I keep reading articles about bullying, and invariably there is a comment by someone saying something like: “People need to get over this. Bullying made me a stronger person… blah blah blah. That’s life… blah blah blah.” Actually, it’s not life. I am thirty years old, and the most tormented time of my life occured between fifth grade and senior year of high school. These are the years when we are supposed to be learning about the world and about what makes the world work, we are supposed to be concentrating on our studies. Sure the world can be cruel, and it often is, but I can’t agree that bullying is how we learn about how unfair the world can be. My experiences after this time, have largely been filled with kind people, intimacy, love, real happiness, some sadness, a bit of conflict, but never the crushing depression, humiliation, fear, self-hatred, hatred for others, that I experienced in school. I don’t remember anyone EVER reaching out to me, I don’t remember ever telling even my closest friends or my parents about what my days were really like when they were not around to witness it for fear that they would reject me for being gay (even those I knew would still love me.) One event that will always stick with me: I was being harassed by this guy named John. It was in art class and the teacher was literally a foot away from us. John crouched behind me and said graphic sexual things to me and put his hands on my shoulders, while across the room his friends laughed, and I stared at the teacher, who looked at me and then looked away. Even my table mates went about their business, as if he weren’t there at all. It was in high school that I stopped hating the people who were torturing me and started hating myself. What did I expect? I was a faggot.
I know for a fact that I would have tried harder in school if things had been different; I would have joined SOMETHING; I know that I would have been braver once I was out of school; I would have had more confidence in my abilities in everything; I would have loved myself before the age of twenty. I sometimes say that being bullied made me stronger, but all it did was tell me that I was hated for who I was and what I couldn’t change. It made me HATE and mistrust heterosexual men. Not that girls weren’t as bad, but they were subtle about pointing out my difference. When I got my braces off after a year, a girl in my science class, who I had actually liked, said: “Great! You don’t sound like such a faggot anymore.”
It was a long time before I realized that I was not the one with the problem. Just because kids have always been bullied doesn’t make it right. Doesn’t mean it does NO damage. I can only speak for the gay kids: the world already tells us we’re wrong, just by bombarding us with straightness, by keeping the VERY existance of homosexuality away from children so that they don’t understand it. Even members of my own family have acted as if I am something to hide. My aunt didn’t tell her children I was gay until this year. They are 13 and 16, and I’m sure they figured it out. But what was she hiding from them? What is so shameful about me? Of course, this goes for everyone: do we want to stomp down the resources that are American children? We keep popping out more and more: do we want them to be beaten down so early in the game that they feel it’s useless to become great?