugging victim they should not have owned a nice watch or an iPhone."
The other adult got it and we were able move on and help a troubled teen through a troubling time.
We are seeing a dangerous trend in youth where the fear of gossip can lead to suicidal ideations, cutting and other things.
I do not think we adults are much different The gossip hurts us. It creates anxiety, leads to reputation loss and there are concentric circles of pain that ripple out.
If we feel better speaking ill of others, we need to look in a mirror and take a deep and long look into the soul. If we justify the actions of another that creates deep harm in someone, we need to face that mirror yet again. If we are the victim, we need to look in that mirror one more time and take that deep look and do something extremely brave.
We need to love ourselves.
We will make mistakes. We will have lapses of judgement. We will also do nothing wrong other than being ourselves and people will see that as unacceptable.
The self appointed wiki-leaks of your life can go to hell.
You hold your head high.
If you are the one with the loose lips. Own it and apologize and do better.
May we all do better and may we celebrate the story of us and not shame the story.