I’m not gay.
I’m just different.
I’d say I only experienced a very moderate amount of bullying and teasing at school.
But for a small farm school in the middle of nowhere, Indiana, we had our fair share of freaks & geeks. And gay and lesbian teens. Some of them were my friends. Hiding out together in creative writing and drama clubs, we carved out a little safe place.
I couldn’t guess what happened during the rest of the day for some of my friends. For me, early in high school I was eschewed as a nerd, a freak, ass-kisser, brown-noser, and suck up. Once I started dating, I was mostly referred to as a slut.
I was more or less oblivious to a lot of the commentary, since I didn’t have that many friends to feed me the rumor mill. And the things I did hear, while stinging, I managed to learn to disregard. I was a smart kid, and I got along with my teachers very well, which allowed me a lot of privileges (in that limited high school world). And I was very flirtatious, touchy, and I had sex.
All and all I escaped relatively unscathed.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids who don’t.
The media has been full of blips of kids, gay, lesbian, or just different, who have taken their own lives because of bullying and tormenting from their peers and lack of support from those who are supposed to care for them. My heart breaks for these kids.
At a very terrible and low point in my life, I did contemplate its end. It’s not a secret, and my amazing family is the reason I am here, and whole. And happy.
The point is, there are places where bigotry and narrow-mindedness don’t exist. Sometimes you can go there, sometimes you have to make them for yourself. And after you find a place where you can love yourself, and surround yourself with people who love you, it gets better.
Writer Dan Savage has begun an amazing project of compiling inspirational stories of men and women (and everything in between) telling their stories of how their lives have gotten better even though at some point they thought that it never would. Check them out at http://www.itgetsbetterproject.com/
Also, there is an amazing resource for young adults (or anyone) who is feeling lost, depressed, or suicidal. Apparently these people have been helping kids since I was in high school, but they’ve gotten a fresh boost of publicity and attention along with the deaths of the kids they’re trying to help.http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Take a look, remember that the only way to end bullying and intolerance is to lead and love by example, and help end this tragedy.