Nine out of ten gay teenagers experience bullying or harassment in school. Gay teenagers are also four times likelier to commit suicide. The statistics are shocking, but I too was part of this statistic once. You see I too experienced bullying and harassment in school, and I write this blog post for all those gay kids out there who feel isolated, misunderstood, scared and alone. I write this for you to tell you it will get better and you are not alone.
There are many gay teens out there in the world who is struggling to come to terms with their sexual orientations. Too many times they have to hear homosexuality is wrong, it is a sin to be gay or even that being gay is an abomination. They are called faggots, queers and are made to feel less than human. I know, because I once also was that teen who had to listen to this intolerance and hate. I too had to endure the teasing, the name calling, the endless bullying and yes, I too was made to feel like I was broken. I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me, something that should be fixed and if only I had the will power, I too could change and be normal, be normal like my friends.
You see no one chooses to be gay. I didn’t wake up one morning and decided I wanted to be different. I was born this way, this is what I was meant to be and yet the world wanted me to change. For a long time I kept my thoughts and feelings hidden away from my friends and family, it was my secret and if it were to come out I feared I would be rejected. I feared that I would no longer be loved.
For the longest time I felt like I was the only gay person in the world. The only thing I yearned for was to see and talk to other gay people as I had so many questions. I wanted to know whether things would be OK, I wanted to know what I could expect from live, will it be worth it, could I be gay and be happy and have a normal life, will I be able to fall in love with a man, get married, have children and I also had allot of question about sex and AIDS.
Little did I know that even in my own school there were others that were just like me – confused, scared and also carrying the burden of a secret with them like a cross on their backs that no one saw. Then the bullying started. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” simply isn’t true! Words hurt more than people know and words can also kill. I was not the only kid to suffer at the hands of bullies, but I was targeted because I was gay. Other kids were targeted because they wore glasses, had red hair, and were scrawny or fat. We all suffered, some suffered more than others.
Many days I went home from school and spend hours alone in my room thinking. I would be angry because I was different, I was angry at God because why did he make me the way he did. I would also be sad and many times I envied my straight friends. I envied them because society didn’t discriminate against them. I envied them because they were “normal”. It was a difficult time, a lonely time and I had nobody with whom I could share my anguish, talk to about my feelings or a shoulder to cry on, because I was scared and I didn’t feel like I could trust anybody, because what would happen if they learned my secret?
At that time I didn’t know that there were organizations I could contact who could help me make sense of my life and make sense of my feelings. Places I could go where there were people just like me, people who have experienced all I was going through and could give me valuable advice. So I went through it alone. But you don’t have to because you are not alone.
I survived high school, I survived the teasing, and the bullying and I survived the name calling. I survived not because I am stronger than you and not because I’m lucky, I survived because I knew deep down in my heart that things would get better one day, and it did and I am alive and blessed to be able to tell this to you today.
Today I am a happy gay man. I have married the man of my dreams and I am living a normal and fulfilled live, as normal as any of my straight friends. My husband and I have been together for 12 years and both our families have accepted us and our relationship. It wasn’t always easy for them but their hearts and minds did change. My husband and I have our ups and downs in our relationship like any other couple, but we love each other. I have a career where I am openly gay and I am not discriminated against in my work place but instead I am respected by my peers. I have come a long way since high school and I have no reason to fear admitting that I am gay - instead I am proud of it. It did get better and it is worth it!
No matter what they call you, what they say behind your back or write on your locker, you should never be ashamed of yourself. No matter how bad it seems right now, just know it will get better. There are thousands of other kids just like you and thousands more who will love you and accept you for who and what you are. You are not alone. You are special and precious and the world needs you. When times get tough and you feel like you had enough, please pick up the phone and call one of our many gay community centres. Your gay brothers and sisters are out there and we do want to help, because we love you just the way you are. So please remember that you're not alone and it will get better!
Till next time.
This is especially for all the bullies and homophobes out there.