I remember being bullied growing up. It dates back to when I was in grade school. I have always been gay which makes me different and children can be very mean. I recall the words fag and faggot being tossed around back when all I did was hang out with girls so that provoked name calling and ridicule. I was never a fighter. I found it very hard to fight back. I think one day I threw my book on the concrete ground in retaliation of being bullied. Yeah douchebag, that will teach you…I bet my book hurt you really bad seeing how its on the ground! Seriously! What was I thinking? I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. I was scared. I should have clobbered him with the textbook. Textbooks can hurt! I was mostly scared but I was taught not to resort to violence either. Now I look back, I really wish I was taught violence is okay in self-defense.
The anti-gay bullying and name calling only got worse as I got older. In junior high, I was being called fag, sissy, faggot, pussy and many slurs. I was being chased, kicked, shoved, and pushed around. It was always the same reasons. I was gay. I hung out with girls and I was not having sex with them. For me, part of me wants to believe that I was strong mentally to endure the anti-gay bullying without having a meltdown, but I also feel I had and still have a strong set of friends who have always been accepting of me. My best friends back in junior high stuck up for me, maybe not with fists, but with words and getting involved in some way. They somehow stepped up each and every time that they were around witnessing anti-gay bullying. Back then I felt helpless, but I also was ashamed because I had females fighting my battles which added to my frustrations. I was truly thankful for them though, still am. I look back now and I thank heaven that they stepped up when they did. I used to have to find alternative routes home just to avoid bullying. Obviously, I was not as strong as I’d like to believe. I was very weak, emotional and fragile when it came to bullying. It had a negative impact on my confidence and self esteem.
Last week, Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14 year old boy from Buffalo, NY who identified himself as bisexual hung himself in front of his parents home. Jamey endured anti-gay bullying similar to mine, as well as, many teens of the LGBT community. When in junior high, the anti-gay bullying resulted in Jamey blogging about it on his blogging accounts. He talked about being bullied and suicide on his tumblr account. On You Tube, he seemed happy and full of sunshine. He talked of Lady Gaga who was his idol because she says we were, “Born This Way”.
Towards the end of junior high, he put on his poker face and made it appear that things were getting better. He was appearing as if he embraced his differences and his sexuality. He even did a you tube video for the “It Gets Better” project founded by gay activist and journalist, Dan Savage. In the video he talks about loving oneself and overcoming anti-gay bullying. Three weeks into high school on September 18th, he took his own life.
It brings me great sadness that such a handsome and vibrant young boy fell prey to the hurtful words of others. He was trying his hardest to overcome it. His message still rings true, “It gets better, in time”. Somewhere inside of him he lost faith in his own message due to ongoing bullying that became too much. He had a light around him and was taken from us too soon. He would have done many great things.
I’m 34 years old now, a long way from those bullying days in grade school. It got better over time! I am fortunate to have survived such hatred and ignorance. Bullying in every form especially anti-gay bullying needs to stop. How many young boys and girls have to die? Why do teens have to find different ways home? Why do they have to suffer everyday making life that much more unbearable? When will people listen and realize we all are different but we are all human? Did you go through bullying growing up? How did it affect you? Did you know someone else who endured such ignorance? Tell me your story!
In Memory of Jamey Rodemeyer